View Full Version : I Thought Lever Actions Were Supposed to be Utterly Reliable??

July 12, 2010, 11:59 AM
About a week and a half ago I purchased a Henry 22 Magnum Lever Action Rifle. I took it to the range for the first time last weekend and I have to say, I had a few disappointments.

For starters, the gun went "click" at least 8 times (out of 100 rounds). I had to re-cock the hammer (not cycle a new round) and bring the hammer down a second time for the round to fire. I am not sure If it is the ammo's fault (bad priming on the remington rounds?) or if the firing pin spring is weak. I intend to diagnose this by trying different brands of ammo.

Secondly: after I sighted the rifle in and did some accurate shooting, I allowed myself the pleasure of rapid fire at my ranges "pit." And sure enough, the rounds would not feed very well. Maybe 4-5 jams out of 60 rounds shot. One jam was bad enough to take bout 15 minutes with a knife to get the lodged round out :eek:

This is my first lever action rifle, and I was just wondering if those of you who are more experienced with LA rifles can offer some advice. Is there anything I can do to increase reliability?

Thanks, Danny

Big Shrek
July 12, 2010, 12:16 PM
Call Henry & tell them your problem.

It will likely have to be sent back.

But hey, that's what the Warranty is for :)

Every once in awhile, a good company can make a lemon...it happens to everything sooner or later.

July 12, 2010, 12:26 PM
Congrats on a great gun.

Jams when rapid firing might be caused by cycling too fast or most likely shortstroking the lever.

If you want to increase reliablility cleaning and then polishing all mating surfaces will help because it will make everything run smoother. Polishing means dremel with jewler's rouge or 2200 + grit sand paper. Nothing that can remove enough metal to cause problems.

July 12, 2010, 12:39 PM
Just about all guns get better with some break in including high dollar jobs. First thing is to relize things happen for a reason. Your first issue is gonna be lack of cleaning most of the time. Maybe a burr or something on the firing pin. But cleaning (or lack there of) is the best bet. You next problem is more than likely how you were working the action. But it to could of been mechancal ( or cleaning again) and it may also work out with some shooting.

My advice is to clean the heck out of it and get used to the gun before claiming disappointment.


BTW, who ever told you any man made device is utterly reliable lied to you.

July 12, 2010, 01:53 PM
Never heard that Lever actions were "reliable" as opposed to other actions as they are somewhat complicated but the Henry's lever action does have a good reputation for reliability and "smoothness" compared to other lever actions. I would call Henry customer service. I'm sure they will resolve the issue but as others have suggested it sounds like some breaking in and cleaning may be the real issue not some inherent flaw in the design or manufacture.

July 12, 2010, 05:33 PM
my henry .22 has never had any issues. im sure its something simple. do as others have suggested and call henry.

July 12, 2010, 05:46 PM
I've got a Golden Boy in .22 LR and never had a problem with it. Forget about polishing and smoothing, that action is already slicker than snot on a porcelain doorknob. With the magnum cartridges you're probably short stroking it. I'd try different ammo and make sure you're opening the lever all the way.

July 12, 2010, 06:00 PM
"Reliable" in human terms means 99.9999...% of the time. I had the firing pin of my Marlin 336 break on me-at home, while I was dry firing it Fortunately that is a drop in part. I would second those who say contact the factory if it is still under warranty. As far as "break in" goes, there are dozens of methods, I have found a throrough disassembly and cleaning so you understand how the gun works followed by range sessions so you get the feel of it work best for me. And since it is a rimfire i would try other brands of ammo to check for reliability-and accuracy.

Single Six
July 12, 2010, 06:01 PM
I bought my first lever action,a Marlin 1894SS in .44 Magnum,not long ago. I've had similar problems. It has a very hard time feeding hollow points,usually grinding to a halt with the round partially in the chamber. I sent it back to Marlin,and they did some adjusting on it,but it still hates HPs. I have tried polishing all mating surfaces,and the rifle is clean,lubed,and only fed factory ammo. I'm also careful to not short-stroke. A helpful TFL member told me to steer clear of the wide-cavity HPs,and so I'm going to try some different ammo with a more tapered feed profile...but if that doesn't work,I'm trading it in and getting a rifle that I know works great..a Mini-14.

July 12, 2010, 06:21 PM
[I would second those who say contact the factory if it is still under warranty]

FWIW, Henry warranties ALL of it's guns, new OR used, whether 5 minutes, or 5 years, old - operator error / induced, or not.

This past Spring, I broke the magazine tube hanger/ring, while driving a tight front sight in/out of an octagon-barreled H001T I bought used last Fall, and when I called Henry to buy the part, they just sent me a new hanger the next day.


