The .22LR cartridge is perfect for hunting small game, inexpensive target shooting, and in some instances, even self-defense. This tiny rimfire cartridge is gobbled up by the brick in backyards and shooting ranges across the country and it has become the mainstay for the high-volume shooter. Although the .22LR is adequate for most of its roles, sometimes you just want (or need) a little extra punch without the desire to get into a centerfire. For these tasks, .22 WMR was created and I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of Henry Repeating Arms’s latest offerings, the Lever-Action Magnum Express.
Designated as the Model H001ME, Henry took a unique approach towards its design. Instead of focusing on traditional cowboy-action styling, they set out to build a precision lever-action rifle. Gone are the iron sights to make room for a scope, and the dovetailed receiver comes with a Picatinny adapter pre-mounted, leaving the end user provisions for either mounting system. To help with alignment, the traditional dropped American-style buttstock has been replaced with a Monte Carlo variant. Both this and the fore-end are made from solid American walnut and feature well-defined checkering that is both attractive and functional.
With the red carpet rolled out for an optic, we went ahead and mounted a new Bushnell 4500 Elite riflescope. As this rifle is likely destined for ranges between 50 and 200 yards, we went with the 2.5-10x model, as we felt this was the most appropriate magnification range.
This newly-redesigned line from the venerable scope company has some of the clearest glass in its class and features a simple Multi-X reticle that all but screams hunting. I also was a fan of the toolless zero-rest turrets, as rimfire ammunition is subject to immense differences in point of impact from brand to brand. Being able to turn my turrets back to zero is going to go a long way when I change ammo and want to punch out to extended ranges.
My range day was met with cool, yet calm conditions. A 2-MPH wind was present but it had nearly zero value as it was coming from straight behind me. The ambient temperature was a balmy 37 degrees, but that typically doesn’t affect .22 Magnum’s ignition rate, so I wasn’t worried about hangfires or any of the other issues associated with cold weather. At my disposal were Aguila’s Silver Eagle and CCI’s Maxi-Mag Clean 22.
I’ve used the Silver Eagle before and it has always delivered excellent accuracy. It’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of a 40-gr. semi-jacketed bullet, but that is precisely what CCI did with its newest addition to the Maxi Mag line. Using a 46-gr. segmented polymer-coated bullet, it took an already effective varmint round and made it even more devastating. Both rounds produced velocity that was as advertised—1875 fps and accuracy was excellent as well. The smallest group fired with the CCI measured 1.03”, only to be slightly outdone by Aguila’s offering which delivered its smallest group measuring 0.95”.
The overall mechanics of the Magnum Express were outstanding, as is every Henry lever-action that I have ever handled. We found smooth, reliable feeding with both styles of ammunition and a good, forceful ejection each time we racked the lever down. As advertised, this (and nearly every other Henry) is “Lefty O.K.” and this lefty can confirm that claim firsthand.
Concerning capacity, Henry advertises the tube as holding only 11 rounds but with these two ammo types I was able to get 12 in. Slipping a spring-loaded rod over a double-digit count of rimmed ammo is usually not for the faint of heart, as those rims have a tendency of getting in the way, but that wasn’t the case in this rifle. Aside from manipulating the tubular magazine and the lever, there aren’t any other controls to speak of, sans the quarter-cock safety that is built into the external hammer. (One note here is to be attentive to your scope height, as if you go too low you are going to have trouble getting your thumb in between the ocular lens and the spur.)
Henry’s super accurate .22 WMR rifle was a joy to shoot and made for an excellent optics host, thanks to its thoughtfully crafted stock and mounting options. The sum of its features spells out one bad day for unsuspecting critters or equally plentiful tin cans. One of my favorite aspects of this package is that .22 WMR is (typically) inexpensive enough to enjoy the year-round, leaving you well-practiced when squirrel season opens and it’s time to harvest chicken of the tree.