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bgavin

Pros and Cons: Henry Big Boy vs Marlin 1894CB in 44 Mag

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I've seen some isolated chatter where the Henry might not be particularly desirable for our game.

Can those with knowledge of the internal workings help me learn?
As near as I can tell from a distance, the internals are similar to each other, i.e. pivoting carrier.
The lack of a side gate on the Henry is a minor negative, but I'm not a hot competitor so...

I'm a sucker for octagonal barrels, and the Henry has one, but also the brass receiver.
The Marlin is... the Marlin.  I own an 1894CB in 357.

Edited by bgavin
edited for typos

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Every shooter who has brought any of the Henry Arms rifles to one of our local club matches during lhe last 8 years has had several  feed jams in six stages, if they made it that far before being handed a Marlin or 73 to shoot.

 

None of those Henry rifles ever came back a second time, as far as I know.   That is about 6 rifles.

 

Unfortunately, most of those new shooters never came back either.  THAT is at least 5 shooters I know of.

 

I claim it is a rifle that is DRIVING AWAY potential SASS shooters because it is so poorly designed for fast shooting.

 

Good luck, GJ

 

 

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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I’m no expert on either rifle, but lack of a loading gate would be a major pain in the @ss to me!

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common sense mostly,, NO top shooter uses one, period,,,

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I’ve seen maybe one shooter shoot a HBB Consistently without jamming issues. He was a very slow methodical shooter. If you try to run it fast it just will not work well. Henry makes a fine rifle. I have a 22 golden Boy. Very good gun. But the HBB is just not a very good choice for our game. they do make one with a side gate now. 
 

on a kinda funny aside, last Saturday one of our newer shooters was shooting his HBB. shell hung up, would not eject. He turned the rifle on its side and shook it to get the hull out. It came out, along with various pieces of metal and springs. Everybody had to laugh. I’m sure Henry will make it right, but I think the shooter is in the market for a 73. 
 

 

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4 minutes ago, Hoss said:

 they do make one with a side gate now. 
 

 

 

 

Not in pistol calibers though?

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38 minutes ago, bgavin said:



I'm a sucker for octagonal barrels, and the Henry has one, but also the brass receiver.
 

Then you need a 66. Octagonal barrel, brass receiver, can be slicked up and works great for our game.

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1 minute ago, Major BS Walker Regulator said:

Then you need a 66. Octagonal barrel, brass receiver, can be slicked up and works great for our game.

but he is not a competitor..... not sure what his point is

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All newbies I have seen start with the 'H'. Didn't keep'em long.

BTW, the M94 is much lighter than a Henry or '73.

OLG 

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3 minutes ago, Hillbilly Drifter said:

but he is not a competitor..... not sure what his point is

I'm guessing price. If he ever shoots a slicked up 66 his marlin will become a backup and he might just discover he is a faster shooter than he thought.

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13 minutes ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

Not in pistol calibers though?

You are correct sir. Side gate offered in Rifle caliber only. (I figured they offered in all calibers) 

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The point of the question was asking about the Henry and why it has a bad reputation for CAS.
I'm not a competitor yet, because of the endless hassles getting started.
I still don't have a shotgun after wasting half a year on the Stoeger only to have it break and die.

Price does not concern me in the least... reliability does.
In retrospect, I do wish I had opted for the Win/Miroku '73 in 357, but I was deterred, at the time, by the more fragile link-toggle action.

The only '73 I know about with 44 mag is the Uberti.
Dunno if it will handle full SAMMI pressures or not, as it is a link-toggle action.
I don't want to short change myself to only light loads, should I choose to use it for other things.

The point of asking this question is getting input from those with far more experience.

 

Edited by bgavin

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bgavin Please read this through before you respond. You have been coming around here a while and have always asked thoughtful questions. We have given you a variety of answers including stuff you did not ask. I have noticed you state that cost is not a large factor, why not buy the HBB in 44 mag, for hunting, plinking( I plink in 44mag) and a 66 brass frame, hex barrel.38  for cas. You will be immensely happier with your cowboy shooting regardless of how competitive(or not) you become. It absolutely $%^&*( to wrestle with non working guns, no matter how much you are trying for the pink Caddie. Nobody here wants folks to try this game, invest a lot of money then go away. Like we say in some other groups I have experience with "keep coming back"

 

Imis

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1 hour ago, bgavin said:

The point of the question was asking about the Henry and why it has a bad reputation for CAS.

