Lever Action

 I recently bought a 10-round .357 magnum lever action rifle from Henry. 

My Henry Rifle
.357 Mag/.38 spl lever action rifle

I had an old BSA dot laying around and the rifle’s receiver was already tapped for a scope mount, so I prevailed on my friend and master air gun mechanic, Derrick, to cut and drill a Picatinny-style rail to fit my gun.

After a few minutes of “You want a what on a what?” he took a look at it and told me it’s a piece of strudel cake.  I’m happy to report he did a nice job on it.  I’m very pleased with it.

After blue loctite-ing the rail’s screws in place and mounting the scope on it, I took it out to the range.   I zeroed the rifle at 25 yards.  I’m not sure I’ll leave it there, but it’s a good start.

Henry rifle sight in
Sighting in the rifle is just the begining process of owning the rifle

Two things I don’t like about the gun.  One: no mechanical safety.  I usually carry it hammer down with an empty chamber.  Two: lack of a loading gate.  It’s fed from a tubular magazine under the barrel.  If you want to top it off, you need to pull the magazine plug and drop the rounds in one at a time.  It’s not the slow that bothers me, it the direction of the muzzle while I’m reloading it. 

What did I want it for?

I always wanted lever action rifle.  I didn’t want a rifle caliber.  My right shoulder is too screwed up for a lot of shooting of .30-06 or .300 Win Mag.  But there is another reason too.

I like the idea of having a rifle and pistol group that fires the same ammo and .357 magnum fills that bill just fine!

The HP is my reload, I need to get a little better crimp.  You never want a pointed bullet in a tubular  magizine for centerfire chartridges.  The flat top is factory.

We tend to think of out-the-door-in-to–trouble rifles as tactical guns.  If you are serious about the possibility of civil unrest and defense you should be thinking rifle.  There isn’t a serious instructor who doesn’t think of the pistol as something to fight your way to your long gun.  Most of us think of that rifle as a military style rifle (I’m using rifle as short hand for rifle or carbine) like an AR or AK.

Dot on Lever Action Rifle
BSA dots tend to be dark.  I need to buy a better one.

What is it we want out of a rifle?

Most people would say increased firepower, more rounds, longer distance, better accuracy.  I’m not mentioning stopping power.  Stopping power is a function of shot placement.  While some rounds perform better than others, shot placemen is paramount. 

Before I constrict this discussion by eliminating high capacity military weapons with detachable magazines, let me remind you many battles have been won by motivated men with 8 round rifles.

I didn’t have any problem with head shots at 50 yards, something I see few people trying with a handgun.  The lack of ability to reload with a feeding gate is probably the biggest drawback to claiming it’s a tactical weapon.  This may well be overmatched by the ability to be prepared with just one type of ammunition for both weapons.

Lever action rifles tend to be seen as ordinary, routine.  Something you hunt with, take care of nuisance varmints with, something out of your childhood movies.  Not intimidating at all, unless you’re at the open end of the barrel.    


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