The Henry H014S-308 Long Ranger
I harvested my first whitetail deer with a Winchester M88 lever gun in .308 caliber. Although the gun had a horrible trigger that even master gunsmiths had problems with, it was a lever action which shot as accurately as a bolt gun. However, I was in college at the time and was forced to sell my Winchester for tuition money, a decision that I regretted for years.
When the Japanese Browning BLR hit the market, I was interested, but the high price and same miserable M88 trigger dissuaded me from buying one. So, I waited, hoping that some American company would again build a lever action in .308 caliber at an affordable price.
Finally, after years of study and design effort, Anthony Imperato's engineers came out with the Henry Long Ranger. A gun that I could afford which was made right here in the U.S.A. In case you haven't heard, Henry Firearms motto is: “Made in America Or Not Made At All.”
The Long Ranger receiver is based on a rack and pinion lever action. The lever operates a hard chromed bolt with a 6-lug rotary head that locks into a barrel extension via cam action when the lever is closed. Translating, you have a lever action rifle with the strength and operating pressure capability of a bolt action rifle, one that is suitable for many modern hunting cartridges; IE., .223 Rem/5.56 NATO, .243 Win, .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor. The myth that lever guns are not as accurate as bolt guns Does Not Apply Here. More on that when we discuss our results from the range.
To ensure that shooters could access all commercial ammunition, including those with pointed bullets (better ballistic coefficients), the Long Ranger incorporates a detachable magazine, instead of the characteristic tubular magazine on other Henry firearms. The magazine is all metal, double stack and holds four .308 cartridges which feed very smoothly. The magazine fits flush with the bottom of the
action. The mag release is a small, flush button on the right side of the receiver. The release is unobtrusive with a positive response when pushed, similar to those on AR-platform rifles. We purchased an extra magazine, as we like to be prepared, just in case.
“The Long Ranger safety is an automatic transfer bar mounted in the hammer face. Pulling the trigger raises the transfer bar as the hammer moves forward, allowing the hammer to hit the firing pin. Even if struck with a sledge hammer (which we wouldn't recommend), the hammer cannot hit the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled all the way back. (Chuck Hawks).”
The laser cut checkering is superb, as one would expect. Our younger readers may not remember the cheap impressed faux-checkering of the late 60s. Those abominations, characteristic of most production-run firearms of the time. continued until the advent of laser cut checkering. Today, most shooters take the laser cut checkering for granted, trying to forget the days of impressed garbage. Laser cutting is cost effective and very functional; However, there is still a place for custom hand-checking, IF you want a unique firearm and are willing to pay for it.
We selected the .308 Winchester for our Henry, as it is widely considered to be an accurate cartridge, even finding a place in F-TR long range target shooting. With the 6-lug rotary front-locking bolt, the Long Ranger is comparable to falling block and bolt action hunting rifles. As we said earlier, the myth that “lever action rifles are not as accurate as bolt action rifles” is just that A Myth. We will provide proof of that statement shortly with our range results.
Before heading out to the range, Jim installed an EGW Picatinny rail on the rifle. After which, he mounted a Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40mm tactical scope I can't remember him ever using open/iron sights in 30+ years of marriage. I often wonder how he flew airplanes without glasses and he's not saying. After securing the scope, we headed to the range.
We loaded 50 rounds of each of the following: Hornady SST 150 grain bullets with Varget powder and the Barnes TSX 180 grain bullets with H414 powder. In addition, we obtained some Hornady V-Max 168 grain bullets which we loaded with IMR4064 powder for the tests. We fired multiple three shot groups at 100 yards using a Caldwell Lead Sled DFT2 rest for stability.
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:
45.5 gr. of Varget, 150 grain Hornady SST: Smallest group 0.38”; largest group 0.67”; average group size 0.50”
• Muzzle: 2,853 f.p.s. / 2,711 ft. lbs.
• 50 yards: 2,769 f.p.s. / 2,554 ft. lbs.
• 75 yards: 2,728 f.p.s. / 2,478 ft. lbs.
• 100 yards: 2,687 f.p.s. / 2,404 ft. lbs.
44.0 gr. of IMR4064 168 grain Hornady V-Max: Smallest group 0.50”; largest group 0,88”; average group size 0.69”
• Muzzle: 2,641 f.p.s. / 2,601 ft. lbs.
• 50 yards: 2,561 f.p.s. / 2,447 ft. lbs.
• 75 yards: 2,522 f.p.s / 2,372 ft. lbs.
• 100 yards: 2,483 f.p.s. / 2,300 ft. lbs.
48.0 gr, of H414, 180 grain Barnes TSX: Smallest group 0.75”; largest group 0.90”; average group size 0.83”
• Muzzle: 2,525 f.p.s. / 2,548 ft. lbs.
• 50 yards: 2,447 f.p.s. / 2,393 ft. lbs.
• 75 yards: 2,409 f.p.s. / 2,319 ft. lbs.
• 100 yards: 2,371 f.p.s. / 2,246 ft. lbs.
We would like to point out that we could have used Varget powder for all three bullet weights, but we wanted to demonstrate the accuracy of this rifle with at least three different powders. There is absolutely no doubt that the Long Ranger is as accurate as any production-run bolt gun on the market and More accurate than most.
The specifications of our Henry Long Ranger are:
Model Number: H014S-308
Action Type: Lever Action
Caliber: .308 Win / 7.62x51 NATO
Capacity: 4 Rounds with Removable Magazine
Barrel Length: 20 inches (free-floating)
Barrel Type: Round Blued Steel
Rate of Twist: 1:10 inches
Receiver Finish: Hard Anodized Matte Black
Trigger: Steel (the import's trigger is aluminum)
Trigger Pull: 4.25 pounds (measured – virtually no creep)
Overall Length: 40.5 inches
Weight: 7 pounds
Rear Sight: Folding Fully Adjustable
Front Sight: Ramp w/ 0.062 inch Ivory Bead
Scopeability: Drilled and Tapped
Scope Mount Type: Picatinny rail (available from Henry or Evolution Gun Works (EGW)
Stock Material: American Walnut with Swivel Studs
Buttplate/Pad: Black Solid Rubber Recoil Pad
Length of Pull: 14 inches
Safety: Transfer Bar
If you have wanted the fast action of a lever action with the accuracy of a bolt action, the Henry Long Ranger is exactly what you have been waiting for. Although we picked the .308 Win caliber for our hunting purposes; however, the other chamberings are just as good. In fact, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a great hunting caliber as well as a 600 yard target round. We believe that a quote from Henry's page says it all:
“From coyote to whitetail to bear, the new Long Ranger is a logical evolution in lever action technology as America’s contribution to classic firearms design, and it has you covered from hardwood forests to sagebrush flats in a trim, quick handling, and dependable 7-pound rifle you’ll be happy to reach for as you head out the door.”