[Review] Henry .45-70 Lever Action Rifle: Big Game Ready

Lever action in a big buffalo caliber? Yesssss!

Henry .45-70 Case Hardened
Henry .45-70 Case Hardened

Doesn’t hurt that it’s also one of the prettiest guns I’ve ever handled.

Check out our experience with Henry’s .45-70 Lever Action as my team and I review it for shootability, reliability, accuracy, looks, and more.

Henry .45-70 Gif
Henry .45-70 Gif

By the end you’ll know if it could be your next heavy hitting range gun and/or big game hunting rifle.

Beautiful Dinosaur Hunter
759
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Fit & Feel

Like the Henry Golden Boy (.22LR) and .410 Shotgun I’ve tested before…the .45-70 version feels quality.

Henry .45-70, Left Side
Henry .45-70, Left Side

It’s hefty but not heavy at just above 7 lbs. I wouldn’t want a super light rifle chambered in .45-70 anyways.

How about that lever action?

Smooth right out of the box. And I’m sure will get even smoother with use.

Henry .45-70 Lever Action
Henry .45-70 Lever Action

Stay tuned for our shooting videos below for more details.

Now…how about that case hardening?

Henry Case Hardening
Henry Case Hardening

It’s so pretty I didn’t even want to shoot it…just put it up in a glass case in the middle of the den to show it off!

As for the other things…the wood is great as always and nicely checkered for grip.

Henry Wood Grips
Henry Wood Grips

Sights are decent with an adjustable buckhorn-style rear sight…

Henry .45-70 Rear Sight
Henry .45-70 Rear Sight

And a green hi-vis front sight bead.

Henry .45-70 Front Sight
Henry .45-70 Front Sight

Ok…one more full rifle shot then we’ll go into how it shoots.

Henry .45-70 Lever Action Rifle
Henry .45-70 Lever Action Rifle

Shootability

First, Henry rifles load through a cylinder magazine at the front.

Henry .45-70 Loading Tube
Henry .45-70 Loading Tube

You unlock the cylinder and bull out the brass loading tube. Then drop your rounds into the rifle…and finally push the tube back down and re-lock.

The spec sheet states a capacity of 4 rounds…but I was able to get 5-6 in there although closing the tube took a little more trouble. So probably don’t be like me!

So…how does it shoot?

Superbly…

We thought we were going to be blown away by the recoil of the .45-70 round. But it comes down to ammo selection.

We started with some Cowboy Action rated rounds which felt really nice and made everyone that tried it put on a surprised face…and then a smile.

Black Hills .45-70 vs 5.56
Black Hills .45-70 405gr vs 5.56

However…then we moved into some more modern rounds that really added some oomph.

Hornady Lever Revolution .45-70 vs 5.56
Hornady Lever Revolution .45-70 250gr vs 5.56

You can check out John’s reaction in this video with the Hornady…

The lever action is smooth and the single action trigger is nice.

There’s no traditional safety button or lever…but there is a transfer bar mechanism when the hammer is let down.

And for me…I always made sure to load on an empty chamber since you’ll likely have to get some part of your hand/arm in front of the muzzle to load.

Accuracy

For accuracy we took it to our local range for some fixed distance and lead sled shooting.

Henry .45-70 Accuracy Testing
Henry .45-70 Accuracy Testing

.45-70 ammo was a little hard to come by so we stuck with the two from before…

Here’s the view from the sights…

Henry .45-70 Sight View
Henry .45-70 Sight View

I placed the targets at 75 yards since it was difficult for me to get a good sight picture at 100 yards.

I loaded 5 rounds for each test and fired slowly for my maximum accuracy potential.

The results?

Henry .45-70 Groups
Henry .45-70 Groups

OK with my skill level…around 4-5 inches with the Black Hills and slightly smaller at around 3 inches for the Hornady.

I’m sure you can definitely tighten it up by getting behind the sights more…I’ve been spoiled with fancy scopes and red dots.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

But…the good thing is that the Henry is drilled and tapped…so it’s ready to accept optics and rail mounts! I’d probably put some sort of hunting 3-9x optic like the Leupold VX Freedom soon.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

Several trips to the range, four shooters, ~100 rounds (.45-70 is pretty expensive), and no failures of any kind.  What I’ve come to expect from Henry.

