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[Review] Henry AR-7: Takedown Survival Rifle

Looking for a takedown rifle that’s 3.5 lbs and can be assembled in under a minute?

AR-7 Parts
AR-7 Parts

Boom, I’ve got the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle in .22LR for you today.

I’ll cover how this purpose-built little rifle might be your next gun for backpacking and general prepping.

Best Survival .22 LR Rifle
230
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Coupled with some super quick history and of course…shooting, reliability, and more!

Table of Contents

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Who Is It For?

Henry AR-7 in Viper Western Camo
Henry AR-7 in Viper Western Camo
  • Pilots and crew who need to survive after bailing out (it’s original purpose)
  • Someone who wants a 16″ takedown survival rifle for backpacking or prepping in their go-bag
  • Someone who wants a utility rifle in their vehicle in an emergency
  • Someone who wants a super-light 3.5 lb rimfire rifle for plinking at the range

Brief History

The AR-7 was another Eugene Stoner production (along with the AR-15) while he was at Armalite in the 50’s.

From Russia with Love, AR-7
From Russia with Love (1963), AR-7

Armalite sold the rights of the AR-7 to Charter Arms in 1973 who kind of messed it up and contributed to a less than stellar reputation of the AR-7.

Henry Repeating Rifles got the design and production rights in 1980 and fixed it up a bit (more details coming up).

Assembly

All the guts (barrel, receiver, mags) come in the ABS plastic buttstock.

Henry AR-7s
Henry AR-7s

All you need to do is pry open the back.

AR-7 Innards
AR-7 Innards

And dump everything out…

AR-7 Parts
AR-7 Parts

I like the orange back of the buttstock which lets you know if you didn’t get a complete seal. It will keep a decent water seal that will keep the AR-7 afloat for some time.

Stowed Henry Survival AR-7
Stowed Henry Survival AR-7

You can tape or add some Saran wrap before covering to give it an extra edge.

Assembly is super easy and once you practice a few times…easily under a minute.

I’m not quite sure if there’s a proper order…but here goes!

Find the receiver screw and line it up with the buttstock and use the plastic knob on the bottom of the grip to get it tight.

AR-7 Receiver Screw
AR-7 Receiver Screw

Then attach the barrel to the receiver…it has that indexing nub that’s familiar to anyone who has built an AR-15.

Henry AR-7 Barrel Nut
Henry AR-7 Barrel Nut

Hand-tighten the nut and that’s it…but don’t forget to put the buttstock plate back on.

Mags go in like mags do…and the mag release is on the left side.

The package comes with 2 8-rounders but you can easily fit three with one in the receiver.

Henry AR-7 Magazine Release
Henry AR-7 Magazine Release

The bolt is pretty cool in that it’s recessed…

AR-7 Bolt Lever, In
AR-7 Bolt Lever, In

Until you need it.

AR-7 Bolt Lever, Out
AR-7 Bolt Lever, Out

And finally…safety is on the right side with an easy lever.

AR-7 Safety and Trigger
AR-7 Safety and Trigger

Now…let’s get some rounds through!

How Does It Shoot?

Now that’s pretty cool!

As a .22LR there’s almost no recoil even in a lightweight 3.5 lb blowback gun.

And you can hear the super positive reset of the trigger.

Speaking of the trigger…it’s surprisingly decent. Mine clocked in at around 3 lb with some creep/grit but a clean break. And of course the very audible/tactile reset.

The one thing that surprised me was the thickness of the buttstock.

Assembled Henry AR-7
Assembled Henry AR-7

There’s no way around it if you want to fit everything in it. It can look a little weird but you get used to it pretty quickly.

Accuracy

Accuracy was fine…you’ll be able to hit small game at 50 yards if you do your thing. I was easily nailing clays at around 35 yards.

Rear sight is a nice peep.

AR-7 Rear Sight
AR-7 Rear Sight

And a bright orange front sight blade.

AR-7 Front Sight
AR-7 Front Sight

Want to add an optic?

You can with the 3/8″ Weaver rail on the receiver.

AR-7 Bolt Lever, Out
Weaver Rail

But where are you going to store the scope?

Reliability

Older versions of the AR-7 got a bad rep due to some design flaws…especially in the magazine.

The feed lips were easy to bang up and rounds started shifting in the mag.

Henry solved those things with a redesign that includes two wires that go along the side of each mag to maintain correct positioning.

Henry AR-7 Magazine Release
Henry AR-7 Magazine Release

But ammo choice still matters in the world of rimfire.

It’s highly recommended that you go with some hotter stuff like CCI Minimag.

