It’s a cold morning: good thing you brought your gloves, as you knew you’d be sitting for a while. The buck you’ve been keeping an eye on always comes across this little two-track at about eight in the morning, right when the light is just right to get a good shot from a few dozen yards off the trail, which is where you’ve been sitting since before dawn a few hours ago.
Right on time, there he is. Now’s your chance. You put your new Henry .30-30 Wildlife Edition up to your shoulder. The lighting isn’t perfect enough to appreciate the engraving, but what you do appreciate is these sights. The rear buckhorn has a white diamond painted in it, pointing to a bright brass bead that is really easy to catch with the eye.
As the buck walks right past you, giving you the perfect shot, you press the crisp, single-stage trigger, and a .30-30 round leaves the octagonal barrel of the Henry .30-30 Wildlife, and the deer drops before you can even cycle the lever.
Later, as you’re enjoying some venison stew to warm you up, you admire your cleaned rifle hanging on a rack above the fireplace: this is a familiar sight. You, like many before you and after you, get to enjoy this gorgeous rifle as an heirloom, and now as a modern hunting tool.
For this review, we got our hands on the Henry Wildlife Edition in .30-30. Like anything else, we’ll go over its features, going from butt to muzzle, so you can decide if you enjoy shooting this piece of modern history as much as we do. Assuming you do, keep reading on and we’ll give you our thoughts on what this rifle will excel at, and a few things we think it might not be the best suited for. Once you’ve settled on getting one of these excellent rifles, we’ll help you pick our some accessories and go over the variants so you can get kitted out in a way that you really like. Finally, we’ll leave you with our thoughts on what we think is one of the more unique and timeless rifles on the market today, the Henry .30-30 Wildlife Rifle.
Now, onto the rifle we got. Our is a Henry .30-30 Wildlife edition, which comes really nicely outfitted from the factory. In terms of stock, it comes with an absolutely gorgeous American Walnut stock, that is slim in the hand and comfortable on the shoulder. The angle on these is just right for both precise shots, and to quickly be able to get to the lever later on. From the factory, it has a 14” length of pull, and we think that’s just about right for a rifle like this.
The receiver itself is the real star of the show here. Mechanically, it’s a Henry action, which we wish we saw more of. It’s a lever-action gun that feeds from the right side, holding five rounds. After each round is fired, you’ll pull the lever and push it back up, which cycles the exposed hammer and loads another round. With some practice, you should be able to get all five rounds off in just a few seconds. And even if you can’t, you’ll still have a lot of fun trying. This one has a brass receiver, which comes with gorgeous engraving on both sides: ours has a whitetail deer on the right, and both sides have crisp reliefs cut into them. On top, there are drilled and tapped holes for a scope, which does possibly take away from the clean aesthetics, but reminds you that this is a serious hunting rifle as well- more on that in a second.
The barrel, a 20” blued octagonal one, is another thing we really like about this rifle: it’s heavy enough to feel stout but not too heavy, and look handsome with a walnut handguard and in contrast to the brightness of the brass. On top of the barrel we have the rights, which we mentioned in our intro: the real adjustable buckhorn has a really easy to see diamond, and the front post is tipped with a shiny brass bead that we found easy to acquire visually even at moderate distances.
Overall, the Henry .30-30 Wildlife rifle itself feels as good as it looks in hand, and we could barely put the thing down to write this review. But, on with the show.
As a hunting rifle, though, the Henry .30-30 Wildlife rifle has really quickly become some of our favorites. The action is super smooth, and you can get follow up shots onto a deer or other game at least as fast as you can with a bolt gun – probably faster with a little bit of practice. In that setting, one surprisingly modern part of the design stands out: since the lever is on the bottom and ejection isn’t too harsh, lefty handed people can pick one of these up and have no problem shooting it well.
Additionally, the old-style brass sights are easy to pick up even at range, we had no issues with it even in direct sun. For some folks, especially with astigmatism, these might be even better than a red dot because there are no electronics messing with your eyes.
Finally, since this rifle is so gorgeous, we think its strongest suit will be as an heirloom you can hunt with. 100 years from now, someone in your family will be more than proud to have this rifle on their wall, and will still more than likely want to hunt with it, too.
To get the most out of this classic hunting rifle, we think a few accessories might help, so we’re going to offer a quick list here of the five that we’d put one of these to make it close to our ideal hunting gun for most game animals.
