View Full Version : henry big boy .44 rifle VS .357 or .45 henry big boy rifles

September 20, 2010, 01:37 AM
I am going to buy a Henry Big Boy .44 magnum rifle(or Henry Big Boys are @ the top of my list @ the moment), and I just want to know if anyone agrees with this and/or thinks the henry bigboy .45 colt or the .357 would be better?? This is my 1st rifle, so the advice willnot be taken lightly. All three of these rifles are the same except for the calibers. I have also heard that they're like the marlin 336 but a little safer(less of a chance for accidental discharge which honestly I am not worried about but it helps). thank you guyz+gals.

September 20, 2010, 03:51 AM
Have you looked at the Marlins? When I bought my first handgun caliber rifle I looked at the various offerings from Marlin, Henry, Rossi, and some older Winchesters, but the Marlins seemed best built with most easily available replacement parts. But, to respond to your post, I chose 44Mag since ammo is more available in my area. If you load your own that's another story. The comparative ballistics you can get off the internet sites. The other decision is handgun vs rifle caliber, and what you are using it for. The handgun calibers edge up against the 30-30 in performance at under 100 yds, but for any distance work over 100 yds I would definitely choose a true rifle caliber instead.

September 20, 2010, 03:55 AM
p.s. -- when I said "have you looked at the Marlins" I meant the 1894s in .44mag. Their 336 gets into the handgun vs rifle round debate. The 1894 is a classic, though, if you are interested in a handgun caliber. As for 44mag vs 357, it depends on intended use. For hunting varmints and rabbits the 357 is fine and cheaper, while if you're going for deer, coyote or hogs you'd want a 44mag, again assuming we are talking under 100 yards. For over 100 yards the 336 is a better choice.

September 20, 2010, 04:27 AM
I'm gonna check out the 1894 marlin now. I have no problem maybe getting something different and marlin is my 2nd choice but I like the bigboys too. as far as the 100yards, I dont doubt you, but I was reading at least one review and they were talking about the .357 for 100yards but were saying the .44 would do 200yards. also, yes a true rifle caliber is something that interests me too

September 20, 2010, 04:48 AM
I have been reading too the .357 are more popular than I thought upstateglocker. the 30-30 is better for longer ranges and is more popular when hunting is thrown into the mix. I have two .357 revolvers but I don't think I can buy a rifle that isn't .44 or 30-30(@ least my 1st one anyways). the .357 bigboy has to be an option though since my two revolvers take the same hollowpoints

September 20, 2010, 11:32 AM
All of the Henry Big Boys are heavy for carrying. The .357 I shot was not as accurate as the .44, but that could have been just single-sample variances.

If you plan to carry at all, go Marlin.
If it's just a toy, it doesn't matter.


September 20, 2010, 12:50 PM
You can't go wrong with a Marlin no matter what caliber you choose...I would, however, suggest a 30-30.

September 20, 2010, 06:57 PM
The henry big boy in 44 mag was my first rifle to. As well as my first lever action.

Gun is pleasant to shoot, very pretty and yes it is heavy. But heavy gun makes for nice shooting. I liked that Henry so much I bought various winchesters and marlins to add to the lever gun collection.

And best of the breed I think for a first rifle is a marlin 1894 in 357 magnum, if you get the cowboy version (like I did) you get a superior tapered octagon barrel that handled 10 times better then the Henry's crowbar clunker of a barrel.

Or get the plain marlin 1894 and save some dough eather way its the best choice by far.

44 mag and 30-30 are expensive to feed compared to 357 mag or 3 8special. I do beleive I shot my way through enough factory loads to buy another Henry before I smartened up and bought a 22 rimfire to plink with.

September 20, 2010, 09:33 PM
.357/.38 are nice for plinking or rabbits. The .44mag is definitely for hunting deer or hogs close in or brush. Yes, the .44mag can carry over 100 yards but I would not recommend it for hunting over that distance unless you are very experienced and can figure the rainbow trajectory and impact point so you ensure a humane kill. If you look at the ballistic charts you really shouldn't be hunting with any handgun caliber over 100 yards unless you are very experienced. Go with a true rifle caliber like the 30-30 if you like the classic 336 lever. Or with Marlin or Browning you can get the levers in a wide range of calibers. I've got a Browning BLR in .308 and love it -- great handling and natural aiming.

