The Henry repeating rifle is a lever-action, breech-loading, tubular-magazine rifle famed as the iconic Winchester rifle of the American Wild West. Benjamin Tyler Henry designed the rifle in 1860. The original Henry rifle was a sixteen-shot, .44-caliber, rimfire, breech-loading, lever-action rifle, patented in 1860. New Haven Arms Company produced the rifle through 1866. It was adopted in small quantities by the Union in the Civil War, favored for its greater firepower than the standard issue carbine. The Henry used copper (later brass) rimfire cartridges with a 216-grain bullet over 25-grains of blackpowder.

Henry Lever Action 22

Production was very small, between 150 to 200 a month until the middle of 1864. By the end of 1864, production peaked at 290 per month. By the time production ended in 1866, approximately 14,000 units had been manufactured. For a Civil War soldier, owning a Henry rifle was a point of pride. Letters home called them “Sixteen” Shooters. Just 1,731 of the standard rifles were purchased by the government during the Civil War.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky purchased 50 more. However, 6,000 to 7,000 saw use by the Union on the field through private purchases by soldiers who could afford it. Many infantry soldiers purchased Henrys with their reenlistment bounties of 1864. Soldiers who saved their pay to buy one believed it would help save their lives. The Henry rifle later turned into the Winchester Model 1866 lever-action rifle. With the introduction of the new Model 1866, the New Haven Arms Company became the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

Fast forward to 1996 when Louis Imperato and his son, Anthony, started Henry Repeating Arms in Brooklyn, New York. The first model produced was the Henry H001 Lever Action .22, much like the one I got my hands on to play with. A replica of the Model 1860 Henry Rifle with brass receiver and American walnut stock, the Henry Golden Boy 22 features a modern steel barrel and internal components chambered in .22 LR.  An absolutely beautiful plinker for anyone to shoot.

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