The All-Weather Henry Lever Action Side Gate .45-70
The question that most folks would ask, before chatting about the Henry, is Why a 45-70? That is a fair question. The 45-70 Govt. was invented in 1873 and was the United States official military cartridge until 1903. The ubiquitous Trapdoor Springfield was chambered for the 45-70 Govt. With its replacement by the M1903 Springfield in 30-40 Krag, the 45-70 evolved into a popular sporting caliber in the 20th and 21st centuries.
At one time, just about every major firearms manufacturer chambered one or more guns in the 45-70 Govt. That is how popular it became. However, with the advent (invention) of new calibers in the 20th century, the popularity of the 45-70 waned. Primarily due to the fact that its ballistics beyond 100 yards were not good.... at least not when compared with the 300 Win Mag or 7mm Mag (other hard-hitting calibers). But, the venerable 45-70 Govt. would not die. Call it nostalgia, stubbornness, or just plain orneriness... the 45-70 Govt. lives on today as a viable, hard hitting, hunting cartridge
It has remained a caliber of choice for moose, bear and elk hunters by guides, back-country hunters and ranchers. And, to give it new life, Hornady developed the Monoflex ballistic tipped bullets in 250 and 325 grains which improved the trajectory and extended its effective killing range (and were usable in tubular magazines).
With all of the above being said, we bought the Henry All-Weather rifle with OUR OWN money. As such, this is a very thorough and tough discussion of this Henry with no holds-barred. Remember that last sentence two paragraphs back? Jim is all three of those “qualities”... especially when it comes to something he buys with his money.
To prepare for his tests, Jim purchased cases, Hornady Monoflex bullets, H322 powder and reloading dies. Given the non-availability of commercial ammunition, he had to load his own for the range tests. In an attempt to demonstrate the inherent accuracy of the gun/bullets, he tested it using the Caldwell Lead Sled DF2 with a Vortex Crossfire II, 4-12x44 scope. In this way, he hoped to reduce the effect of recoil and human eye-factors on the results. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves... time to check out the Henry.
The All-Weather incorporates several features designed to make it virtually impervious to the weather. First and foremost is the receiver and barrel. The receiver is fabricated from steel that has a hard chrome plating bonded to it. This is not the chrome plating seen in the past of other guns which flakes, chips or peels over time. This plating is permanent, exceeding the hardness of most stainless-steels. Because it increases surface hardness (reducing friction), they even plated the internal moving parts, taking the legendary “Henry-smoothness” to another level. AND, because details are important, the screws on the action are also stainless steel. The .45-70 sports an 18.4” round chrome plated steel barrel, a pistol-grip stock, and a 4-shot magazine. It is equipped with an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear and brass bead front sights. The receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope for those of us with older eyes. The rifle is configured with a side loading gate to make loading and keeping the magazine topped off as easy as possible. However, the magazine tube is still removable for safe, easy unloading.
After being satisfied with the quality of the action and barrel, we turned our attention to the furniture. It is well known that Henry's signature stocks are made from genuine American walnut, but not on the All-Weather rifle. Given the way that many guides, ranchers, farmers and back-country sportsmen handle their firearms... “ridden hard and put up wet”, Henry decided to use hardwood for the furniture. The engineers formulated a finish that was designed to stand up to “ wear, tear, scratches, moisture, temperature variations, and the angst of the various character marks” that an everyday outdoor tool will inevitably pick up during its lifetime. It is not as pretty as American walnut, but it is definitely what is required for a rugged working rifle.
In loading the Hornady MonoFlex/FTX bullets (i.e., with flex ballistic tips), we discovered a bit of information. The “standard” 45-70 case has a length of 2.1”, and reloading manuals state to trim your case to 2.1” after resizing. However, if you load, the MonoFlex bullets into that length case, the ballistic tip will hangup at the exit of the magazine leading to the action and JAM. We then checked some Hornady 45-70 cases and their lengths were 2.04”. No wonder their factory MonoFlex/FTX ammunition feeds well, the cases were just short enough to allow the ballistic tip to clear the magazine. We determined that if we trimmed our cases to 2.05” the tip would clear the magazine and still allow us to crimp the bullets. Yes, it was a pain in the butt to trim all of our cases (again), but well worth the effort given the superior ballistic coefficient of the MonoFlex/FTX bullets. As a reloader, one can opt to use round nose or hollow point bullets with the standard 2.1” case length, or trim the cases down to 2.05” for Hornady's MonoFlex/FTX bullets.
We fired multiple three shot groups at 50 yards. The velocity (f.p.s.) of our loads were determined with the Caldwell G2 Precision Chronograph while the energy (ft. lbs.) was calculated using the EXBAL ballistic program. The following are the results from the range:
60.0 gr. of H322, 250 grain Hornady Monoflex: Smallest group 1.25.”; largest group 1.88”; average group size 1.50”
Muzzle: 2,380 f.p.s. / 3,144 ft. lbs. 100 yards: 1,925 f.p.s. / 2,057 ft. lbs. 150 yards: 1,719 f.p.s. / 1,641 ft. lbs.
58.0 gr. of H322, 325 grain Hornady FTX: Smallest group 1.00.”; largest group 1.50”; average group size 1.13”
Muzzle: 2,211 f.p.s. / 3,527 ft. lbs. 100 yards: 1,875 f.p.s. / 2,538 ft. lbs. 150 yards: 1,720 f.p.s. / 2,135 ft. lbs.
Specifications for the All-Weather Henry, Model H010GAW are:
Action Type: Lever Action Large Loop
Caliber: .45-70 Govt.
Capacity: 4 Rounds
Barrel Length: 18.43"
Barrel Type: Round Hard Chrome Plated Steel
Rate of Twist: 1:20
Overall Length: 37.5"
Weight: 7.08 lbs.
Receiver Finish: Industrial Hard Chrome Satin
Trigger Pull: 4 lbs. 4 oz.
Rear Sight: Fully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert
Front Sight: Brass Bead
Scopeability: Drilled and Tapped
Scope Mount Type: Weaver 63B
Stock Material: Stained Hardwood
Buttplate/Pad: Black Ventilated Rubber Recoil Pad
Length of Pull: 14"
Safety: Transfer Bar
The All-Weather Henry measures up to the Henry reputation and more. With the Hornady Monoflex/FTX bullets, it changes the game with respect to the 45-70 Govt. caliber. The Hornady bullets were consistent and accurate, as evidenced by our tests above. However, the recoil is hard, similar to a .300 Win. Mag. (without a brake). It is what you would you expect from a hard-hitting caliber. If you need or want a big bore gun for tough hunting, the All Weather Henry is the way to go. We are keeping this one, after we get it fitted with a muzzle brake.