July 12, 2010, 06:35 PM
First, you cannot extrapolate from a rimfire lever action rifle to a centerfire lever action, if that's what you mean. Rimfire ammo has inherent potential to be unreliable, and the most likely cause of your misfires is cheap or stale ammo. Rimfire ammo made in recent years does not seem to store as well as that made decades ago. Second, with respect to all here, the Henry is not a Marlin 39 or a Winchester 9422. Having said that, they seem to work fineYou should check your ammo, and you should contact the manufacturer about what may be a malfunctioning rifle.

.300 Weatherby Mag
July 12, 2010, 06:36 PM
Try other ammo... Rimfire ammo QC has been suspect in recent times...

July 12, 2010, 07:11 PM
Part of the joy of rimfire firearms is the endless search for that one single, magical round that:
1) Always goes boom
2) Always cycles in and out of your action
3) Is very accurate

Most any ammo will do one of the above, good ammo will do two out of three, and rare indeed is the round that accomplishes all three. My Marlin 60 loves Mini-Mag, of all things.

July 12, 2010, 07:20 PM
OP - I had the same issues with a Marlin 39A - the "Holy Grail" of 22 levers to many - new firing pins, failing to fire a variety of ammo etc. It got sold. WHEN it worked, it was very accurate - just didn't work that often - even my Ruger 10/22 worked better (and THAT's an insult to Marlin), while my Model 60 worked flawlessly

July 12, 2010, 07:23 PM
Remington is the pits anyway.

July 12, 2010, 07:38 PM
Since you didn't say I'll ask, did you clean the chamber and bore as well as the action including the magazine tube really really well before shooting it, and which Remington 22Mag ammo were you using? Regardless Henry will make it right and yours is the exception to the rule. Just out of curiosity, what type of shooting was the rapid fire portion fired in, standing prone kneeling from a bench on bags or with a rest?

July 12, 2010, 07:38 PM
I have failure to eject issues when my Henry .22 goes 4-5,000 rounds without a cleaning.......gums up the extractor somthing awfull. Other than than that issue, which really is my fault and not the guns, my Henry has been good from day one. I have had issues short stroking the lever (after shooting my brother's BL-22 :D), which can cause feeding issues, but, again, thats more my fault than the gun.

July 12, 2010, 07:47 PM
Call Henry & tell them your problem.

Yep, the time I contacted them via email, the boss sent a reply back darn quik. Henry's have a lifetime warranty IIRC. From what I have heard, have not had to send mine in for anything, their customer service is great.

July 12, 2010, 10:23 PM
Ammo could well be the problem on failure to fire. Rem quality control has been iffy they say in recent years, it could also be old ammo, you didn't mention same. You are on the right track by trying other brands.

Did you clean and lube the rifle prior use? New out of the box w/ an extended shooting session could be asking a bit much. All my guns, new or used, get a pre range session cleaning when first purchased.

Have another shooter handle and cycle the rifle. If it runs fine for them, ....well you get the picture.

You hear good things about Henry's, I would not despair, it'll get right, either w/ some diagnosis, or a trip back to NY (of all places)

July 12, 2010, 11:26 PM
I'd bet the Remington ammo is half your issue. I tend to avoid anything Remington now days. That being said a friend got a Henry lever action .22 mag a few years ago and his was broken right out of the box. He took it back to the store and they sent it in to have it repaired for him. His would only eject the shell after shooting and ratcheting the lever. Then you would have to ratchet it again to load another shell into the chamber. They fixed it for him. He said he has noticed a few other quality issues and isn't impressed, but it functions and looks pretty nice now. I'd find out if the place you got it will take care of it for you.

July 12, 2010, 11:59 PM
That's cause them henry's is yankee guns!!!!:D:pj/k

Itasca Hunter
July 13, 2010, 12:01 AM
Return it and get a marlin or a winchester

You get what you pay for, this DOES apply with weapons in many cases

July 13, 2010, 09:11 AM
Since you didn't say I'll ask, did you clean the chamber and bore as well as the action including the magazine tube really really well before shooting it, and which Remington 22Mag ammo were you using? Regardless Henry will make it right and yours is the exception to the rule. Just out of curiosity, what type of shooting was the rapid fire portion fired in, standing prone kneeling from a bench on bags or with a rest?

I cleaned the bore.. and what I could of the chamber before shooting. What I mean by that is I did not to any disassembling, I just wiped down and lubed what I could reach with a brush and wad. The manual says that the rifle needs never be taken apart because the action only gets dirty on the breech face, which can be reached without taking it apart. Should I take it apart anyways??

The rapid fire was done standing without rest. I was with my buddy who has a 22 LR levergun, and we switched off shooting each others rifles, so maybe I did shortstroke it since I was going between 22lr and 22mag...

