Henry X: a perfect 10?
Who knew it would take until 2020 for lever-action rifles to finally be their best self? Mis-steps were taken in this direction in 2012 (I’m looking at you, Mossberg 464). Unwieldy monstrosities with too much quad rail were not what the lever-action loving community wanted. The Marlin Dark Series and CST, as well as the Rossi R92 Triple Black are recent entries in the modernized levergun arena. This year at SHOT, however, Henry had a sleeper hit with their new X Series lever-actions.
Featuring Hi-viz fiber optic sights, a side loading gate, a threaded barrel, and a synthetic stock with M-LOK compatible fore-end, the new Henry X Series guns retain the classic lines of a lever-action with modern capabilities. The small section of rail at the foremost 6 o’clock position of the fore-end doesn’t get in the way at all, and neither do the small M-LOK slots at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Henry recognized that most shooters would be mounting a light/laser, bipod, and not much else. Even the integrated sling attachment points are snag-free and don’t get in the way of anything. The X Series are lever-actions that are just as much at home with no attachments being drawn from a leather saddle scabbard as they would be fully equipped with bipod, IR illuminator and night optic for nighttime boar hunts.
Initial Impressions of the Henry X series:
Henry USA was kind enough to send us here at TFB one of their “Big Boy X Series” rifles chambered in .44 Magnum. These rifles check off many things on potential customer’s wishlists: Chambered in heavy hitting pistol calibers (.44mag, .45 colt, .357mag); pistol grip stock; medium loop lever; King’s (side loading) gate; synthetic stock; and most importantly: Threaded! It should be noted that the Big Boy X models are the first models from Henry chambered in pistol calibers to feature a pistol grip stock and/or a King’s gate.
At 36.3″ with a 14″ length of pull and coming in at 7.3lbs unloaded, the Big Boy X is nicely compact. The barrels are 17.4″ long, have a twist rate of 1:20, and come threaded 5/8×24 for muzzle devices. Personally, I would have preferred a 16″ barrel for pistol calibers, but 17.4″ is not too unwieldily. The barrel is topped with front and rear fiber optic sights. The front sight is a fixed green fiber optic, while the rear sight is drift adjustable for windage, screw adjustable for elevation, and has orange fiber optics.
Overall, fit and finish was very good. The receiver finish itself is more of a matte, while the barrel and magazine tube are semi-gloss. The synthetic fore-end has a tiny bit of flex to it. The one weak spot I found in my initial inspection of the rifle was that the trigger pull was a rather stout 8.5lbs. All other Henry rifles and shotguns I have fired in the past (over 10) have come in between 3.8-5.5lb trigger pulls, so I was a bit surprised at this. The action itself was very smooth and lock-up was very precise.
Now on to the most critical part of the X Series guns: the threaded barrel. I was very pleased to see the threading was very well machined. I tried out a number of muzzle devices from different manufacturers, and they all went on smoothly and without issue. Henry’s provided thread protector also completely protects the threads. This should be an obvious job of a thread protector, but I’ve seen instances where other major manufacturers fail in this respect.
Specs, per Henry:
- Model Number: H012X
- Barrel Length: 17.4″
- Barrel Type: Round Blued Steel
- Rate of Twist: 1:20
- Overall Length: 36.3″
- Weight: 7.3 lbs.
- Receiver Finish: Blued Steel
- Rear Sight: Fully Adj. Fiber Optic
- Front Sight: Fiber Optic
- Scopeability: Drilled and Tapped
- Scope Mount Type: BB-RSM
- Stock Material: Black Synthetic
- Buttplate/Pad: Black Solid Rubber Recoil Pad
- Length of Pull: 14″
- Safety: Transfer Bar
- Best Uses: Target/Hunting/Large Game
- Embellishments/Extras: Swivel Studs, Large Loop Lever, M-Lok, Picatinny Rail, 5/8×24 Threaded Barrel, Fiber Optic Sights
- MSRP: $970.00
Equipped with an excellent selection of quality .44 Magnum ammo courtesy of the good folks at Hornady, I headed to the range. Loading seven rounds of flat pointed ammunition into the Henry X’s side loading gate was quite easy. Henry has done a proper job with their King’s gate, as both .44 Mag and .44 Spl rounds from Hornady, Federal, CCI and Underwood slid into place in the mag tube smoothly. No cartridge rims caught on the loading gate at all during the entire course of my review.
Firing the gun “slick” offhand from the shoulder at 25y targets was quite nice. Working the lever as fast as I could, I was able to put all seven rounds tightly grouped, thanks in part to the excellent, eye-catching sights, as well as the thick rubber butted that clung really well to my clothing and soaked up all recoil.
Moving on to the bench, I attached a Picatinny-compatible B&T Industries’ CAL Atlas bipod, as well as a SilencerCo Hybrid 46. I chose the Hybrid 46 because its one of the few large diameter silencers that can handle .44 Magnum, and it will work well on many other platforms and calibers as well. It should be noted that the ability to load or unload from the magazine tube cutout will be impeded with a silencer mounted on the firearm.
Be Vewwy, Vewwy Quiet…
Launching suppressed 300gr Hornady XTP rounds downrange was a dream. It was my first experience shooting suppressed with a .44 Magnum, and I was impressed. I did not have access to a reputable DB meter, but to me it was close enough to “hearing safe”, especially when launching .44 Spl (TFB Head Honcho and Wizard of Silence Pete might say otherwise). The fiber optic sight picture just cleared the edge of the suppressor, which is a nice touch by Henry.
Despite the stout trigger, groups came in at roughly 1.5″ at 50 yards with the stock sights. This is very comparable accuracy to my old Marlin Cowboy in .44 Mag, which I have 15 years of shooting and hunting experience with. Accuracy with the stock sights was also good enough to hit 4″ diameter (vital zone sized) rocks at 125 yards. If one desired a higher level of precision, one could easily mount any number of optics to the drilled and tapped receiver. The Henry Big Boy X did not seem to have a clear preference for any one load. It handled 225gr up to 300gr projectiles and all projectile profiles equally well. I did not have a single malfunction in over 250 rounds of test firing.
The Henry X Series’ medium loop was comfortable to shoot long strings with. Even firing over 100 rounds of .44 magnum in one session did not leave any marks on my shoulder or hot spots on my lever hand. The action itself is not at all conducive to short stroking or any other common lever mistakes/malfunctions a less experienced lever action user might encounter. The sights had extremely good visibility, even in the twilight of early dawn and after sundown.
The Henry X Series rifles give the levergun community something to be thankful for. They check off many items on the wishlist of a levergun shooter, and are also an excellent, powerful, and quiet host for a silencer. With the added versatility of their M-LOK fore-end, these threaded guns represent an excellent choice for a modern levergun.
Objectively, the Henry Big Boy X has the most capabilities of any factory lever-action chambered in .44 Mag, with its threaded barrel, the ability to mount multiple devices on the fore-end, and mount optic on the receiver. It is reasonably accurate for a .44 Mag, and was 100% reliable. Subjectively, I find the Henry Big Boy X, as well as the whole X series in general, to be the very best option for a modern lever-action. It checks all the right boxes without ruining the classic lines of a levergun. My only wishes for the future are to see similar models in an all-weather finish and possibly with 16″ barrels. Well done, Henry USA.
- Durable finish
- Versatile Fore-end
- Excellent buttpad
- 100% reliable, easy to load with multiple bullet lengths and profiles
- Made in the USA
- Not as compact as it could be with 16″ barrel instead of 17.4″
- Trigger on my test model was a bit stout