Henry Golden Boy .22LR [Review]: Best Lever .22 Ever?

What makes grown men giggle like school girls?

Henry Golden Boy
Henry Golden Boy .22LR

The Henry Golden Boy .22LR that’s what!

I’ve always wanted one and was so glad I got the chance to test one out.

Seemed like I wasn’t the only one since everyone at the range flocked over asking for a chance too.

Check out how we rate this awesome .22LR lever action down below.

About

The current Henry Repeating Arms as we know it bought the rights to the historical firearms name “Henry” and started manufacturing faithful Henry rifles in 1997.  Currently they manufacture in New Jersey and have the motto “Made in America or Not Made at All.”

They specialize in lever action rifles and now even have some lever action shotguns that I really want to try out one day.

Henry Lever Action .410 Shotguns
Henry Lever Action .410 Shotguns

Note: Henry sent me the Golden Boy for an unbiased review.

Who Is It For?

I really want to say everyone…since who doesn’t want a brass lever action .22LR?

But it especially excels for beginner shooters (both children and adults) who start with rimfire calibers for its almost nonexistent recoil.

Golden Boy Testimonials, Henry
Golden Boy Testimonials, Henry

PLUS…you get to feel like a cowboy in the Old West.

The sights are simple, it doesn’t take too much hand strength to load and manipulate the lever, and it’s heavy enough that there’s truly almost no recoil.

Fit & Feel

It feels quality.

And is heavier than you think it should be (almost 7 pounds) that is front heavy…but that’s because of the barrel.

I love the brass/gold shininess coupled with the wood grain.

But yes…if you’re standing and trying to make a farther shot…the brass on the butt can slip a little off your shoulders.

All that goes away when you start using the lever action.  It’s silky smooth and better than Marlin lever actions.  I’m sure the more I shoot the better it will get too.

Which brings us to…

How Does It Shoot?

I brought it out to a couple range sessions where it performed admirably.  And on the last session I started to shoot groups.

Accuracy

Henry with .22LR Ammo
Henry with .22LR Ammo

I chose four of my favorite .22LR ammo I had on hand (Best .22LR Ammo for Plinking & Hunting).  And set up 25 yards away with a benchrest.

Testing at 25 Yards
Testing at 25 Yards

First up was the bulk Federal .22LR.  I’d give a little elevation miscalculation since I had the front sight a little higher.  But still…a couple inch group.  I shot at a normal pace of one shot every ~5 seconds.

Federal .22 LR
Federal .22 LR

Then up next was the Winchester .22LR which was a little tighter:

Winchester .22 LR
Winchester .22 LR

Followed up by my favorite CCI Minimag which yielded the best groups:

CCI Minimag .22 LR
CCI Minimag .22 LR

And just for fun…subsonic Fiocchi:

Subsonic Fiocchi .22LR
Subsonic Fiocchi .22LR

All in all…very accurate if you do your part.  The sights could be a little better but it’s probably due to it trying to be historically accurate.  My tip is to figure out where to place the front sight to hit your target distance.

Recoil/Shootability

Recoil…what recoil?

It’s heavy rifle and the .22LR is a wimpy round.  You’re not going to feel anything.

How about shootability?

It’s super fun once you get past the slow reloading which requires you to remove a rod, drop in 16 or so rounds into the ammo tube, and reinstall the rod.

15 Rounds of .22LR Goodness
16 Rounds of .22LR Goodness

And since it’s a rimfire with a tube…you should be good to go even in states with restricted magazine sizes.

After it’s loaded up…crank that smooth lever and you’re good to go.

Loading a Round Into the Henry
Loading a Round Into the Henry

All that is good and dandy…but a video makes it all better.  Here I’m alternating between CCI Minimag and Fiocchi subsonics.  You can definitely tell the difference in decibels.

Mods

Henry also sent along a rail adapter to mount optics.  The installation of it was very easy.  But it took two tries to find the proper scope mount.  Eventually the Simmons 4x Rimfire Scope ($29) and its included rings fit the bill.

Henry Golden Boy with Scope
Henry Golden Boy with Scope

But my advice is…to NOT DO IT.

Or at least know that the scope will be much higher than the cheekweld on the regular stock.  You’re going to have to get some saddle riser or make your own.

Plus…it looks kind of weird to have a modern-ish scope on an old school gun.

Specifications

Straight from the horses mouth…the Henry Golden Boy in .22LR.

Action Type: Lever Action

Barrel Length: 20″

Capacity: 16+1-Round

Cartridge: 22 Long Rifle

Finish: Blue

Front Sight: Fixed

Length: 38.5″

Magazine Included: Tubular Magazine

Magazine Type: Fixed

Muzzle: Plain

Rear Sight: Adjustable

Stock Material: Wood

Weight: 6.75 lbs

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

No failures to fire in the ~300 rounds I’ve fired across a couple of brands.  Plus you’re GTG with subsonic ammo since it is lever action.

