Q&A: Properly Loading a Henry

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posted on August 4, 2014
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I know that the Henry rifle loads differently than other Winchester-style replicas. After reading Garry James’ article “Henry’s Classic Henry” (April 2014, p. 66), it made me wonder if there is a proper way to load my replica Henry?

Unlike the “Improved Henry,” or Model 1866, and the subsequent Winchester lever-actions that feature Nelson King’s patented loading gate on the right side of their receivers, the Henry and its replicas are loaded by pushing a spring-powered brass tab—located under the barrel—up as far as it will go and then swiveling the top portion of the barrel/magazine tube assembly clockwise, which exposes the end of the magazine tube. Cartridges are then dropped down the tube, one by one, base first.

However, when loading the Henry, the barrel/magazine assembly should be held or tipped at a slight angle, to permit cartridges to gently slide down the loading tube, thus preventing them from dropping straight down with a force that could accidentally detonate a sensitive or projecting primer (especially prevalent in reloads, even with blunt-nosed bullets).

After loading, with the thumb still retaining the brass tab, pivot the top portion of the barrel/magazine tube assembly back to its original closed position. Then, still holding the brass tab and its spring-powered plunger with the thumb, gently lower the tab until the plunger is resting on the topmost cartridge, rather than letting it go with a dramatic “snap” that could also possibly detonate one or more of the stacked cartridges.

—Rick Hacker, Field Editor

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