GUN REVIEW: Henry Goldenboy

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The Henry Goldenboy may be the perfect gift for the police firearms enthusiast
By Steve Tracy

Many firearms enthusiasts have an attraction to the Old West lore of the lever action rifle. Lever actions were used in law enforcement since their inception in the 1860s. A .44-40 or .30-30 was carried in a horse’s saddle scabbard for the same reason we have an AR-15 mounted in an electronic release lock in a squad car. Sometimes the occasion arises for long-range knockdown power.
Henry Repeating Arms is a proud American company that offers numerous versions of the lever action rifle in several calibers. The gun they’re most well known for is the Goldenboy, so named for its “brasslite” receiver. Originally chambered for the .22 long-rifle rimfire cartridge, the Goldenboy is also available in .22 Magnum and .17 HMR.

Benjamin Tyler Henry conceived and patented the first practical lever-action repeating rifle in 1860. Today, family-owned Henry Repeating Arms of Bayonne, N.J. produces rimfire and center fire rifles that harken back to the original Henrys that eventually became Winchester rifles. Henry Repeating Arms recently introduced their Original Henry Rifle in .44-40 as a faithful re-creation of the gun “you could load on Sunday and shoot all week long.” Henry also makes pump-action .22 rifles, bolt action rifles, and a survival-style semi-auto rifle.

The brasslite receiver on the Goldenboy is actually a cover and not the actual receiver. This fact provides the Henry Goldenboy with a unique attribute; the brass receiver is removable by simply turning its four mounting screws, located two on each side. The cover can be removed and taken to your local jeweler, engraver, or even a shopping mall store that specializes in personalized gifts. Instead of bringing in a gun, you can simply bring in the receiver cover that is not an actual firearm.
One of my department’s Commanders was given a Goldenboy .22 by his family on the occasion of his 50th birthday. He removed the brass receiver cover and brass butt plate and had a local jeweler engrave his initials on one side, his date of birth and 50th birthday on the other, and his last name on the butt plate. He is quite pleased with how well the engraving turned out and how it personalized his plinking rifle.

Henry Repeating Arms offers a custom engraved brass receiver cover with up to 20 words on the side for $150. The receiver cover is simply replaced with the new one. Law enforcement has a long tradition of giving clocks, plaques, statues, shadowboxes, and other symbols of appreciation to mark career milestones or retirements. For a firearms enthusiast police officer, what could be better than a handsome .22 lever action rifle? Especially one with a custom receiver cover that read, “Presented to Lt. Daniel Jones for 15 years of service to the West Allentown PD SWAT Team 2015.”
Henry even offers a special Law Enforcement Tribute Edition Goldenboy. It has “To Protect and Serve” carved into the walnut forearm and an American Eagle with “God Bless America’s Finest” in a blue ring adorning the stock. It also has police motifs emblazoned on the receiver cover, including a badge, police hat, handcuffs, and a banner that reads, “In Tribute To Those In The Line of Duty.” An American flag and an image of St. Michael the Archangel, Patron Saint of Police, embellish this commemorative lever action rifle. Henry offers Firefighter, Farmer, Trucker, and Military Service Tribute edition rifles as well. A wood and glass display case further enhances the presentation of these great-looking lever action rifles.

I’ve always liked lever action rifles. I’m partial to Marlins and have owned a .22 caliber Model 39 for well over two decades. When the Henry Goldenboy first came out, I wanted one badly. But, I couldn’t rationalize owning two lever actions chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge. Then Henry released a version of the Goldenboy chambered for the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire. My needed rationale materialized and my quandary was solved!

I purchased a new Henry in .17 HMR and found its action to be light and smooth as the lever traverses its trajectory. The classic gold bead front sight and semi-buckhorn rear sight line up as naturally today as they did well over 140 years ago. The Goldenboy loads by first untwisting the tubular magazine under the barrel and pulling it forward. Cartridges are dropped in the opening while holding the rifle upside down with its muzzle pointed up at an angle. Each round slips down the magazine tube, which holds 16 .22lr, 12 .22 Magnum, or .17 HMR cartridges.

The 20-inch octagon barrel is deeply blued and matched well to its walnut stock. The rifle feels well balanced when hefted, despite its somewhat heavy barrel (due to its tiny .17-caliber rim fire bore) lending to the lever action’s 6.75-pound weight. Large loop levers and scope mounts are available as accessories. I mounted a high-power varmint scope on my .17 HMR version and was able to keep 10 shots inside a quarter at 100 yards as long as the wind wasn’t too brisk (the bullets only weigh 17 grains each).

Speaking of quarters, my daughter Lauren had a blast shooting the Henry with coins taped to the center bullseye of a paper target. The .17 HMR bullets punch through a coin like it was made of paper, leaving a very clean hole. I brought my Henry to an outdoor range during a practice day and everyone was lined up to shoot a hole through the coins they had in their pocket.

Henry lever action rifles are known for jam-free operation and mine has been an exemplary example. The Goldenboy in all of its variations is a strikingly handsome rifle that any firearms owner would enjoy. It’s a shame the tradition of placing a rifle over the fireplace mantle is frowned upon these days. The Henry is too striking and too much fun to shoot to secure it away in a safe. It will need to come out for range time often.

As a tribute to a fellow police officer retiring from a specialized position or at the culmination of a long career, the Henry Goldenboy Law Enforcement Tribute or with a custom engraved receiver would be a tribute most certainly appreciated. Not only would the Henry be appreciated, but taken out and fired as well. You can’t do that with a clock or a shadow box. PM

Steve Tracy has over two and a half decades experience as a police officer and firearms instructor. He is also a tactical rifle, use of force, less-lethal, and scenario-based training police instructor. He can be reached at steventracy@hendonpub.com.

Captions:

1. The brasslite receiver of the .22lr or .17HMR lever action Henry Goldenboy is classically styled.

2. The receiver cover can be removed and taken to a local jeweler for engraving, in this case for a police officer’s 50th birthday.

3. Initials personalize any firearm and the Henry’s golden receiver causes engraving to stand out well.

4. The factory-made Henry Law Enforcement Tribute includes a carved wood stock.

5. The motto “To Protect and Serve” is carved into the Law Enforcement Tribute gun’s forearm.

6. Adding your last name to the brass butt plate creates a family heirloom.

7. The Henry Law Enforcement Tribute lever action .22 is finely engraved with several police motifs.

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