Monday, June 27, 2011

Randall Adventure Training ESEE-4 Survival Knife Review

Randall Adventure Training ESEE-4 Survival Knife Review

ESEE-4 Knife Review

I have lengthy experience with the knives of Randall Adventure & Training or more commonly known as RAT knives. Back in 2002, a series of no-nonsense knives hit the market carrying the RAT name were produced and marketed by Ontario Knife Co under a licensing arrangement between the companies. The knives were a hit, adopted by the military and they even ended up with several government NSN numbers. Yours truly also owned, used and loved, one of their initial Training Adventure Knife - TAK 4” bladed production survival knives which morphed into the current day ESEE-4 Survival Knife. For comparison I have included the old TAK in the pictures for comparison.


It should be no surprise that the well designed knives were a hit, Randall's Adventure & Training has been in business since 1997 as an educational entity to train military, law enforcement, and civilians in the art of jungle and outdoor survival. Through those teachings, RAT/ESEE Knives recognized the need for a better knife for the school. It developed it’s initial design and eventually other knife designs which formed the basis of the above mentioned five year licensing agreement with Ontario Knife Co.


One of the things I really liked on the old knife was the high carbon 1095 steel blades and micarta handles. They definitely were not cutting edge knife technology however for a wilderness survival knife, the design provides a highly durable and easily field maintainable edge which which shoots sparks from a fire steel and sharpened easily. Feedback from the industry on the old knife noted fit, finish and sheath issues.

RAT heard this feedback and after the end of that licensing agreement in 2007, RAT - Randall's Adventure & Training decided to produce a higher quality line of knives outside of the mass production capabilities of Ontario under their new ESEE brand.

REVIEW ESEE-4 KNIFE
The new ESEE Line (Formerly RAT Cutlery) is considered a "mid-tech" knife in the sense of quality and manufacturing procedures. Still the low tech 1095 carbon steel we all liked in a survival knife, however now you will notice upgrades to sheathing, fit, finish and a general higher attention to detail on ESEE knives that are typically on high end knives. Low tech steel with high tech details equals a mid-tech knife. Now with more production control, ESEE can listen and update designs more quickly, based on feedback, which is the reason ESEE knives has now become one of the most well reguarded survival knife brands in the industry.

From my perspective the new updated design result in high-end features and finish at a mid-level knife price... and for a survival knife I think this is an excellent compromise for the backpacker, soldier, outdoorsman, or survivalist.




ABOUT THE ESEE-4 KNIFE
In my case my beloved 4” TAK knife was claimed by my wife for her Bug Out Bag so I needed a replacement and ordered the new ESEE-4 equivalent to my old knife. When it arrived I was very pleasantly surprised that it was of much higher quality overall than the original with better handle to blade fit plus a choice of powdercoat finish colors and G-10 or Micarta Handle color choice during ordering. In the attached picture you can see the differences between the old TAK and new ESEE-4 knives. Although the blade has a little shorter edge to spine profile which I like, it retains the same length and thickness. Other changes are the larger index finger choil which accommodates even very large fingers for detail cutting and the handle itself is not the huge blocky format of the old knife. The handle is much thinner, re-contoured, and the length has been trimmed by nearly an inch and provides more compact knife about 2.5oz lighter than the original. The handle reminds me of a good 3” knife handle with a 4” blade attached.

The knife is still priced well at $168 MSRP and about $90-$100 street price. In the land of $300 premium steel knives the ESEE-4 with high end features but a basic steel is a very good value.


UPDATES ON ESEE-4 KNIFE DESIGN & SHEATH
The new ESEE-4 also now has a very secure flexible mounting and adjustable tension Kydex sheath. The Chicago Screws on the top two holes of the sheath can be tighten, moved or loosened to adjust the sheath retention. There are two sheath mounting options available for purchase which both utilize the ESEE Kydex sheath, one version with a flexible and removable nylon belt loop attachment and another with MOLLE mounts which was the version I ordered. ESEE also offers a complete kit version which includes both the belt loop drop leg extension and the MOLLE clips.

For me the MOLLE clips provide all the mounting flexibility I needed and minimized weight over the added drop leg sheath extension. The MOLLE clips can be used to mount to MOLLE straps on packs in multiple vertical and horizontal positions as well as acting as belt loops. I tend to use optional BladeTech Tek-Lok’s for belt attachment anyway on my knives so it made little sense for me to add the expense.

