Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Gov’t Range Review

David LaPell reviews the Henry Arms. Henry single shot rifle in 45-70 caliber.

Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Gov't with Shooting Sticks
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Gov't with Shooting Sticks. Shooting a centerfire rifle just wouldn’t be right without trying it off a set of shooting sticks.

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- America has had a long association with single shot rifles.

The images of hardened bison hunters toting big bore Sharps and Remington Rolling Blocks, to the Trapdoor Springfield in the hands of the bluecoat cavalry during the Indian Wars. Or the early days of the NRA and the long range rifle matches at Creedmoor, New York the single shot rifle has been engrained in the firearms history of this country.

Over the years the single shot rifle has struggled to hold on, the big bore rifles gave way to small bore .22 and .32 rimfire rifles while big game hunting was taken over first by lever action and then bolt action rifles. The occasional single shot rifle like the Ruger #1 and #3 sprouted up but didn’t really take hold except among some very select shooters. Soon reproduction rifles started making their presence known, one could go out and buy a Sharps, Remington Rolling Block, Winchester 1885 or Trapdoor Springfield without worrying about the risk of damage to an original. Some low-cost single shot options like the H & R Handi rifle gained a following among shooters with a wide range of calibers and the ability to swap barrels on the same frame.

It was the passing of the H & R Handi rifle into memory that shooters lost a true low budget but high-quality single shot rifle—until now. Henry Repeating Arms has come out with a line of new guns that harkens back to the heyday of the single shot rifle.

Now, to be fair I have had a passion for single shot rifles for most of my shooting life. The first gun I ever fired was my grandfather’s CVA Kentucky Rifle, and I have owned as many single shot rifles as any other kind. I have had both original and reproduction Winchester 1885 in both the Low and High Wall variety, a few Remington Rolling Blocks, a Sharps replica a trio of H & R Handi Rifles and I started my son out on a Stevens Favorite .22 Long Rifle. I have never looked at shooting a single shot rifle as a handicap but as a challenge. If you shoot one often enough, you know it becomes more about picking your shot and taking careful aim knowing that you don’t have a fresh round in reserve.

Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Gov't

Henry Single Shot Rifle
Henry Single Shot Rifle : The Henry Single Shot is a compact, well built and downright handsomely elegant looking gun.

The Henry Single Shot rifle fills a needed gap between the historical reproduction rifles, which despite being of great quality, can easily break the bank, and small single shot .22 rifles that are more often geared towards children than adults. Henry has chambered the single shot in some of the most common and popular calibers, you can get the gun in .223, .243, .308, .44 Magnum and .45-70. You can either get the single shot in a matte blued finish on a steel frame or a polished brass frame. The steel frame version has a pistol grip and checkering on the buttstock and forearm, while the brass frame gun has no checkering and a straight grip with a brass buttplate while the steel frame version has a rubber recoil pad.

Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Forearm Checkering
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Forearm Checkering
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Buttstock
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Buttstock. The figure on the walnut buttstock and checkering is second to none.

What I noticed the first time I saw the steel frame version was the quality of the wood that Henry used for it. The figure of the walnut they chose is very nice and not something you would normally expect for what this gun costs. The fit is also extremely tight where the metal meets the buttstock and forearm, and both are very nicely checkered and come with sling swivel studs so you don’t have to worry about adding them later. The finish is a matte blue, but not like some guns where you have no luster at all or a step above being parkerized. The bluing on the single shot rifle is smooth and reminds one of a Duracoat finish like you would see on automotive parts that is attractive and very durable.

Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Front Sight
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Front Sight. The gold bead front sight is easy to see and reminds one of the sights once seen on early hunting rifles.
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Rear Sight
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Rear Sight. The fold-down rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation.

The sights Henry chose for these guns are simple but effective and another reminder of a time gone by. The gold bead front sight will remind older shooters of the Lyman and Marble sights you would encounter on lever action rifles back when they dominated the market and is windage adjustable. The rear sight folds down and is adjustable for both windage and elevation and the combination of the two is very easy to pick up when brought on target. For those of you who would rather go with a scope, Henry has you covered, the single shot is drilled and tapped for to mount a scope.

Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Release Lever
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Release Lever : The lever can be turned either direction to accommodate left or right handed shooters.
Single Shot Rifles
Single Shot Rifles. The Henry Single Shot Rifle fits right in with classic rifles like the Remington Rolling Block and the Winchester 1885.

