Henry Long Ranger in .308 Winchester, by Thomas Christianson

I grew up watching Westerns on television. When it came to a movie or a television series that involved cowboys, if they were armed (and they usually were), the handguns were six-shooters, and the rifles were lever action. I dreamed of someday riding off into the sunset with a revolver on my hip and a lever action rifle in my saddle boot.

Many decades passed. I might not have been quite at the place where I would be riding off into the sunset, but I could see that place from where I was. And I still had never fired a lever action rifle.

I decided that it was time to address that glaring omission in my list of essential life experiences. I contacted Henry Repeating Arms, and asked if I could borrow one of their Henry Long Rangers in .308 Winchester. I was particularly interested in the model with iron sights, since every cowboy ought to have a rifle with iron sights. Henry was kind enough to agree to my request. When the rifle arrived at my FFL, I went to pick it up.

The Bottom Line, Up Front

The Henry Long Ranger in .308 is a beautifully crafted and reasonably accurate rifle with a lifetime warranty and an aesthetic that is distinctly Americana. With a manufacturer-suggested retail price of $1,066 it represents a good value for hunting medium-sized game over medium distances.

First Impressions

The outside of the box stated at least twice in large letters, “Made In America Or Not Made At All”. It also clearly mentioned the Lifetime Warranty. I am in favor of making things in America, and of lifetime warranties, so I felt that Henry and I were off to a good start.

Opening the box revealed the rifle in a plastic bag. An inspection tag was attached to the rifle. It indicated that the rifle had been test fired, and then checked at four separate times during the packaging process to make sure that it was no longer loaded. The box also contained a manual, another tag announcing that the rifle was made in America or not made at all, and still another tag warning that the rifle should be checked to make sure that it was no longer loaded.

The rifle arrived slightly greasy. The furniture is skillfully checkered and nicely finished walnut. The checkering provides excellent grip surfaces. There is an attractive cap on the forearm, and sling swivel studs are preinstalled. A nice looking recoil pad of appropriate elasticity promises to soften the kick when the rifle is fired.

The fit and finish of the metal parts are excellent. The magazine is made of steel, sits flush with the bottom of the receiver, and can hold 4 rounds. The iron sights are easy to acquire, with a white diamond on the rear sight and a white bead on the front sight. The top of the receiver is also tapped for a scope, with filler screws in the holes to prevent the threads from being damaged, or grime from entering the receiver through the holes. The barrel is 20 inches long, and has a 1:10 twist rate. The overall length of the rifle is 40.5 inches, with a length of pull of 14 inches.

The trigger is excellent with a clean and crisp break. The slide did not operate quite as smoothly as one could wish at first. It smoothed out a bit with continued use.

Reading the Manual

The manual is 28 pages long, including the front and back covers. It has good general gun safety and handling rules near the beginning of the manual. This is helpful, because the customer is more likely to see that information near the front. The manual also contained a wealth of other helpful information:
∙ Henry recommends carrying the rifle with the chamber empty and the hammer down. There is no other safety on the rifle than an uncocked hammer, and decocking the hammer with the chamber loaded can result in an unintentional discharge. Since even the click of a disengaging safety sounds terribly loud when there is game in one’s sights, I hate to think of what levering the rifle under those circumstances would sound like.

∙ The rifle weighs 7 pounds.
∙ There is an in-hammer sliding transfer bar to help prevent accidental discharge. So if one does chamber a round and then successfully decocks the hammer, the rifle is unlikely to discharge even if dropped.
∙ Henry recommends cleaning the rifle before first use.
∙ The lever must be closed or mostly closed in order to insert the magazine. Otherwise, the lever gets in the way.
∙ Rounds can be single loaded through the ejection port when the empty magazine is in place.
∙ Henry recommends cleaning from the breech to the muzzle, and never pulling a brush or a patch back through the bore. This would necessitate the use of a cleaning cable rather than a cleaning rod, since the bore is not accessible to a rod from the breech.
∙ “Field Stripping” consists of opening the chamber by pushing the lever forward. No further disassembly is recommended.

First Cleaning

I cleaned the rifle prior to use in accordance with the recommendations of the manual. I could not clean from the breech, because I do not have a cleaning cable. So I cleaned from the muzzle instead.

I loved the excellent balance of the rifle, the beautiful grain of the wood, and the secure grip provided by the checkering. I also liked the metal magazine, since metal magazines don’t tend to crack if you drop them fully loaded on a hard surface on a cold day.

The rifle was much cleaner than most rifles arrive from the factory. I had the impression that someone cleaned it very well after test firing.

Range Session 1

The soft light of a beautiful spring evening gently illuminated the yard as I made my way from the house to the pole barn. It was 48 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light breeze out of the west.

I set up some targets on the backstop on the improvised range behind the pole barn, and set up a table with a lead sled 25 yards away.

