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Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Lever-Action Rifle: Full Review

The American-made Henry Long Ranger Express combines classic lever-gun styling with modern features that shooters demand today; here's a full review.

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Lever-Action Rifle: Full Review

The author with the Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Lever-Action Rifle. (Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

The original Henry lever-action rifle, which was designed in 1860 by Benjamin Tyler Henry, was a gun ahead of its time. While soldiers were still using muzzleloading firearms, the Henry utilized a tubular magazine that held 16 .44 Rimfire cartridges, offering better reliability, improved accuracy and much more firepower than competing weapons of that era. It became known as the Assault Rifle of the Civil War, and a single soldier with a fully loaded Henry rifle could hold off a siege from multiple combatants armed with more primitive weapons.

A great deal has changed since that time, but one thing remains the same: there are still lever guns being built on American soil that defy convention and rewrite the rules of rifle manufacturing thanks to Henry Repeating Arms. For instance, take the company’s new Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Lever-Action Rifle. At its heart it’s still very much a Henry, an American-made lever gun built to the highest standards. But the Long Ranger Express blends classic lever-gun styling with a host of modern features.

The Long Ranger Express utilizes a machined and chromed steel bolt with six rotating lugs that provide a solid, secure lockup. In place of the traditional tubular magazine found on many lever-actions, the Long Ranger instead utilizes a detachable box magazine that holds five rounds of .223/5.56 ammunition. This allows for the use of pointed bullets with higher ballistic coefficients that improves down-range performance and allows the Henry to perform at a level that’s unmatched by rifles with tubular magazines. The magazine release is located on the right side of the receiver and is easy to access. Now hunters and shooters can utilize the same .223/5.56 ammo they currently use in their bolt-action and AR-platform rifles in a sleek, handy lever gun.

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle

A box magazine is one updated feature found on this rifle, but it’s far from the only modern convenience on the Henry. Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 rifles come with a straight-grip grey and black laminate stock. This adds to the rifle’s aesthetics but also makes these guns very durable. Laminate doesn’t shift or warp like traditional walnut, but the stock offers the look and feel of wood without the same risk of damage. A high comb on the padded buttstock aligns the eye naturally with the optic. The forearm features a black end cap with a sling stud.

Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 rifles come with a hard anodized matte-finish receiver and matte-finish 16.5-inch barrel with a 1:9 twist rate and a capped, threaded muzzle. Traditionally, lever guns haven’t been threaded, and if you’re a purist, the thread cap closely matches the barrel contour, so it’s barely visible. Remove the cap and you can quickly mount a muzzle device, such as a suppressor.

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle

Another modern feature that has found its way onto the Henry is a Picatinny rail on top of the receiver for adding magnified optics and reflex sights. One reason that lever guns lost ground to bolt-actions in the early twentieth century was the rising popularity of optics at that time. Lever-gun manufacturers have tried to develop ways to make their lever guns work with optics over the years, but the Long Ranger’s fixed receiver with included rail allows the shooter to quickly and easily mount an optic.

By making the Long Ranger Express optics and suppressor ready, Henry has built a rifle for the next generation of lever-gun fans. The Long Ranger offers features once found only on ARs and bolt guns and combines them with the feel and balance of a lever-action.

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle

One Gun for Everyone

The Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 is extraordinarily versatile. At 37 inches long and weighing 7 pounds, it’s short enough to maneuver comfortably in a ground blind or treestand. The tough design makes it durable enough to withstand long hunts in inclement weather, and with the versatile Picatinny rail, you can choose a red-dot optic for close-range shots at deer and hogs or mount a large, magnified optic on the rifle and shoot coyotes and prairie dogs at long range.  The light, tough and handy Henry might be the single best truck gun ever designed.

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle

But this rifle isn’t just suitable for hunting. In parts of the country where AR ownership is restricted, the Henry makes a superb self-defense gun. The Long Ranger holds a total of six rounds of .223/5.56 ammunition and its short overall length make it an excellent defensive carbine, especially with a reflex sight on the top rail. It’s also a solid option for a trail or backcountry gun.

Even if you aren’t chasing whitetails or hiking trails, the Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 deserves space in your gun safe. This rifle is simply fun to shoot, especially with a suppressor in place. I took the rifle to the range, topped it with a Trijicon scope and a Silencer Central Banish 30 suppressor, and began shooting through a few boxes of 5.56 ammo. Reliability was superb, and the gun was simply loads of fun to shoot. With the suppressor in place, there was minimal muzzle blast, and with virtually no recoil, this setup is perfect, even for novice shooters.

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle

I appreciate the Henry’s attention to detail as well. Craftsmanship, machining, and fit and finish are superb, as we’ve come to expect from Henry rifles, and there are details throughout that make the rifle more shooter friendly. The hammer spur is easy to access and control, and the trigger is one of the best you’ll find in any lever gun, breaking at 3.9 pounds on average with minimal take-up. Not surprisingly, the Henry is capable of good accuracy. I shot it at 50 yards with a Holosun reflex sight and at 100 and 200 yards with the Trijicon 3-9x40 AccuPower scope, and the rifle was capable of shooting tight groups with either optic. History has shown us that Henry rifles hold their value, so that makes this gun and sound investment.

Henry’s American-made rifles recall the great guns of the past, but with the release of the Long Ranger Express .223/5.56, it’s clear the company is invested in finding new and innovative ways to incorporate modern features into their firearms.


Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle
Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle

Henry Long Ranger Express .223/5.56 Rifle Specs:

  • Action: Lever action centerfire
  • Magazine: Detachable, 5 rounds
  • Receiver: Hard anodized aluminum
  • Barrel: Steel, threaded
  • Barrel Length: 16.5
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Optics: None, Picatinny rail
  • Stock: Grey Birch Laminate
  • MSRP: $1,235
  • Contact: Henry USA,
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