Henry Repeating Firearms is well known for its lever action rifles chambered in traditional rimfire and blunt-nosed center fire cartridges. While these guns are great for a hunt in the woods or plinking at the range, the cartridge limits the effective distance targets (or game) can be engaged. This is largely due to the these cartridge’s roots in black powder and the need to use round nosed bullets in the magazine to prevent a primer detonating during recoil. Unlike its tube fed magazine peers, the Long Ranger addresses the shortcomings by chambering a lever action rifle in 223 Remington, 243 Winchester or 308 Winchester and feeding from a standard box magazine.
The Long Ranger is reminiscent of the Browning BLR with similar styling and feel. It does have one distinct difference, the Long Ranger is made in the USA! Kudos to Henry!
The Long Ranger uses a blue steel barrel and lever with an alloy receiver and wood furniture. The scope holes of the receiver are reinforced with steel inserts to provide a secure interface between the optic and rifle.
The lever operates a six lug rotary bolt that feeds from the push button removable 4-shot magazine. Simply cycle the action and you have a new cartridge chambered.
No plastic here. A steel 4-shot double stack magazine feeds the long ranger.
Equipped with an English rear stock and a slim wooden forearm, the Long Ranger is quick to the shoulder. The Walnut front and rear stock are well fit with nice checkering. Shooting so many chassis guns made me forget about how much I liked a nice piece of wood on a blued steel gun. The stock put my head in the perfect position behind the scope in medium rings, every time I mounted the rifle, the scope was in the exact right spot.
The Long Ranger is equipped with a 20″ barrel and available with or without a set of rifle sights. For a gun like this I am strictly an optics guy. For the Long Ranger I ended up using a TRACT Optics TORIC. The TORIC used here is a 3-15×42 with a duplex reticle. I feel it is offers the perfect range of magnification and optical quality for a rifle like this.
Unlike many other rifles, the Long Ranger does not have an external safety. Instead it uses a transfer bar system shown above. This means the rifle will not fire without the shooter depressing the trigger. It took some getting used to, but the system did work well.
Even with the hammer down (above), the transfer bar safety makes it impossible to fire the rifle without pressing the trigger.
Trigger pull averaged a crisp 3 pounds 12.7 ounces, a nice field trigger for a hunting rifle.
So why a lever action 243 Winchester? Well, the lever action mechanism offers a number of advantages over a traditional bolt action rifle; it is ambidextrous, quick handling, and offers quicker follow up shots.
The biggest disadvantage I found to the Long Ranger was the decreased camming power to unseat stuck cases. For most shooters this is a non issue, however, I tend to only neck size my brass. This often leads to firm pressure when I close the bolt on my reloads. The Henry is at home with factory ammo and full length sized cases, don’t expect to feed it 12x fired neck-sized only match brass!
For accuracy testing I headed to the range with 80 gr. Remington Pointed Soft-Point (PSP) and 100 gr. Winchester Power-Point ammunition. The Remington 80 gr. PSP had a muzzle velocity if 3,061 feet/second with a standard deviation of 34.2. 4-shot group size measured 3.142″ and 3.014″. The 100 gr. Winchester had a muzzle velocity of 2,751 feet/second and a standard deviation of 24.7. Group sizes (4-shots) were 1.148″ and 1.403″. Sub 1.5 MOA 4-shot groups! One group was just over 1 MOA! I couldn’t believe it! This is a lever action rifle with a thin barrel and two piece stock, wow! I have no doubt some time hand loading would improve these results.
Cycling the rifle was easy so long as you moved it with purpose. I’ve become so accustomed to slowly working the bolt handles on my match guns, that I tried that a few times on the Long Ranger. That is a no go, and the brass doesn’t eject very well. Speed it up and you have a winner!
Recoil was mild. The combination of mild kicking 243 Winchester and soft rubber recoil pad made for a delightful experience.
My thoughts on the Henry Long Ranger:
- Great hunting rifle. This is a neat package for the deer or black bear hunter. The Long Ranger carries well, points quickly, and offers near MOA accuracy.
- Long Ranger’s longer range. The use of bottleneck rifle cartridges allows the Long Ranger to stretch it’s legs out. I ordered the TRACT TORIC on the test rifle with a duplex reticle, I wish I had ordered a IMPACT BDC reticle. I’m confident I could produce great groups at longer ranges.
- Nice trigger. I was pleasantly surprised by the trigger on the Long Ranger. I’ve become so accustomed to being let down by factory rifles, that when they are good, I feel it is appropriate to offer praise.
- Ambidextrous. I may judge you for being a lefty, but Henry doesn’t!
- USA! Made in America, by Americans!
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