Henry All-Weather: Big-Bore Lever Action Dominates on African Safari
The Henry Repeating Arms All-Weather Picatinny Rail .45-70 Side Gate – that’s a darn long name for a short rifle. In fact, this lever gun will be better known as Henry’s big-bore scout rifle. We used it to hunt dangerous game on safari in Africa, and it’s a winner in every way. Here’s what you need to know.
Meet the Henry All-Weather Picatinny Rail .45-70 Side Gate
In general, we love Henry’s rifles, but their naming system leaves more than a bit to be desired. One of their most compact big bores carries a seriously lengthy – and not so catchy – name. For reference, it’s also known in their latest catalog as H010GAWP.
What it actually is, I’d argue, is one of the all-American company’s finest lever gun offerings to date. Its metrics and features put it as close to an alternate style of scout rifle as any lever gun. There’s an extended Picatinny rail that allows optics to be mounted in a wide range of positions, and those optics could be long-eye-relief scout scopes, red dots, or traditional rifle scopes. Some shooters may forgo the optic altogether, as the rail includes an integral rear peep sight that acquires quickly with the front blade.
At 18.43 inches, the round barrel is shorter than most. With an overall length of only 37.5 inches, this is one wieldy rifle. In Henry’s All-Weather rifle fashion, the metalwork wears what they call an Industrial Hard Chrome satin finish. The package weighs in at 7.1 pounds empty and sans scope. Stocks are black stained American hardwood with a black ventilated rubber recoil pad.
Like most new production Henry’s, this model makes use of the side loading gate – part of its long name – in addition to the usual tubular charging port. This .45-70 rifle, though short, can hold a whopping five rounds in the magazine tube, which is interesting because the advertised capacity is only four in the tube. The gun boasts a large loop lever, swivel studs, and a general badass attitude. There’s little doubt that current demand outstrips production, no matter how hard the company works to keep them in stock.
On the Range
Serious preparation is key to any hunt, but especially so when traveling abroad. To that end, we spent plenty of time on the range, firing multiple types and weights of ammunition including Buffalo Bore, Hornady, HSM, and Federal Premium. For the hunt, however, we wanted to test Federal’s Hammer Down with its 300-grain bonded soft-point bullet. For the record, we also packed along some Buffalo Bore just in case the situation dictated a more robust projectile.
Though we didn’t plan to take shots over 100 yards, especially on dangerous game, the rifle grouped well even beyond that distance. It’s always best to be prepared, and knowing our rig was paramount. We also chose to mount a low-power, high-quality Leupold VX-3HD CDS-ZL in 2.5-8x32 in quick-release mounts. This would allow the scope to be quickly removed in case we wanted to use the broad factory peep for a close encounter with dangerous game. This offers hunters the best of both worlds.
On the Hunt
What better place to test the mettle of a new rifle than on a big and dangerous game hunt on the Dark Continent? We faced heat and red sand at Mpumalanga on the hunt for wild river Crocodiles. Then, there were unexpectedly sub-zero temperatures and thorns galore on the track of Cape buffalo at the Free State. Never mind the humidity and clinging dust from our opening days in KwaZulu Natal. The rifle never missed a beat. And to the dismay of naysayers that the .45-70 is not enough gun for dangerous game, we made clean harvests on both a 12-foot crocodile and a Cape buffalo that was 40+ inches.
But this is not about the round. It’s about the rifle. No matter what we fed the Henry, it never failed us. Henry builds their lever actions of 100-percent American materials here in the states. Taking this all-American rifle to Africa meant putting it to the test not only for professional hunters, but also to stake my own life on its reliability against dangerous game that would just as soon kill you as share territory. I’m proud to say the rifle did me – and the Henry family and fans – exceptionally proud.
Because of the rifle’s compact size, partnered with its knockdown caliber, it’s a gem in tight quarters like hunting blinds as well as stalking through gnarly terrain. We had it with us many nights in both bush-built and dugout hunting blinds as well as pursuing Black Death (Cape buffalo) into the bush. While the hyenas never came to the calls, every professional hunter wanted to keep this rifle due to its combination of stature and performance.
One of the key features on this rifle is the extended Picatinny rail. It’s the type shooters often find on .308 bolt-action scout rifles. On the big-bore .45-70 lever action, it allows shooters to use scout scopes with extended eye relief, which allows shooting with both eyes open as well as any number of night vision choices. It also opens up the options for red dots, holographic optics, or traditional rifle scopes.
The other major feature that must be considered on a lever action, especially for dangerous game, is the side loading gate. While the rifle maintains Henry’s standard tubular loading port, where we prefer to do our major loading and unloading, the side gate allows for quick top-offs in the field. Though it never happened, if we put two shots into an animal and wanted to reload in a hurry, that’s better done from the belt right into the side gate, keeping the rifle always at the ready.
The Recoil Question?
There seems to be much concern out there about the recoil of the .45-70 Govt. I’m not a fan of big recoil, but I love the old-school round, and the kick is more than manageable even in the shorter rifle. Partner the 7.1-pound weight of the rifle – adding a bit more when loaded and scoped – and there’s no problem, especially shooting from sticks. This is especially true in the field. Ask any hunter how bad the supposed recoil was when they pulled the trigger on their Cape buffalo, elk, bear, or any other dream quarry, and they’ll likely tell you – myself included – that they never even felt it.
American Henry Takes on the World
Even under adverse conditions, with less-than-ideal cleaning done at the bush camps, and facing the adrenaline of dangerous game hunts, Henry’s new rifle was a hands-down winner. We used it to take warthog, Cape buffalo, and two wild river crocodiles. Make no mistake, if we’re willing to travel halfway around the world with a rifle, that means we have the utmost trust in its reliability, accuracy, and quality. If our Henry Repeating Arms All-Weather Picatinny Rail Side Gate .45-70 can dominate on the Dark Continent and help make lifelong hunting dreams come true, just imagine what it can help you accomplish at home.