September 20, 2010, 11:43 PM
I'm undecided but I'll let you know what I end up doing. thanx for advice, I am thinking marlin 30-30 or bigboy .44(possibly.357 but I doubt it). If I can find some really good deals I'll get a marlin 30-30 and bigboy .44

I want to buy new but if you all know how I can handle that with another brand and its not too much let me know(like price dropping from what a bigboy .44 plus 30-30 marlin would cost put together while still getting 2similar ones new)

September 21, 2010, 12:19 AM
I like all the Henry Lever actions. One thing for sure is that they all have smooth actions. Would love to have the Big Boy in .45 Colt. Loaded hot, it would kill anything on earth, and loaded to "cowboy" levels it makes a fine plinker.

September 21, 2010, 01:54 AM
mortimer .45 ammo is never hard to come by right? is the .45 stronger than the .44 by much? I had been saying. 44 because I figured I'dget a .44magnum revovler sometime too but the colt might be way to go!?

September 21, 2010, 02:21 AM
I think lever actions are great in general. I own a Marlin and love it, but I have to agree with UpstateGlocker- if you are shooting over 100 yds go for the rifle caliber.

September 21, 2010, 02:35 AM
thanx bflobill I am having trouble making this decision but its a rifle so the 30-30 marlin seems like a good choice. I dont hunt a lot but my buddies do and I might end up hunting more. I wish I could get 2

September 21, 2010, 02:46 AM
Really depends what you want if for.

The .357/.38 in a carbine is a great plinker, self defense, and small game getter. The ammo is inexpensive and easy to find in a variety of styles and weights. recoil is light.

The .44 Mag is the one for hunting deer. As someone else said don't figure hunting much beyond 100 yds though as it drops significantly past that. It would be good for defense against marauding black bear or any 2-legged varmints out in the woods. The ammo is much more expensive, more like rifle ammo. I had a .44 mag win 94 trapper with a 16" barrel and the recoil was more than my 20" Win 94 in .30-30. Seemed about in between a .30-06 rifle and shotgun with slugs.

I've never shot .45 Colt but ballistically it would seem to be about the same as the .44 Special unless you get it hot loaded beyond SAAMI specs. Good for plinking, self defense, and small game to 50 yds or so.

The .30-30 is a good all around cartridge especially for hunting deer to 150 yds, maybe more. In the country it could also be a good self defense round if you don't have neighbors close by.

If plinking and self defense against humans or pest control is your purpose then the .357 is ideal. If hunting deer, coyotes, bear or cougar to 150 yds then the .30-30 is best. If you don't mind the expense and like big booms then the .44 mag is a lot of fun and can handle anything out to 100 yds.

September 21, 2010, 03:10 AM
thanx pilgrim. I am getting the bigboy, the 30-30 marlin, or both for my first rifle(s). I guess I am where I started but your last post really helped. I am leaning to the .44 since unless I start hunting a bunch a 30-30 isn't necessary. I will shoot but not so much where the money will be too much or the weight will become so serious an issue. I bet I could get the .44 150yds but that just might be my imagination. lol. ps-my wife said she'll shoot my ass if I try to pickoff the hedgehog by the barn. lmao. I actually was just pulling her chain- I wouldnt go after the little guy. One time when I got home late three deer were sleeping in my backyard; I think they eat the stuff I avoid raking up

September 21, 2010, 08:18 AM
The .45 Colt and .44 mag have similar ballistics except the .45 Colt is a larger caliber and operates at lower pressure. So you can get the same performance at lower pressure with a larger (11.5 mm) bullet. No caliber has more history than the .45 Colt. You can shoot low power "cowboy loads" and high power "Buffalo Bore" loads which are similar to .44 mag. If you reload a 250 grain hard cast round nose flat point with around 9 grains of Unique would be a great general purpose round. There is a reason that manufacturers have been developing new .452 calibers and not .429 so now we have .454 Casull and .460 S&W which are both .452" - The .45 Colt just makes sense and has been around for 138 years and still going strong.

September 21, 2010, 09:06 AM
thanx jmortimer. I will keep that in mind+learned from that post

September 21, 2010, 09:31 AM
I have a few rifles and of all of them I like my Henry 44mag the best. Others hold a fond place in my heart but for other reasons. The weight of the barrel makes it a very comfortable rifle to shoot and there is nothing like a good lever action.

If I was to buy a Marlin I think I would get the 336C (http://www.marlinfirearms.com/Firearms/Centerfire/336C.asp)

September 21, 2010, 11:49 AM
For new people it's necessary to differentiate in talking about power levels between .44 Mag & .45 Colt.
In STANDARD COMMERCIAL FACTORY LOADS, the .44 Mag has much more power.
To equal or exceed the .44 Mag, you have to go with a niche maker like Buffalo Bore & a couple others who push the .45 Colt caliber's pressures significantly, or load your own.

