From lever-action rifles to High Wall single shots, I enjoy hunting with vintage rifles. I don’t need many cartridges to take game, and I have long practiced the art of making every shot count. When you hunt with a single-shot rifle, you don’t have anything to spare.
On the other hand, I have not needed a second shot when hunting with a bolt gun or self-loader. However, I have occasionally taken a finishing shot after dropping an animal. I have ideas concerning defensive firearms that are rock solid grounded in logic. For hunting, in your personal conditions and range, whatever works for you is just fine.
I like the .308 (AR, bolt gun, and lever action), and I favor the light fast-handling single-shot Henry rifle. Nostalgia plays a role. The first game I took was taken with a single-shot .22. Breaking open an action and carefully loading cartridges one at a time is excellent training for young shooters.
The action is easy to break open and make safe when climbing, hiking, or climbing into a deer stand. I could go on. Many have a perfectly safe routines with other rifles. I simply like the single shot’s easy handling in most situations.
Some single-shot rifles available are pretty pricey. Ruger Number 1 rifles, the Winchester High Wall, and even some of the Ubertis are out of the reach of many hunters. Henry’s rifle is well made of good material — like all Henry rifles. The Henry Repeating Arms break-open single-shot rifle is currently listed at just under $475 at Cheaper Than Dirt! That is a fair price, even a bargain.
This isn’t a budget gun. It is a very nice rifle with good production values, resulting in a fair price. The Single Shot is a rifle intended for the shooter who understands the limiting factors of a single shot and who appreciates the plus and minus aspects of a hammer-fired single-shot rifle.
A lightweight rifle with a slim outline is a desirable rifle, as there is no bolt or magazine to snag. Simply manipulate the wing lever, and break the action open. Load a cartridge. Close the action.
The rifle is offered in two variants. My rifle (.308 Winchester) is the blue steel and walnut version. I repeat those words because I love the sound. It is the key harmonic of the gun universe — blue steel and walnut. The other is a brass frame.
I have handled the brass frame rifle in .45-70. My rifle is chambered in my favorite hunting caliber, .308 Winchester. The Single Shot is available in a wide variety of calibers. .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .30-30 WCF, .308 Winchester, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, 350 Legend, .45-70, and 450 Bushmaster.
The rifle’s fit and finish are excellent, with a nice metal polish and finish and superior wood fitting. The rifle’s build quality is exceptional. Notably, the opening lever is equally useful for left- or right-hand operation.
The hammer is a rebounding design, making the rifle safe for carry in the field with the chamber loaded. The rifle doesn’t cock on opening. Rather, the hammer is cocked manually. Overall, the Henry Single Shot is a credible rifle well worth its modest price.
Range Testing the Henry Single Shot
I initially fired the rifle with iron sights, beginning with Federal American Eagle FMJ loads — an affordable and clean burning load. The supplied sights, including a brass bead front sight, are superior to the sights usually found on lever-action rifles. I would feel comfortable aiming for the sure kill zone of a deer-sized animal to perhaps 100 yards, at least in controlled conditions.
The rifle doesn’t recoil much due to a good stock design and generous recoil pad. For further evaluation, I mounted a TruGlo Intercept optic. Henry offers a mount for optics. The Single Shot is pre-drilled.
As far as quality goes today, a scope costing $200 delivers better performance than an optic at twice the cost a generation ago — and higher-end optics are amazing. Sure, I like to play with high magnification expensive glass. But my rifles are not 1,000-yard guns, and the Intercept delivers a lot of value.
This is the third test rifle the scope has ridden. I really like finding a scope that fits my needs exactly, but which is affordable. That is the Intercept. I chose the 4–12x44mm version. This rifle and scope combination is useful well past the usual range of a typical 3–9×40 rifle scope.
The tube is a one-inch model. The scope is just short of 14 inches long. The average weight is 19 ounces. There are four models with a duplex or MOA reticle. My illuminated reticle scope is a joy to use.
Windage and elevation adjustments give the shooter ¼ MOA at 100 yards. I like the Intercept reticle’s fine center and well-defined stadia lines. The reticle doesn’t subtend the target — even with a small aiming point. This is important to me and even more important for varmint shooters.
While the scope is affordable, the illuminated reticle offers 11 brightness settings. The adjustment rings are large and easily manipulated. Even gloved-hand use is a breeze. After the scope was mounted and the rifle as sighted in at 25, 50, and finally 100 yards.
An affordable and accurate loading is Federal’s ‘Non-Typical’ 150-grain loading. I zeroed this 150-grain JSP for a 1.5-inch-high impact at 100 yards. This gave me a bit of range past 100 yards without hold over. This load stayed within two inches for a 3-shot group (about the limit of the Single Shot Rifle).
I also fired a few of my handloads using the 168-grain Hornady bullet. Firing accuracy and extraction were good. I think the Henry’s well-polished chamber is responsible in part for the easy extraction of each bottlenecked cartridge.
I fired a couple of groups with Hornady American Hunter loads with good results. The final loads tested were a contrast. Remington loads a long-range cartridge using the 172-grain Speer bullet at 2,635 fps. This is a heavy loading for big game at longer range.
Recoil wasn’t punishing but it was special. Accuracy was the best of the test by a slight margin with a 1.6-inch group for three shots. The final load tested was Hornady’s Custom Lite using a 125-grain SST. By loading a lighter bullet to 150-grain velocity, recoil was noticeably less yet the load demonstrates good potential for deer-sized game. Recoil was less than expected.
- Henry Repeating Arms Single Shot Rifle H015-308
- Break-action, single-shot rifle
- .308 Winchester, accepts 7.62x51mm NATO
- 22-inch round barrel
- Twist rate 1:10
- Steel receiver
- Rebounding hammer
- Drilled and tapped for weaver 82 mount
- Fully adjustable folding leaf rear sight
- Brass bead front sight
- American Walnut stock
- Rubber recoil pad
- Sling swivel studs
- Blued finish
- Length of pull – 14 inches
- Overall length – 37.5 inches
- Weight – 6.94 pounds
- Made in the USA
A break-open single-shot rifle with this loading would make a fine load for youngsters or the recoil shy. I find the Henry Single Shot rifle a good option for hunters and anyone appreciating the challenges of the hunt. This is a fine rifle for the beginner and experienced shooter alike.