In 1959 a revolutionary rifle made its appearance. Designed by Armalite for the U.S. Air Force by Gene Stoner, the little rifle was designated the AR-7. It was chambered in .22 (high-velocity rounds only), and was unique in that it came apart without tools. Even better, all the parts could be stored within its hollow butt stock, and the rifle would float in either stowed or assembled form. When the rifle was made available to the general public, outdoorsmen of all sorts grabbed 'em. At about the same time, the AR-7 made an appearance in the early James Bond film, "From Russia With Love," and its place in history was thus secured...
Henry U.S. Survival Rifle, $205
We chose a black-finished rifle for our testing, and found the finish is actually Teflon. Other finishes are silver and (more costly) camouflage. The entire rifle weighed only 2.6 pounds empty, and arrived in a black cardboard box. Prying off the butt pad revealed three main component parts and two eight-round magazines. Assembling the rifle was easy and straightforward. The action fastened to the front of the butt stock with a captive screw contained within the pistol grip. The front of the stock was slotted to accept the receiver, and the action fit well and snugly into the recess. The barrel attached via a knurled ring to the front of the receiver. The magazine release was a lever at the front of the trigger guard, and it worked well, though the magazine was not as rattle-free as we would have liked. Speaking of rattles, the second magazine stored within the butt stock needed some cleaning patches or foam rubber to keep it from making unwanted noise.
There was a safety lever at the right rear of the action. It could only be put on (pulled rearward) with the gun cocked. It didn't move easily. If we placed our thumb firmly on top of the safety, as its serrations and overall shape seemed to indicate was the thing to do, it was almost impossible to move it. But if the thumb were pressed against the forward or rear edge of the safety, the job became much easier. We found the same to be true of the AR-7 Industries version.
The Henry was matte-black finished everywhere except for the two magazines, which were blued, but shiny (we'd prefer them to be Teflon coated to match the rest of the rifle), and the butt pad, which was glossy black. The two magazines, bolt, extractor, trigger, and safety lever were of steel, and the action was an aluminum alloy....
Gun Tests Recommends
Henry U.S. Survival Rifle, $205, Buy It. The fact that this rifle was so incredible light was a big factor for us. We'd put a decent trigger into it and stick it in our backpack and go wherever we could legally carry a rifle, and consider ourselves prepared to fill the pot with nearly anything we could find to eat. The autoloader .22 will probably be a better choice than the M6 Scout if you happen to find yourself up against hostile forces. The Henry's light weight would demand a steady rest of some sort in order to make reliable hits on small targets. We'd like more accuracy, but we felt this rifle had enough for most of its expected uses.
The leaky stock could be patched with tape, or maybe bacon grease, or we could tie the rifle to our to belt with a cord whenever we got near open water. For that matter, we could carry the rifle on a lanyard around the neck, it was that light. This was not the case with the much heavier AR-7 Industries gun, as we tested it. We also would have liked to see a bit better workmanship here and there, but as we said, it worked well enough. That's enough for us.
« Back to Henry U.S. Survival Rifle description