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Pistol Cartridges in a Rifle?

How many of you carry a handgun while hunting? I bet most of us do, and few of us shoot the same caliber rifle as the handgun we carry. Therefore, we carry bullets for the rifle caliber and bullets for the handgun caliber.

What if you could find a rifle that shot handgun cartridges, would still give you accurate shots at distances out to 150 to 200 yards, had plenty of knock-down power to quickly kill your prey, was very dependable and looked pretty?

Would you be interested?

If I had to guess, I would say a pile of hunters who carry a handgun, use either a .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum or a .45 Colt.

Well, have you considered a rifle in the same caliber as your handgun?

If you have thought about this, look no further, as Henry makes all three, plus a few more. But, for today I will focus only on these and, more specifically, the Henry Big Boy Steel in .357 Magnum.

One of the first things someone asked me when I told them I was getting a Henry rifle in .357 Magnum to use for hunting was, “Have you thought about range past 50 yards?” I sort of stepped back and asked, “What are you talking about?”

He said the .357 was only good for shots out to about 50 to 75 yards with his pistol and he knew I had stands in areas that could call for shots out to 150 yards. He was concerned the .357 would not be enough gun to get the bullet out to that distance for a quick kill.

His concern was created by his reading the velocity information on .357 ammo boxes. After he did a little math, he concluded that a .357 shot at 150 yards was just not enough gun.

This might be correct, if he was using a handgun with a 6-inch barrel. Although I know one guy who has taken several deer and pigs shooting a .357 handgun with a 6-inch barrel from 150 yards, this guy is not the norm. He has been shooting the same pistol for a million years and is one of the best pistol shooters I’ve ever met.

When my buddy asked about the .357, he had not considered the increased velocity of the .357 cartridge when it is fired from a rifle that has a much longer barrel than his 6-inch pistol.

The Henry has a 20-inch barrel. Most of the velocity data states that for every extra inch of barrel, the velocity should increase by 25 feet per second. Therefore, a 14-inch difference in the barrel length should give me about 350 feet per second more velocity with the Henry rifle (14 x 25 = 350).

On the box of Hornady 140-grain FTX .357 ammo, it states the velocity as 1,440 feet per second. I am pretty sure this number is based on if the round was shot from a 6-inch barrel.

Add 350 fps to that number, and you come up with 1,790 feet per second – even though my results for this bullet in the Henry rifle were an average of 1,868 fps.

So, based on a couple of different ballistics calculators, this bullet fired out of the Henry is traveling about 1,245 fps at 150 yards and has about 482 pounds of energy at that distance.

Based on this data, the .357 out of the Henry rifle has PLENTY of power to kill a deer or pig at 150 yards. The 200-yard data for this round is 1,112 fps and 385 foot pounds of energy – which is still enough to kill deer and pigs with a well-placed shot.

So, why not hunt with the Henry rifle out to ranges of 150 yards?

Range Time: I had several factory loads and several of my hand loads for a day at the range. After mounting a 3-9 x 40 scope I was ready. The last time I went to the range I brought my .338 Win Mag and my .375 Ruger. After a day of shooting these big loads I was not quite ready for the non-existent recoil from the Henry. The recoil was not much more than a .22 Magnum rifle, and it was pleasantly enjoyed.

My regiment was to load the tubular magazine with 5 rounds – even though it holds 10 rounds – shoot each round, let the barrel cool a little and repeat with the next flavor of ammo.

The lever action on this rifle is as smooth as silk and cleanly ejected the spent cartridge before flawlessly loading an unfired one.

The action on the Henry .357 rifle is better than great. The trigger is smooth with no creep and has a crisp, clean break. The rifle comes with a rear buckhorn sight that is adjustable for elevation, and a brass beaded front sight that is adjustable for windage.

The receiver comes drilled and tapped for a scope mount, and as an option you can purchase a hammer extension if you mount a scope.

Mine showed up with highly-figured, checkered American walnut and a recoil pad. The metal is blued with a matte finish that does not reflect light, and is a beautiful deep, dark blue. It weighs a manageable 7 pounds and is 37 inches long, making it a great walking around or brush gun.

This is a FUN gun to shoot. It is accurate, with almost no recoil, a smooth action, and it is pretty. This gun will shoot .357 Magnum or .38 Specials. The .38 Specials would be great for plinking or small game.

Shooting Results: The Henry .357 rifle shot very accurately with almost everything I ran through it. Most loads resulted in me shooting 1 inch or less groups at 100 yards from a rest.

My best factory load was the Hornady 158-grain XTP with 3/4-inch groups. I had a few hand loads that were better – with one 5-shot group – measuring 1/4-inch.

My average velocity was 400 to 600 fps faster than the ammo box stated, with my fastest speed of 2,161 fps coming from a Corbon 125-grain JHP, but this rifle does not like the lighter bullets. The 110- and 125-grain bullets I shot generated big groups. The most accurate were the 140- to 158-grain bullets. The 200-grain Corbon Hunter – traveling at 1,491 fps – shot a 1-1/2-inch group.

Overall, this rifle shot really accurately, and I am sure with the number of factory loads available in this caliber, you would be able to find several great hunting loads you would be more than happy with.

My opinion of this rifle: One of the best-shooting lever guns I have shot. Very accurate, dependable, easy to shoot. Made in America or not made at all. This is a keeper.

If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”