Henry Repeating Arms has been widely known as some of the best lever guns you can buy. They have always been known for their “Golden Boy” model in .22 LR. You have probably seen one at your local shop, or even Wal-Mart on their racks. Now meet its big brother, the Big Boy Classic in .45 Colt!
This rifle was sent to me by Henry Repeating Arms for testing and evaluation. It has a 20” octagonal blued barrel with a hardened, high-polish brass plated receiver. The wood is American walnut, and it’s easy to see the beauty. I am by no means a photographer, and my pictures within this article do not do the rifle justice. But can this work of art shoot? Black Hills sent me some of the Cowboy loads to see if function meets beauty.
A Little History
Henry Repeating Arms was established in Brooklyn, New York back in 1996. Its age is nowhere near the likes of Colt, Winchester, or Remington Arms, but the quality has been absolute since its inception. They have provided excellent quality rifles and shotguns. Where other companies have had their moments cheapening up production, Henry Repeating Arms has remained steadfast with providing firearms that are 100% American made, by Americans at an affordable cost.
They have a full lineup of lever action rifles, and shotguns. Whether it be for hunting, target shooting, or collecting to save as a safe queen, Henry is a hell of a good choice for your next rifle. A quick look at their website shows that they have just about anything a shooter would like, whether in blued steel, polished brass, or their all-weather line. Above all else, you will be funding an American company that puts an emphasis on producing American made rifles.
From Muzzle to Butt
The barrel is a 20” octagonal barrel with a rifle twist of 1:16. It has a very rich dark bluing that is high polished. It has a fixed front post that uses a brass bead. The barrel is thick, but with the octagonal profile it does shave some weight but retains its rigidity. The barrel is chambered in .45 Colt which has become increasingly popular with Cowboy Action shoots, and the rifle is SASS approved. The magazine tube underneath the barrel has a capacity of 10 rounds, and you load it by rotating and pulling out the spring-loaded rod that acts as a plug. Feeding was smooth as silk, and not once did I have an issue.
The rear sight is an adjustable semi-buckhorn iron sight with a diamond insert. I like the rear sight a lot and picking up the front sight’s brass bead was quick and intuitive. I would have preferred a typical front sight post instead of the brass bead, but it was quick to get on target. For hunting I would probably prefer a little more precision though in a thin front post. The walnut handguard is of excellent quality and is smooth to the touch. There is no checkering present, which I tend to prefer, but the wood grain is beautiful, and the finish is rich. It is fixed to the rifle by a brass band, and it was rock solid on the rifle with no wiggle.
The receiver is the cherry on top when it comes to the Big Boy from Henry. When cleaned off and wiped down, the finish on the receivers is something to truly behold. With almost a mirror-like polish, the brass really highlights the craftsmanship that Henry Repeating Arms brings to the table. On multiple occasions, I got lost looking at the receiver’s gold-like shine. I have handled the Golden Boy previously at local gun shops, but it always felt more like a youth gun. With the Big Boy, I did not feel that at all. It is a well-made, solid rifle that has a nostalgic feel but doesn’t feel excessive with the brass plating. The receiver is also drilled and tapped to accept bases for whatever optic you may want to run.
The stock is American walnut just like the handguard and is equally impressive in finish. The buttstock is equipped with a brass plate which fits inside the pocket of the shoulder well. The contour is comfortable for shooting, draws up to the shoulder well for firing, and with the .45 Colt loads from Black Hills, the recoil was exceptionally mild. All day shooting with the Big Boy would be expensive, but your shoulder wouldn’t feel a thing the next day feeding it the Black Hills loads I tested.
Accuracy testing was done off a bench using sandbags for support. Groups were 10 shot groups at 50 yards and only the irons were used to judge accuracy. This is by no means a long-range rifle, especially with the Black Hills ammunition. The ammunition is great mind you, but it is a little light loaded and is meant more for punching paper or plinking steel targets. Along with the iron sights that aren’t meant for absolute precision, I figured a 50 yard zero would properly show the accuracy of the 1:16” twist barrel.
Considering the large brass bead sight, and the small 3” orange Birchwood Casey aiming point, I was happy to see my group was within a 5” circle for my best group. All other 10 shot groups looked similar in size. Had I been using a magnified optic, there is no doubt in my mind I would have been able to show the rifles mechanical accuracy much better. The trigger is by no means match grade, but for a lever action rifle, it was more than adequate and did not feel overly heavy or gritty. Trigger pull felt relatively smooth with a clean break. It did take a little time to get used to the transfer bar safety, instead of a typical push button or lever.
The Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy Classic chambered in .45 Colt is one of the best lever guns I had the privilege to shoot. It’s smooth operation and eye stealing looks are something that everyone can appreciate. Above all, this rifle shoots. Period. I can understand why someone would hoard a rifle like this away as a designated safe queen. But just because she is beautiful, it doesn’t mean she won’t run. Hidden under all that beauty is great craftsmanship that is built to last and be used on the range and in the field. I would highly recommend the Henry Big Boy if you are looking to get a fancy looking rifle that is built for use.
Affordability – 4.5/5
The Henry Big Boy is not an entry level rifle for a small budget, and its not built to be. But, with an MSRP of $945, it is a custom level rifle without the price tag. You get what you pay for, and in this case, you get a hell of a rifle that you can proudly hang over your mantel.
Reliability – 5/5
My round count was small with this rifle as .45 Colt ammo is not the most cost efficient or plentiful. But this rifle never once gave a single issue in terms of reliability in feeding, chambering, or extracting. Black Hills ammunition is in a class all its own.
Aesthetics – 5/5
While this is highly subjective to each individual shooter, in my opinion, this rifle is one of the sharpest and most beautiful rifles I have handled. I am not typically a fan of bright shiny rifles, but this is the exception to my rule. Between the high-polished brass plated receiver and the gorgeous American walnut, you won’t find many rifles close to its beauty.
Accuracy – 4/5
This rifle is not built to be a precision shooter, but I was happy with the groups I was getting with the large brass bead front sight. I would prefer a thinner front sight post for a little more precision while aiming, but the bead is quick to pick up, and overall you will hit what you are aiming at.
Overall – 4.75/5
You will not be disappointed if you buy the Henry Big Boy. With other calibers available such as .327 Magnum, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, and .44 Magnum, you will be able to find the right cartridge for you and your budget. I would highly recommend the Big Boy from Henry Repeating Arms.
For more information and specs, check out Henry Repeating Arms!