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Henry rifle

Henry rifle

Overview
The Henry repeating rifle was a lever-action
Lever-action
Lever-action is a type of firearm action which uses a lever located around the trigger guard area, to load fresh cartridges into the chamber of the barrel when the lever is worked. Most lever-action firearms are rifles, but lever-action shotguns and a few pistols have also been made...

, breech-loading, tubular magazine rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

.

The original Henry rifle was a .44 caliber rimfire
.44 Henry
The .44 Henry, also known as the .44 Rimfire, the .44 Long Rimfire, or the 11x23R cartridge was a rim-fire round that uses a .875 inch casing. The round has a total length of 1.345 inches. It uses a 200 or 216 grain bullet with a .446 diameter. The cartridge was loaded with 26 to 28...

, lever-action, breech-loading rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry
Benjamin Tyler Henry
Benjamin Tyler Henry was an American gunsmith and manufacturer. He was the inventor of the Henry rifle, the first reliable lever-action repeating rifle....

 in the late 1850s. The Henry rifle was an improved version of the earlier Volcanic Repeating rifle. The Henry rifle used copper (later brass) rimfire cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

s with a 216 grain (14 g) bullet over 25 grain
Grain (measure)
A grain is a unit of measurement of mass that is nominally based upon the mass of a single seed of a cereal. From the Bronze Age into the Renaissance the average masses of wheat and barley grains were part of the legal definition of units of mass. However, there is no evidence of any country ever...

s (1.6 g) of gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

. Nine hundred were manufactured between summer and October 1862; by 1864, production had peaked at 290 per month.
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Encyclopedia
The Henry repeating rifle was a lever-action
Lever-action
Lever-action is a type of firearm action which uses a lever located around the trigger guard area, to load fresh cartridges into the chamber of the barrel when the lever is worked. Most lever-action firearms are rifles, but lever-action shotguns and a few pistols have also been made...

, breech-loading, tubular magazine rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

.

History


The original Henry rifle was a .44 caliber rimfire
.44 Henry
The .44 Henry, also known as the .44 Rimfire, the .44 Long Rimfire, or the 11x23R cartridge was a rim-fire round that uses a .875 inch casing. The round has a total length of 1.345 inches. It uses a 200 or 216 grain bullet with a .446 diameter. The cartridge was loaded with 26 to 28...

, lever-action, breech-loading rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry
Benjamin Tyler Henry
Benjamin Tyler Henry was an American gunsmith and manufacturer. He was the inventor of the Henry rifle, the first reliable lever-action repeating rifle....

 in the late 1850s. The Henry rifle was an improved version of the earlier Volcanic Repeating rifle. The Henry rifle used copper (later brass) rimfire cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

s with a 216 grain (14 g) bullet over 25 grain
Grain (measure)
A grain is a unit of measurement of mass that is nominally based upon the mass of a single seed of a cereal. From the Bronze Age into the Renaissance the average masses of wheat and barley grains were part of the legal definition of units of mass. However, there is no evidence of any country ever...

s (1.6 g) of gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

. Nine hundred were manufactured between summer and October 1862; by 1864, production had peaked at 290 per month. By the time production ended in 1866, approximately 14,000 units had been manufactured.

For a Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 soldier, owning a Henry rifle was a point of pride. Although it was never officially adopted for service by the Union Army, many soldiers purchased Henrys with their own funds. The brass framed rifles could fire at a rate of 28 rounds per minute when used correctly, so soldiers who saved their pay to buy one often believed it would help them survive. They were frequently used by scouts, skirmishers, flank guards, and raiding parties, rather than in regular infantry formations. To the amazed muzzleloader-armed Confederates
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 who had to face this deadly "sixteen shooter", it was "that damned Yankee rifle that they load on Sunday and shoot all week!" Very few captured Henry rifles were used by Confederate troops. Since those few Confederate troops who came into possession of one of these rifles had little way to resupply the special ammunition used by the weapon, its widespread use by Confederate forces was very impractical. The rifle was, however, known to have been used at least in part by some fifteen different Confederate units. These units included cavalry units in Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia, as well as the personal bodyguards of Confederate President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

.

While never issued on a large scale, the Henry rifle demonstrated its advantages of rapid fire at close range several times in the Civil War and later during the wars against the Plains Indians. Examples include the successes of two Henry-armed Union regiments at the Battle of Franklin against large Confederate attacks, and the successful defense by small U.S. Army detachments against overwhelming Sioux forces at the Wagon Box Fight
Wagon Box Fight
The Wagon Box Fight was an engagement on August 2, 1867, during Red Cloud's War between the U.S. Army and Lakota Native Americans in the vicinity of Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming.-Background:...

 and Hayfield Fight
Hayfield Fight
The Hayfield Fight was an engagement of Red Cloud's War on August 1, 1867, between troops of the U.S. Army and Native American Indians, mostly Cheyenne warriors.-Background:...

 during Red Cloud's War
Red Cloud's War
Red Cloud's War was an armed conflict between the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho and the United States in the Wyoming Territory and the Montana Territory from 1866 to 1868. The war was fought over control of the Powder River Country in north central present day Wyoming...

