Camping & Survival

A 54 Year Old Rifle is Still a Top Seller

Henry Survival Rifle

I love guns. I especially love guns that fill a niche in my arsenal. I found myself recently noticing a hole in my lineup. I did not have a survival rifle. I needed something small that I can throw in a pack, or chuck behind the seat of my truck. It needed to have the accuracy of a rifle, but with more portability. Its primary role would be shooting very small game for survival purposes. A takedown .22 would fill the role perfectly, and there were plenty of choices on hand. It seems like several major gun companies produced a takedown .22 at some point. I measured costs versus benefit and came up with a gun that is not only fun to shoot, but useful as well!

Henry Survival Rifle
Henry Survival Rifle

The Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 is currently the third most popular firearm we sell at Cheaper Than Dirt. Part of the reason for that popularity is the low price, but Henry gives you a lot for your money. The Henry Survival Rifle is the modern version of the legendary AR-7. The Air Force originally issued the AR-7 as a survival rifle for downed pilots, and there have been several variants by various manufacturers since.

Henry’s version only weighs about 3.5 pounds, making it over a pound lighter than the Ruger Takedown Rifle. When you stuff all the parts into the stock of the gun, its 16.5-inch stature makes it the perfect size to throw into your backpack. Henry made the stock out of ABS plastic, which is both waterproof and impact resistant—an important feature in a survival situation. Assembling the rifle is quick and easy. If you have any experience with firearms at all, you will not need to read the instructions. The eight-round magazine and semi-automatic design make this weapon a perfect squirrel or small varmint hunter. The rifle seems to give the shooter peace of mind when lost in the wilderness or on an extended hiking trip.

U.S. Survival AR-7
Components are Stored in the Stock

This version of the AR-7 comes with a grooved rail mounted on top of the receiver. This makes mounting a scope or red-dot optic a breeze, but I chose to use the iron sights for my test, since a scope will not fit inside the buttstock. Henry colored the front sight post bright orange, which made target acquisition seamless. When you shoulder this rifle, there is no handguard on the barrel. I chose to wrap my hand around the magazine well, which I sometimes do when shooting my AR-15. This gave me enough stability to make accurate shots out to about 50 yards. Even with the Henry’s extraordinary light weight, recoil was non-existent, which I expected coming from a .22 LR. The low recoil made follow-up shots a breeze and if you are a novice shooter, flinching is less of an issue. I used CCI Mini-Mag High Velocity ammunition for my test run, and had zero problems after 100 rounds. I have heard of older model AR-7s having feeding issues with various types of ammo, so I opted for good ammo and factory magazines. If this were an every day shooter, this would be a bigger issue for me. However, considering that it is an emergency only rifle, I decided to pony up for decent stuff.

As far as a backpacking rifle, the Henry fills the role nicely. While there are other choices in semi-automatic .22s, this little takedown does exactly what Eugene Stoner designed it to do. I would have no qualms about keeping this around to turn some woodland critters into an emergency dinner.

Specifications and features:

  • Semi-automatic
  • .22 LR
  • Two 8-round magazines included
  • 35 inches long when assembled
  • 16.5 inches when stowed
  • Weighs 3.5 lbs.
  • Stock constructed of ABS Plastic
  • Adjustable rear sights
  • Teflon® coated receiver and coated steel barrel

Like it? Want it? Buy it!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. I love mine, and have never had any kind of jamming issue, using quality .22 ammo. However, as someone else mentioned here, the big weak spot is the front plastic sight. It is made of soft ABS and dovetails into the front, where it slides around if you look at it wrong. Simply giving it a slight bump as you remove the barrel from the buttstock is enough to knock the front sight out of alignment. I have tried several homegrown remedies (including ordering a replacement front sight) to try to keep it in place, but nothing has worked so far.

  2. Thanks RPK! I’ll try to remember to buy CCI ammunition if I ever get a chance to purchase one of these. I’m curious how you can tell what is better about a more expensive version. I really want a new one now; as mine are long in tooth, and had probably more than 10,000 rounds through them – mostly without fail.

