Golden Age, Golden Gun

This post reviews the Henrry Golden Boy, a high grade, lever action .22 rifle. But first, let’s make a stop at….

The Bullet Stop Gun Shop

My favorite gun shop

The Bullet Stop Gun Shop, located on Missouri 136 nine miles east of Unionville, is owned and operated by Jim and Doreen Madison. It is a continuation of a family business that was started by Jim’s dad in Rockford, Illinois. The Missouri branch opened when Jim and Doreen liked the country around the little town of Hartford, MO and obtained some land there.  Over a period of several years they have built a thriving business with new and used rifles, shotguns, and handguns.  You might find a great, new deer rifle, carry pistol, or quail gun, or, you might pick up a good wall hanger for a low price.  Speaking of prices, they are reasonable because the Madison’s like to sell a lot of guns.  And they will consider offers and trades.  A specialty of the Bullet Stop is the growing line of Henry rifles.  Mr. Anthony Imperato, owner and president of Henry Repeating Arms, has visited several times and he keeps the Madison’s supplied with beautiful examples of his company’s arms.  Sometimes they are on sale, so a visit to the Bullet Stop is definitely worth your while.  You would enjoy coming during “Hartford Days,” sponsored by Jim and Doreen annually in early June.

The Henry Golden Boy

Henry Golden Boy on a snazzy T-shirt

Lever action, 22 rimfire rifles have been around a long time. Exhibition shooter Annie Oakley used one in her shows in the late 1800s.  Annie’s was made by Marlin.  An assistant would stand at thirty paces and launch a dime into the air and Annie would knock it into the next county.  At the same distance she could cut a playing card on edge and put several shots in the piece while it was falling.

Henry Repeating Arms of Bayonne, New Jersey has been making lever action rifles since 1996. In the 20 years since that date the Henry line has greatly expanded to include rimfire and centerfire arms in a great variety of models and types of finish.  The quality of Henry arms and the fact that they are made in America has made them very popular and new models keep appearing every year.

Henry’s Golden Boy follows from their original blue and wood model H001. It is a lever action rifle chambered to fire the .22 short, long and long rifle cartridges.  It has a full-length magazine and barrel of blued steel, a walnut stock and forend, a polished brass (strong alloy) receiver and brass furniture, all combined in a very attractive rifle that is adult in size.  This combination of features evokes visions of the past in western America, and it will appeal to folks with a nostalgic bent.

The history that the Golden Boy honors began with the Winchester Model of 1866, the first lever action rifle to bear the Winchester name. This rifle’s brass frame invited the name

The first Winchester, the Model 1866 or “Yellow Boy”

“Yellow Boy” and so it has been known ever since.  It was a popular rifle in its day and was produced until 1899, years after newer models, such as the 1873 Winchester, appeared with stronger steel frames.  Modern replicas of the 66 are available, but if you want a rimfire rifle, you need the Henry Golden Boy.

Comparing pictures you will see that the Golden Boy and the old 66 have a very similar configuration with lever, tubular magazine, octagon barrel, exposed hammer, walnut stock, brass forend keeper and curved brass butt plate. The receiver shape of the Henry is a strong echo of the Yellow Boy.  A big difference is that the Golden Boy loads at a port in the magazine tube while the .44 caliber Model 66 has a loading gate on the side of the receiver.  I am not sure where the pleasure of using something with a strong historical reference comes from, but the Golden Boy delivers a bunch of it.

Using the Golden Boy

The pictures in the following section show the main features of the Golden Boy. The stock is straight-grain black walnut with a smooth, satin finish.  The action open picture shows

American black walnut stock

lever travel with the bolt cocking the hammer in typical lever action style.  The two large screws have opposite numbers on the other side of the receiver.  Remove these screws and you can remove the action brass that is simply a cover for the actual alloy action underneath.

Golden Boy action open

 

 

A great feature, this allows the brass to be easily sent out for engraving, as much as you would like.

The rear sight is a semi-buckhorn type with an adjustable blade insert with diamond indicator.  The front sight is a brass bead on a post.  Note that the end of the muzzle is polished, giving an indication of the care used in finishing this rifle.  It is a beautiful job.

Rear sight

Front sight. Note polished end of muzzle

I test fired the GB using a few kinds of 22 long rifle ammo, regular and high velocity, solid point and hollow point.   Function was superb and the lever operation was very smooth.  The open sights are very good but they present some difficulty for folks like me with very “mature” eyes that do not accommodate to distance like they did in the past.  Still, I was able to shoot groups of less than one inch at 25 yards by using a target with a black ring rather than a black bull.  Please note:  This is my own shooting with the open sights.  The Henry will do better than this.

Three 6-shot groups with open sights at 25 yards

You might ask…..

Is this a rifle for young people or a rifle for adults? The answer is “BOTH!”  Older folks might appreciate the historical reference more, but youngsters will also like the gun’s looks and its lever action function.  It would be a bit heavy for small beginners.

A couple of my grandsons tried the Golden Boy out with results shown in the target picture. Firing a ten-shot group, a twelve-year old did the crow and a fifteen-year-old the squirrel.

Ten-shot groups by boys at 25 yards

They had no trouble with loading or firing and they thought that hitting the target consistently was easy. The grandson shooting gave us a chance to try out the Golden Boy with a scope. Henry has a neat way of attaching the scope base on the barrel flat just in front of the receiver.  Thus, no holes need be drilled and tapped in the brass and the taps in the barrel are covered by the iron sight base when it is in place.  The resulting cantilever arrangement is solid with a scope of rimfire size.  We put a 4X Simmons 22 Mag on for scope shooting and it worked fine.  With the scope attached I was able to shoot groups of less than an inch at 50 yards.

Golden Boy with Henry scope mount and Simmons 22 Mag 4X

Final Thoughts

I think I live in a Golden Age when I can buy a product like the Golden Boy at a store like the Bullet Stop Gun Shop. Let’s keep it that way in America.

The Henry Golden Boy is an American-made rifle with great quality and performance. I have to wait for warmer weather to fully investigate its accuracy with a variety of ammo but indications are that it will continue to be outstanding.  This gun would be really good for all of the usual 22 applications including small-game hunting, varmint control, plinking and, especially, showing it to your buddies.   If you use it regularly for these activities you will want a good, soft case to protect the finish of the wood and metal.

Everyone enjoys examining and shooting the Golden Boy. I like it, my grandsons like it, and I am sure that Annie Oakley would have liked it a lot.  Remember one thing.  If you use the Golden Boy in a shooting session with a youngster, be sure to tell him/her about the Winchester Model 66 and its place in history.

 

 

 

 

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