The design and sheath upgrades were all well thought out and a big ergonomic improvement over the original design. Those improvements made the knife all around a better and more comfortable knife to carry and less chunky and clunky. The sheath allowed simple attachment and carry in a variety of methods including the MOLLE straps on my packs, lashing to the belt with the included paracord, and even with my option Bladetech belt clip.

I have preached that a crappy sheath system on a great knife makes for a crappy knife. The ESEE knives I have now own, IZULA and ESEE-4, demonstrate an attention to the fact that a great knife needs a great sheath or it will simply be left at home. The flexible sheath system in my mind is what makes or brakes or outstanding knife and the sheath was designed by by people who are experienced in knife carry.


WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE ESEE-4 KNIFE BAG
The ESEE does not come in a big fancy four color printed box, it comes in a plastic bag which puts dollars back into the knife vs packaging. In addition to the knife, ESEE also includes complete instructions on how to use the sheath system, a RAT ESEE pocket survival card and in my case the MOLLE clips and a number of Chicago screws. Attached to the knifei s a about 20” of paracord with a paracord lock. The paracord allows attachment to a variety of points including a sturdy belt loop.


ESEE-4 KNIFE BLADE SHAPE & BLADE STEEL
For survival and general bushcraft and game cleaning the drop point blade shape is one of the best designs. The V-ground 1095 blade with a 20 degree edge is very easy to maintain with even just a steel and takes a razor sharp edge quickly. 1095 is not high end steel in the land of new crucible steels, however it does have a 57 Rockwell hardness and will take an edge much more easily off even river stones out in the field than the super hard crucible steel. The high end stainless steel also do not produce the shower of sparks off a fire steel that a high carbon 1095 blade does and that is very important for me if all I have is a knife and firesteel to start a fire. The 4” blade is about perfect for general use unless you decide you need to become a lumberjack and start felling trees. Even for the big job of using the ESEE-4 to fell 4”-5” trees can be accomplished by “batoning” or pounding the spine with a small log.

The blade is now carries a thick coating of  textured powdercoat instead of the phosphate finish on the old blades. So far it has proven more durable than the old finish and definately cleans up better.  The 1095 steel is high carbon and will rust on the exposed edges and laser etched areas, so you do need to keep the knife lightly oiled. Another trick is to coat the exposed steel with Dijon mustard and let it sit for 24 hours. Wash it off well and touch up the edge with a steel. The Dijon mustard will oxidize the exposed steel and prevent any further rusting of all but the fine edge of the blade.


ESEE-4 KNIFE SPECS
- O.A Length: 9.0"
- Cutting Edge length: 4.06"
- O.A. Blade Length: 4.5"
- Maximum thickness: 3/16"
- Blade Width: 1.25"
- Weight: 7.4 ounces (knife only)
- 1095 Steel - 57 Rc.
- Serial Number On Pommel
- Ambidextrous Kydex sheath

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE ESEE-4 KNIFE
First off I support USA made products and this knife and accessories are all 100% made in the USA. There are a lot of options when ordering, so if you get confused give them a call. I also ordered a IZULA survival knife kit as well, but that will be another article. After testing my new knife, I have to note that I believe it is one of the top choices for a fixed blade survival knife. The knife is big enough to accomplish even the largest tasks but is still small and light enough to carry daily and most importantly has a sheath system that will accommodate all carry methods. One of the best survival knife designs I have used.


SOURCES
ESEE Knives
http://www.eseeknives.com
http://www.eseeknives.com/rc-4.htm

Light My Fire Titanium and Polycarbonate Spork Review

Light My Fire Titanium and Polycarbonate Spork Review

As a kid when we all backed up as a family of Pandemians for a weekend of camping, my favorite utensil was the Spork when eating everything from camp port and beans to the weekend catch of fried bluegill. As a kid the Spork represented everything perfect in an eating utensil. It was a simple singular instrument of eating that was easy to clean and provided all manner of food service movement from dishware and plate to the mouth and could even cut things with the side if you sharpened it a little on a rock. Such an efficient instrument of eating was the Spork that I begged my mother to use it every day, but alas Mother Pandemic only allowed the Spork during camping.

