You are probably asking yourself, did I read the title right? Yes, the new for 2016 Henry Golden Boy Silver is a fun little gun that is simply blinding to look at. But I didn’t get to that conclusion overnight. Like many of the firearms I bring to the table, it is often my first time shooting that particular platform and that is true here in the case of Henry Repeating Arms’ lever action rifles. So what makes the Silver so different?
The Golden Boy Silver
To keep things simple, the Henry Golden Boy Silver has many of the same features as their ever popular Golden Boy rifles. Available in 17 HMR, 22 Magnum, and –my choice–, 22 LR. It has that same 1860s kind of appeal with a curved buttplate, brilliant walnut stock and forend, and a twenty inch blued 1130 series steel octagonal barrel topped with a very traditional set of sights consisting of a Marbles rear semi-buckhorn sight and a brass beaded front post sight– both easily adjustable. Like all tube fed rimfire rifles, the Silver is fed from a tubular magazine that is loaded a loading port at the front end of the magazine.
In the ever popular–and still relatively affordable– 22 LR chambering, the Silver holds sixteen rounds of 22 LR. The Silver will also fire 22 Long, but the 22 Short round will work as well and will hold as many as twenty-three Shorts in the magazine.
Like the Golden Boy, the Silver is lever action with steel action parts housed in an alloy receiver. It has the same simple hammer activated half-cock safety. So what’s the difference?
The Silver’s receiver, barrel band, and buttplate are finished in nickel plating–an old fashioned, but very effective way of rust prevention that is blinding to look at.
So is it just a nice flashy rifle? The only way to find that out was to see if it shoots.
I brought in a variety of ammunition and I was curious to see what kind of theoretical accuracy I could get from a rest at twenty-five yards before moving out to do some more offhanded shooting.
Brand Cartridge Velocity 5-Shot Group
CCI 22 Short 29 grain HP 992 fps 3.0 in.
CCI 22 LR Velocitor 40 grain HP 1338 fps 1.3 in.
Federal 22 LR HV Match 40 grain LRN 1209 fps 1.9 in.
Federal 22 LR Target 40 grain LRN 1012 fps 1.3 in.
The Silver, despite being a little awkward to work the downward stroke of the lever action on this makeshift rest, grouped well at this typical small game hunting distance with the hypervelocity Velocitor and standard velocity Federal Target fodder producing the best group. The 22 Short had the worst showing, but was still minute of rabbit. In general these rounds will be somewhat less accurate in rifles chambered for 22 LR since the bullet must travel a small distance before contacting the rifling, because it is a shorter round.
Satisfied with a good benchmark for field accuracy, I stepped off to fifty yards and did a fair amount of offhand shooting at a steel silhouette target. Loading the Silver is clearly not as fast as reloading the semi-auto 22 rifles I have become accustomed to, but it was not laborious either. Simply turn the knurled magazine tube knob and withdraw the tube. Load individual rounds until full and replace the tube. Chamber a round by a brisk snap of the lever down and back up. The lever never contacts the wood or the tang of the receiver so there is no fear of damage from vigorously working the action, not that it is really necessary. The action was probably the smoothest I have worked on a lever action and it took almost no effort to chamber and eject rounds. Recoil, of course, was nonexistent. The traditional sights are somewhat underappreciated and meant for what a 22 rifle is meant for–quick, snap shooting at smaller sized targets. Another rather small detail that I do appreciate is the inclusion of just a half-cock safety. Most lever action rifles are imported and have a number of button and tang safeties that are not only ugly, but unnecessary. Henry opts for a simple half-cock notch. Just draw the hammer back in the down position one click, and the rifle is safe to carry.
At fifty yards, the 22 LR fodder easily got an impact group of just three inches. The rifle, at 6 3/4 pounds, is quite hefty for a 22 and that helps with steady off hand shooting where a lighter gun could be tossed off target in the wind. The 22 Short rounds tended to drop somewhat at that distance, but hitting a half sized torso silhouette at that distance still proved no problem.
My range outings with the Silver weren’t all rosey. When I generally stop loading when I see a round in the loading port itself, sometimes I loaded too many and twice I had the very last round in the magazine nose dive onto the carrier and fail to chamber. This was remediated with a pocket knife.
I also felt that the rifle was quite smooth and slippery in the shoulder. This might be because of the fine finishing done on these rifles, but that smooth crescent buttplate felt like it wanted to shift around while getting a firing grip. But in terms of actual shouldering, it is clear that the Silver is not a youth oriented gun with a buttstock length of pull of 13 3/4 inches. Despite the slipperiness of the buttplate, I could work the action over and over again rapidly without breaking my look on the target or the sights. Those sights are easy to pick up and perfectly adequate at fifty yards, but at one hundred they did tend to cover half of my target. A steady rest was needed for me to connect at that distance. Ultimately, I was able to group the Silver at six inches with the Velocitor fodder. Without any provisions for a scope mount on the smooth, bare receiver, I thought that was about the best I could get out of this thoroughly traditional offering.
Coming away after several hundred rounds of ammunition fired, the Golden Boy Silver worked extremely well, regardless of my own user error. The look reminds me of a cross between an old style lever gun and a turn of the century concealed carry revolver, often finished back then in nickel plating. It is most certainly interesting and great at distracting range patrons. This very traditional 22 rifle will have some demerits, mostly understanding the sights. While you might be well served by a standard Golden Boy, the Silver offers a nice flare and it does shoot as well as it looks.
Get your Henry Rifle HERE.