TX Hunter
July 13, 2010, 08:56 PM
I would try a different brand of ammo for the misfires.
I have had alot of fail to fire with Remington thunderbolts.
For the Jamming, I would call Henry Firearms.
I have never had a Rimfire lever action, I have only used Model 94 Winchesters.
They were very reliable, although about 30 years ago, I had a Firing Pin Break in one.
I guess no rifle is 100 percent reliable.

July 14, 2010, 10:13 AM
There have been no fewer than a 1/2 dozen response's stating to call Henry. I bet all you guys call the doctor when you have a cold too. 99% of the time the problems he described are shooter, dirty gun or ammo issues. He even stated he didn't clean the gun and it seems that he may of been using Remington ammo which is the worst American ammo available. Come on.

Dan, I've seen manuals that made statements about cleaning similar to those you've referenced. "IF" it truly states that the only things that get dirty on a gun are the chamber, bore and breech face they lied to you. BIG TIME! That being said, gunsmiths are constantly putting together guns that people have taken apart and couldn't get back together so for me to recommend you strip the gun down would be irresponsible without me knowing your skill level.

I recommend this: Get yourself a a can of Gun Scrub and a can of Breakfree CLP. Take the gun scrub and spray the heck outta every little crevice on the gun (make sure to get the bolt and firing pin very very good) and let soak. After an hour or so repeat with the gun scrub and then blow it out thoroughly with compressed air. Now take the can of CLP and repeat. After a good dousing of CLP and a blow out get yourself some rags and Q-Tips and remove as much as possible so there is just a light film of CLP left. Clean the heck outta the chamber and bore with some Hoppe's. This may not get it as clean as a good strip down but dang close.

Ammo: I would recommend that while you are getting acquainted with the gun stay away from bulk/cheap ammo. Get some CCI Mini-mags which are pretty well known for reliability and consistency. With quality ammo you will be able to cross ammo off your list of reasons for issues.

If after all that and, oh say, 500 rounds you're still having issues you "MAY" think about calling Henry. But to do so at this time is a waste of Henry's and your time.


Edited to add: And avoid "uber fast" rapid shooting. It's good to practice fast follow up and multiple repeat shots but to play Chuck Connors is nothing but a waste of ammo and hard on any gun. If you want to bang off a whole magazine as fast as you can without caring where it hits you got the wrong type of gun.

July 14, 2010, 11:36 AM
I sold a dozen or so Henry's at my store...never had any come back... customers reported great satisfaction. But, anyone can get a lemon, I guess.

We don't sell Remington ammo...can't speak to that quality, I shoot a lot of Winchester and Federal with on problems to report.

I have talked with Anthony Imperato, nice guy on the phone, he sent me a cap and a coffee mug.

I second the cleaning suggestion, and trying different ammo. If you have done all that, talk to the people at the store...if all else fails, call Anthony. He will make it right.

July 14, 2010, 11:48 AM
My J.C. Higgens bolt single loves remington the best. My Winchester 190 adores the mini mags. Each firearm is an individual be it shotgun, pistol, rifle, rimfire or centerfire.

July 14, 2010, 11:56 AM
and it seems that he may of been using Remington ammo which is the worst American ammo available
You may want to buff up on your 22 mag ammo knowledge, Remington Premiers are the most accurate and consistent 22magnum ammo I have shot from my Winchester 9422mag my Ruger 1022mag my Marlin 922M and a old beat to heck and back Mossberg Chuckster in 22mag. Never suffered a hiccup through 4000 plus rds of the Remington Premiers. FWIW I have also had amazing consistency and accuracy with Remington labeled 17Mach2 ammo, but I do have to admit the 17Mach2 is manufactured by Eley in England.

Get some CCI Mini-mags which are pretty well known for reliability and consistency. With quality ammo you will be able to cross ammo off your list of reasons for issues.

Why in the world would he want to shoot 22LR ammo in a gun chambered for the 22 Magnum cartridge, I would think that would only makes things even worse:D.

July 14, 2010, 12:03 PM
My bad GLK, he had referenced shooting both a .22lr version and a .22mag version in a later post and I had forgotten.dismissed that he owned the .22mag of that combo. You are absolutely correct, Remington .22mag ammo does have a much better reputation than their .22lr lines (which is still crap). So for ammo recommendations toss out what I said. I might add though that "IF" he was shooting pointed polymer tipped ammo it "may have" contributed to his feeding issues when trying to run the gun fast and trying different ammo is still advisable if nothing else for accuracy.

Good catch, LK

July 14, 2010, 12:18 PM
I knew you knew what you meant, :) and I totally agree on the blasting the crude out of and lubing every nook and cranny, some of the dirtiest guns I have seen at times were straight from the factory. Everything from barrel obstructions to crushed/crumbled up Styrofoam pellets/balls in actions.