A simple top lever opens the action of the Henry single shot, and where this gun is different from other break actions, is that the engineers at Henry designed theirs to open to the right OR the left, so it can be used with ease by a left or right-handed shooter. The hammer is easy to bring back, and instead of a safety, the hammer cannot touch the firing pin unless the trigger is deliberately pulled.

In another deviation from the norm, Henry gave the single shot an interlock system, so that the action cannot be opened while the hammer is cocked, or the barrel be closed if the hammer is cocked when the action is open. All of this keeps the single shot as user-friendly as possible while still making it very safe.

Handling the single shot really gives you a sense of how compact and light the gun really is. No matter the caliber, you get a 22-inch barrel and an overall length of 37 ½ inches. Now while that might not sound like much,  compare it to the overall length of a Winchester Model 94 carbine, considered by many to be perhaps the most compact and easy to pack hunting rifle, which measures about 38 inches. The single shot, in .45-70, weighs 6.83 pounds and the .223 version at a little over 7 pounds.

That same Winchester Model 94 comes in at 6.81 pounds. All of this tells you that the Henry single shot rifle is lightweight and packs as easy as you please.

Of course, none of this means anything if the rifle can’t shoot, so it was off to the range. I first tried out the old standard, the Remington 405 grain JSP. This load, of course, is known for being heavy and slow, and is mild by most standards. It is safe for all of the .45-70 rifles, even those a century old or more. Remington advertises this load as having a muzzle velocity of 1,330 fps and a muzzle energy of 1,590 ft lbs.

Shooting a bison silhouette target at 100 yards off shooting sticks with the Remington loads proved the Henry is capable of excellent accuracy.
Shooting a bison silhouette target at 100 yards off shooting sticks with the Remington loads proved the Henry is capable of excellent accuracy.

I first tried the Henry out at 25 yards with the Remington ammo, and I found that it shot about four inches high, no matter how far I lowered the rear sight. The three shot group was impressive, with a group of 1 ¾ inches. At 50 yards the Remington loads shot five inches high but tightened up to 1 ¼ inch. I did a little bit of estimation and held low from the bench and brought the rounds closer. The group opened up more, but that was more me than the gun, since I was getting a little fatigued. The recoil itself with the 405-grain bullets wasn’t that bad considering the gun is very light, the thick recoil pad Henry put on this gun soaked up just about everything. I have shotguns that have weighed more in smaller calibers that kicked a lot harder than Henry’s single shot rifle.

Remington 45-70 405 grain rounds shot consistently
Remington 45-70 405 grain rounds shot consistently.

Shooting a .45-70 rifle just wouldn’t have seemed right to just try it on the bench, this gun begged to be tried out with a set of shooting sticks, and not just any target would do. I made a silhouette target of a bison, and put it out at the 100 yard line to see what the gun could do when you stretched its legs. Again with some of those 405 grain Remington loads, I put the Henry on the sticks and fired four rounds, all that I had left after playing around with it. It was still shooting a little high, but only a couple inches or so from point of aim. One clipped the back of that poster board bison, and the rest did the job. With a little practice and some work with the sights, this would be a fine load to hunt pretty much any big game that walks around this continent for sure in this gun, especially with how little you notice it on your shoulder.

Next up were some Winchester 300 grain JHP’s, which are advertised to have a muzzle velocity of 1880 fps and a muzzle energy of 2,355 ft. lbs., a good deal more than the 405 grain Remington rounds. From the bench, the Henry lined up perfectly, and I got a three shot group of 1 ¾” from 25 yards. You will notice these more when firing them compared to the big and slow of those 405-grain cartridges, but it isn’t overly painful, which again, keeping in mind the light weight of this gun, is certainly impressive.

The Remington 405 grain rounds shot consistently high but gave excellent groups from the bench.
The Remington 405 grain rounds shot consistently high but gave excellent groups from the bench.
The Winchester 300 grain JHP’s shot much more to point of aim and the accuracy was excellent with open sights at 25 and 50 yards.
The Winchester 300 grain JHP’s shot much more to point of aim and the accuracy was excellent with open sights at 25 and 50 yards.

Stretching the Henry out to 50 yards with the Winchester rounds, I got a group size of 1 3/8” and I can tell you, someone with a better eye and steadier aim than mine can probably shrink that group down even more. If I were one who believed in putting a scope on a gun like this, I dare say the group size would probably match more expensive rifles easily. The trigger is very crisp and breaks evenly, and feels like something you would expect on a nice bolt action rifle.

