U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- One of the small pleasures that I enjoy when going to the range or the in-law's place in the boonies is taking some time to unwind with a lever action. Often I take my Henry Frontier .22lr lever-gun or the Henry .357 Mag / .38 Special lever-gun with me to end the shooting day on a pleasurable note. Something about the uncomplicated experience that puts my mind at ease and relaxes me after a long day at the range trying to make every shot count.
Note: The slight rust speckles on the rifle are entirely my fault. While at the in-laws I left the rifle in a soft case under my locked Diamondback tonneau cover not thinking about how humid it was. Had the rifle been oiled or kept in a place that was not 95% humidity, it would have been fine.
Features & First Impressions
When I pulled the Henry Big Boy Steel out of the box, I was taken by surprise at how much nicer it was than I expected. It isn't like I expected the rifle to be crappy, I just didn't expect the fit and finish to be as nice as it is on their rather basic Big Boy model.
I chose the Big Boy Steel over the prettier models because I intended to use this as a woods gun when at the in-law's place in south-central Arkansas. Why? Because of the lack of reflection and maintaining the black receiver should be easier.
Something else that I was rather surprised about is the overall quality of the wood and checkering. I kind of expected the wood to be a bit loose or look a bit on the cheap side but was pleasantly surprised to find the wood was tight and has some nice grain pattern to it.
The rear stock on the rifle was nice and tight just like the forend with an even nicer grain pattern to it. Henry didn't skimp on the checkering either, it should be pretty grippy when my hands are sweaty or wet.
The rear sight on the Henry Big Boy Steel is a semi-buckhorn style sight with a diamond insert to make lining up the sights fast and easy.
The front sight has some nice seriations on the face of the sight to keep glare down. The gold bead is really easy to acquire when shouldering the rifle and should be nice for those times that I need to take a snapshot.
The Henry Big Boy Steel uses a tube magazine that is loaded by turning the knurled knob at the end and removing the plunger tube enough to expose the loading port in the bottom of the magazine tube.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, one of my favorite things to do when relaxing after a long range say is plinking with a lever gun. I often plop down at the 100-yard bench and take pot shots at a steel plate to clear my head before the drive home.
I found that the rifle is more than adequately accurate on a man size target at 100 yards and I don't feel like I would have a hard time connecting at distances more in line with those I would encounter in the thick Arkansas woods.
Recoil is light and pleasant even with hot .357 mag ammo loaded in the 10-shot tube. Shooting .38 special is even more pleasant than the .357 mag and has become a favorite of my wife when we are out at her folk's place.
Time In The Woods
Am I insane for relying on a .357 Mag in the woods? I don't think so. My friends over at The Truth About Guns wrote a wonderful post comparing a .357 Mag levergun to a .30-30 that makes a strong case for the higher capacity, lower recoil, and almost equally effective pistol round. I won't spoil the article for you, but rest assured that the .357 mag pack one hell of a punch out of a 20″ barrel.
The Henry Big Boy Steel weighs in at a pretty svelt 7 pounds making it rather easy to tote around the woods to either plink at whatever random crap I might come across while enjoying the outdoors or to kill small to medium game. I normally pair it with an Uncle Mike sling that has a large rubber shoulder pad to keep the sling in place that I have had for years. I have to admit, after carting this rifle around the woods for a while, I am not sure I would be happy with anything else.
This rifle is one that I will never get rid of. It is handy, utilitarian, fun to shoot, accurate, and good looking all for a street price that seems to hover in the same range as an alright AR. The MSRP for the Big Boy Steel is $893, but don't let that dissuade you, remember how I mentioned that the street price is more in line with a middle of the road AR?
I honestly feel this is a rifle that has an heirloom quality and you could proudly hand over to your kid when they are old enough to appreciate it. While I might be a bit rough on my Big Boy Steel, I have every bit of faith that it is going to outlast me by a long margin.
About Patrick R.
Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.