Not Your Average Mag-Fed .223: The Henry Long Ranger
The Henry name is synonymous with lever-actions. Almost all of their guns are tube-fed and highly traditional in their design. The Long Ranger line, though, changed the game for Henry. Henry fans had been clamoring for a gun that could offer more reliable long range accuracy, and one that was faster to load, and the company responded: meet the Henry Long Ranger.
The Henry Long Ranger
The Long Ranger line is, as its name implies, meant for long-range shooting. Most of them, anyhow (more on that in a moment). With no magazine tube hanging off the barrel, the gun is free to move as it wants. Free floated barrels typically offer much more in the way of long range accuracy than barrels that are bound up by gas tubes or mag tubes, so the Long Ranger has that going for it.
The box mags of the Long Ranger are also faster to reload. They’re not as fast as an AR mag, but these drop free with the push of a button. They have bright red followers that are easy to identify. The follower can even be seen under the bolt when it is closed, which is a great indicator of an empty mag and an almost empty rifle.
The mag-fed design also allows for a wider variety of ammunition. Think of the .30-30. This round has a big flat nose that’s meant to be fed into a tube mag. It also isn’t known for its super-long-range reliability. With a traditional box mag, you can load any number of pointy calibers–rounds that would be damaged or potentially dangerous if stacked up in a tube.
Henry’s making the Long Ranger in .223, like this one, .243 Win, .308 Win, and 6.5 Creedmoor. In each of these, you now have the option of carrying a spare magazine or two. With the .308, you may want a FMJ to punch through a boar at 300 yards, or a soft point for whitetail. Maybe you want a mag or two full of surplus rounds for plinking. Multiple mags make it easy to switch out.
Henry is offering these in two factory set-ups. One comes with scope mounts. If you know you’ll be shooting long distances, this may be the best option.
If you want versatility, pick one of the three models they offer with irons. You can still mount a scope on these, but they don’t come from the factory with mounts. Henry sells those as an extra.
I hunt in Arkansas. Hunt with a .223 is legal here. The caliber is ideal for whitetail and for hogs, and I rarely get shots that are more than 200 yards. Most are under 100. For a brush-gun, nothing beats the speed of good iron sights. Maybe a red dot. Possibly a fiber optic 1-4. But this is a lever-action. It has that feel of tradition, the way my uncles used to hunt in the 60s, only better.
And I can put down some effective groups with the iron sights. The group above is from 100 yards, off a bench rest. You can see I’m not hitting exactly where I want, but the consistency lets me know that all I need to do is adjust the sights.
The Henry Long Ranger in this form has an MSRP of $1,066. Not bad for a gun that will long outlive you.
David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. He was a college professor for 20 years before leaving behind the academy for a more practical profession in the firearms industry.