 

 

Howdy Bgavin.

 

I might be able to shed some light on this question, although I don't have many facts to back it up.

 

#1.   The Henry rifle started off bad in SASS with some 'questionable' advertising.  Some would refer

to it a pure lie in their presentation of their ads.

 

#2.   To my knowledge, at the time Henry introduced their Big Boy rifle for SASS competition, there were

NO gunsmiths to work on them.   Whereas, there were numerous good (some great) gunsmiths who

were wizards with the 92, 94 Marlin, 66 and 73's.   

In my opinion, a box stock Marlin wasn't much better than the Henry Big Boy except it was very easy

to get a spring kit, 1-piece firing pin, and stainless follower for the Marlin.   Not so with the Henry BB.

 

Basically, when the Cowboy was considering the Henry BB, they were also facing the reality that

their competition rifle was gonna be how it came from the box.

With the Marlin, at the least, a good spring kit could make it feel and run a little better, which actually

elevated it way above the Henry BB without spending a lot of extra funds.

Then with the Marlin, there were a couple TOP NOTCH smiths who could also set them up for 

a short stroke.

And then there was also the Widder mods that put a good exorcisim (sp) on some of the Gremlins

that were inherent in a lot of the Marlins.    Not so with the Henry BB.

 

The results:  The bad reputation may not have been fully earned but rather put the Henry BB

in 5th place without any hope of it moving up the competition ladder.

 

The 66 and 73's dominate most matches and a good many of the top shooters use them.

The the Marlin, Cowboys like Deuce and Cowboy Carty excel with the Carty short stroke Marlins.

And shooters like Slick McClade and Blackhawk Henry are top guns in the BW category

using their Marlins.

 

There are a few great shooters in the B-Western category who excel with their Marlins, both

short stroked,  Widderized,  Longhunter modified, etc.....

To my knowledge, there isn't a short stroke Henry,  Widderized Henry, or Longhunter Henry.

 

These are some of my thoughts that keep the Henry BB from sitting tall in the saddle as far as

Cowboy shooting competition is concerned.

 

Otherwise, the rifles are great.   NOW, as for the .22 Henry lever rifles, thats a whole nuth'a story.

The Henry .22's dominate in Speed Rimfire side matches and with Buckaroos and Buckarettes.

 

..........Widder

 

Edited by Widder, SASS #59054
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1 hour ago, bgavin said:

Dunno if it will handle full SAMMI pressures or not, as it is a link-toggle action.

 

By law and international convention, for a firearm to be sold in the US, it must meet the pressure limits established by SAAMI.   And in Europe, there are even higher pressure limits named CIS to which firearms are tested.  

 

So, yes, the Uberti .44 Mag is good with factory pressure ammo.    Some few companies do make some .44 mag ammo that is in excess of SAAMI limits, and they label it as such.  

 

BUT -  You won't be shooting anything close to .44 mag factory ammo at ANY SASS match, due to maximum velocity limits.  So that red herring won't hunt.

 

Ask here, believe the credible info, check that info when you visit local matches, and you may not have so many problems picking good firearms.

 

Besides, the Winchester 1876 was ALSO a toggle action design, but it was made much stouter than the 66 or 73 guns, and could shoot rifle cartridges common in the day.  So, it's not the type of action, but the strength of the action, that really counts. 

 

Good luck, GJ

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2 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

I might be able to shed some light on this question, although I don't have many facts to back it up.


Widder:  Now that is exactly what I was looking for, thanks!

Imiss:  I don't hunt. 
The only exception is prairie dogs with a long range 243.

I already have an 1894CB for 38, and I would take a bath if I sold it off to buy a '73 to replace it.