The Henry Single Shot has a simple extractor, which I actually prefer, nothing more irritating than trying to chase empty shells around after they get kicked out over my shoulder. Even the 300 grain Winchesters, when fired, would come out of the chamber just as nice and smooth as they went in.
I decided again to get out the bison target, and again I set it up at 100 yards to shoot off my shooting sticks. I fired three rounds at it and they ended up hitting a lot more to point of aim than the previous load, giving me a spread of about five inches. I would certainly have no problems taking this gun out to a hundred yards or a bit further, as it is for whitetail, bear or whatever else I can come up against.

The Henry Single Shot rifle is a great deal for those who want to walk a different path. If the .45-70 isn’t for you, the other rounds would do nicely. One of these in .308 or .243 would be just the ticket for opening-day of deer season, especially with a scope on it. I can’t think of a better deer rifle to start someone off with then a Henry Single shot in .243. I have talked to a few who have an interest in these, and many would like to see one in .30-30, and I can tell you I think it would be like selling popcorn at the movies.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Finish and Fit
Henry Single Shot Rifle Finish and Fit. The matte blued finish is attractive and the fit of the wood to the frame is excellent.
Henry Single Shot Rifle Caliber Markings
Henry Single Shot Rifle Caliber Markings. All of the markings are stylishly done and you can see how crisp and fine the checkering is.
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Recoil Pad
Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Recoil Pad : The thick recoil pad on the steel frame version soaks up the recoil of .45-70 loads very well.

Henry hasn’t just filled a void left by other companies that have discontinued their single shot rifles, they brought back the fun of shooting one.

It isn’t just about buying a gun on a budget, but with the MSRP of the steel frame rifle at $448.00 and the brass frame at $576.00, it’s hard not to want one just because they are so affordable. Don’t be fooled though, you’re getting quality for every dollar and then some. I have owned some of the finer reproduction rifles out there that cost two to three times as much and the Henry Single Shot is every bit as well built and finely finished as most I have seen. The Henry Single Shot might not have the prestige of the name like Sharps, but it will do the same job and I dare say then some. Not to mention, you’re getting a gun made here in America. Henry’s motto of “Made in America or not made at all” is reassuring as most single shot rifles are produced outside of this country’s borders.

It was hard not to be excited to shoot this gun, it truly has everything going for it. You’re getting a rifle, no matter the caliber you pick, that won’t bust your budget, and can be shot by anyone, left or right handed. If you want to keep the open sights, you can, and I hope that Skinner Sights, who makes excellent receiver sights for Henry’s other rifles, comes up with something to fit these as well. But if you want to mount a scope on the Henry Single Shot you can do that too. Henry has a real winner on their hands, and their new rifle brings the single shot into the modern age while still keeping the past alive for those who imagine the smoke of a big black powder cartridge and the sound of a bison herd thundering across the plains.

Single Shot Rifle


David LaPell
David LaPell

About David LaPell

David LaPell has been a Corrections Officer with the local Sheriff's Department for thirteen years. A collector of antique and vintage firearms for over twenty years and an avid hunter. David has been writing articles about firearms, hunting and western history for ten years. In addition to having a passion for vintage guns, he is also a fan of old trucks and has written articles on those as well.

  • 17 thoughts on “Henry Single Shot Rifle in 45-70 Gov’t Range Review

    1. Just bought Henry single shot 30:30. Shot well off hand to 50 yds. Would like to replace rear sight with peep. Hope Skinner makes one soon. Too bad Henry didn’t make with octagonal barrel and tang peep.

    2. I have two H&R single shots, 45-70 & 35whelen, both are very accurate, but I want at least one of the Henry rifles they are beautiful and well made. If anyone has trouble mounting a scope on their Henry try using a pistol scope mounted forward of the hammer, I have my H&R’s both set up this way and have taken deer and wild boar at 100 yards with no problem, the scopes work well no matter the range.

    3. Beautiful woodwork, but I wouldn’t swap My .222 and .308 Baikal MP-18s ( same as your Remington Spartans) which are hammerless to allow low scope mounting and a safe decocking feature so you can hunt with one up the spout and they instantly take down for convenient and discreet travel.

      Did I mention I love the beautiful Walnut?

      PJ New Zealand

    4. I whole heartedly agree with a few of the comments made in regards to caliber selection. The Henry’s that I have seen and held in a few Gun Stores seem to be well made and these have been to date lever action rifles. From what I have seen & read on line it appears that this single shot break open action rifle is also well made and accurate. I would love to see this particular line of rifle offered in a few other options in caliber: 250 Savage, 7.62X39, .358Win, 7X57 Mauser, 35 Rem.
      Possibly have as an option a peep-sight also.

