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Pros and Cons of the Henry Big Boy rifles


Father Kit Cool Gun Garth

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Let's try and get all our frustrations out for the use of Henry Big Boy rifles in CAS.

Personally, I am considering the new Henry Big Boy Silver (H006MS in .357/.38)

On the Pro side, I believe they are one of the sharpest looking rifles made, which doesn't always equate to winning competitions, but how many times have I heard in these forums that having FUN is what keeps most of us cowpokes coming back for more.

Something to be said about being made in our own backyard (Yeah USA).

The lever action is smooth as silk.

On the Con side I've heard they aren't worked on by gunsmiths, don't have short stroke kits, are too heavy, and can't keep up with the requirements of shooting 10 rounds as fast as you can.

I'd like a thread that puts all of the Pros and Con in one place so newbies like myself can make their own decision.

I'll appreciate all comments, either Pro or Con, as they will all be valuable information.

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Pros:

1. they are available, both new and used

2. they are available in multiple caliber choices

3. they are available in the brass or the 'big boy steel' frames

 

Personally, I don't have a CON because I've never owned nor shot one.

 

But as a side comment..... YES, the FUN is what its about. But, whether it be a Big Boy, Marlin, 66, 73, Ruger, Uberti, AWA, 87, 97 or SxS, if the firearms gives you consistent problems and interruptions during your stage runs, it quickly becomes 'UN-FUN'.

 

Its nice to go to a shooting match and not have to wrestle with a firearm, whether you are trying to shoot fast or not.

 

And because it appears to be hard to get a smith to fix any problems with the BigBoy, you're left with only a few options:

1. keep it and deal with any issues you have with it.

2. sell or trade it

3. use it as a nice tomato stake or boat anchor.

These comments are intended to be aimed at the Big Boy but with any of the firearms we use in SASS/CAS.

 

Have a good day

 

 

..........Widder

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Only Con, i know is doing a reload. I know we don't them alot any more but it would add more time then other rifles.

No worse then a Marlin, toss it in the ejection port, done it several times.

Con the brass frame jobs are heavy

Pro the steel frame jobs are Marlin 94 weight

Con not many slick up parts

Pro actions are pretty smooth out of box and a heck of a lot better then a new 94

Springs and ejector from a 94 fit in. If there was one piece firing pin and a better trigger probably not much different then a 94 in speed.

 

Heck I have a steel BB, a 94 and a 95 and for all purposes the BB looks like a scaled down 336/95 action.

 

Run what you brung and have fun. If you do not like a BB for SASS then do not use it.

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First my only experience in shooting one was after a match where the owner really struggled with it.

Pros -

nice finish and really good fitting of wood

Action was exceptionally smooth when levering slowly.

Accuracy was very good and sights came up to my eyes well.

Cons-

First try at a double tap gun jammed.

Anything faster than a 12 second string you could feel the bullets banging around inside the action. (maybe loose on carrier?)

A bit of a pain to load/reload compared to my '73.

 

My conclusion was a nice, well made firearm, just not a good choice for our game if you wanted to be competitive.

 

YMMV

 

Gateway Kid

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I shoot a Big Boy. I got it before I knew about SASS. Eventually I want to upgrade to a 73 or 66. It seems like you have most of the pros and cons in your original post. The 357's are heavy, but they are tack drivers. They are made in the USA and I have called customer service with some questions and they are knowledgeable, polite, and extremely helpful. Plus they speak English. I would not say that the action is smooth as silk out of the box, but certainly better than you get with any factory fresh Marlin. They do look very nice. The parts are a perfect fit every time. And if you really want a nice one they do presentation grade walnut stocks. You can order it as that, or you can order a stock and do the final fit yourself.

 

As far as gunsmiths not working on them that's a yes and a no. If something breaks, obviously a gunsmith who is competent will try to help you out. But, there are no speed kits for these guns. A little work with an Arkansas stone is about all you can do to them. Just polish up the contact points on the lever, hammer, and bolt and that will make quite a bit of difference. As far as speed, they are a ramp style loading, so they are finicky. You have to have a light touch on the lever or you will cause jams. They will never be as fast as the guys that are putting 10 shots downrange in 2 seconds.

 

1 shot reloads aren't hard. Spend 20 minutes practicing with good snap caps or hand made dummy rounds and you'll be good at it. They fall right in the ejection port. Loading in general, you want to twist the loading tube as you push it downward. It has a tendency to get hung up on case mouths and it will force your action open if you don't do this (and you will have misfeed problems for the first 2-3 rounds). I've never had my tube fly off while shooting. Anyone who has seen this, the person shooting didn't have it locked in all the way. That's the only way it could happen.

 

1 other thing I would like to say to some of the big haters about the magazine tube. They claim it has no historical significance. Not true. They are extremely rare, but the 1873 Winchester was chambered in 22 short. Those had a tube just like what is on the Big Boys. Only difference was the locking mechanism on the end of the tube.Google it if you don't believe me.