Recently while cruising my favorite outdoor sports store, I spied the new and improved Sporks from Light My Fire in both polycarbonate/Lexan and the super cool titanium. I left happy as an six year old with a four-pack of the synthetic Sporks and the Titanium version. The Light My Fire Sporks are way cooler and much more useful than my old spoon with tines. The purpose built spoon on one end actually allows the consumption of an atypical survival soup vs acting as a miniature stainer. The forked end functions like a true fork and even has serrations on the side to cut up your leathery camp meat, canned spam or fresh caught wild dill and cedar smoked salmon.

I hesitate to refer to the regular Spork as plastic because it is made of either standard polycarbonate or a product similar to polycarbonate made by Eastman called Tritan that is BPA free. But the plastic Light My Fire Spork is heat resistant, Teflon cookware/serve-ware friendly, dishwasher safe, and nearly un-breakable. For the survivalist, hiker or outdoorsman the 0.3oz, 9g is a no brainer to include in your pack to prevent primitive cannibalistic hand based eating. The 4-pack is a inexpensive option for all manner of portable eating. Personally this is what I have started using one at work for lunch and also carrying one to picnics and paper plated summer dinner parties because I am typically left swearing at the cheapo plasticware that constantly breaks.

For the ultimate in forever survivability and durability, Light My Fire has the Titanium Spork. Both as a kid and as an adult I would have thought I was James Bond with anything Titanium... and of course a titanium Spork is the ultimate survival utensil. This Spoke has polished serving ends and matte grip. This version is still very light weight but a little over twice the weight at 0.7oz., 20g however I think the trade off is worth it for a hard use non-magnetic indestructible Spork which is so tough it could be used for personal defense. The price for the 4-pack was $6.99 and my titanium Life My Fire Spork was $9.99

After writing this article and doing a little more surfing on the LifeMyFire.com site I found out they even have a SporkCase... which could make one of the handiest eating utensils cleaner before and after feeding. They even have the Spork now in various sizes from child to serving size. I should add that the spork greatly improves survival hygiene by preventing caveman eat-with-hand feeding, because you know you are doing "a variety of hygiene and dirty" tasks and probably do not have soap and water. 

The Spork was a favorite back as a kid and today with the design and materials update, it is a relevant and handy must have product today for the office worker, outdoorsman, and survivalist. Highly recommended.

SOURCES:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ruger's New 77/357 - Could it be the Ultimate Survival Rifle?

SEE MY FULL RUGER 77/357 REVIEW HERE

Ruger is proud to announce the Ruger® 77/357™, a lightweight, bolt-action rifle chambered in the venerable .357 Magnum and fed via a rotary magazine.

The bolt-action 77/357 features a five-round rotary magazine and is offered in the Ruger All-Weather® configuration, which includes a durable, weather-resistant stainless steel barrel and receiver and a rugged, black composite stock. Although it is fitted with fully adjustable iron sights, the 77/357 also ships with patented Ruger scope rings, allowing a variety of sighting options for this lightweight (5-1/2 pounds), quick-handling rifle.

Learn more at www.RUGER.com


I will be getting my hands on the new Ruger 77/357 and will give a full review on all the features as well as how it stacks up as a survival rifle.  Look for the review soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Situational Awareness & How My Wife's "SA" Neutered Me as a Man

Situational Awareness & How My Wife's "SA" Neutered Me as a Man

My particular situation happened with my wife during a grocery run.  We uneventfully shopped for the overpriced groceries that seem so in vogue today.  Paid for said items, and we headed out the door for truck. I was in my own world with my wife following a 1/4 step behind me.  I was not paying attention, neither looking around or behind us; Situational Awareness = Zero.  In fact if you had a check list of Situational Awareness I would have failed all points excluding pulling the grocery cart up to the right vehicle.

I must repent for my sins and tell a disgraceful story which implicates me in a bad situation.  Fortunately it ended event-less, however could have been bad...  No, it was not a home invasion where I missed a car sitting in front of our home inappropriately, not a car jacking because someone was allowed way too close to a side door, it was something far less sadistic.

SA SAVES THE DAY
SA - Situational Awareness is said to be the single most important skill which keeps military personnel, law enforcement, agency folks, survivalist, and civilians alive more than any other.  It helps you see things before they happen, anticipate and read a situation, see the snake before it bits you, and be steps ahead of almost any situation. In short it allows you to know what is going on around you in any  situation.


