Terril Hebert reviews a Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun in the .410 gauge, read about his day at the range.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- When it comes to firearms, I rarely get excited about new products. I tear my hair out waiting for an elderly piece with some history and oddball ammunition to go with them, but I can’t be bothered with the latest wonder carry gun or pistol-gripped shotgun, whatever those are used for? A new gun has to be exciting, different, or connect with me on a personal level. When Henry Repeating Arms announced it would be producing a line of single-shot break action rifles and shotguns, I couldn’t wait to capture one for testing.
Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun in .410
I grew up hunting everything from dove to deer with a single-shot Winchester Model 37 in 16-gauge, and to this day that shotgun is still sitting in the family home loaded with buckshot for would-be intruders. This life experience may have given me a skewed version of reality as I envision the single shot as an ideal tool for most jobs. When a Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun in .410 finally arrived in the waning days of the small-game season, I couldn’t wait to get it dirty.
Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun Features
Henry is producing their shotgun with either a blued steel or brass frame and in 12 and 20-gauge as well as .410 bore with a three-inch chamber. My all-steel model showed up, and the first thing that struck me was the stock.
The burled walnut buttstock and fore-end that mates to the thick steel frame is what popped out to me at first. The figure was great, and the finish well executed, as was the semi-aggressive pressed checkering. The action was very familiar. Behind the exposed, checkered hammer is a “dog’s leg” lever. Sweeping the lever one way or another moves the locking lug out of the way, allowing for the barrel to drop down, exposing the breach, and popping the ejector out sharply. The gun has a single-stage trigger protected by a milled steel trigger-guard, and there is no manual safety to get in the way of firing the gun. However, the hammer does rebound and cannot strike the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled.
For recoil management, the .410 has an attached rubber buttpad. Not entirely necessary, but the gun weighs only six and a half pounds. You will be thankful for that pad if you get the 12 or 20-gauge version. The .410 version is a little lighter, and its barrel is shorter than the bigger gauged guns, measuring in at twenty-six inches—a typical .410 hunting barrel length. It comes equipped with a fixed brass bead front sight only and a single Browning Invector removable full choke.
Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun On The Range
As usual in my testing regimen, three hundred rounds of ammunition was mustered with varying brands, shotshell lengths, and shot sizes. What was for dinner?
- Winchester 2.5-inch 1/5 ounce Rifled Slugs (advertised as “Designed specifically for smooth bore barrels but can also be used in choke tube barrels or fully rifled barrels.”)
- Remington 2.5-inch 1/5 ounce Rifled Slugs
- Monarch/PPU 2.5-inch #9 target loads
- Winchester AA 2.5-inch #9 target loads
- Winchester 2.5-inch #6 and 7 ½ game loads
- Federal Handgun 2.5-inch 000 buckshot 4 pellet
- Federal Handgun 3-,inch No. 4 buckshot 9 pellet
As expected Henry’s instruction manual cautions against using slugs—one solid projectile—with the full-choke tube in place. The choke tube constricts the end of the barrel, thereby constricting the shot pattern for better results downrange, but a slug may become deformed as it leaves the gun. Looser tubes, like a modified choke would probably work better.
I decided to start my test by firing both varieties of rifled slug through my shotgun first from the bench at thirty yards. I broke open the action, inserted one of the Winchester shells, closed the gun and took aim, holding the brass bead steady against the bullseye. My first shot landed eight inches high as did the second and so on. I shot another five-shot group with the Remington ammunition, which printed somewhat better, only six inches high at that distance. This is typical behavior for slugs when shooting with just a bead front sight and a full choke. Even so, recoil was very light, and all shots hit in an area the size of my hand—more than enough to reliably drop a deer. With that settled, I patterned the gun using the game loads.
No. 6 is a good, common load for squirrel and rabbit. At fifteen yards, over a dozen pellets hit to the point of aim, with the rest scattered but not far away. Double the distance and I still managed six pellets on the four-inch bullseye, however much of the pattern had spread beyond the target by then. No. 7 ½ shot loads have more pellets, but they are smaller, and they indeed lost flight quicker with no hits on that bullseye at thirty yards, but some pellets did come close.
A single-shot shotgun is almost laughable by today’s standards to use as a home defender. Even so, I tested Federal’s Handgun buckshot loading. 4 pellets of 000 buckshot hit a seven-yard target in little more than a large, jagged hole. I hoped the No. 4 buckshot load, boasting nine projectiles per shot, would do better. It spread out just enough to pepper that four-inch bullseye. I would hate to be hit by that.
The last segment of my test involved my No. 9 target loads and a rendezvous with rabbit clays. Trying to shoot and reload quickly, aiming and firing at these self-thrown targets was a challenge. After missing several times in a row, I got dialed in and started shattering the discs with ease. It was fun and challenging, never mind that the 410 throws the smallest amount of shot at the lowest velocity, making hitting clays even harder. The full choke proved itself handy in this case, but there was an issue I experienced with the gun.
I have an old hunting habit of loading the shotgun and slowly and gently closing the action for reasons of silence and doing so with the Henry meant that the hammer would not cock, and the gun would not fire. A brisk working of the action, which is effortless, brings the locking lug back where it needs to be, so the gun is safely in battery and ready to fire. In short, don’t baby the gun too much.
Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun Summary
Henry’s name and rifles may be everywhere, but they deserve props for the single-shot. Perhaps the most prolific maker of single-shot rifles and shotguns, H&R, ceased production back in 2015. Since then, the only visible offerings have been from overseas, and those left much to be desired in quality and aesthetics. Henry seems to be filling the gap in a big way. Their shotgun is pleasing to look at, easy to use, and 100 percent reliable. While it won’t please today’s defensive-minded shooter, Henry’s shotgun would be a great contender for challenging trap shooting as well as a long arm for shooters new and old, learning to make that one-shot count or knowing all you need for the task is one. While it came too late for the hunting season, the Henry Arms Single Shot Shotgun will be accompanying me next time ‘round.
About Terril Hebert:
Terril Hebert is a firearm writer native to south Louisiana. Under his motto-Guns, Never Politics-he tackles firearm and reloading topics both in print and on his Mark3smle YouTube channel, where he got his start. Terril has a soft spot for ballistics testing, pocket pistols, and French rifles. When he is not burning ammo, he is indulging his unhealthy wildlife photography obsession or working on his latest novel. Scourge of God, published in 2017. See more from Terril on youtube under Mark3smle.