Gun Review: Henry .22 Magnum Small Game Carbine

Hernry Small Game rifle profile from butt end of stock

The folks at Henry Repeating Arms Company made another gun to be proud of with the Small Game Carbine, chambered in .22 Magnum. This lever-action rifle delivers on several levels.

Right-side profile of the Henry Small Game Carbine
Right-side profile of the Henry Small Game Carbine, chambered in 22 Winchester Magnum.

The model in this test has a dark walnut stock and blued steel hardware. There’s no flashy brass or nickel—a familiar feature of many Henry rifles. The comparatively plain appearance complements this little rifle’s stated purpose. It’s less than 34 inches in overall length. The 16.25-inch barrel and light 5.75-pound weight make it practical to pack around in the truck or around the property. The updated large loop lever allows for ease of working the action for quick follow-up shots—even in winter attire.

The rear peep sight is drift-adjustable for windage and can also be adjusted for elevation. The fixed front sight has a tiny brass inset that helps with rapid acquisition and focus—perfect for targeting and follow-up shots on small game.

Inlaid brass lettering on the barrel of a Henry Small Game Rifle
Inlaid brass on the stamped lettering adds a touch of class.

Loading requires twisting and raising the inner magazine tube, and tube-feeding up to seven rounds into the magazine. There’s a tiny rubber gasket around the top of the inner magazine tube that ensures a snug, weather-resistant, and quiet seal.

Feeding is smooth and works equally well with right- or left-handed operation. As a left-handed shooter, I’m happy to report that empty case ejection was entirely a non-issue. It was easy to maintain a cheek weld and never have the distraction of brass hitting my face. The stock is a nice length that fits most adults.

The trigger is, in my opinion, exactly right for a small-game rifle. There is a bit of travel, just enough to get a feel for the pressure required to break the shot. I didn’t gauge it, but it’s on par with any quality hunting rifle. It features a plenty big trigger too, allowing most shooters to avoid rubbing the trigger guard in instances where a rapid sight picture and press are indicated.

brass tipped front sight post on a rifle
A brass-tipped sight enhances visibility. The octagon barrel lends a rugged profile.

The safety mechanism is a half-cock of the hammer that can be engaged while pulling the hammer back or a controlled release. It’s a mechanical safety, of course, and practical for hunting purposes. Pardon this brief foray, but every person reading this knows mechanical things can fail. Exercise trigger and muzzle discipline.

Raising the inner magazine tube to a sufficient height to clear the loading port, or removing it entirely to load accomplishes loading. The inner magazine tube cap is pebbled for traction—a good thing as loosening the retention mechanism requires a rather tight pinch-and-twist on the skinny cap. The WMR version of this gun has a black cap on the spring (internal) end of the loading rod. The LR model has an orange one. It’s an inconsequential difference for function and intended use, but the black one just looks better on this classic design.

Accuracy was more than acceptable. The groups shown here, with corresponding ammunition, were made from a supported prone position in 27 mph wind, with some rocking on the part of the target itself thanks to conditions. The CCI and Hornady ammunition burned clean and functioned perfectly. Henry offers minimal advice on ammo selection. The warranty (lifetime, by the way, with the expected exclusions for wear, tear, and dumb mistakes like inserting the wrong ammo), covers the gun if it’s been fed “original, high quality, commercially manufactured ammunition in good condition.”

Grouping of shots from a Henry Small Game rifle with CCI .22 WMR ammunition box
40-grain CCI Maxi-Mag produced an acceptable group at 25 yards in high winds. Obviously, an elevation adjustment would be in order at this distance.

The gun is handsome and plain, reminiscent of a grandpa’s pocket knife. There’s no pizzazz, as well as nothing unappealing in its appearance. It’s a utilitarian tool, and a perfect example of form following function.

Henry RAC has a longstanding tradition of building quality rifles. Having tested two of them to date, I’ve truly come to respect the craftsmanship and quality of components and performance these rifles offer. Real-world prices for the Henry Small Game Carbine in .22 magnum are around $400—quite a reasonable price for a quality American rifle that has a warranty for life.

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 (25)

  1. nice carbine.
    Like the commenter mentioned nice to have in stainless with better sights.

    Like to have it with 26 inch barrel and vernier sights.!!

    1. That’s a negative. The 22 Long Rifle case is slightly smaller in diameter and could be split open.

  2. I own the golden boy .44 mag…love the rifle but jams in the forward action of reloading the chamber…I don’t shoot it a lot so I’m thinking needs to be broken in…I just hope that’s all it is…time will tell…

  3. I own five Henry’s and would not trade any of them for any other lever rifles. Best on the market in my opinion.

  4. Nice rifle, perfect length for it’s purpose. However, Henry should make an all weather stainless version of this, with a fiber-optic front sight!
    The price they’re asking would fit the version I’m talking about more appropriately

  5. After seeing the writeup of Denis Prisbrey’s torture test of the Henry Golden Boy as he was doing it, I am not one who thinks Henry rifles are overpriced. You get what you pay for. I have one of the little .22lr ones with the round barrel and the plain black sides. It is all I need in .22 lr, and I would expect the .22 Magnum to work as well. You can find the torture test writeup in the current issue of Guns of the Old West.

  6. Nice firearm, but what a price tag.
    Last .22 I bought was a Remington 552 for $48.95 at Western Auto, Jacksonville, Florida. Granted that it was in 1964 and prices have escalated a bit since then. ha!

  7. Over priced as usual…. at 400.00 plus the workmanship is fine but this weapon is simply overpriced … The value is not there. … either ascetically or functionally. One can purchase nearly two comparable rifles for the price of one Henry.

    1. Please name the other comparable rifles. In a bolt or semi auto perhaps but not a lever gun so not really comparable. Can’t even nearly afford a Winchester or Marlin in a used let alone new or even a Uberti in a .22/.22 mag.

  8. Beautiful gun but way to pricey even for an american made 22cal. Unfortunate!! Trying to make it great again? It’s always been!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Henry makes good, dependable rifles. I love that they are made in the USA with a lifetime warranty! My favorites are the pump action .22wmr and their AR7 Survival rifle. The latter being a 3lb takedown that easily fits in a backpack. My only reservations are that in my state the gun laws are insanely restrictive as to what I can buy and how I can use and store a firearm. Transporting a rifle with ammunition in a backpack is illegal and in a vehicle, the firearm and ammo must be in separate, locked containers in a locked trunk! This makes going to and from the few remaining rifle ranges quite an ordeal. As for the AR7, storing it with the 2 magazines & a box of .22lr ammo, can get you dinged for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. So until I can move to a “free” state, these useful, American beauties are out of reach????.

  10. I would be honored to own one. Good craftsmanship. And it’s a gun! 45-70 or 357 mag also would definitely do it too. Thanks for the great article by the way.

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