Henry US Survival Rifle 1,000 Round Review [2024]

Henry Survival Rifle

There are many things to consider when choosing a rifle. Weight, capacity, aftermarket, and ultimately your purposes for picking the thing up. Are you setting up for the next NRL22 match, hunting small game, or plinking at the farm? Maybe you fancy yourself a survivalist; needing to save weight, tossing the rifle in a pack, or to stow in your plane (you do have a plane, right?). Reliability is crucial, as you may be betting your life on its ability to easily take game. Enter the epitome of the prepper's pack gun, the Henry US Survival Rifle.

Features and Design of the Henry US Survival Rifle

We'll start with the most unusual aspect of the Henry US Survival Rifle. This is truly a pack gun, more of a take-down rifle than virtually anything else on the market. At first glance, it appears that you've simply received a stock without a receiver, but this is not the case. Simply pull off the butt pad, known as the stock cap, to reveal the rest of the gun conveniently stored inside the stock. In here you'll find the receiver, barrel, and two 8-round magazines. Remove these, then reattach the stock cap to begin assembling your rifle.

From here you can slide the receiver into a slot near the wrist of the stock, which features a tool-less thumbscrew in the base of the pistol grip to secure the two pieces. Next, insert the barrel into the receiver, aligning the barrel-mounted lug with a slot in the receiver, then hand tighten the barrel nut. Finally, insert a magazine, then extend the charging handle to load your rifle. This may sound like a complicated process, but it's actually incredibly simple. In just a few minutes even the most inexperienced shooters found themselves assembling and disassembling the gun with ease.

Henry Survival Rifle
The charging handle is extended here

As a child I spent countless hours putting together and taking apart my rifle using elementary school aged fingers.  Today I am able to get the Henry Survival Rifle from stowed into a fireable condition in just over 30 seconds on average. That time can easily be cut down for those willing to put in the work. For those who haven't handled a newer model of these guns, the seal on the stock cap has been significantly loosened, dramatically easing the assembly process. This has some shortcomings that I'll mention later, but overall is a welcome change to the design.

Post-Assembly

Thanks to the gun's self-contained design, the stock is fairly bulky, and features a 14-inch length of pull. Despite this, the Henry Survival Rifle still comes in at a lightweight 3.5 pounds unloaded, and is fairly well balanced. Coming in at just over six feet tall, the Henry Survival Rifle is a good fit for me, and points naturally. My wife, standing about 5'6" may not get a perfect cheekweld, but makes no complaints about her ability to get on the sights or access controls. Smaller statured shooters look a little awkward, but the fantastic balance and light weight of the gun help keep things serviceable.

Henry Survival Rifle
Here you can see the steel barrel and plastic sleeve

The tapered barrel is steel lined, wrapped in ABS plastic, and topped off with a dovetailed orange blade for a front sight. A small proprietary rail adorns the top of the receiver, though mounting anything here negates the storage ability. The rear sight is an elevation adjustable peep, attached to the rear of the receiver with a screw. Once fully assembled, the gun is easy carrying, though it lacks any sort of sling attachments.

Controls

On the right side of the receiver is a fairly large safety lever. Its shape and position make it easy to manipulate with a firing grip, which is a nice touch. Movement from safe to fire lacks significant tactile indication, with very little audible cue. I would love a slightly stronger detent here to help shooters verify the position of the safety when moving from one position to another.

Just in front of the trigger guard is a serrated lever which acts as the magazine release. Magazines insert straight into the rifle, just like an AR-15, with factory mags fitting flush with the bottom of the trigger guard. Henry also offers 5-round magazines to comply with more restrictive localities, matching the same footprint as the eight rounders. Spares can be purchased in packs of two, running just under $42 as of the time of this writing.

Henry Survival Rifle
The 8-round magazine is flush with the trigger guard and magazine release

The Henry Survival Rifle's trigger is seriously impressive, and came as a big surprise. As a gun conceived for survival, I expected a military style trigger, but this is not the case. Comparing rimfire guns, the Henry's trigger is nicer than the upgraded Ruger BX trigger in terms of smoothness and pull weight. Reset is tactile and audible for those who care, with very little travel in either direction. The trigger shoe is fairly thin, and squared off on the edges, helping with a precise press. Other manufacturers take note--this is how you do a trigger.

Buoyancy

One of the most popular claims I see online and hear in person about AR-7 variants is that they will float when dropped in water. This is fantastic for those packing their survival rifle in a bush plane or canoe, but how accurate is this suggestion? To start my research, I dove into the manual, which has no mention of buoyancy or watertight capabilities. Henry calls the gun "water resistant" on the website, which is vague, but certainly not inaccurate. The idea of the floating Survival Rifle seems to be a tale as old as time, as nobody I've spoken to can remember where they first heard the claim. Simply a vague blood memory, an echo of the past.

Henry Survival Rifle
A freshly moisturized Henry Survival Rifle after taking a dip in the bathtub

Despite the lack of hard data, I wanted to "fact check" the rumors. To do this I sealed the gun up as normal within the stock, with the magazines unloaded. Next I filled up the bathtub and gently placed the stored gun in the water. Of course a more violent "plunk" is probably more realistic, but I wanted to give the survival rifle a fighting chance on its first go. Almost immediately air bubbles began escaping from several places on the stock, a sure sign of things to come. Just over 30 seconds into the test, the Henry Survival Rifle sank to the bottom of the drink.

