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[Review+Video] Henry Big Boy X in .357 Magnum: Side Loading Gate!

Looking to combine that love of pistol caliber carbines with a need to be unique and flaunt some vintage flair?

Are you often consumed by a deep need to take dubious-quality, room temperature whiskey to the face before riding off into that Amarillo sunset?

riding off into the sunset
Headin’ out on that lonesome prairie.

Henry’s modern take on the classic .357 Lever Action Big Boy series might just be for you, pardner.

4. Henry Big Boy X with EOTech Running Lever Shell Ejection

Check out our video review:

Then head down for all the nitty-gritty.

Table of Contents


Meet the Big Boy X

You… may have noticed that we’ve done a pretty hefty amount of AR reviews recently, and while it’s always useful to have a back catalog of reviews for people to sift through, wow does black rifle after black rifle grow a bit tiresome on our end after a while.

BCM Recce-16, Running
Even if we love ’em.

Thankfully, the cloudy Armalite-laden skies appear to be lifting for the time being, and through them shines a lever-action ray of light–I’m not really sure where I’m going with this poetic prose, but long story short–Henry’s .357 Big Boy X is a pretty welcome breath of fresh air as far as plinkers go.

7. Henry Big Boy X with EOTech Surefire Scout Light
The Big Boy X itself.

Essentially an update to Henry’s flagship series of lever actions, the Big Boy X takes the rustic charm of wood and polished steel and replaces them with sleek black polymer furniture and surfaces that are going to be much more familiar to the modern eye.

The Big Boy X we’ve got on hand is capable of feeding both .38 special and .357, and finally features a side-loading gate that allows for quick reloads without removal of the magazine tube… although quick is going to be a pretty relative term here.

10. Henry Big Boy X Different Ammunition
A selection of different .38 Special and .357 cartridges we fed it.

I have no real experience with lever guns at all outside the odd ones we’ve played with here and there for the website, so getting used to the mechanical differences in how one approaches anything remotely close to a ‘smooth reload’ took a bit of time–though if the cowboy action shooting community has anything to say about it, you absolutely can run a lever gun with some brutal speed if you… dedicate your life to cowboy LARPing.


I found that the side loading gate was pretty particular about the exact angle one needs to hit the door at in order to effectively load a round.

8. Henry Big Boy X with EOTech Reloads with Pig Gloves

Although it’s reasonably okay with only a few cartridges in the 7 round magazine tube, it’s definitely going to make you fight for those last few–though I suspect that might break in over time. It’s also a bit of a pain in the ass to load with gloves on, and that trapdoor has a habit of wanting to grab your gloved fingers.

12. Henry Big Boy X Cartridge Jam
You might encounter a few of these until you’ve really got the hang of it.

Outside of that, the action itself is pretty damn smooth, though I think I do need to get into the habit of really driving the lever forward to ensure a clean ejection, as there were a few instances where the spent casing failed to extract–or a live round fell out of the chamber–likely as a result of being a bit too gingerly with the process of running the lever.

11. Henry Big Boy X Jam Woops
Pretty sure I caused this one by coming off of the lever before returning it to battery.

Like I said, it’s an unfamiliar platform, for the most part, so a few kinks are to be expected, but I’m going to say this is probably much more me than the Big Boy.

13. Henry Big Boy X Stovepipe

The trigger itself is incredibly crisp, as obviously the lever is going to cock the hammer, meaning that you’re right up against the trigger’s wall as soon as you place pressure on it. No creep or take up to speak of. 

14. Henry Big Boy X Trigger Pull

I’ve fired a handful of .45-70 lever guns before, and comparatively the .357 is super minimal in terms of felt recoil, and even jumping up to .357 magnum from .38 special was only a barely noticeable increase in recoil impulse.

15. Henry Big Boy X MW2 Moving
Ol’ MW2 lookin’-ass dork 😎

Not that .357 is a huge round when you’ve got a mildly heavy carbine built around it, but it’s certainly much less gnarly to shoot than .45-70 bear loads. Duh.

The gun comes with fiber optic iron sights featuring a green front and dual orange dot rear, and they’re pretty adequate for daytime shooting.

16. Henry Big Boy X Fibre Optic Front
Henry Big Boy X Fiber Optic Front

We’ve also added an aftermarket section of Picatinny rail for attaching optics on the receiver as well–though it should be noted that the addition of the optics rail is going to block your iron sights completely.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

17. Henry Big Boy X Fibre Optic Rear
Henry Big Boy X Fiber Optic Rear

We initially wanted to run something quite small and low profile on the big boy, but unfortunately the Vortex Viper microdot we swung for first was having some issues with getting on target zero-wise.

18. Henry Big Boy X Vortex Viper
A shame, as it fits the aesthetic maybe a little bit better.

We decided to swap over to a larger EOTech EXPS for the sake of time despite the fact that you’re not going to be able to get a super solid cheek weld with that height over bore.

6. Henry Big Boy X with EOTech Height Over Bore
Pictured: Chin weld.

For film purposes here we’ve got a Sig Romeo 5 on the low mount, and it’s just about right.

Regardless, it didn’t appear to make a huge difference once I started warming up to the gun, and although it’s not super impressive, I was able to ring ~100-yard steel pretty consistently while standing once the optic was on target.

18. Henry Big Boy X Sig Sauer Romeo 5
A Sig Sauer Romeo 5 on the low mount is a bit better profile fit for that optics rail.

While we didn’t do any super scientific testing of groups, we were able to produce a pretty decent cluster of steel impacts at 25 yards with no issues–and realistically it’s a .357 carbine–you’re not going to be pulling any Mark Wahlberg sniper shots off with this thing. 