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My conclusion was a nice, well made firearm, just not a good choice for our game if you wanted to be competitive.

 

This pretty much sums it up. They are very well made but you won't be a top competitor shooting one.

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I HAVE shot a couple of them.

 

Both was very accurate.

It a good company that does a lot for young shooters.

Made in USA.

 

 

I could not shoot any that I have tried at speed.

Slow and deliberate? Yes. At speed NO.

And this is a timed event.

Really like there .22's. Have 4 of them.

But to me. The BB is for plinking and hunting.

Not for our speed game.

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I have a Goldenboy... it's kinda neat, it will never be a Winchester or a Marlin, but it was cheap and does a good job of filling a spot in the Gun Safe. I've tried the Big Boys at a Cowboy match. They are, IMO, a very poor choice of a rifle to use in this game. I'm not saying that they are no good, I'm just saying that they are not the best choice for this game. Even the guys that claim that they don't care how they finish prefer to shoot a well tuned gun that functions without flaw. The only reason that I have ever seen anyone use the Big Boy for this game was a financial reason, and in virtually every case, the purchaser regretted buying the gun to use in this game.

 

Pros.... they are cheap

Cons.... EVERYTHING else.

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Let's try and get all our frustrations out for the use of Henry Big Boy rifles in CAS.

Personally, I am considering the new Henry Big Boy Silver (H006MS in .357/.38)

On the Pro side, I believe they are one of the sharpest looking rifles made, which doesn't always equate to winning competitions, but how many times have I heard in these forums that having FUN is what keeps most of us cowpokes coming back for more.

Something to be said about being made in our own backyard (Yeah USA).

The lever action is smooth as silk.

On the Con side I've heard they aren't worked on by gunsmiths, don't have short stroke kits, are too heavy, and can't keep up with the requirements of shooting 10 rounds as fast as you can.

I'd like a thread that puts all of the Pros and Con in one place so newbies like myself can make their own decision.

I'll appreciate all comments, either Pro or Con, as they will all be valuable information.

You forgot a few items. Many shooters have tons of issues with them and look at them now as a back up gun or sell them. Look on the used market for one of these guns if you heart is set on a Big Boy. Marlins are made in the USA also and would be a lot better candidate for CAS. There are few spare parts out there for these guns in gunsmiths hands so when they break it is a wait for factory parts if you can get em. Some of us will continue to bad mouth Henry for what the President/Owner of the company did when it was introduced to the market. He came on the Wire and announced the gun and said it was SASS legal. It was not at the time and many shooters were stuck with a gun they could not shoot in any matches that stuck to the SASS rules at the time. Later Henry had to make a formal request to make the gun legal and it did not get overwhelming support but was made legal. In our game the rifle is the easiest to run fast and hit targets with a lot less practice than shotgun or pistol. If you have a gun like the Henry you try to run fast you are likely to have issues with it and no one to turn to. Henry does not condone go fast mods so you are stuck with stock parts if you can even find the problem.

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Never even considered one, why when you have a myriad of choices for 66's and 73's, even Winchester makes a 73 now. Even Marlin is way better looking than a BB. I have a 1895 Marlin Cowboy in .45-70 that's awesome! At least they made Marlins back in the day!!

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I have seen an even dozen Shooters start this game a Big Boy one still shoots one, but he runs 24

second stages (ave. time) in under 2 miniutes with a mile wide grin on his face ... His spilt times

with the rifle are about 6 seconds and as long as he doesn't get flustered the gun runs just fine most times ... I did so "Cleaning up" on the internals at the "Good Guy" rate when he jamb-it up right good at the end of Day one of a shoot ... Really nice old guy, I hope I'm on his posse when he turns 100 if he is able stay in the Game ...

 

Just as an-aside the "Pinto" Death-Trap was also made in the USA ... As are the Gim-a Lyns...

 

But if your desire to shoot a USA made product, an idea I like, then whats wrong with an older

Winchester 92 or a real Marlin???

 

Jabez Cowboy

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I started with a BB in .45 colt and it was ok for the first year then I upgraded for a '73. Traded off the BB to a NON_CASS shooter for a Rossi .45 and it has yet to be shot at a match, cause the '73 beats them all hands down, and I have a Marlin back up .45 and a '73 in 38 that is rapidly becoming my newest main match. I regret not spending the extra $$ and getting the '73 in the first place. Even a NON Slicked up 73 or marlin would dance circles around the BB. If you can I would strongly suggest waiting for the opportunity to start with a more competitive rifle. My BB was clunky and rough as compared to an out of the box non slicked '73. A 66 or 73 slicked by on of the MANY good smiths is a joy to behold compared to the BB.

 

Whatever you choose, welcome to the game and have fun!

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I shoot the BB as my only match rifle, it was what i could afford to get into the sport, So how about a chalange to all the talented gunsmiths in SASS, Short stroke and slick a BB What say?