    5. Another possible cartridge is the .30 carbine – small, dopey and devastating at short range on smaller animals – AND a lead free substitute center-fire substitute to the venerable .22lr which seems doomed to only shoot lead accurately. Smaller grain .308 calibre bullets are effective performers lead-free. And single shooters will roll them out one at a time – not 100 shots per box…


      1. Agreed.
        I have used 30m1 and 32-20 for small deer with remarkable results.
        They are ballistically identical if the 32-20 is used in am modern Marlin 94, T/C or later model Winchester 92.

        I ran penetration tests for both and was amazed at the performance with premium bullets such as the Barnes doc.
        Her is a kicker: If you can shoot lead the very inexpensive Remington 110 gr. Softpoint is superb…did not see that coming.

        I have gotten exit wounds on the small blacktail we chase around here.
        I WOULD not recommend it on any but the smallest hogs though.
        Forget bears.
        I would buy a 32-20 for sure if it came out.

    6. Just picked up one chambered for.223. Beautiful little gun with good metal finish, high quality walnut stock, and deep cut checkering fore and aft. One big problem, however. When you mount a scope you darn near can’t place your thumb on the hammer to cock the weapon! In addition, the hammer is too narrow for a good grip—the same issue with Smith & Wesson’s that were sold with either tactical or wider “target” hammers. Iron sights are good but you will have a devil of a time with a scope. Have you notiiced that none of the pictures of the gun show it with a mounted scope? Best bet—use an aimpoint or low powered scope. A high powered, variable power scope will make cocking a real challenge. A great gun with a few glitches.

    7. If I want a single shot I’ll look for true to era style guns. And matte blue? That’s how you ruin a good gun. The wood looks excellent so it’s got that going for it. My opinion? It won’t stand the test of time. Now the 45-70 lever they’re putting out is a different animal all together. Do a test on it.

    8. Know why the Handi Rifle was so popular? Basic action, basic price. Add interchangeability with barrels and a wide selection of calibers, it was a real winner. The Ruger #1, while a fine rifle, with quality components, is hard for people to wrap their head around for a basic action, when other options are available into ehsa employees or lesser price range. Its relegated to those with money to burn that want challenge, quality and reach back into history a bit. The new Henry cuts a middle ground. Finer features, than the Handi, simpler design than the Ruger. But for those who lived through the H&R, it still seems too expensive, for the most basic of actions. With the simplicity, quality and inexpense of modern inline muzzleloaders that perform in essentially the same manner, Henry may want to look into developing a more economical version of these rifles, as caliber options are really all they have going for them.

    9. $448 for a single shot break action lol Dear Henry did you know CVA sells a better made single shot called the hunter for under $230.00 lol I have TRIED to make myself buy a henry several times, most i have handled seemed to be poor quality steel compared to a Marlin, Uberti or Winchester. The few ( brass frame only ) rifles i did like were outrageously priced & no loading gate? Maybe you don’t mind not having a loading gate but if you ever have a wounded grizzly in thick brush & want to top it off you’ll understand why you NEVER see any Alaskan guides with a henry & they only run Marlun 45-70’s. To me another FAIL from Henry I’ll buy a CVA hunter for $229.00 BRAND NEW from Academy Sports & never look back!

    10. Henry has always made great rifles I would like to see the single shot in 30-06 I have h&r 30-06.

    11. Price is a bit much someone can start with a starter bolt action rifle for around $300 to $350 . Their nice lever action start at $700 doesn’t make much sense for single barrel to be priced so high

      1. With all due respect this gun has nicer features and finish that any single shot rifle on the market under $1000.00
        I have spent considerably more than that on some fine custom and European guns. Single shot does not always equate to “cheaper”
        I own some nice bolt guns but I mostly walk the woods with a mid bore Single shot rifle because it is elegant and feels good in my hands, not because it is cheaper than a bolt gun.

      1. Amen…
        I called Henry and asked about other calibers.
        It was like talking to a rock….
        They made a really nice gun here but they clearly do not understand single shot culture. In going with a top lever they should also offer a few european options as well.
        6.5×55, 7×57, 7x57r and 9.3×74.
        22 hornet and 38-55 are just too sensible I suppose.
        No brainers for sure….

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