I was a little disappointed by these results, but ultimately unsurprised. I imagine making the assembly process easier is of far greater value to far more shooters than making a gun that floats in water. Even with the lack of a seal on the stock, we still managed a solid 30 seconds of buoyancy, which may be enough to rescue your rifle in the event of a water evacuation. In short, your Henry Survival Rifle will fair better in water than just about any other firearm that goes overboard, and that's something to be happy about.

Range Time with the Henry US Survival Rifle

The Henry Survival Rifle saw casual range time over the course of several months. As part of this, I wanted to test reliability with a variety of ammunition, seeing if it has any preferences in loads. Firing schedule was a mix of slow fire, along with going as close to cyclic as possible.

1,010 Total rounds fired:

  • 16x Federal Punch 29gr NPFN
  • 50x Remington Golden Bullet 36gr PHP
  • 90x Winchester Target & Small Game 36gr CPHP
    •  7x Failures to feed
  • 280x Aguila Super Extra 38gr PHP
    • 8x Failures to feed
  • 10x Cascade High Velocity 40gr CPHP
  • 16x Federal Gold Medal Target 40gr LRN
  • 40 Norma Tac-22 40gr LRN
    • 12x Failures to eject
    • 6x Failures to extract
    • 1x Failure to feed
  • 50x CCI AR Tactical Target 40gr CPRN
  • 50x CCI Pistol Match 40gr LRN
    • 3x Failures to feed
  • 50x Blazer 40gr LRN
  • 50x Fiocchi Field Dynamics 40gr PHP
  • 80x Winchester Super-X Hyper Velocity 40gr CPHP
  • 100x Browning BPR 40gr PHP
    • 7x Failures to feed
    • 1x Failure to go into battery
  • 128x Federal Automatch 40gr LRN
    • 2x Failures to fire
    • 7x Failures to feed

As we can see here, the gun certainly has preferences, but it has been reliable far more often than not. Even bulk loads like Remington Golden Bullet have done well through the gun. Rate of fire seems to have no impact on reliability, nor does putting pressure on the magazine. Find a few loads that your Survival Rifle likes, and you should have little issue with your gun. When reading the manual, it is suggested to only use high or hyper velocity ammunition to ensure reliability, avoiding subsonic loads entirely.

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Amateur Accuracy Check

When properly setup, I was shooting just under 2-inch groups offhand at 15 yards. From the bench, I can achieve just over 2-inch groups at 25 yards as a fair marksman with a rifle. On average, I expect to get between two and three inch groups at 25 yards. I'm sure others can squeak out better results, but this meets my expectations for a survival focused gun, rather than a competition build. Interestingly, the gun still manages good accuracy, even if the barrel nut isn't fully tightened, though I wouldn't recommend making that a standard practice.

Getting Dirty

Henry recommends cleaning the gun after every 100 rounds. The initial 586 rounds were fired without cleaning nor lubrication, which still provided good reliability with the proper ammunition. During this time the gun was exposed to dust and sand in the Nevada desert, with a few instances of the receiver and barrel spilling out of the stock onto the ground. These spontaneous ejections have repeatedly occurred when the stock cap failed to retain the stored rifle parts when oriented vertically. I'd like to see the stock cap's retention increased somewhat, or an addition of a latch to keep the contents secured. When stowed, I recommend carrying with the stock cap oriented upward to avoid this issue.

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After firing my initial 500 rounds, the Henry took a bath, then got detail stripped, cleaned, and lubricated. No other cleaning occurred during this review. However, lubrication was applied to the bolt every 100 rounds or so.

Regular Maintenance

Of course performing regular maintenance on your rifle will help to keep things running smoothly. That said, if your next excursion stops you from keeping the gun squeaky clean, try not to sweat too much.

Henry isn't afraid to get dirty, and will keep chugging even when things get rough. Even accounting for poorly performing loads, the Survival Rifle maintains a 96% reliability rate across the board.

Final Thoughts on the Henry US Survival Rifle

The Henry Survival Rifle fills an interesting niche in the firearms world. For me, it's a solid plinker, and its history adds a bit of "second kind of cool" helping it stand out among the crowd. While it isn't a tack driver, and features a few unique quirks, it still manages to hold its own. If you're looking for a rifle to throw in a pack or plane, or just your next toy, give the Henry Survival Rifle consideration.

MSRP on the Henry US Survival Rifle is $344.00 for the all-black model. Henry also offers two Tru-Timber camo variants which run $420.00 as of the time of this writing.

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About Daniel Reedy 389 Articles
Daniel holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has received training from Craig Douglas, Tom Givens, and Steve Fisher among others. He also has experience competing in USPSA, CAS, 3 Gun, and Steel Challenge. In his free time Daniel enjoys petting puppies and reading the Constitution. His work is also published by AmmoLand, Recoil Concealment, and Air Force Times. Daniel has also written and edited for The Kommando Blog.

1 Comment

  1. I purchased a Charter Arms AR-7 in 1979. That stock would not let you insert the receiver with a magazine in it. Modern ones do which mean you can have two magazines total in the stock. If you looked down into the stock you would see white styrofoam. It was not injected in, it was like they slid in rectangular pieces during construction. There seemed to be enough in there to actually keep it afloat but probably just barely, never tried. I remember back when they first hit the civilian market that was a selling point. Being a survival rifle I thought it was stupid to not be yellow or orange in color.

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