At first glance, this gun looks like a presentation piece, not a serious rifle, but get it out on the range or in the field and you’ll find that it’s both. The Personalized Henry Golden Boy has a striking appearance, with decorative scrollwork and a personalized message inscribed on the brightly polished receiver. Back in 1860 when Benjamin Tyler Henry developed the first effective lever-action repeating rifle and established Henry Repeating Arms Company, he probably wasn’t thinking about presentation pieces but simply of making reliable firearms. As it turns out, though, the traditional lever-action Personalized Golden Boy is both.
The gun is available in .22 Magnum, .17 HMR and .22 Long Rifle (which will also accept .22 Long and .22 Short). The tubular magazine mounted below the barrel holds 12 rounds of .22 Magnum or .17 HMR, 16 rounds of .22 LR, 18 rounds of .22 Long or 20 rounds of .22 Short. The magazine tube, barrel, bolt, lever, trigger and hammer are steel; the receiver is something called Brasslite; and the buttplate is solid brass. The receiver and buttplate are brightly polished, while the steel parts are blued and, of those, the octagonal barrel receives a high polish. On the right side of the barrel just in front of the receiver, gold letters designate the caliber, and on the other side of the barrel, also in gold letters, appear the words “Henry Repeating Arms, Bklyn NY.”
The Golden Boy’s stocks are eye-catching satin-finished American walnut that is very nicely grained as befits a presentation piece, while a black barrelband (that can be replaced by an optional brass band) retains the fore-end. The rifle is 38 1/2 inches in overall length and weighs 6 3/4 pounds, while the 20-inch octagonal barrel adds a bit of heft up front.
A buckhorn rear sight rides atop the barrel just fore of the receiver, where it is set in a dovetail cut so it can be driftedfor windage. It is also adjustable for elevation by moving a notched slide that positions the sight up or down in pre-set increments, while fine adjustments can be made by loosening a screw that secures the notch in the buckhorn. The notch can also be changed from a “U” to a “V” by removing the plate, turning it upside down and replacing it. The front sight blade features a brass bead and is dovetailed into the barrel.
Operationally, the gun has no safety except for the safety halfcock position that is activated by pulling the hammer about one-eighth inch back with the thumb, very carefully, while pointing the gun in a safe direction. If the hammer is already cocked, the safety is engaged by holding the hammer firmly with the thumb, then pulling the trigger, letting up on it and riding the hammer down until it engages in the safety cock position. Obviously, when setting the safety, extreme care must be taken.
The trigger pull on my .22 Long Rifle sample gun exhibited quite a bit of gritty creep, but when it finally did break it was a surprise. The trigger broke at 3.7 pounds, and there was also a good amount of overtravel. The grooved trigger is wide, and the gun has dual extractors and a fixed ejector that throws empty brass smartly to the right out of the ejection port located on the side of the receiver.
The Golden Boy’s lever-action operated smoothly, with little discernable side-to-side movement through the entire throw. It’s a tight gun. Despite its upscale appearance, the Golden Boy isn’t just a wall-hanger. It really does shoot, and, in fact, an optional cantilever scope mount that attaches to the barrel and positions a scope above the receiver can enhance its potential.
At 50 yards using sand bags off the bench, I got some pretty decent groups using three different hunting loads. The best-performing ammo in this test gun was 37-grain Winchester Super X HP that printed a best group of .39 inch, and the best of three three-shot groups was 1.26 inches. If my eyes were better I’m sure the results would have been better. The gun balanced well, and I was able to take out targets of opportunity offhand at 100 yards without difficulty. Ejection, feeding and firing were positive, and there were absolutely no malfunctions of any kind.
If you want one of these Personalized Golden Boys, you need to buy the standard Golden Boy from your dealer. Then contact Henry directly, either through the website or by phone, to order the personalized receiver cover. Henry will inscribe it with up to 20 words of your choice and then ship it to you with simple installation instructions.
I’m sure the recipient will remember it forever. Besides, it’s a great shooter.