SPACING OUT
I pulled the car up to the truck and my wife still behind me says "...so captain oblivious did you catch any of what just happened?"  I had not, my mind was securely in a state of "we are in the wealthiest lowest crime areas in the city...nothing ever happens here."  Here I am someone who has had substantial tactical & martial arts training far above the average Joe and even many in Law Enforcement and I went marching toward the car in my own little mental safety bubble... la, la, la, la, la, de, freaking, da.

THE INCIDENT
According to my wife...and oblivious to me, as we walked out of the upscale store in the nicest of neighborhoods, two white teen skateboard types were close on my wife's heals right who was right behind me.  As we crossed from the store into the parking lot my wife felt they were a little too close for comfort and crossed in a distracting pattern to test their intent, which they followed. She overheard one mention that her purse was just hanging on her arm and was and easy take.  Being an imposingly thin 6' 1" woman and confrontation person and raised by tough brothers she turned squared off on the two a stared them down.  The two decided life was easier without engaging my wife.  Sadly I have to say, this entire situation escaped and emasculated me like nothing else has in a very long time.  My wife was potentially in harms way and I was spacing out like Homer Simpson about the great recent weather, Oreos, and the steaks we just purchased.  I remembered there were two teens, but when my wife quizzed me I didn't even get their cloths right.


SITUATIONAL AWARENESSPhase
ProcessOutcome
ObjectiveTactical (short-term)situation assessmentsituation awareness
Strategic (long-term)sensemakingunderstanding
Science (longer-term)understandpredict


WHAT TO DO NEXT TIME
The lesson here is to pull your head out of your ass as you are stumbling around even in super safe environments, because bad things happen even in good places. It would not have mattered if I would have been carrying all manner of deadly and less-than-deadly equipment and dressed as a ninja.  One or the other punks could have grabbed my wife's purse if she would have been in the same state of mind as me and been half way across the parking lot before we would have noticed and reacted.

TEAM COMMUNICATION
I take 100% of the blame for the situation, however my wife using glaring looks and "The Force" to convey to her partner feelings of being threatened is not a communication method.  SWAT teams and Military team leaders don't just run into a room or building and expect everyone else to follow.  Your voice after SA is your most powerful defense weapon. Communication is essential in sharing SA with your teammates, partners, and of course your husband. I did remind my wife that if she would have been communicating with with me on the situation, it would have been a two against two engagement vs one versus two.  If it would have turned bad, that would have been important.

Based on this event we have set up a keyword for potentially dangerous situations.  She will say "Hey Eddie" to communicate her SA of a potential situation ... noting my name is not Eddie (Eddie is the name we have given the 9 foot Corn Snake in our back yard.) Surfice to say we all pay attention when we say the name Eddie. You and your partner are a team and should not be using glaring looks to communicate during potentially bad situations just as SWAT and Military teams don't. Hand signals yes, voice comm yes, Jedi mind power no.

When you feel threatened it is human instinct to either get quiet or start barking before engaging.  I am a barker and would have asked "what's the F'ing problem", my wife squares off stares you down and then starts communicating. This is not a time to clam up and stop talking. Honestly my wife gives me a bunch of looks and all it does is make me think I am doing something wrong.  Communicate, say "hey come here", "we have a problem", "front bedroom clear", "Someone's trying the back door", communicate before, during, and after a situation.  Chances are statistically high that if you start communicating and show everyone you are in charge of the situation, the offender(s) will decide to back off. Don't glare sternly at the back of your husband's head who is clearly out of it and think about mmmm, Oreos.

Typically my radar is up spinning on high in any slightly unfamiliar environment, but as I did today my guard was dropped in familiar surroundings.  This was a painful learning experience... once which my wife will not soon let me forget. I am just glad my wife was on it even if it did crush my ego.

Here is the lesson - To survive you can never let your guard down, even if you in familiar surroundings at home, work, or even at the local Mega Mart... in the good neighborhood.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to do Krylon Multi-Cam Type Camouflage Paint Job

How to do Krylon Multi-Cam Type Camouflage Paint Job

All too often we wished one or another product we own would be a little less obvious out in the field. Paint becomes the obvious and most simple answer to the problem.  The atypical selection of flat low reflective paint is limited to generally the black and white color schemes, however a few years back Krylon introduced a specific set of ultra-flat non-reflective natural color spray paints just for camouflage.

Now these paints are better than ever with Krylon's proprietary "Fusion" paint technology for improved bonding with plastics and other materials, primerless application and improved chip resistance, and new style no clog tips. As with any Krylon paint it is as easy to use as any spray paint so no special skills are required for application.  Even better yet, for about $20 you can own the full set of six colors which will provide coverage for numerous small projects.