With a firearm as nice as this, we want to go the extra mile to keep it well protected, so we’re not just going to toss it in the back of a truck to take it hunting. Instead, we recommend this attractive bag by Cabelas, which, with the leather and canvas look, watches the rifle nicely, and we like that it has a carry strap you can sling over your shoulder.
Since the Henry .30-30 Wildlife rifle is a good hunting rifle, we want to be able to get the most out of it. However, since it’s so light and handy we’re also against putting a bunch of tactical nonsense on such a sleek designed firearm. So, we’re recommending a standalone bipod you can carry with you and deploy when you need to make longer shots.
Since the Henry .30-30 Wildlife only has 5 rounds in the gun at the most, it’s not a bad idea to keep more on the gun if you can. This ammo carrier slides over the stock and can hold six rounds. This one is black neoprene, so it’ll also protect the rifle a little bit without changing your cheek weld too much. For a really reasonable price, this is something we keep on most of our bolt and other manual action firearms.
The design might be a century old, but your scope doesn’t have to be. For making longer shots, we’d recommend something like the Vortex Crossfire II: they’re made to last and the reticle is both simple and accurate to use. We’ve tried them on other rifles and quite like them, so we think this would be a good fit without looking totally goofy on an older, elegant design.
If you add a scope, you might find yourself lacking in the cheek weld department. If that’s the case, add one of these leather cheek risers to get your eyes where they need to be in order to get correct eye relief from the scope.
The Henry action comes in a lot of different variants that you might want to consider. While we got the Henry .30-30 Wildlife edition, they come in calibers ranging from .22 all the way up to 45-70. So, we’ll just mention two other ones that really intrigue us.
First, the Model X in .45-70. Basically, it’s the farthest from the Wildlife edition you can get and still be the same general platform. Aside from the caliber change, it has fiber optic sights, a threaded barrel, and Picatinny rail for mounting accessories. For a firearm like that, we’d almost want to put a suppressor and a scope on it for hog hunting. The all-black finish makes it look more like something from the future than something from the past, and we like how versatile these lever actions can be.
Second, Henry makes factory mare’s legs. A mare’s leg, for those not up on cowboy shooting terminology, is basically a carbine that has had both the stock and the barrel shortened. This will cost you some range and accuracy, but you end u;p with a really handy little firearm that can be used in close quarters or at a little longer range than a pistol. In particular, we’d really like the brass mare’s leg in .357 magnum: it would pair wonderfully with a revolver in the same caliber. These are legally pistols, which makes them a little easier to own than a DIY mare’s leg made from a rifle, which we hope you wouldn’t do to something as nice as wildlife edition.
Those are just two of the variations that we like, but feel free to check out all of them. Conceptually, we like the idea of having both a pistol and a rifle in the same caliber. That’s popular with cowboy action shooters, and it was also common in real life: it’s just easier to keep track of one kind of ammo over two. Funny enough, modern militaries are going back to the same idea, for example, the FN FiveSeven and the P90 are both made to shoot the same ammunition.
Henry makes a ton of great variations, ranging from the tactical to the truly beautiful, and we hope we start seeing more of these classy firearms soon at the range and in the field.
We really like the Henry .30-30 Wildlife edition. In terms of overall aesthetics, it might be one of, if not the, most beautiful firearm that we’ve gotten our hands on in a long time. These days, where everything is black polymer and cerakote, it’s nice to see something that’s made out of brass, blued steel, and American walnut.
We also appreciate their commitment to making and standing behind quality products in the USA: Henry wants you to own, be proud of, and shoot these guns, and we’re more than happy to oblige.
Shooting this gun is a pleasure: while bolt actions ended up a lot more popular historically, a good lever gun is truly fun to shoot and is no slouch in terms of either accuracy or speed. This gun is not just a wall hanger and will be an excellent tool to help you put food on the table, so long as you do your bit. Similarly, if you keep it cleaned it will develop a gorgeous patina over the decades and end up an heirloom piece for your family.
Overall, we’d highly recommend this gun to anyone looking to get into lever-action firearms if they want a quality piece of kit that they are likely to own for the rest of their lives. After reviewing it, we really wouldn’t be too surprised if a few of our writers ended up buying Henrys for themselves: they’re a great break from the AR focused rifle world of today.
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