Henry Homesteader: 500 Round Review

Henry Repeating Arms is one of America’s hottest firearms manufacturers. The company continues to improve its already popular lever action line with new side gate models that are certain to attract new and existing customers alike. But Henry broke new ground this year by going semi-automatic. Like other Henry products, the new Homesteader Carbine is rooted in traditional American firearms design with an eye toward modern performance.

Henry Homesteader
The Homesteader is Henry’s first shot at an original semi-automatic rifle. It ships with two Henry factory magazines. (Author’s Photo)

The Homesteader created quite the buzz at SHOT Show 2023. A semi-automatic carbine chambered in 9mm Luger? From Henry? Hmmm. We decided to see whether that buzz was warranted by picking up a Homesteader and running it. Here’s what my son and I found after three months on the range.

Henry Homesteader Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Capacity: Magazine Dependent (see below). Ships with one five-round and one ten-round Henry factory magazine.
  • Action: Semi-automatic blowback
  • Barrel length: 16.37 inches
  • Twist rate: 1:10
  • 1/2×28” Threaded Barrel
  • Overall Length: 35.75 inches
  • Length of Pull: 14 inches
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs.
  • Hard anodized black aluminum receiver
  • Sights: Adjustable aperture rear with screw on front post
  • Drilled and tapped for scope or rail (Weaver 63B mount)
  • Stock and Handguard: American Walnut
  • Safety: Tang-mounted thumb switch
  • Reversible Charging Handle
  • Available Glock, Sig Sauer, and Smith & Wesson M&P Magazine Well Adapters
Firing the Henry Homesteader
The Homesteader isn’t sexy, but it’s not meant to be. The keyword for it is “utility.” (Author’s Photo)

The Homesteader Concept

After running the Homesteader for a while, we’ve gotten a definite feel for what we think it’s good for and why Henry created it. This is something we discussed on the range and off it. Why would someone want this rifle? After all, there are plenty of pistol caliber carbines, chambered in 9mm and other calibers. Why choose this one?

We kept coming back to one concept: utility. The name “Homesteader,” we realized, told us everything we needed to know. This rifle is meant to do pretty much whatever you need it to do, within reason. It won’t be a viable moose or grizzly rifle, but it’s not meant to be. If you conjure images of what an actual homestead is, then you start getting the idea.

Do you need to hunt small game for the dinner table? Check. Varmint control? No problem. A tough, reliable, handy rifle to toss in the truck, strap on the 4-wheeler, or attach to the saddle? Yes, to all. Self-defense? Absolutely. It can do all those things and more. The Homesteader is not fancy, but it does so many things well. It’s designed to be the rifle you reach for when you’re just out doing stuff, whatever that might be.

Henry Homesteader Features

The Homesteader is not sexy, but neither is it ugly. Functionality always trumps looks for a gun like this. Or any gun, for that matter. The Homesteader weighs in at 6.6 lbs., which isn’t heavy, but isn’t exactly light either. Honestly, we found the weight to be just about right. The 9mm cartridge doesn’t kick much, but the Henry’s balance, along with an extra weight in the fore-end, make it very pleasant to shoot. We added a SilencerCo ASR single port muzzle brake, not because we really needed it, but because the threaded barrel beckoned. More on that later.

The Homesteader fit both of us very well, though its fixed length of pull may be an issue for some. Even so, we expect it wouldn’t be difficult to find an aftermarket extended butt pad. The walnut stock is nice, if not spectacular. But, again, this is a work rifle, not a presentation gun. The walnut is solid and will be durable. It also gives the Homesteader a traditional look that appeals to us. The handguard and pistol grip feature nice texturing for added grip in the rain, mud, or snow.

Henry Homesteader tang safety
The tang-mounted safety is perfectly placed and easy to use. (Author’s Photo)

We love the Homesteader’s ambidexterity. The charging handle is easily reversible, while all the other controls are truly ambidextrous. The mag release is located forward of the magazine, just as on a Ruger 10/22. The bolt catch is on the trigger guard. The tang-mounted thumb safety is highly visible and easy to reach with either hand. That was very well-done on Henry’s part.

The 16.5-inch barrel makes the Homesteader handy and easy to maneuver. It also provides extra velocity for the 9mm round. The gun is rated for +P and +P+ ammo, giving it even more punch. We think the 9mm chambering is a big plus, offering widespread ammo availability and ensuring the Homesteader’s owner can afford to run it. The 1/2×28” threaded barrel means the rifle is easily compatible with myriad suppressors or muzzle devices, increasing the gun’s everyday appeal.

Finally, the receiver is drilled and tapped for optics. We attached a Vortex Defender CCW red dot, though you could easily mount a scope. We installed a rail to give us even more options.