SURFACE PREP
Krylon recommends the surfaces be clean, free of rust and if shiny, lightly sanded to improve bonding.  I usually wipe down my metal and plastic parts with rubbing alcohol and allow them to completely dry.


THEORY OF MODERN CAMOUFLAGE 
Much has changed is the ideas of camouflage since Vietnam era patterns.  One of the newer ideas in camouflage was originated and developed by Multi-Cam and utilize blurry blended backgrounds combined with sharp abstract shapes.  The blurry background bit is simple for the DIY'er, however the sharp abstract shapes can be tough, however I think I have pulled off a fairly good option.

MY PROJECT
I plan on painting a number of pieces of equipment however I thought it best to start with something inexpensive for practice before I moved on to more expensive shotguns, rifles and equipment.  My choice came when shopping for a camouflage shooting tripod and realizing I already owned a tripod in the form of an old hand-me-down circa 1960 camera tripod that was made to handle the heavy cameras and 8mm cameras of old.  By adding a simple "V" fabricated out of an old plastic cutting board that screws into the camera mount, I had a stable standing height shooting rest.  It was however pretty obvious standing in the grass.

TOOLS & STUFF USED
  • Krylon Paints in Sand, Khaki, Woodland Light Green, Olive, Brown
  • Disposable Rubber Gloves
  • Camouflage Templates Downloaded from Krylon and cut out the inside of the pattern for make paint masks

MAKING YOUR OWN CAMOUFLAGE TEMPLATES/MASKS
There is some science to camouflage shapes, however I have done successful and usable camo using pretty much any shape include skulls, smiley faces, logos, and plastic loops from a six pack of beer.

You can use a piece of gutter mesh with random tape pieces applied which will give you a snake like camouflage.  Airbrush stencils such as this snake pattern Art-Tool stencil are expensive but they work extremely well and hold up for years if cleaned.

You can draw your own random amoeba or leaf shapes on a piece of paper and cut them out, or even use a leafed branch as a spray through template... all work well.  I have an old box of acetate Power Point projector films (you know the ones we used to print out and put on a projector).  These old films work great as printable templates and can be used over and over again and cleaned with most solvents... just cut out the design with an exacto knife and you are ready to go.  The one general golden run is to have at lease one long stringy, one, fatter wider pattern, and one smaller random pattern.  Camo will work with just one pattern however it will turn out and work better when various patterns are used. 

APPLICATION

As with any paint job you always want to build the paint colors from lightest to dark.  I painted the   Spraying from a distance of 6-12 inches provides various degrees of blending which allowed for the Khaki base to blend in with the Sand and Brown blended in areas.  These blends where done by passing the spray across the tripod at various distances.  The longer distances provided shadowing and the shorted provided more pronounced color changes. As paint job stood at this point it did a pretty good imitation of a desert camo paint job, however since we have some green here, I continued.

The next step was to add in the foliage based Olive and Light Green colors using the templates.  The goal here is to add crisp shapes vs blurry backgrounds, so this can take a while.  Here is where I would hold a leafed branch over the object and spray though it as a template or use your template shapes.  I recommend you tapes on the template.  You will want to spray the olive green and then Brown, and then light green over the template without moving it.  As with a leaf they transition from one color to another.

Swap templates and repeat the process... in my case it was about 30 times and in about 45 minutes and several beverages later, I had the tripod complete.  There is where you might want to have a variety of templates, because the templates start to get soaked with paint and start dripping on things.  If a template gets too wet, stop and replace it with another template on the next move, otherwise you will start to screw up the paint job.

Lightening the darker shadowed areas.  As you can see form the below before and after pictures, I should have kept the inside of the tripod rails lighter. This lighter color in the shaded areas will offset the darken color of these areas and provide better blending. This of course is an easy fix, however learn from my initial mistake.

The nice thing about the Krylon Camouflage paint is that if you live in a greener, browner, or sandier area... use more of those colors and omit the ones which do not match the surrounding environment and you can of course change and update the colors as needed at any time.



BEFORE & AFTER
Not to bad for a DIY camouflage paint job.




CURE TIME
The Krylon Camouflage paint dries to the touch fast in a matter of seconds, however it will fully dry in 24 hours with chip resistance reaching maximum protection in 7 days.  The project can be used after the first 24 hours however I recommend you let it fully cure before subjecting it to harder use.


