Bullseye Lever-Action Hunter: Henry Magnum Express .22 WMR
Whether it’s for X-ring accuracy or bushy-tail busting, Henry builds American-made lever-action rifles for success. The latest addition to the Henry Repeating Arms family, the Magnum Express, brings the .22 WMR chambering to an optics-ready hunting rifle. The tagline is “purpose-built for bullseye accuracy,” and Guns.com set out to discover the details of this latest rimfire.
Henry Magnum Express
What sets the Magnum Express apart from all the other lever-action rimfires in the Henry Repeating Arms catalog? The major design difference is the Monte Carlo stock and Picatinny top rail, which solve the problem of getting the shooter’s eye in line with an optic. Many traditional lever guns, especially rimfires, show a significant drop at the comb, which can make cheeking a rifle properly when using a higher-mounted optic awfully awkward.
The Magnum Express is chambered only in .22 WMR at this time. The 11-round tubular magazine ensures adequate firepower. The Picatinny rail comes pre-installed but is not a permanent or integral feature. It can be removed or replaced if desired, though there are no iron sights. Like all Henry firearms, the Magnum Express is 100 percent made in America, right down to the checkered American walnut stock. Our test rifle is marked as being made in Bayonne, New Jersey.
There’s a 19.25-inch round, blued steel barrel. There’s a rubber buttpad that dresses a 14-inch length of pull. Like the company’s other rimfire rifles, the Magnum Express uses a 1/4 cock safety mechanism, meaning there are no external toggles. The overall length is 37.5 inches, with a weight of only 5.5 pounds. The alloy receiver is finished in the black, making it more practical in the woods. It joins Henry’s existing Varmint Express rimfire in .17 HMR, which wears a similar Monte Carlo stock but uses fiber-optic sights rather than a Picatinny rail.
After only the first few shots, there’s no doubt that the Magnum Express will be much more than a range success. In fact, with its lines designed for comfortable optics use, partnered with a capable rimfire chambering, this rifle will see regular use in the field chasing varmints.
Some rimfire lever actions have rather bland wood stocks. That’s not the case with the Magnum Express. The American walnut is classy, has an acceptable grain, is nicely checkered at both the pistol grip and forend, and is topped with a quality rubber recoil pad. Though the rifle looks average, it performs off the charts.
The ergonomics when scoped, combined with a smooth cycling action, make it easier than ever to hit fast-moving targets like small game. No more awkward cheeking of the rifle or puppy-dogging to get a full view of the reticle. The rifle mounts quickly and is well balanced. This one is a natural, but it demands an optic of some type, as it is devoid of iron sights.
That may put some folks off, but there exists a laundry list of sighted models for them. While it might be nice to have drilled and tapped the barrel for aftermarket iron options, the whole point of this particular rifle is optics readiness. There are no sling studs or swivels, but that can be remedied easily enough by those who demand them, and numerous leather companies offer harnessed slings.
We fired a trio of our favored .22 WMR ammunition, including Hornady Varmint Express 30-grain V-Max, CCI Maxi Mag Clean-22 in 46-grain segmented hollow point, and Aguila Silver Eagle 40-grain SJSP. As usual with Henry, reliability, and function were flawless right out of the box.
Further, the Magnum Express does indeed live up to its claim of punching out bullseyes. The Picatinny rail means there are hundreds of scope ring options from which to choose. We mounted a Leupold Rifleman 4-12x40 riflescope and proceeded to shoot groups from 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards.
Due to wicked wind and unseasonable cold on filming day, we pumped out our three-shot accuracy test from 50 yards. With all three types of ammunition, groups were well under an inch. The best, 50-yard three-shot group came with Hornady V-Max and measured only 0.43 inches. The rifle is certainly capable of accurate shooting stretching out well past the 100-yard mark.
If you’re wondering about that color-cloud-puffing target we shot with the Henry, that’s a Sput Target filled with non-toxic colorant for instant shot placement feedback. Why not shoot an American-made reactive target with an American-made rimfire? Though the center diamond on the targets is tiny, so are the heads of offending vermin at distance.
With a trigger that breaks just a hair under 4 pounds with repeatability, Henry’s Magnum Express rifle is dressed for success. Need to make quick and precise shots on critters like squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, or foxes? The Magnum Express has you covered.
The bottom line is that the Magnum Express does what it set out to do – and it does it well. It’s built for a scope and gets the eye in line with that optic naturally. It’s accurate, reliable, attractive, and purely American. As expected, the gun ran flawlessly through over 100 rounds without a single misfire or failure to eject. Best of all, it runs with the cowboy-class, lever-action flair, and the pride in workmanship we’ve come to expect from Henry Repeating Arms.