I then loaded a single round of Federal 130-grain Varmint and Predator JHP into the rifle and fired at a target. The point of impact was within 1 inch of the center of the target. I then loaded and fired a couple of more rounds. The initial three shot group was .5 inches in size. That is a pretty good a group at 25 yards for my aging eyes using iron sights.

The bolt cycled a bit hard using the Federal ammunition. It worked a little more smoothly with the next load I tried, which was Winchester 7.62x51mm 149-grain FMJ (M80). I fired a 3 shot group, which came out to .9 inches in size. That wasn’t fantastic for me, but wasn’t terrible either for using iron sights. I decided it was time to try some scope work.

Mounting a Scope

The filler screws on the receiver were loosely installed and easy to remove with one exception. I was happy to note that the sockets for the screws in the aluminum receiver were made of steel. This helps to assure that they will not easily be stripped.

Henry provided a T10 bit with the screws for the rail, and even provided an extra screw. Henry recommends using blue Loctite on the mounting screws and torquing them to 20 in/lbs.

Once the rail was fitted, I used Leupold Rifleman medium detachable rings to mount a Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm scope. I then adjusted the eye relief, focused the scope, leveled the rifle and scope, and tightened the rings evenly.

The rifle seemed fairly accurate with iron sights, so I decided that it would be worthwhile putting a check rest on it for scope work. I used a neoprene sleeve with a pocket for the riser. The liner of the sleeve tore during installation. I have put the sleeve on and taken it off from too many rifles. I managed to get the torn liner lined up properly, and then used duct tape to secure the riser in place.

Range Session #2

The next day it snowed, but the weather turned beautiful by evening. There was no wind, the birds were singing, and it was 46 degrees Fahrenheit. I hauled the target stand past the somewhat battered trailer that I use to haul firewood, and set the stand up in front of the backstop behind the pole barn. I then set up a table with a lead sled 25 yards away.

I could not boresight this lever action like I could with a rifle with a bolt action. I needed to just take a shot and hope that it would be on paper.

I loaded and fired a single round of Federal 130-grain Varmint and Predator JHP. It struck about 3 inches left and 1.5 inches below my point of aim.

I adjusted the scope and fired another single round of the Federal load. The point of impact was within .5 inches of the point of aim. I loaded a couple of more rounds and fired them. I flinched on one of the shots, and the result was noticeable on the target. I continued to struggle with difficulty cycling the bolt with the Federal load.

I fired another 3-shot group with the Federal load, and then a 3-shot group with the Winchester 7.62X51mm 149-grain FMJ (M80) load. The Winchester load again cycled better than the Federal load. The Federal group was .9 inches in size, and the Winchester group was .8 inches in size. Ironically, I shot better with the iron sights than I did with the scope.

Range Session #3

For the final range session, I made my way to the 100 yard indoor range of the local rod and gun club. I began with a single round of Federal 130-grain Varmint and Predator JHP. After a total of three shots with corresponding adjustments to the scope, I felt that I had the rifle zeroed.

I then loaded and fired three rounds each with the Federal and Winchester loads. The Winchester load continued to be easier to chamber, and produced a more accurate group at 2.5 inches. The Federal load produced a 3.1-inch group.

Removing the Scope

I have used the Leupold Rifleman rings on so many rifles that I have lost count of how many. This time, as I was trying to remove the rings, I stripped out the head of one of the screws that secures the rings to the rails. I promptly ordered a new set of rings.

When the new rings arrived, I noticed that Leupold Rifleman rings have a lifetime guarantee. So I contacted Leupold and asked if they could send me a new screw to replace the one that was damaged. I thought it would be handy to have an extra set of rings on hand.

Instead, Leupold promptly promised to send me a complete new set of rings. They gave me this excellent service without being aware that I would be writing about that service for publication. Leupold is to be commended for their excellent warranty and customer care.

Final Cleaning

I removed the sight rail and reinstalled the filler screws in the top of the receiver. I then gave the rifle a thorough final cleaning, and returned it to the Henry company.


If I owned this rifle, I would get a set of Advanced Tactical .308 Snap Caps. I would then load the caps in the magazine and run them through the rifle about 100 times to help smooth out the cycling of the bolt.

I found the iron sights to be among the best that I have ever used. If I owned this rifle, I don’t think that I would bother mounting a scope on it.

The wood and metal work on this rifle are absolutely beautiful. It almost deserves a display case rather than a gun safe.


Henry Repeating Arms was kind enough to loan me a sample of their Long Ranger rifle in .308 Winchester. Leupold was kind enough to provide me with a VX-Freedom 3-9X40mm scope for a review that I wrote back in 2020. I tried not to let the kindness of Henry or Leupold interfere with my objectivity in this review, and believe that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducement to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.