I had zero malfunctions with those and you can check out more of my favs in Best .22LR Ammo.

When I dove into Walmart stuff…I started getting some jams. But nothing more than what I would also get in other rifles.

You can also handload individual rounds into the chamber if you’re using really soft stuff (or forget to bring your mag).

One thing to note is that there’s no land round bolt hold open. You might need a chamber flag for some ranges.

Henry Survival Pack

I had one AR-7 come with a Henry Survival Pack.

Henry US Survival Pack
Henry US Survival Pack

It easily holds an AR-7 and a bunch of included goodies. Plus with room to spare for more of your own things.

Survival Pack with Henry AR-7
Survival Pack with Henry AR-7

Included are:

  • 100 feet of 550 paracord
  • Firestarter
  • Survival bar
  • Water filtration straw
  • Tourniquet
  • Mylar blanket
  • Knife
Survival Pack Items
Survival Pack Items

Pretty nice and a good basis for your own survival kit.

Specifications

  • Barrel Length: 16.125″
  • Rate of Twist: 1:16
  • Overall Length: 35″
  • Weight: 3.50 lbs.
  • Length of Pull: 14″
  • Two 8-Round Magazines Included

By the Numbers

Reliability: 4/5

No failures when I stuck with the good hot stuff but be prepared for a normal amount of issues with cheaper stuff.

Accuracy: 5/5

It’s a purpose-driven rifle and you’ll be able to hunt small game with it if needed. But it’s not meant for NRL22 competitions.

Ergonomics: 4/5

The thickness of its grip only takes a few mags to get used to. Otherwise you’re not normally shooting hundreds of rounds through this thing each range trip anyways.

Looks: 5/5

There’s three flavors and I really dig the camo.

Henry AR-7 in Viper Western Camo
Henry AR-7 in Viper Western Camo

Customization: 3/5

There’s scope rings and you can try to make it waterproof. But it’s well-designed for its purpose. Let it be or just buy more mags.

17
at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Bang for the Buck: 5/5

With a street price of around $230 it’s pretty great.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Conclusion

The Henry AR-7 Survival rifle is a nifty purpose-driven .22LR rifle that only weighs 3.5 lbs and stores itself in its buttstock. It has adequate accuracy and high reliability if given the proper ammo. A fun day at the range or a last ditch survival weapon if you bail out of a plane.

What’s your thought on the Henry AR-7? Would you use it as a “survival rifle” or would something else in our Best .22LR Rifles fare better?

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15 Leave a Reply

  • 2fold

    Don't know if anyone remembers but the survival rifle in the 50s for aircrews was a 22LR over a 410 shotgun. Pretty cool and fun to hunt small game with.

    1 second ago
  • BuffaloMike

    I've had mine for 10+ years, from before they went the blaze orange route. I love it. You can pick up some 15 round mags for it, but I really can't recommend that. Those extended mags are absolutely terrible.

    2 days ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for the insight on the extendo mags!

      1 day ago
  • W W

    I have two of these and they do exactly what they are intended to do. I have one in a go bag and the other in my plane. I cycle the ammo once a year and clean an oil the rifle after to ensure all is ready when needed. Both guns are accurate enough at 75 yards. If you do your part you should be confident of hitting what you're aiming at at 50 yards all day long. I bought extra mags for these as well. And with .22lr you can carry plenty of ammo.

    2 days ago
  • Kurt S

    Well, I've been shooting one of these lil wonders for right at 48 years now. Shot a lot of squirrels, fair number of bunnies too. I've found that my Armalite AR-7 has been very reliable and the accuracy is good enough for putting small game in the pot. Would not trade it for a different survival game getter. In the for what's it's worth, I paid under $50 for mine in a hardware store in 1971. I do think that the slight re-design of the stock to hold two magazines is a good thing that Henry has done. Otherwise, it's hard to not say the Stoner design gun is just perfect.