Accuracy: 3/5

More likely down to my skill level…but it’s showing around 4 MOA at 100 yards.  Nothing against the trigger either…it’s great.  I feel I’d do much better with it lightly scoped.

Ergonomics: 4/5

Like other Henry’s…it’s a little front heavy because of the barrel.  But for this caliber I’d rather have more heft all around…especially if I start shooting the harder hitting hunting rounds more.

Looks: 5/5

Oh yes…the prettiest Henry I have in my collection.  Love that case hardening.  You also can’t go wrong with their regular blue case or brass models.

Customization: 3/5

It’s drilled and tapped so you can add a scope.  That’s about all you’d probably do to it anyways.

Bang for the Buck: 4/5

Normal versions of the .45-70 are around $750 while if you want to get the case hardened version…it’s over $1000.  I personally think it’s worth it!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Conclusion

Henry goes back to its lever action roots with the hard hitting .45-70 caliber.

Henry .45-70, Right Side
Henry .45-70, Right Side

If you’re looking for something old school that won’t let you down…and will get oohs and aahs from sight alone…check out the Henry .45-70.

Beautiful Dinosaur Hunter
759
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Looking at other lever action guns? Check out the Best Lever Action Guns (You Can Still Get Today). Or our other reviews of Henry’s .22LR
Golden Boy and .410 Shotgun.

9 Leave a Reply

  • Jeff

    I love that its "almost too pretty to shoot", yet in the pictures it is just thrown on the ground on bricks...........

    5 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      5 months ago
  • Jeff

    How does it compare with the guide gun?

    5 months ago
    • Pogo

      If you want a 45-70 to hunt with I’d get a Marlin, that’s what I did. Marlins are well made, cost less and have a standard safety. The Henry is way too pretty to scratch up in the field. When you see and try a Henry you will buy one, or want to if your a lever gun fan. Very smooth action with classic styling, a real pleasure to shoot. I highly recommend getting a Henry in 357/38spl, your wallet and shoulder will thank you after a full day of shooting. The money saved on ammo can help justify buying both rifles.

      5 months ago
      • SteveO

        I been shooting Marlins for over 4 decades and I love hearing about you younger guys shooting them as well as the Henry’s. I have a few Henry’s and they are very nice reliable and accurate rifles. Get ready here comes the but, the Henry 45-70 is absolutely a beautiful rifle and I’m sure I’ll have one soon BUT for absolute power in 45-70 the Marlin is hands down the winner and stomps the Winchesters as well. If you reload the 45-70 becomes an absolute power house out to 200 yards. If that’s what your looking for and Grizzly or Buffalo Bore offer factory power houses as well. If the Henry can handle class ll 45-70 loads then it’s a absolute winner but can it?

        4 months ago
        • charles strahin

          Yes it can and more accurate then my Marlin yet in par with my rolling block.

          1 second ago
        • Pogo

          Modern Henry’s and Winchester’s can handle the same loads as the Marlin in 45-70. I reload too but I tried out a box of extremely expensive Buffalo Bore magnum rounds and was unimpressed. Huge recoil but Lever-Evolution is far more accurate at distance for me. I’m not a big fan of pointless extreme recoil so I mostly shoot cast lead loaded moderately. Dead is dead.

          4 months ago
          • Justin Ransbottom

            We'll, here's the deal. I own a few Henry's, and all of the triggers suck, Period!!!! But, 1 moa definitely can be achieved by them. I mounted a skinner sight to mine along with a skinny serated front sight filed to point of aim, and can keep 3 shots consistently in 2 inches at 100 yards open sights. With two full turns out with the rear appature, at 200 yards you can't miss the 10" steel plates. The gun has been a great shooter for me, as long as I didn't shoot the sucky modern small weighted bullets. I have mine sighted for what a 45-70 knows, a 450 grain LBT LFN GC from Montana Bullets! I have some 405's from Missouri Bullets that also shoot well. And by the way these are very good 1,000 yard guns also. You have to be a shooter, like they used to be and know your drops with your kit! Great gun, cheap enternal small parts. Barrels are also great. Scopes are fine if you're blind. Good Shooten, Justin

            4 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hey Jeff, I haven't had any hands-on experience with the Marlin yet!

      5 months ago
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