I don't have a problem ponying up the $$ for a quality item, but I do have a problem with taking a bath by selling it off cheap.
So far, my only non-working gun is that brand new Stoeger that died on me... I am back again searching for a shotgun.

G.J.  thanks (yet again) for more great info.
I figured any modern rifle has to meet SAAMI specs.
I have no plans of getting anywhere close to 36,000 PSI.

I've been attending our local matches and picking up brass during our waiting periods.
Last year (2019) I accumulated 170+ days of CA waiting periods.. more than half a year just getting our guns.
Vaqueros, Marlins, 73's, 97's and Stoegers are the most used that I see at our matches.
I already had a Vaquero, so I bought the rest of the Vaqueros, Single Six and Henry Frontier for trainers, the Marlin and the Stoeger, waited forever, then the Stoeger died.

I don't need the 44s at all, other than just wanting to own a set.

 

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5 minutes ago, bgavin said:


Imiss:  I don't hunt. 
The only exception is prairie dogs with a long range 243.


 

 

ahhhhhh, the perfect varmint rifle caliber:   .243 / 6mm, etc......

 

Great in the accuracy department.   Bullet weights from 65 gr and up.   Bucks the wind well.

Long range capabilities.   Instant kills.

 

My favorite:   6mm BR with a custom Shilen barrel with proper twist for 65-70 grain bullets.

Nosler Ballistic Tips were tops, along with some good Berger bullets.  Both were 'toxic' on its

intended prey.

Accuracy was 'terminal'.

 

Right now, my only varmint rifle is in .17 Hornet.    I'm surprised at its accuracy in the Ruger rifle

and its performance within a couple hundred yards.

A crow don't stand a chance.

 

..........Widder

 

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I have used Henry Big Boys in .357, .44 Rem Mag and, mostly, .45 Colt since they were produced. I have NOT had any problems with them. I have won my share and am happy with them. I have THOUSANDS of rounds of warthog loads of .45 Colt holy black through my main Henry Big Boy. Since I became an Elder Statesman decades ago, my Henry Big Boy has helped me collect quite a few age category buckles. I am looking forward to my first El Rey award.  :D

 

Henry was looked at askance by SASS shooters because of its early advertisements. Further, there were no gunsmiths that could do much with Big Boys. Another problem was clueless newbies that screwed up six ways to Sunday and blamed the rifles.  :angry:

 

At the family place, we have all kinds, brands and calibers of rifles dating to the 1870s. I have had the privilege of shooting them all. My deer rifle is a Marlin in .35 Remington. Most of our hands and neighbors love the weaker .30-30. My antelope and moose rifle is a Browning Grade II .338 Winchester Magnum. It will reach out and "touch" an antelope!  :P However, I am a handgun hunter and have been since the 1950s.

 

My Henry Big Boy in .45 Colt is my main match rifle, another in .44 Rem Mag is my "long" distance side match lever gun and my .22 LR Golden Boy rifle is for those side matches.

 

I am quite happy with my Henrys.

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15 hours ago, bgavin said:

I've seen some isolated chatter where the Henry might not be particularly desirable for our game.
 

 

Bruce,

There is one gunsmith I know of who is working on the Henry Big Boys, making them run a little smoother a more reliably at a faster pace.  That is Boomstick Jay at Boomstick Arms Co. LLC   You can order one directly from him with action work, and not have to buy it, wait for it, ship it, have it shipped back, and wait for it some more.

But then, you can also order a Marlin '94 from him with either the Widder Mods already done, or Short-Stroked.

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9 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

 

ahhhhhh, the perfect varmint rifle caliber:   .243 / 6mm, etc......

 

Great in the accuracy department.   Bullet weights from 65 gr and up.   Bucks the wind well.

Long range capabilities.   Instant kills.

 


Yep.
Mine is the Savage Low Profile Varminter, stainless, 26" stainless bull barrel, Leupold 6.5-20x40 side focus scope.
I picked the 243 over the 223 for exactly the reasons you stated above.
Hornady Superperformance is barrel-burner ammo, but Savage makes replacement very easy.
I'm thinking some hand loads under 3,000 fps will reduce the barrel burnout a bit.