    3 days ago
  • Yosemite

    I used to think of the AR-7 was the perfect SURVIVAL rifle......How-so-ever, Ruger made me change my mind when they revealed the "Ruger 10/22 TakeDown". I also remember when the AR-7 had a retail price of $75.00 NIB in the late 1970s or 1980s or there about. The 10/22 TakeDown may cost more than he AR-7 but it doesn't take up that much more space but does have more space for a few more small items and spare magazines. I have some old Ram-Line 30 round magazines that ARE Reliable and do not take up much space and snap/lock together that when snapped together are shorter than one 25 round magazine. BE sure to use some tape to make sure they do not come apart. The 10/22 Takedown has many other items that were never developed for the AR-7 besides the larger capacity magazines mentioned above that can be easily stored in the case that the rifle comes with,. Another thing is the fore-stock that keeps ones hands/fingers safe from the heat of the barrel. and a much better grip surface than just the plain barrel or the receiver. Which leads to more comfort better accuracy and one can add any optic that they care to use or can afford. How many such items out there for the AR-7? How much for ONE spare 8 round magazine for the AR-7? I am well aware that ounces count when one is limited in space and weight what one can carry on their person or back. The 10/22 Take Down is well worth a little extra weight, (the 10/22 Takedown Lite weighs in at 4.5 pounds plus magazines/ammo/ and whatever other items you have added) in my opinion because of all of the various options readily available including a suppressed version among the different models. I also believe in personal choice and what works for me may not work for someone else and vice-versa. In general we want and and use all of the same tools for Survival. Many of the tools may be made by a different manufacturer and/or look different such as the AR-7 and the Ruger 10/22 TakeDown or perhaps the knives we carry or mess kits to any other items in our Kit. Remember your personal preference is the ultimate factor in what goes into YOUR Kit/Bag. Remember the importance and reason of/for every item in your Kit/Bag whatever items inside it.... are in there need to be good quality and have as many multi-uses as possible per item.....the more uses the better....saves weight and space .... because Your Life/ Your Survival and perhaps the Lives/Survival of others depends on every item in you Kit/Bag. Remember that every time you look at your kit//bag and it's inventory! Good quality items need not always be expensive....BUT they must work for you and be ready to save Your Life or others Lives. IF YOU don't feel it is up to standard then replace it with an item/s that will ASAP! The AR-7 will work n Survival situations BUT chances are you will not be shooting it very much. The 10/22 TakeDown is a rifle you will enjoy every chance you get to shoot it PLUS you have so many options readily available. The more options and uses for any and every item in your Kit/Bag is always a good thing for you and possibly others.... Again Remember Your Life depends on everyone of those items in your kit/bag. The more you use them/ practice with them and gain experience with them, makes you more confident, more capable, and knowledgeable and faster to put them to use in a SHTF situation. AGAIN, I cannot stress this enough Only you can decide what you need and want in Your kit/bag....just make sure you know how to use every item and they are of quality and reliable......that is IF you value your Life. Only YOU can make that decision for yourself! So if you ever have to bailout of a plane o survive a plane crash...or perhaps a boat and find yourself stranded on an uninhabited island somewhere.... Or in a SHTF moment... Remember the Boy Scout Motto: "BE PREPARED"

    3 days ago
    • BUGEATER

      I fired the AR7 as fast as I could with 6 magazines containing mini mags. Its still cold. covered forearm not needed. It doesn't need a bag or case to protect it, comes with everything inside, and holds 24 rnds ready to go. So simple to clean. A shoe string with oily patch put through the bore works great, and the patch still works after to wipe off the bolt which almost removes itself its so simple. I agree that quality is a good thing, it seems the AR7 has been brought up from so-so to a great little compact unit that weighs very little and can be now called a good 100yd SURVIVAL 22. thank you Henry!!

      2 days ago
    • Daim

      Does it float? Just kidding had to say something to such an in depth review.

      2 days ago
      • Kona Golden

        Yes, with 2 scoops of ice cream & some coke. It will float for a while.

        2 days ago
  • Bugeater

    I own 2 of these Henry 22 rifles. I keep one inside a bug out bag and the other hidden inside my pickup. Both are well broke in with over 500 rnds each. After much testing I agree CCI either mini mag or velocitor, each had zero failures. Great 50 yd rifles !! 100 yd if you are good shot and use the small peep hole sight.

    3 days ago
  • Jim

    This an awesome rifle. I did add an inexpensive red dot 1 : 1 scope. Use the front sight And peep as a backup. Absolutely drills are 50 yds. I do need some info on cleaning the receiver. Take down and reassemble. Thoughts?

    3 days ago
    • Bugeater

      Check out YouTube , they have good break down vids.

      3 days ago
  • matt

    great lil rifle!!! it goes bang every time, hits what I point at, priced right for any budget, and its a henry, so the customer support is fantastic if you do need them. my daughter is a recent new shooter and cant get enough of hers. a day at the range costs what....a few bucks...that's cheap entertainment for all ages...get you one and have some fun.

    3 days ago
  • Montewalsh

    Every responsible person should have at least one .22 and this is one to have. Takes a beating bouncing around a truck, idiot proof assembly. .22 is far more effective than keyboard experts give it credit for. Another fine article Eric.

    3 days ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks so much!

      1 day ago
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