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About Henry’s Big Boy Revolvers
Henry wisely started their revolver production with the popular 4” barrel, which has long been the standard length for double action revolvers.
This provides a nice compromise between an adequate sight radius and a fairly compact, easy-handling revolver. Two and three inch barrels were snub-nose revolvers best suited for concealed carry. Revolver barrels of 5” or longer are best used for hunting or target shooting.
Henry offers two versions of the Big Boy revolver, both of which have a brass grip frame, fixed sights, and blued steel.
From Henry USA:
As the perfect companion to ride alongside our world-famous Big Boy rifle or as the star of its own show, the Big Boy Revolver is a classically styled six-shooter fully capable of bringing the Henry name into the wild world of wheel guns with the same attention to detail and American craftsmanship you know and love. Available with square Gunfighter-style grips for maximum control or rounded, compact Birdshead-style grips for better concealment, this traditional double-action handgun would look right at home on the shelf of a Wild West general store. Borrowing design cues from its long gun brethren, the Big Boy Revolver touts highly polished blued steel throughout the medium-sized frame, quick-release cylinder, and 4” barrel. In addition, genuine American walnut grip panels are affixed to both sides of a mirror-like brass trigger guard that’s visible around the grip to the top of the backstrap. At about 34 ounces, these revolvers carry easily yet shoot softly with a smooth pull and hammer drop in double action and a crisp break in single action. A traditional revolver sight picture is achieved with a fixed notch cut directly into the frame and a ramped blade front sight, of which three sizes are included for regulating the point of aim to match the point of impact. Like its rifle counterpart, a transfer bar safety keeps the firing pin from striking a loaded chamber unless the hammer is cocked back and the trigger is squeezed. From full-house .357 Magnum loads for hunting to light .38 Special target loads for easy plinking, the Big Boy Revolver will eat all you can feed it. So whether shooting for fun or meat, having your long gun and sidearm chamber the same cartridge is convenient — that’s Cowboy Logistics at its finest. As the first-ever revolver under our belt, serious collectors and connoisseurs of the Henry mark will relish the opportunity to add both variants to their safe. Modern design features with historically consistent style have always been our hallmark, and the Big Boy Revolver is no exception.
The only real difference between Henry’s two Big Boy revolvers is the grip shape, and the Bird’s Head version is shown as one ounce lighter than the Gunfighter. Both hold six rounds and have a 1:16 barrel.
The “Gunfighter” grip is more hand-filling.
The “Bird’s Head” grip is more rounded and better for concealed carry. The two grips provide different shooting experiences. The bird’s head revolver tended to roll-up in the hand with recoil, particularly with the powerful .357 magnum ammunition we were using.
The gunfighter revolver moved less in the hand, but it did seem to hit the shooting hand with more direct recoil. Both were pleasant to shoot.
The styling has been argued, some people aren’t fond of it. I’m fine with it. The Henry revolvers remind me of revolvers from years gone by like my old Colt New Service.
The sights are basic, with just a trough in the top of the frame for a rear sight. The front sight is more narrow than most that today’s shooters use. This also reminds me of the older revolvers such as the Colt New Service. I was able to shoot some decent groups with the thin front sight standing out against a bright target. Included with the Henry revolver are two additional different height front sights. This allows the shooter to adjust the point of impact for different .38 and .357 loads.
Opening the revolver is accomplished by pushing forward on the thumb piece and pushing the cylinder out, the same as with a Smith and Wesson revolver.
Gavin tested the single action and double action trigger pulls for both revolvers on the TriggerScan TS-11.
The bird’s head grip revolver had a crisp single-action pull of 5.3 pounds while the revolver with the gunfighter grip was about a pound less at 4.3 pounds.
The double action pull measured 12.5 pounds on the bird’s head revolver, and 11.4 pounds on the revolver with the gunfighter grip.
Both Gavin and I noted a bit of a gritty double action pull on the gunfighter grip revolver. Typically this will smooth out with use.
Gavin and I have been shooting .38./357 revolvers for many years. I started back in the 1970’s and often carry one for protection. The mild .38 Special and .357 cases loaded down to .38 Special levels make fine practice ammunition. We used both .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammunition in our testing.
357 Magnum ammunition used in testing:
The Federal 170 grain HammerDown ammunition was much more powerful than 38 special as you may suspect! This premium ammo is tailored for use in lever actions and revolvers. It features a heavy 170 grain bonded bullet built for hunting medium game. We’ve previously used it in our .357 Magnum Henry lever action rifle and some of our revolvers. This heavy bullet ammunition is best suited for hunting or self defense. Although I was still getting accustomed to these revolvers, I managed to shoot reasonable groups with the magnum ammunition.
Bullets averaged 1214.1 fps through the bird’s head revolver and 1229.4 through the gunfighter. The gunfighter results also had a much smaller standard deviation and extreme spread, just as we observed with the .38 Special 130 grain Remington UMC ammunition.
1200 fps is pretty impressive for a 170 grain .357 bullet from a 4” revolver! The same ammunition only produces an additional 400 fps from the Henry .357 mag 20” rifle barrel!
I’m pleased to see another American manufacturer enter the revolver market. This doesn’t happen often. Henry’s Big Boy .357 revolvers are practical revolvers with some nice touches like the brass grip frame. It’s a different take on the double action revolver, operating much the same, but looking a bit different.
We’ve got a holster on order and I’m looking forward to carrying and using the revolvers more. I don’t really have a preference between the two, I liked both grips. I suspect that if you like Henry lever action rifles, you just might like their Big Boy revolvers!
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