I asked about Henry in 44 mag, because of the excellent Henry Frontier 22 we own.
Perhaps it is just marketing, but I get the impression Henry is trying hard to produce quality guns.
There is no reason why Marlin cannot achieve the same, other than inept management.

Apparently the Uberti is the hands-down favorite for CAS shooters.
I just don't want another Stoeger debacle... too expensive, very time consuming.

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As a Smith that was at one time interested in Helping Folks Stuck with Big Boys , get them running better ....

I contacted Henry and tried to work with them on improvements to make them better suited to Our Game ...

They told me they Were NOT interested in Working with me, or my suggestions or even Selling me Parts to Fix their Guns ...

They wanted all Broken Guns Shipped back to them for Repairs ....  And as Long as the gun would cycle and fire it Wasn't Broken ....

Jams be "Operator Error" ........

So with this Un-Cowboy Like  Attitude I refuse to work on their Guns ....

 

Jabez Cowboy 

Edited by Jabez Cowboy,SASS # 50129
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16 hours ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

Not in pistol calibers though?

Yes they do but it is a “tactical” model in black with a smaller magazine tube that doesn’t allow 10 cartridges to be loaded. However I am a firm believer that if you like the rifle then shoot it. Very few of the shooters these days are “competitive”, meaning that the ones who practice all the time, have all their guns modified and really shoot to win the matches the go to, local thru national. The majority of shooters are the ones that want to have a good time. And so I say to anyone who wants it to enjoy the Big Boy. 

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4 minutes ago, Nimble Fingers SASS# 25439 said:

Yes they do but it is a “tactical” model in black with a smaller magazine tube that doesn’t allow 10 cartridges to be loaded.

 

I stand corrected, but if it won't hold 10 then it's pretty useless for CAS.

 

10 minutes ago, Nimble Fingers SASS# 25439 said:

However I am a firm believer that if you like the rifle then shoot it. Very few of the shooters these days are “competitive”, meaning that the ones who practice all the time, have all their guns modified and really shoot to win the matches the go to, local thru national. The majority of shooters are the ones that want to have a good time. And so I say to anyone who wants it to enjoy the Big Boy. 

 

I don't disagree. If someone has an HBB, go shoot and enjoy it; hope it's not a jam-o-matic like 9 out of 10 are.

 

HOWEVER, if someone is looking to buy one, well, there a LOT better guns to help them just have a good time.

 

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bgavin,

  The best advice I can give you is see, at the matches you attend, who is running fast, dependable guns and highly consider what they have.

If price is not the issue, get what works; you will be much happier in the end.

Marlins can be made to run very well, 73s and 66s are (mostly) run by the fastest. If they weren't reliable, those shooters would not use them.

92s can work good as well, but will not be as fast as a tuned 73/66 (did I say that?).

Stoegers do work for a large number of shooters, but in my experience, fast guys use tuned SKBs for SxS. 97s can be run like lightning if ya practice.

Vaqueros and Colts/Clones seem to be the choice for wheel guns.

In the end, ya get out what ya put in; from $$ to 'smith work to upkeep to practice (yes, that).

Happy Shooting!

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15 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

 

#1.   The Henry rifle started off bad in SASS with some 'questionable' advertising.  Some would refer

to it a pure lie in their presentation of their ads.

 

I have heard this many times, but as this happened before my time I have not seen the actual evidence of this. Does anyone have the full story? I have heard and read stuff from both sides (false advertising vs miscommunication via SASS). I would like to know the whole story. Also, I never understood why USFA gets a pass on this when Donnelly was the king of false advertising to the point where you need to be very knowledgeable and even a little bit of a gambler whenever buying a USFA these days because of how much uncertainty there is out there.

 

As to the OP, I only know of two folks that use the HBB personally. Both shoot them fine, very consistently without ever having a jam. I wouldn't personally use one, but that's just because I find them to be a bit on the ugly side and everyone knows pretty guns shoot much faster. In my head they do anyway. Now the Original Henry would be something I would love to get my hands on.

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Rainmaker, that is exactly what we do.

