Gun Review: Henry Frontier Suppressor Ready rifle in .22LR (VIDEO)

When old and new, nostalgic and modern collide, the result is Henry’s new-for-2017 Frontier Model Threaded Barrel Suppressor Ready rifle in 22LR or WMR.  While screwing a can onto a traditional lever action seems quite foreign, the market for suppressors is hotter than ever.  Is Henry hitting a ready market at its peak, or is a suppressed lever gun a ridiculous idea?

Frontier Model Threaded Barrel Suppressor Ready rifle

Prior to Henry’s introduction of this new model, not only did suppressing one of their rifles require a visit to a reputable gunsmith for barrel threading, but it also meant removing the silencer every time the rifle needed to be reloaded due to the magazine tube not clearing the can.  To solve those problems, the Frontier is built with two-fold changes: First, the muzzle is threaded with industry standard ½-28 inch threads that are .400 inches in length, more than adequate for any can on the market.  And secondly, the magazine tube has been shortened to allow ample clearance for reloading the tube without unscrewing the can each time you want to reload.

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Octagonal barrel with thread protector over muzzle. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

The “new” Frontier is initially available in two rimfire chamberings: .22 S/L/LR or .22 Magnum.  Both models come with a white-diamond semi-buckhorn rear and tall-brass-bead front sights which are easily adjustable.  For shooters who prefer optics, the top of the rifle’s receiver cover is grooved for easy scope mounting.  The rifle holds 10 rounds of standard .22 or eight rounds of WMR.  There’s the lengthy 24 inch octagon barrel wearing 1:16 rifling and is capped off with a knurled thread cover.  The gun measures 42.5 inches overall with a 14 inch LOP and weighs seven pounds even, sans ammo and muzzle device.  As with all of Henry’s fine Made-in-America-or-not-made-at-all guns, stocks are pure American Walnut.  MSRP on the .22 is $502 and the WMR is set at $596.  Both guns are shipping in Spring 2017.

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The ½-28 inch threads that are .400 inches in length will accommodate most any can on the market. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Field testing

For our testing, we had the pleasure of screwing on an Advanced Armament Pilot 2 rimfire suppressor, which threaded directly onto the muzzle with no need for an adapter. The barrel threading is done very well, with clean threads and a quality protector.  We fired a combination of both subsonic and standard 22LR ammunition from our test gun, including CCI Subsonic 40 grain HP, Federal Premium’s new Hunter Match, and Winchester white box 333.  It’s almost redundant to say, but as usual, the Henry performed flawlessly on cycling and firing all types of ammo.

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Advanced Armament Pilot 2 rimfire suppressor attached to a Henry Frontier with test ammo. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

The subsonic stuff, though, is what we were all waiting for from this old-meets-new lever action.  Though we did not have the capabilities to quantify volume, users on the range were all the proof we needed.  Subsonic 22LR ammunition from CCI—at 1050 fps—made what can only be described as a “pffft” of sound like moving air.  Onlookers were quick to suggest that the levering action of the rifle and the thwack of the bullet into the berm made more noise than did the firing of the round through the Pilot 2.

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Shortened magazine tube on the suppressor ready Frontier. This shortened tube allows the user to reload the weapon without removing the can. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

We donned hearing protection before trying the standard/non-subsonic ammo from Winchester and Federal Premium, but that precaution was unnecessary. Though there was now a definite “crack” upon firing, it was still nowhere near loud enough to require ear plugs and not all comparable to firing sans silencer.  And let me tell you, from someone who spends as much time on the range and behind a gun as do I, it’s a true pleasure to be able to shoot sans muffs, plugs, or hearing protection of any kind without jeopardizing the ears.

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Rear sight detail on Henry lever action rifle. This is easily removed to attach a scope or other modern optics if you want to continue the rifles theme. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Combining the Frontier, a quality suppressor, and Federal Premium Hunter Match hollow point ammunition make this a true pleasure for small game hunters.  Best of all, mounting a suppressor like the Pilot 2 did not affect accuracy in the least when discussing groups, though it’s important to note that point of impact can change when fired through the can.  At 50 yards, we were well within the kill zone of any squirrel or rabbit offhand with iron sights.   Suppressed shooting, especially from a rimfire, is a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport without fear of report or recoil.

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A simple buttplate and American Walnut buttstock on the Henry Frontier. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Though lever actions are certainly not what comes to mind when thinking of suppressed shooting, Henry is right on the mark with this one.  Not only are they capitalizing on timing of the rising popularity of the muzzle devices given the likelihood of H.R. 367 passing, but they’re offering a great plinking and hunting gun right out of the box.

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The author combs a Midwest field for varmints. A suppressed Henry lever action makes an ideal small game rifle. Our testing revealed consistent minute-of-squirrel shots at 50 yards over factory sights. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Our only qualm was the fit and finish on our test rifle is not quite as high as on other, pricier models, as there were small gaps in the buttstock-receiver fitment.  This is, however, a very affordable rifle that performs well, excels with suppressors, and is just a darn lot of fun.

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Henry Frontier Suppressor-Ready rifle in .22LR with box. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

A quiet conclusion

Sure, a high-gloss octagon levergun looks a little strange at first glance with a suppressor, but it works so well, you’ll soon forget that it’s not supposed to be.  While Henry may have broken from tradition in building a suppressor ready rifle, they have not parted ways with their quality.  The Frontier Model Threaded is a well built, smooth, practical lever gun for the modern hunter and plinker alike.  Who knows, maybe this move will open up the world of lever actions to a whole new generation of shooters?