19. Henry Big Boy X Shots on Steel
Henry Big Boy X Shots on Steel at ~25 Yards

The handguard itself features a 3 and 9 o’clock MLOK mount, which is perfect for the addition of stuff like scout profile lights, especially if you’ve got a mount that puts them at a high 1 o’clock, if you feel the need to add some throwable lumens onto the business end of your cyberpunk cowboy gun.

24. Henry Big Boy X Surefire Scout
If we were running this consistently, we’d likely add an MLOK tape switch mount to the left-side MLOK mount too.

There’s a small bit of pic rail at the very end of the handguard as well, which while intended for a bipod, is actually not a bad spot for something like a low-profile hand stop if you’d prefer a little bit of extra grip to index off of instead.

20. Henry Big Boy X Mlok Handguard
A light might get obnoxious with the sling mount there, but YMMV.

We added a generic spandex shell carrier thing on the stock after cutting a small slit for the built-in sling swivel, although it’s obvious the carrier is intended more for .308 length rounds as .357 is going to sink pretty far down into the slots.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

But you know, whatever, +5 cool points.

21. Henry Big Boy X Stock Shell Carrier
Sort of sub-optimal, but it works okay.

Lastly, the barrel itself features 5/8×24 threads–which typically match up to .308 muzzle devices, however, you best not be putting a .308 brake on a .357 gun lest ye be wanting to lose some fingers.

23. Henry Big Boy X Threaded Muzzle
Henry Big Boy X Threaded Muzzle

Anecdotally, we’ve heard folks have had success with .350 Legend muzzle devices, but your mileage may vary and we’re not liable if you wind up grenading yourself. 

By the Numbers

Reliability: 4/5

While we don’t think any of the occasional hiccups with the gun were the gun’s fault, there were hiccups nonetheless. Again, it’s likely nothing that training and forming muscle memory can’t address.

Accuracy: 5/5

We didn’t really have the opportunity to stretch the Big Boy much past 100 yards, but it rings true consistently up to there. We’re certainly not lever-action marksmen, but considering our intended use for the gun is “fun,” this feels pretty damn acceptable for us.

Ergonomics: 4/5

Surprisingly, the antiquated design of the lever gun in general is still quite comfortable to run, and although it’s obviously not as sleek and ergonomically-driven as a modern AR build, I didn’t have any biting gripes about it outside of the lever being slightly painful to operate for long periods of time if you’re not wearing gloves. Even then, that’s still a pretty surface level criticism considering the platform.

Looks: 4/5

Maybe I’m a sucker, but modernized versions of antique guns are cool as hell. The Big Boy X is pretty damn hot in its stock configuration, and only looks better when you start slapping on optics, lights, suppressors, etc. Perhaps the only potential improvement would be adding a full, slim MLOK handguard out of the box, but that can be rectified pretty easily.

Customization: 3/5

While there’s not a ton of aftermarket support for the Big Boy X in the same way as more modern/less niche rifles, it certainly does still exist. As mentioned, optics, lights, lasers, shell caddies, and slings are going to be your bread and butter here, but you can push it further if need be.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Bang for the Buck: 3/5

This is always a little hard to quantify as it depends entirely on you–but at a ballpark price of ~$900 or so, it might be a bit on the pricey side for a fun range toy. If you’re Mr. Moneybags and you don’t mind dropping a cool chunk of change to get your kicks, then by all means.

Overall: 4/5


If you’re looking to get your Instagram-worthy swag points on with a fully tricked out, modern lever gun chambered in a functional plinking cartridge that isn’t going to tenderize your dainty basement flesh after a day’s worth of shooting, we can’t think of a better base for it than the Henry 357 Big Boy X.

1. Henry Big Boy X with EOTech in Desert

Even if that name sounds more like a SoundCloud rapper than a firearm, we had a blast with this neat little hombre, and it’s a refreshing break from having to take a microscope to every AR-15 we encounter to give y’all the minute differences between them worth talking about.

Are you thinking about unleashing your inner buckaroo with one of these Big Boys? Have one? We wanna know all about it, so drop us a comment below. Want other old-school options?

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6 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    I bought one for shooting feral hogs and other pest animals on the family land. Put a DNZ scope mount and Leupold 2.5x light weight scope on the carbine. It's collected an impressive pile of hogs plus a few Axis and Whitetail deer. Loaded with a 180gr Keith style hard cast gascheck and a near max charge of H110 it kills hogs very neatly out to 125 yards.

    September 5, 2020 10:37 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Nah. I'll pass on the "tacticool" look.

    July 9, 2020 11:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    That PIC rail looks stupid high. Why is it elevated?

    July 9, 2020 10:47 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Only option from the factory!

      July 10, 2020 4:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Have been waiting for years for a side-loading threaded lever action that I can put a can on and Henry proceeds to put F'n plastic on it for stock. Arrrggghhh!

    Called support and they say that it's not possible to buy wood for it. Aaaarrrgghhh!
    I guess I got to wait longer.

    July 9, 2020 10:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thanks for a great review! I'd love to know where you shoot in the desert. I hate shooting indoors and even outdoor ranges you can't shoot multiple platforms in one location. I'm in CA, and the family needs to get outdoors and practice! Looks like a fun rifle. I love the " cowboy-esque" lever action, The Rifleman comes to mind. But, theb again, I love revolvers also. Not that I don't own any semi-auto's. Thanks again, and be safe!

    July 9, 2020 3:59 pm