Man, I love me some lever action rifles. I expect I’ve mentioned that before in other articles. But they aren’t exactly cutting-edge designs. My favorite deer rifle is a damn-nice 1963 Marlin 336, but I’d never expect precision accuracy from it. Well, in the video linked below, Pat RMG [YouTube channel] takes the new updated Henry Long Ranger Express to the range and gets some surprising results.
The Henry Long Ranger Express
Henry has been building lever guns since 1860 and they’ve gotten pretty good at it. The Long Ranger Express is brand new, and like the original Long Ranger, Henry claims it delivers “bolt action performance with the speed of a lever action.” The gun features a six-lug rotary bolt, aerospace aluminum construction, a free-floated barrel, and a five-round detachable box magazine instead of the more traditional tube mag. The gun is chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO and the barrel twist rate is 1:9.
The Range of the Future
Pat decided to investigate those claims and puts the Long Ranger Express to the test at a state-of-the-art electronic range in Tennessee. The range uses sensors to measure velocity and provides the shooter with hit data on an X and Y axis in real-time via a tablet at the shooting station. It totally eliminates the need to manually set and check targets, which can affect the breathing of a precision shooter. “Once you settle in at the table,” Pat says, “you’re settled in, and you can lay this on the bags and just go ahead and go to work.”
Precision Also Means Finding the Right Ammo
Pat tried several different ammo brands and loads before hitting the sweet spot. He zeroed the Henry at 50 yards with some 55 grain reloads, which gave him consistent, repeatable groups.
He then moved to some 55 grain Tula, with less than stellar results. Pat says accurate hits at 200 yards were “impossible” with the Tula. He got similar results by just “slapping the trigger” and not worrying about his breathing. But to be fair, you kind of know what you’re getting with Tula.
Winchester White Box was next, yielding about 1.5 MOA at 300 yards. He got about the same performance from PMC X-Tac and Hornady Superformance 75 grain match. He was still looking for the right load when he decided to take a break and let the gun cool off. By that time, he was getting heat mirages off the suppressor.
The Magic Bullet
When he got back from his break, Pat went to some Hornady Match 75 grain boat-tailed hollow points (different from the previous Hornady ammo). He took the Henry out to 300 yards and the Hornady Match delivered a 0.48 MOA group. “The cool thing about this electronic, is you can’t freaking lie.” The rifle and ammo “got together and made absolute magic. Half MOA at 300 yards? I’m pretty freaking impressed. “
Pat says he didn’t expect the Henry to be that accurate, especially with a 400 buck 9x scope on it. “Maybe I had a really good day,” he says. He considered putting a more powerful scope on the gun to really study his shot and push the rifle, but decided he got good enough results to leave it.
More to Come
Pat bought a year’s membership at the range (I don’t even want to know what that cost) and says the Henry will go back for more. He also says, “I’ll probably sell my soul for more of this Hornady Match.” He might have to because that stuff ain’t cheap.
What do you think? Has Henry brought the lever gun into the 21st Century? Do Pat’s initial results interest you in giving the Long Ranger a try? Let us know in the comments. Happy precision shooting, y’all.