 — as well as the Henry-armed Sioux and Cheyenne's destruction of the 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn.

Manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company, the Henry rifle evolved into the famous Winchester
Winchester rifle
In common usage, Winchester rifle usually means any of the lever-action rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, though the company has also manufactured many rifles of other action types...

 Model 1866 lever-action rifle. With the introduction of the new Model 1866, the New Haven Arms Company was renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company
Winchester Repeating Arms Company
The Winchester Repeating Arms Company was a prominent American maker of repeating firearms, located in New Haven, Connecticut. The Winchester brand is today used under license by two subsidiaries of the Herstal Group, Fabrique Nationale of Belgium and the Browning Arms Company of Morgan, Utah.-...

.




Mechanical workings


The Henry rifle used a .44 caliber cartridge with 26 gr of black powder. This gave it significantly less muzzle velocity and energy than other repeaters of the era, such as the Spencer
Spencer repeating rifle
The Spencer repeating rifle was a manually operated lever-action, repeating rifle fed from a tube magazine with cartridges. It was adopted by the Union Army, especially by the cavalry, during the American Civil War, but did not replace the standard issue muzzle-loading rifled muskets in use at the...

. The lever action, on the downstroke, ejected the spent cartridge from the chamber and cocked the hammer. A spring in the magazine forced the next round into the chamber; locking the lever back into position sealed the rifle back up into firing position. As it was designed, the rifle was not a very safe weapon. A Henry rifle, when not in use, would either have the hammer cocked or resting on the rim of the cartridge. In the first case, the rifle had no safety and was in firing position. In the second, an impact on the back of the exposed hammer could cause a chambered round to fire.

Current production


In 1973, Louis Imperato bought the firearms company of Iver Johnson
Iver Johnson
Iver Johnson was a U.S. firearms, bicycle, and motorcycle manufacturer from 1871 to 1993. The company shared the same name as its founder, Norwegian-born Iver Johnson .- Iver Johnson :...

 and began making commercial versions of the M1 carbine
M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S...

. In 1993, Imperato started a factory in his native Brooklyn to manufacture .22 caliber rifles under the newly recreated name of the Henry Repeating Arms
Henry Repeating Arms
Henry Repeating Arms is a firearms manufacturing company, one of the top ten long gun manufacturers in the United States and the leading lever action manufacturer. Henry Repeating Arms takes its name from Benjamin Tyler Henry, the inventor who patented the first repeating rifle in 1860. The company...

 Co. which are currently manufactured in Brooklyn, New York. The current company, not to be confused with the original Henry rifles, does not produce the Civil War period firearm that this article defines. It produces lever action rifles that are more akin to later Marlin types.

A. Uberti Firearms
Uberti
A. Uberti, Srl. is an Italian manufacturer of replica American firearms.Uberti produces high quality replicas of American percussion revolvers, cartridge revolvers, single-shot, and lever-action rifles....

 produces an almost exact copy Henry Model 1860, although it is not available in .44 Henry rimfire. Instead, they are chambered for centerfire calibers such as .44-40 Winchester
.44-40 Winchester
The .44-40 Winchester, also known as the .44 Winchester, the .44 WCF , and the .44 Largo was introduced in 1873 by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. It was the first centerfire metallic cartridge offered by Winchester,and was brought out as the standard chambering for the new Winchester Model...

 and .45 Long Colt. These replicas are distributed through Navy Arms Company. They are popular among Civil War reenactors, as well as competition shooters in the N-SSA
North-South Skirmish Association
The North-South Skirmish Association or N-SSA is an historical and competitive organization whose goal is to maintain the knowledge of the unique firearms used during the American Civil War...

.

See also

  • Colt Lightning Carbine
    Colt Lightning Carbine
    The Colt Lightning Carbine or Colt Lightning Rifle was a slide-action or pump-action rifle manufactured by Colt from 1884 to 1904 and was originally chambered in .44-40 caliber. Colt eventually made the Lightning Rifle in three different frame sizes, to accommodate a wide range of cartridges,...

  • Winchester rifle
    Winchester rifle
    In common usage, Winchester rifle usually means any of the lever-action rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, though the company has also manufactured many rifles of other action types...

  • Spencer repeating rifle
    Spencer repeating rifle
    The Spencer repeating rifle was a manually operated lever-action, repeating rifle fed from a tube magazine with cartridges. It was adopted by the Union Army, especially by the cavalry, during the American Civil War, but did not replace the standard issue muzzle-loading rifled muskets in use at the...

  • List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Henry Carbine
    Henry Carbine
    The Henry Carbine is a fictional gun, probably based on the Henry repeating rifle. It was thought out by German writer Karl May as a gun named the Henry Carbine after its design engineer...


External links