 

Renegade Ripley

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I think that anyone that placed at WR should have to shoot a BB for the rest of the year. :lol::D:P

 

Kinda like the winner of the Daytona 500. His car is displayed at the speedway for a whole year..... :o

 

 

..........Widder

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I shoot the BB as my only match rifle, it was what i could afford to get into the sport, So how about a chalange to all the talented gunsmiths in SASS, Short stroke and slick a BB What say?

 

Renegade Ripley

 

Your "talented" gunsmiths are already backed up with work that taking on a new project is hard to squeeze into their work cycle.

 

I ain't saying that is true for everyone, but my guess is that the "Talented" and Gifted gunsmiths are already 6 months to a year backlogged.

Last week, I was only 2 rifles behind. Then it started.....before I managed to get into bed last night, I now have 10 Marlins waiting on me when I return from The Ides next weekend.

And in my profession, I ain't even one of those 'gunsmiths', who work on a lot more guns than just a Marlin.

 

I admit that it would be nice if someone designated their time to see what could be accomplished with the BB. But with everything else creating its own challenge, it might be difficult for someone to do this.

 

..........Widder

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I shoot the BB as my only match rifle, it was what i could afford to get into the sport, So how about a chalange to all the talented gunsmiths in SASS, Short stroke and slick a BB What say?

 

Renegade Ripley

You are kidding right?

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I bought one brand new three years ago. Just wanted to check them out. Nothing but problems. Yes it was well built rifle and I enjoyed shooting it. But not in this sport. My main match rifle is a 73 and a 66 for back up. I decided to use it to help others struggling to get into the sport. It actually worked in the opposite direction. Two newcomers had so many problems and frustrations that they quit. I sold it! Took the loss and bought another 73.

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No, why would i be Kdding?

Gunsmiths have invested a ton of money in off the shelf parts and mods for 73s, 66s and to a lesser extent Marlins. They did this due to the number of these guns being used by SASS/CAS shooters. They are so busy working on these rifles there is little if any time remaining for them to develop new mods for guns rarely used in our sport. Gunsmiths go where there is money to be made. Apparently there is no money to be made with the Henry. If there were money to be made, go talk to Henry about it, maybe they will come up with an out of the box rifle short stroke kit and an anti jam kit. They might have the motivation.

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Life is too short to shoot an ugly rifle

--Dawg

Amen, Brother Dog. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that rifle is plain butt ugly to my eyes.

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If you decide to purchase a Big Boy, here is some things you can do to produce a more reliable and faster rifle.

 

1 - Make sure you lubricate the magazine spring. I use Johnson paste wax.

2 - Change out the rather heavy hammer/main spring for an adjustable one. http://www.uniquetek.com/site/696296/product/T1337Set it to you liking.

3 - Never over tighten the lever pivot screw. It is fine thread and was never meant to be over torqued.

4 - Polish the bearing surfaces of the lever and lifter as well as the bolt block. Polishing the front surface of the rear half of the firing pin will help considerably.

5 - Always use truncated cone ammo to facilitate better feeding into the chamber. and make sure they are at least 1.5" total length.

6 - Single piece ejectors are available through Wild West Guns or Midway.

 

Like a Marlin, the lever must be operated the full stroke with authority. Failure to do so will result in empty cases being left in the rifle blocking the next round. Make sure the extractor holds the case on the bolt face until the case contacts the ejector.

 

Enjoy shooting your rifle.

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I had a little chat with the Folks at the Non-original Henry Factory , they sure didn't seem interested in having Smiths work on their guns or suggest Anything that might make their product better for this game...

 

I do quite a few Marlin 94 for use in this game as well as a bunch of 92s of several flavors ... I don't know if this is so south of the line but up here a new 92 other than a Winchester can be had for less than a BB... And is Far Far and away a better gun for this Game ...

 

 

Jabez Cowboy

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Surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet..

And I might be wrong..

But isn't this the rifle that one has to be careful when dropping ammo down the magazine tube?

 

Rance ;)

Thinkin' thought it was but i could be wrong. :)

No.

What you are thinking about is an ORIGINAL HENRY. Never let the magazine follower snap down on the cartridges.

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Surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet..

And I might be wrong..

But isn't this the rifle that one has to be careful when dropping ammo down the magazine tube?

 

This is the rifle you have to be careful when dropping ammo down the magazine tube.

 

Henry07_zps6828738f.jpg

 

 

 

In fact, you should never drop ammo straight down the magazine of this rifle, you should let it trickle down at an angle, and you should never loose control of the follower.

 

followerwithrubberplug.jpg

 

loadingmagazine02.jpg

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Yup the silver boy has no loading gate and must be loaded like a 22 lever action. Makes it a bitch when you have stages with reloads. Also can be an issue when you accidently jack out a live round.

Really?

Reloads on Marlins and Henry Big Boys take a lot less time than most 73s.

Then I guess shooting a 97 shotgun by loading one at a time must be a real "bitch".

And many shooters don't use that loading gate on their 73s either. Must be a "bitch" thing.

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