WHAT I LIKE
This project was easy and cheap.  Krylon has not only provided an easy to use product, but also great How-To guides, Free Camo Pattern Templates, and Tips and Tricks to make you project successful.  Even if you go all random freehand-painting comando and omit any patterns, you will still end up with an effective camo job, however with patience and some practice you can end up with a truly exception paint job.

The paint is VERY flat and low reflective and does exactly what it claims to do and provides great economical coverage of your equipment.

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE
I do wish it did not take 7 days to fully cure, but your patience will be rewarded.  After the paint sets for 7 days will it come off? Like any paint it will take a fair amount abuse, but is not indestructible. Krylon's Fusion technology makes it the best DIY options for a simple camo paint job and if you do have a few scrapes, you can easily touch it back up quickly and easily.  If you need a solvent resistant finish such as on firearms, I recommend applying about 4-8 coats of spray flat laquer. In my tests this adds durability and will allow the paint to resist even the harshest of bore solvents.



 KELTEC SUB2000 CAMOUFLAGE PAINT JOB
 For my Keltec Sub2000 Rifle I wanted to do something different than basic black to make my Keltec a bit different. After removing the magazine, bolt, charging handle and masking off the serial number, barrel bore, chamber, sights, and magazine well, I coated the entire rifle in Ultra Flat Camo Black Krylon.  The next step was to place small masking tape masks to be peeled off at the very end of the paint job.


 


 The next step was to apply a complete coverage coat of Khaki and after dry, apply darker sand patterns  via the Krylon pattern overlays used for the Tripod project.  After that it was as simply as laying on color after color using stencils with Brown next, followed by Olive green, Light Folige Green and finally a few spots of the Black again.
  

All the masking tape masks were removed and after re-assembly I have to say I am very happy with the results.








KRYLON CAMOUFLAGE COLORS AVAILABLE
  • Black
  • Sand
  • Khaki
  • Woodland Light Green
  • Olive
  • Brown

SOURCES
Krylon
http://www.krylon.com/products/camouflage_paint_with_fusion_technology/

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Henry Repeating Arms , Henry Big Boy Rifle Review .357 Magnum/.38 Special

Henry Repeating Arms .357 Magnum/.38 Special Big Boy Rifle Review


It's tough to find a really good detailed review of the Henry rifles and now I know why. About a year ago I stumbled on a Henry Repeating Golden Boy .22LR at a local gun shop for the first time and was blown away at the fit, finish and quality of the rifle. The Henry didn't go home with me, but the beautiful rifle stuck in my mind. I remember doing some research online, and thinking that a .357 Henry Big Boy lever action rifle would be about the handiest thing out there if only Henry made one. I remember most online reviews appeared to be ambiguous and unsubstantial that lacked any real content, and now I know the reason for that as well. Once you put a Henry rifle in your hand your mind goes to another time and place when times were simpler and a fine rifle was a necessity. Chances are the reviewers just forgot about the point of the article all together becuase of how enamored they became with the rifle ... and because the Henry rifle is truly one of the finest affordable rifles made and delivers a lot for the money.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Innocently enough I gathered a couple arms which seemed to have lost their luster and hobbled into my local gun shop for an appraisal thinking more in terms of cash out than cash outlay. While waiting for the appraisal, it caught my eye, something I thought didn't exist, a beautiful Henry Big Boy lever action chambered in .357 Magnum/.38 Special. I had sworn that if Henry ever introduced a .357 mag rifle I would buy it. OK yes several manufacturers make them including Henry, however me being captain oblivious on this occasion, I didn't realize that Henry had been making this rifle for several years... then again I hadn't really been looking. I guess I needed to page down a little on Henry's website, but this Big Boy was totally an emotional purpose and one that I now have zero regrets of. Suffice to say, the Henry Big Boy Rifle gauged in .357/.38 Special went home with me with that same conflicted "my wife is going to kill me again feeling" all while wearing a smile... ohh they just don't understand, it's like jewelry for us.

BEAUTY & FINISH
Utility of the rifle aside, the stunning looks of the Henry will suck you in. The mirror polished solid brass butt plate, receiver, and barrel band delivers real authenticity and stunning beauty. The American Walnut stocks feature perfect fit and finish and unions to the rest of the parts. I doubt the Henry's of old were this nice.
Moving down to the perfectly polished and blued heavy octagonal barrel, you really start to see where the Henry is truly unique. Sights are serviceable and perfectly finished and blued to match the barrel. Changing the sights at this point would only ruin the lines of the barrel and based on my shooting experience would serve little purpose.
I am sure the Henry Rifles that won the West were fine rifles, however today's new Henry Rifles are outstanding works of art with fit and finish that rivals rifles significantly more expensive. 