Attend matches, keep score, pick up brass and ask questions.
As you note above, most revolvers are Vaqueros, a few Colts.
Rifles are mostly 73 types, top ejectors that put spent brass in the pards hat.
There are a few Marlins, no jams ever seen, nor complaints heard.
The most problems we have seen are hand-loads that fail to fire.

Shotguns are 97s and Stoegers.
I liked the Stoeger, but got completely burned with a new one.
Hell will become exothermic before I do another Stoeger.

I started this topic because of the very highly quality of our Henry Frontier.
Thanks to all for their replies.
Winchester does not make a '73 in 44 caliber, so it looks to me like the Uberti '73 is the consensus for this caliber.

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Use what you like, I used a Henry and shot clean used a 73 all tricked out from Long Hunter same outcome.  The Henry will not shoot fast, but it is a fun gun.  Plus I got a lot of attention being told how much the my gun would no work.   I tried to enjoy shooting the match and took as long as I could.  :)

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Part of the fun is beating the pards that crap on my Henry Big Boy!!!   :wub:

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Somehow, I don't think that an El Patron or an El Rey is about to become the world champion this year!!!  :(

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Before you veer off to a 44 Magnum with other applications, appreciate that many CAS shooters have backups for each gun or another set in a different caliber. One of my backup sets is actually 44 Magnum, using cowboy loads in the Marlin rifle and cowboy 44 Special in the pistols, but that is only because I already owned the guns before coming to SASS. I have needed the 44 rifle a few times before getting my 45 Colt JM Marlin Cowboy. I mainly shoot 38 Special and 45 Colt having the rifles for them. I recently stepped up and bought a backup shotgun, another Baikal, since my primary was down for repair three times in two years. It just wasn't quite "cowboy" ready, but I believe is now. If you appreciate the need for backups, don't think of duplicates as redundant. You might want to stay within what is recommended for main match guns, prepared to enable getting your best times. Or as some do, make some compromises in exchange for style points. That is valid too, when not supposing to be competitive with the top shooters. There are different ways to enjoy SASS.

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I love my Marlin 1894 in 44 mag, mines an older 1894SS model that Mr. Widder helped me with via many phone calls years ago lol.

 

BD 

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West (Wes) Fargo slicked my Rugers. I met him when he was a vendor at EOT. He was a great guy and a talented gunsmith.  :)

 

My shot is an AyA double ten. It has also performed flawlessly with warthog loads of Holy Black forever!  :D I have a Stoeger 20  that I use for a loaner to newbies. It has always worked well. I loan a Henry BB .38 and Pietta "Lightning" .38s to them. I also have .22s and a hammered .410 double for kids. Eachset has have two leather belts. :)

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19 minutes ago, Mud Marine,SASS#54686 Life said:

West (Wes) Fargo slicked my Rugers. I met him when he was a vendor at EOT. He was a great guy and a talented gunsmith.  :)

 

My shot is an AyA double ten. It has also performed flawlessly with warthog loads of Holy Black forever!  :D I have a Stoeger 20  that I use for a loaner to newbies. It has always worked well. I loan a Henry BB .38 and Pietta "Lightning" .38s to them. I also have .22s and a hammered .410 double for kids. Eachset has have two leather belts. :)

What .410 are you using? I have heard that 410's can kick quite a bit. I am in the early process of outfitting my nearly 8 year old to start playing the game, but still looking for a shotgun. Haven't decided what to use yet. 12 gauge doubles are still pretty heavy, but if 410 kicks a lot, that might be worse.

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3 minutes ago, El Hombre Sin Nombre said:

What .410 are you using? I have heard that 410's can kick quite a bit. I am in the early process of outfitting my nearly 8 year old to start playing the game, but still looking for a shotgun. Haven't decided what to use yet. 12 gauge doubles are still pretty heavy, but if 410 kicks a lot, that might be worse.

 

Mine started with a 20 gauge and quickly went to a 12 gauge w/ BP loads. Hard to find factory low recoil rounds for the 20 gauge.

 

A 12 gauge Baikal single trigger is pretty light(if you can find one). Use BP or sub and cut short to fit can be very comfortable for children and ladies.

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