Accuracy: 4.5/5

It’ll do its job with regular plinking ammo once you figure out where to place the front sight.

Ergonomics: 4.5/5

A little front heavy and a little slippage from the brass plate on your shoulder.  But otherwise the trigger and lever are easily accessible for a wide variety of hands.

Looks: 5/5

Love the brass/gold and wood look.

Customization: 2/5

There’s not that much you can do…nor is it something you should do.  Keep it old school!

Bang for the Buck: 4/5

Sure…you can get a .22LR rifle for much cheaper.  But is it this cool and fun?

Overall Rating: 5/5

Conclusion

The Henry Golden Boy .22LR ($449) was so much fun to shoot!

It ate all the ammo, didn’t have a hiccup, and brought all the boys to the yard.

Looking for other calibers?  There’s a couple more models in rimfire and common revolver loads.

I am definitely keeping this puppy around.

How about you…are you going to get a Henry Golden Boy?  Or do you already have one of their other varieties?

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12 Leave a Reply

  • Tom Shields

    My Henry H001 is not a Golden Boy, but rather the standard steel receiver version (in .22LR) with an octagonal barrel. This rifle feels more substantial than any .22 I have ever used. The barrel is heavy - not enough to make the rifle front-heavy, but instead makes it feel balanced and hefty, and less like a kid's gun. The mass of the metal in the barrel allows me to shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and the barrel barely gets warm to the touch. The action remains tight and business-like after hundreds of rounds. The trigger is smooth and consistent. It never fails to load or feed, unless the shooter is tentative with the lever: as with the two .45-70 Henrys that I own, the lever wants to be racked with authority, not gingerly. I find the rifle to be sensitive to ammo. Crappy ammo (Federal, I'm looking at you!) disappoints with flyers everywhere. Good ammo such as Eley Tenex can yield groups that are a bit over MOA at 50 yds, and open up to a little under 2 MOA at 100 yards. Not bad for a tube-fed lever-action! Mine is scoped with a 4X Vortex due to my crappy eyes, but in my opinion the scope does not detract from the looks. This is a great rifle regardless of its small caliber, and it's fun and cheap to shoot. Get one!

    3 months ago
  • Glenn Davis

    My Golden Boy is in 22 Mag. I have owned a number of 22 LR rifles in my life and wanted to try a 22 Mag. This gun exudes quality. It has a tight, solid feel with dimensions that are almost carbine-like, and I love the contrast between the satin finish wood and the gold (Brasslite) plate. Very tastefully done. I do have a couple of problems, though, even though I acknowledge that one or both may be more ammo-related than gun-related. I don't think this gun and WInchester ammo get along. I have used a couple of different types of Winchester ammo, and even though Super-X has given me the best results I have had the same problem with both types of Winchester ammo I have used. Cartridges get stuck in the magazine tube and do not feed, and in fact, it takes some effort to get them out. This has happened three times to me in less than a month that I have had the gun, and that is pretty bad. Again, I honestly don't know if this is a gun problem or an ammo problem. I have been in touch with both Winchester and Henry. I have returned one box of offending ammo to Winchester per their request but they have yet to get back to me. Henry is sending me a new magazine tube at no charge. We'll see if this solves the problem. In the interim, I'm going to try other brands of ammo.

    4 months ago
  • Thomas Nichols

    Does Henry, make a 410 Guage

    1 year ago
  • I L Mannering

    Henry makes a very good .22lr, but the true best .22or lever action is the Marlin 39A. The lift design is smoother and the machinein g is finer. The 39A is a last century .mechanical masterpiece. The Henry is just well done!

    2 years ago
  • Infidel762X51

    I have the Henry 45-70, a Burris Fastfire II fits great on the scope mount and is at just the right height. It doesn't look as out of place as the giant scope does either.

    2 years ago
  • Edward

    I don't have the Goldenboy, I have the blue one also. But, mine is the carbine which means it has a 20 inch barrel not a 28 inch one. As was stated , it will take shorts, longs, and LRs. I love shooting it. I wanted it, got it, and wouldn't change it for the world.

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Awesome, Edward, and thanks for corroborating that it will take all the different types.

      2 years ago
  • Bruce

    I've got the same rifle, except in the 'blue', not the Golden Boy. Yes, it is a hoot to shoot! Might also mention that it shoots .22 short, long and lR. Unlike my semi-auto .22's, this Henry lever action also shoots the Aguila powderless .22 LR ammo just fine, as well as the subsonic stuff. This gun is so quiet it's like shooting a pellet gun and about the same recoil too. It's a joy to own and shoot!

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Bruce, thanks for the tip!

      2 years ago
  • Mike

    If you'd like better sights but want to keep your lever-action rifle "in character," consider Skinner peep sights. They help A LOT. And, they look RIGHT on a lever-action. Google "Skinner SIghts review." :-)

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks...great rec!

      2 years ago
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