FUNCTIONING & FEATURES
The ten shot tube feed lever action only missed a feed when it was at weird unnatural angles. That's it it just works. The brass butt plate is so beautifully mirror polished that you won't dare to stand it up and risk it getting scratched. Yes the Henry is build to take plenty of hard use, but I am really hoping to get a couple years out of it before any major scratches and gouges occur.
Many have complained about the sights, and initially I was already thinking about what sights I could swap out as I was walking out of the store. Sights are not especially complex or sophisticated, however the brass topped front bead seem to provide about the same visibility as some of the new fiber optic sights. The rear sight has a little to be desired, but has served it purpose with trooper like reliability. The reality is that I don't necessarily like it, but after a little range work and the realization that I was hitting everything I was pointing at there is no reason to replace it with something else.
The Henry may be very old school but the 10-shot magazine is high capacity even by current modern standard carbines and earned the Henry the Old West tag line of "Load your Henry on Sunday it will Shoot all week."
As fun as this gun is to shoot, 10 shots (11 - .38 special)
goes by quick and it's time for a reload. This is where I had the only problem I have had with the rifle. The o-ring that applied pressure to the key-ed tube lock was about .5mm too thick and nearly required a pair of vise grips to twist the tube top open for reloads. A little thinning of the o-ring with a razor and now reloads are painless.

SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
The Big Boy went from gun shop, right to the range where I ran over 200 rounds through the Henry Big Boy shooting golf balls at 20-50 yards via off hand and bench rest shots. Don't let anyone tell you Henry rifles have OK accuracy, the Big Boy .357 is the best shooting most natural pointing firearm I own. The most accurate, probably not, but easiest to shoot? Absolutely. The only mis-feeds I had were results of operator showboating and incomplete levering and not the fault of the gun. As with any lever action, goofy un-natural angles can cause mis-feeds.
I found myself point shooting the gun with about the same impact point as when using the sights. This gun is a true joy to shoot, point where you want the bullets to go and you hit what you aim at. My rifle was dead on sighted in out of the box at 50 yards and was accurate enough to hit golf balls four out of five times from the bench and three out of five times offhand. This is as good as my stock Ruger 10/22 does, but with the Henry Big Boy .357 and .38 Special capabilities, I can humanely hunt nearly any typical game up to deer - no you don't  you need a 300 Weatherby for deer because you don't, a .357 Magnum with a heavier bullet is just fine and harvested more deer over time than any magnum rifle cartridge. The other feature I love of course is that the I am a 357/38 Special nut and all those lovely little rounds will fit in just as well in my Henry as my revolvers. Gee a rifle and pistol that can shoot the same round, seems both smart and handy to me.
From a hunting and plinking perspective a Henry .357Mag/.38 Special Big Boy is a seriously fun and handy rifle. Good deals on .38 Special bulk ammo are still to be had for perforating cans, and a heavy loads provide big game and even defensive level capabilities if tasked. Recoil from standard .38 special loads through the 6.5lb gun are akin to a hard hitting 22LR and even with the hottest 357Magnum loads minimal recoil is felt. That nice heavy barrel provides outstanding off hand standing shot accuracy and while on the bench 

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Henry Repeating Rifle is the rifle that won the West with its load on Sunday and shoot all week capabilities. Today the company is producing more than just a heritage or tribute rifle, they have elevated the original Henry Rifle design and capabilities to a custom level with better than modern performance which are as at home for plinking, hunting to a viable home defense rifle. Once I asked by wife what gun she would take if everything went sound and she say immediately the Henry .357 Magnum/.38 Special becuase of virtually no recoil and how easy it is to shoot. 



I agree the rifle is easy and fun to shoot accurately a great value at $700 for the custom level fit and finish and component of the rifle. The West may not need winning again, but this Henry Rifle has sure won a permanent place in my gun cabinet... I just wish they made a Henry Big Boy Rifle in 9mm as well which would hold about 15 rounds.


Video Review Here 

Refernces:
http://www.henryrepeating.com/rifle-big-boy.cfm