Earlier this year I was able to get my hands on a Henry Color Case Hardened 45-70. If I am being honest this is one of my dream rifles and I couldn’t wait for the excitement and challenges of hunting with a Henry. The 45-70 cartridge conjures up images of the old west and the old way of hunting. The cartridge is slow and outdated, at least, that’s what many would have you believe. However, the cartridge still puts a wallop on game and has its place in the hunting world.
In this instance, the cartridge is fired from a pretty package, the Color Case Hardened Side Gate from Henry! Or also known as model number H010GCC. Before we will get to hunting with a henry, I’m going to give a brief overview of the rifle.
A Beautiful Henry
The American Walnut wood complements the Color Case Hardened action beautifully and almost creates a rifle that is too nice to hunt with. Below I’ll list some of the important specs of the rifle.
- Overall Length: 41.1″
- Barrel Length: 22″
- Barrel Type: Octagon Blued Steel
- Rate of Twist: 1:20
- Rear Sight: Fully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert
- Front Sight: Brass Bead
- Length of Pull: 14″
- Scope Mount Type: Weaver 63B
Rifle Capabilities and Challenges
Hunting with a Henry out west definitely comes with its own set of challenges. Most of the country out west is very open and I’d bet the average shot nowadays is around 300 yards for most western hunters. The issue that creates is that in several areas those shots are beyond the capabilities of most hunters using an open-sight 45-70 Henry. However, I endeavored to make a go of it with the beautiful rifle.
Before we get into my hunting experiences I’d like to talk about the capabilities of the rifle as I see it. This rifle/cartridge package would be an absolute monster out west while still hunting dark pine forests, or moving in close and hunting through oak brush thickets. I say a good shot would be able to make shots out to 150 yards fairly accurately. An exceptional shot should be able to push it to 200 or maybe 225.
Now, you could also put a scope on the rifle for added accuracy. However, I personally feel that adding a scope to the rifle would take away from the styling and feel of the rifle. With today’s modern optics and the ability to adjust your zero quickly on the fly, there is no telling how far someone could push the cartridge accurately. Basically, this is all a long way to say that my max range with the rifle was roughly 150 yards.
The First Time Hunting with a Henry
The First time I was able to hunt with this model from Henry was on Utah’s general season rifle hunt. I went into the hunt, hoping to be able to find any legal buck that I could get into range, I really wanted to get an animal under my belt with the rifle. Days of hiking, glassing, and disappointment ensued. During the 4 days that I, my cousin, and father looked for deer we were only able to turn up 3 bucks. However, none of them ended up being legal to take.
Largely the first hunt with the Henry was a bust! We hunted hard but sometimes it doesn’t work out. I will say this, carrying the rifle while hunting, if you’re the sentimental type, it seems to take you back to the days when everyone was carrying some form of a lever gun. It was a fun experience even though we didn’t get anything.
Hunting with a Henry in South Dakota
To say I like to make things hard on myself is an understatement. The second hunt I took the Henry along for was my first-ever whitetail hunt ever in South Dakota. This area was just as open as the deserts of Utah. However, I endeavored out looking to get a buck with the Henry (I was also carrying my 7mm Rem. Mag for backup.) The first evening was probably the closest got to taking a buck! That evening while sitting between a cedar and a small rock outcropping a decent whitetail buck followed his does past me at 108 yards. There just happened to be one problem. The landowner wanted us to take mature bucks and this buck was right on the borderline. Even though I looked through the sights at him twice, I eventually let him walk.
In the following days, I had several other small bucks and numerous does as close as 30 yards but none of them were large enough to take. During the morning of the third day, I spotted a nice buck but he was out in some wide open country. Because of where he was located I left the Henry with my pack and other gear and grabbed my 7mm. During the following 25 minutes, I was able to take my first-ever whitetail! I’m still very excited about my buck, however, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t slightly bittersweet. I really wanted to take a buck with that Henry.
Going forward with the Henry
Hunting with a Henry was one of the best times I’ve had hunting. So much so that as I write this, I have multiple tabs open on my computer researching more hunting opportunities with it! I hope to find some restricted weapons hunts to use it on in my own state and I am looking at other areas that will be more inducive to shorter-range hunting. what can I say, this rifle has me hooked!
Overall Thoughts on the Rifle
Overall the 45-70 Color Case Hardened Side Gate is a unique rifle. It comes in a beautiful package. The action is very complex and has a lot of moving parts inside (keep it clean.) The cartridge and the rifle lend themselves to hunting big game, maybe even the biggest, at close range. However, with some modifications, you could push the range out quite a ways! One thing to note, if you are sensitive to recoil be aware this rifle will kick you and kick you pretty hard. 4-6 shots at the range, and you’re going to feel it for sure, you may even be feeling it the next day.
One use I could really see the gun excelling at is being a good protection rifle from North American dangerous game. The open sights and quick action lend themselves to quick, powerful, follow-up shots. I feel it would be a great rifle for bear guides to carry while in thick cover and tight situations. Another area I feel it would be great for is hunting elk in thick pines or cedars, it’s easy to carry and reaches the shoulder quickly and smoothly. Those are both important when having to make a quick shots to bring home some meat.
I really loved my time with the 45-70 Henry. If you get the chance to go hunting with a Henry, jump at the chance!