A Word About Magazines

Speaking of options, Henry also provides magazine choices. Each Homesteader ships with two factory Henry mags. One 10-rounder and one 5-rounder. But the company offers other magazine options as well. The Homesteader is available with an attachable mag adapter that takes double-stack 3rd, 4th, or 5th Gen OEM Glock 17 or Glock 19 magazines. They have another that works with Sig Sauer P320 or Smith & Wesson M&P mags.

These adapters are available with the rifle or separately, and they aren’t expensive. So, your Homesteader’s capacity can be five rounds, 10 rounds, or much more. We think that’s one of the Homesteader’s major perks. It shows that Henry thinks about their customers’ convenience. And I suspect we’ve all been occasionally frustrated at having to buy expensive proprietary mags. This way, you may even be able to use the same mags in both the Homesteader and your carry gun. Great stuff.

semi-auto rifle receiver and action
The Homesteader is a very versatile rifle. (Author’s Photo)

Homesteader on the Range

We were a bit skeptical of the Homesteader at first. I got to fire one at SHOT Show. I liked it, but it was only five rounds. We needed more than that. I want to be clear that we didn’t doubt Henry’s commitment since we have past experience with the company, and it’s always been good. But those were lever guns, which are Henry’s bread and butter. We wondered how the company’s initial semi-automatic firearm might fare. Another concern was the new factory Henry mags, which always merit caution until they are proven.

It turned out that we needn’t have worried about the Henry factory mags. They worked great, without a single hiccup. And we’ve run them hard, putting over 500 rounds through them at this point, without cleaning or servicing them in any way. The red followers are now black. We need to clean them now that the initial review process is over.

As I noted, the Homesteader is easy and pleasant to shoot. The trigger is good, and all the controls are right where you want them. I have a bit of trouble with the mag release, though. It’s in a good spot, but I always seem to fumble with it. I do the same on my Ruger 10/22. To be fair, my son does not. He thinks it works great. It does work, I just seem to have trouble working it effectively. I think that’s more me than it is the gun. I’m probably the only one who complains about the 10/22 mag release, so there’s that.

Left-Handed shooter
Lefties will have no trouble at all with the ambidextrous Homesteader. (Author’s Photo)

The textured charging handle is positive, and I love how it reminds me of the 10/22 and the M-1 Carbine. We currently have it on the right side, but we’ve run it both ways and I’m considering moving it back to the left. Reversing it takes about a minute, so it’s not a big deal. We didn’t have a single feeding or ejection issue, which speaks well of the action as well as the magazines.

The Homesteader is also very accurate, though I confess to not liking the factory ghost ring sights. They’re mounted on the barrel, thus reducing the sight radius and there’s too much space in the ring for my taste. The front sight post is tall and visible, great for suppressors, but I couldn’t get over the rear ring. So, we upgraded the rifle with a rail, which includes a rear peep sight. But we also added the Vortex red dot.

Adding that optic showed me how accurate this rifle is. My issues with the factory sights may be caused by my less-than-stellar vision, which the red dot fixed immediately. We zeroed the Vortex at 85 yards. After which I began plinking at a 12-inch steel plate our range has at about 125 yards. Shooting unsupported, I easily rang that plate four out of five times, over and over. Hitting five out of five wasn’t uncommon. The 9mm chambering meant that I didn’t mind doing that for about 30 minutes straight.

I took turns shooting that plate with and without the SilencerCo brake, but the fact is that the Homesteader performed admirably whether it had the brake or not. I consistently nailed targets between 25 and 125 yards with no problem. The Homesteader is very accurate, and I think it will do whatever you need it to do within the limitations of the 9mm cartridge.

Final Thoughts

The Homesteader quickly overcame our skepticism. It looks to be a supremely useful rifle, just as we believe Henry intended. It probably isn’t the best at any one thing, but it is very good at lots of things. That’s the kind of gun I like. With all the great stuff we’ve talked about, reliability was the Homesteader’s biggest plus. It just ran and ran and ran. Target rounds, defensive rounds, you name it. No issues at all.

Accessorized henry Homesteader
The Henry Homesteader looks traditional, but it’s easily accessorized. (Author’s Photo)

And I believe Henry worked hard to provide value through giving their customers options. You can add optics. Or not. Suppressors and muzzle devices. Magazine choices. Affordable and available ammo. Rugged construction. This is a tough rifle for tough jobs. The Homesteader may be the ultimate ranch rifle. It would look perfectly at home on an episode of “Yellowstone.”

I bought my first Henry less than a year ago and now I own three. I will own more in the future. The Homesteader deserves a long hard look because Henry obviously put a lot into it. New directions for firearm companies don’t always go well at first. I’m happy to report that, in my opinion at least, Henry did this one right. I expect to reach for this Homesteader many times before I’m done.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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