The year 2023 marks an entirely new firearms category for Henry Repeating Arms. The lever action powerhouse took a major turn, launching its first semi-automatic centerfire rifle. The Homesteader is a 9mm Luger repeating carbine with traditional looks and modern features. 

Here’s what we found when we opened the lid on our test gun.  
 

Table of Contents

Henry’s First Semi-auto? Not Quite.
Purpose
Understanding the Three Models
Hands On With the Homesteader
Initial Impressions
Radically New, or Recreated? 

Henry’s First Semi-Auto? Not Quite.

 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
It's not Henry's first semi-auto rifle, but it is the company's first centerfire semi-auto. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


To clarify, the Homesteader is not Henry’s first semi-auto. That title falls to the rimfire AR-7 takedown darling that packs into its own floatable buttstock. But the newbie is the company’s flagship centerfire semi-automatic and the first of its kind in many ways for the American brand. 

Interchangeable magazine systems? Check. Swappable ambidextrous bolt handle? Check. First-ever 9mm? Check. Accepting Glock, SIG, and S&W magazines? Triple check. The Homesteader’s tagline is: “From bed post to fence post, what’s yours remains yours.” The line implies a bevy of practical uses, and so far, they’re not wrong. 
 

Purpose

 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
Henry bills the Homesteader as a classic American tool for protecting life and property "from bed post to fence post." (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Though unofficially debuted in January at the industry’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Henry formally launched the Homesteader on Valentine’s Day. The tagline indicates the little gun’s use: “Ideal for home, property, and livestock protection.” While some of the target markets may be slightly different – and even expanded – those identifiers are valid. 

What shooters may be attracted by such a platform? Our informal discussions with Henry brass indicate a clear call from customers for a 9mm long gun. While many, including me, would have expected that to be a lever action – here we are. 

The compact carbine platform will be easy to carry and stow, workable in tight quarters, practical for protection, and a rapid-fire treat on the range. Though the 9mm is not ideal for most types of hunting, there is a legit possibility to use the Homesteader for close quarters harvesting of certain types of game with the right projectiles, not to mention fast shooting on threats of both the two- and four-legged kinds. 

The gun makes sense for those who already have an abundance of 9mm ammo stored up. For those with a pistol in 9mm and spare mags waiting to be used, Henry’s Homesteader offers a welcome partnership. For Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) platform fans. For Henry fans seeking something unique. For those wanting a low-recoil plinker. The list of reasons keeps growing. 
 

Understanding the Three Models

 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
Each rifle ships with a pair of Henry's proprietary 5- and 10-round mags. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The 9mm carbine is advertised to accept a plethora of magazines: Glock, SIG Sauer, S&W, and Henry’s own proprietary sticks. While that’s true, swapping between them requires a bit of forethought, as each requires its own magazine well adapter. To be fair, the SIG and S&W use the same part. To that end, Henry is cataloging the gun in three different model variants. 

The first, which accepts only Henry mags as it ships, retails the lowest at $928. The second model includes a magazine well for Glock mags. The third comes with the adaptor for both Smith & Wesson M&P and SIG Sauer magazines. The latter two models, which retail for $959, also ship with Henry’s proprietary devices. 

Fret not, though. Those wishing they could use all the magazines will soon find the individual wells available via Henry’s online store. Though that date is yet unclear, Henry does include both their 5- and 10-round proprietary mags with every model so shooters can get down to business immediately, no matter which model they snag. 
 

Hands-On with the Homesteader

 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
The Homesteader sports Henry's classic good looks, with an adjustable rear aperture sight... (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Though a radically new platform for the company, the outward styling screams “Henry.” There’s American walnut furniture and a blued steel barrel. The aluminum receiver is hard coat anodized. Sights are adjustable, with an aperture rear and post front. 
 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
...and a post front. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


That receiver is drilled and tapped to accept a standard Weaver 63B base, should an optic be desired. The gun weighs in at 6.6 pounds and measures just under 3 feet in overall length. The 16.37-inch round barrel is threaded at 1/2x28 TPI. Length of pull is a standard 14 inches. This newest addition, like many others, is built at the company’s Rice Lake, Wisconsin, plant. 
 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
While recoil isn't a big concern here, Henry provides a soft butt pad to absorb any kick. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


While the 9mm is not hard-recoiling to begin with, the gun uses what the company calls a “reciprocating mass” inside the forearm to counteract recoil and get shooters back on target faster. We pulled off the forend, removed the trigger group, and inspected the makeup. All action components appear to be metal-on-metal, thus avoiding prematurely wearing composite parts. Fit and finish, overall, is clean and tight. There’s “leather-like” texturing on the stocks, a soft rubber recoil pad, and sling studs. 
 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
We removed the forend to take a look at the action. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
The charging handle can be reversed for left-handed use, although the gun still ejects to the right. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The Homesteader is surprisingly ambidextrous for what looks like a right-handed rig. The charging handle can be reversed with ease. Pulling straight out with a little force removes it. The ejection port, obviously, remains on the right. But this is still a thoughtful option whether for lefties or right-handers who like to run actions with the left hand. The bolt hold-open lever can be actuated from either side, as can the top-mounted thumb safety. 
 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
Here you can see the ambi bolt hold-open controls... (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
...and the thumb safety. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

 

Initial Impressions

 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
The gun is easily disassembled to swap magwells. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


We’ll go into much greater depth after having a chance to really run the gun through its paces. For now, we’re pleased to share our initial observations as we study the ins and outs of Henry’s youngest child. 

Right out of the box, the Homesteader looks and feels heavier than its advertised 6.6-pound weight. The balance point is a bit forward of center, but it is a surprisingly maneuverable rig. After pulling the trigger on only a few mags worth of 9mm Federal Syntech, there’s little to no recoil. We wouldn’t hesitate to let a new or younger shooter run this one, though the full-size length of pull won’t likely be comfortable for the smallest-framed shooters. 

We dig the walnut furniture and old-school look on a modern PCC-style gun. With a little combination of dry and live fire, the trigger is decent, breaking between 4.5 and 5.5 pounds, albeit with a fair amount of takeup and a little creep. Magazines are polymer with a strong spring, and they lock into place with an audible and palpable click. 
 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
Henry's standard magwell at left, with the Glock magwell at right. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The instruction manual includes clear instructions on teardown and cleaning as well as swapping magwells. The latter process may seem intimidating the first time, as it involves knocking out all three cross pins and removing both the trigger group and buttstock, but for someone who’s even slightly handy, it’s a piece of cake. 
 

Henry Homesteader 9mm Semi-auto Rifle
A view of the action with the magwell and trigger group removed. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

 

Radically New, or Recreated?

Several historical past firearms – and a current one too – came to mind when we first laid eyes on the Homesteader. The classic self-loading Winchester Model 1907 from a century prior shows remarkably similar lines. 

More recently, though, Ruger’s 9mm PC Carbine is certainly the closest design partner and competitor, though each stands on its own. In the world of centerfire handgun-chambered carbines, Henry actually owns the market with its lever-action Big Boy line, firing rounds like .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt, among others. 

Our full review of the Homesteader, with multiple ammunition brands and bullet types, will come later after extensive testing, as will a closer look at the carbine’s challengers. However, we simply couldn’t unbox this new speedster without running a few mags full downrange. Blasting 9mm without a hiccup right out of the box and grinning all the way? Done, done, and waiting for more. Stay tuned. 

revolver barrel loading graphic

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