  3. The newer version of the Henry AR-7 offers not only a place to keep 2 fully loaded magazines which are provided in the stock, you can also have a 3rd magazine (purchased from your favorite local gun dealer) loaded (but, for obvious safety concerns, not with a round chambered) and stored in the magazine well, which is then stowed in the stock until assembly becomes necessary. This gives the owner/user the option to have THREE magazines available to fire. This is a very versatile weapons platform for about $230.00 before tax. If you can pick one up for cheaper than this and you don’t, HUGE mistake. I also own a Ruger SS Take-Down rifle. Both weapons do what they were designed for. The Ruger being about $110.00 more than the AR-7, but the backpack has a place to carry FOUR or more fully loaded 25 round magazines (which are purchased separately) besides the 10 round magazine (which comes with the rifle) already in the mag well. Now THAT is a lot of available firepower! But, getting back to the Henry AR-7, it is a good reliable weapon if you use decent ammunition and keep the action clean. The AR-7 does not like cheap ammo and can be prone to FTF or FTE (if not cleaned after firing). Use CCI Mini-Mag ammunition and it’ll go “BANG! everytime you pull the trigger. And, Henry has GREAT customer service. My buddy bought his used (maybe even abused)at a pawn shop without a front sight attached. He sent Henry Rifles the Serial Number and they sent him a replacement orange front sight, no questions asked! That in itself these days was pretty amazing. The Henry AR-7, if nothing else, is a novelty.

  4. I had bad luck with mine. Many failures to eject and failures to feed. I tried different magazines, different ammo, and even sent it back to Henry twice. Junk, IMHO.

  5. I have had my henry for a while now. Everyone who shoots it loves it. It’s easy to carry. Easy to clean, and accurate enough to hit whatever you want it too. I Love the breakdown and floating feature(try that with a gun that costs twice as much) and with a little camo tape it is perfect for small game hunting. Best feature by far is that it can be fired without the stock.

  6. I just loved the Charter Arms AR-7 when I was a kid. I was too late to get an original Armalite; but they were sweet shooting guns. I finally got a scope adapter that screwed into the existing screw plate for easier long range shooting. Most of the time I didn’t even use the sights, just point shooting to get rid of vermin and jack rabbits, which would have absolutely took over our pastureland had it not been for these rifles!

    We found that the best lubricant was DIRT! That’s right – DIRT. Once you get about 1000 rounds in the things bouncing around in a pickup truck, you find that carbon fouling mixed with dirt was just like silky oil for these babies! We almost NEVER had a jam or failure, using Remington Golden 22 long rifle ammunition. We also had a couple of custom made 20rd magazines that worked like a champ. Those did need cleaning – and we were so proud of the rifles we couldn’t leave them dirty for too long – but they would jam until dirty again. Maybe this is why some posters here are having problems. It could be the brand of ammo too. The best I always used was Federal, Remington, or PMC. That was a long time ago though – can’t attest to what works best now.

  7. 10% jam right sounds about right, if your lucky, mine’s not bad if you hold the magazine back against the frame. It is what it is, the .22 was not designed for vertical / stacked magazines. Tubular or a rotary like the 10/22 works best. “Survival Rifle” not tactical, high capacity mags would be nice if anyone makes them reasonably priced.

  8. I tried several top brands of ammo in mine and have had NUMEROUS feed problems. ALL of the same ammo fed reliably in my Ruger 10/22. Remington Golden Bullet, Remington Thunderbolt, CCI Stinger, Winchester Super X, Federal Champion. It wasn’t the ammo that was the problem. Obviously it was the gun.
    I hope that they have improved it. This is the ONLY gun I have sold. I was happy to get Half of my money back.

  9. Love mine. It is ammo sensitive like all .22s are. LOVES PLATED rounds. Stay away from lead round nose bullets. Bulk Federal & Remington work great. Sights are great. It is so lite it is crazy, fun shooter.

  10. it is the one from russia with love , such a great rifle and so easy to use and clean and great with deer if you put two in to the heart, with its semi capability , it is the perfect survival rifle which is good enough so you dont have to carry it and a shot gun if there are bears or wolf in area and is smaller than a 12 gauge 5 shot pump, but not in the uk, a;ways have to borrow or buy when in canada sencibul canada silly england

  11. I have a new one and the plastic sight SUCKS. It slides around and unless you super glue it the thing is usless. other then that it is great gun and with the right ammo never fails. Firsst fired one in the 60s and now have one to add to all my other collections

  12. This is the only gun I have ever SOLD. I sure hope that they make them better now. Mine had AT LEAST a 10% JAM rate !

  13. I bough the Henry Survival a few months ago to add to our bug-out bag. It’s lightweight, fun to shoot, and as accurate as anything else in our “armory”. It also draws quite a bit of attention at the range from curious shooters. A really fun rifle with a very practical purpose.

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