September 21, 2010, 12:09 PM
I'll refer John Linebaugh and his article from his site customsixguns.com "Gun Notes: .45 Colt - Disolving the Myth Discovering the Legend"
Actually, it would only take a "new" reloader a little effort to make the .45 Colt shine.

September 21, 2010, 12:23 PM
I agree that it's easy to load your own ultra-hot 45 Colt rounds. When I got my BFR 5-shot .454 Casull, I made some really hot .45 Colt rounds that nearly equal the .454 just like John Linebaugh talks about. No problems at all with the gun or the brass. Once I got enough .454 brass, I kind of quit making the super hot .45 rounds. I was afraid I would accidentally put the super hot round into one of my weaker revolvers. I've wondered about how strong the various .45 Colt lever actions are. I know Puma used to make .454 and .480 Ruger chambered lever actions. So, I'm guessing their .45 Colt rilfes are plenty strong as well. But that's just a guess at this point.

If I didn't reload, I would probably stick with the .44 mag though. It's easier to find hot .44 ammo than it is to find hot .45 ammo. Plus, if you are stuck with buying factory ammo, the .45 Colt stuff is expensive and sometimes hard to find.

September 21, 2010, 01:50 PM
It IS easy to up the .45 Colt ante.
I was refering to "The .45 Colt and .44 Mag have similar ballistics except that the .45 Colt is a larger caliber and operates at lower pressure" statement.
In standard factory loads, that's an overly broad statement that can cause confusion for people not familiar with the calibers, pressures, and ammunition available.

For the non-reloader, WalMart .45 Colt loads will not have similar ballistics to WalMart .44 Mag loads.
Most of the hotter .45 Colt commercial ammo has to be special ordered, and you have to know it exists to know where to look for it.
Regular .44 Mag ammo is widely available, on the other hand, and can be found all over dealer shelves.

September 21, 2010, 02:30 PM
DPris - You make a good point and I misread your post as a personal attack which it was not and corrected my post accordingly. Please accept my apology. Actually, short of some custom 5 hole revolver, the .44 mag does have an edge in power potential as the Buffalo Bore +P .44 Mag ammunition demonstrates but they are both in the same class at the high end.

September 21, 2010, 03:01 PM
My vote is for the .44mag. You can hunt with it at 150yds. if you're capable of hitting your target properly and it has more knock-down power at 100yds., maybe more, than a .30-30. If you are planning to hunt I suggest the Marlin because it's lighter than the Henry and thus easier to carry.

September 21, 2010, 03:03 PM
No personal attack at all, just trying to clarify that single line to avoid confusion with people who may not be familiar with the ammo situation.
Somebody looking to make a decision on which caliber levergun to buy between those two calibers needs to know the .45 Colt CAN equal the .44 Mag, but doesn't in normal factory loads. :)
If Real intends to reload, he can run his own race & see the results first-hand.
(Some of the CorBon .45 "Mag" stuff is plenty potent in my Ruger, but it'll never get close to my Colt.)

I've fired the Henries in several calibers, but I'm not quite sure the design & frame can handle a steady bunch of either hot .45 Colt or standard .44 Mag loads as long as a Marlin can over the long run.
Not knocking the Henries, just commenting.

Standard velocity .45 Colts would be much easier on the Henry.
I have Marlins in .357, .44 Mag, .45 Colt, .30-30, and .45-70. I don't worry about either strength or longevity on any of them.

If you do go Marlin, check out a potential purchase carefully in person. Fit & finish have declined a bit & there'll be a transition period between the current factory and the new one.
An older used model in good shape might work out better there.


September 21, 2010, 07:23 PM
guyz if I get the bigboy .44 henry can it handle the buffalo bore +p .44 like mort mentioned? widely available would be the way to go here so I appreciate the .45 and .44 insights. also, my best buddy from highschools bro has been hunting since he was 5. he loves his 308 so I figured I'd throw that in the mix. adding to that mybuddy(his brother) was saying something about 300yds if you want to hunt(he doesnt know as much though but he called his brother). this rifle will be used for hunting and 308 was all info I got about his personal choice. I like using the best, strongest ammo always, but maybe I need to change this approach(just always been that way no matter what firearm//example: .44 instead of 44specials in revolver, 357 instead of 38, etc, etc
I think a lever action is a definate when I go this weekend

September 21, 2010, 07:53 PM
You have two different frame materials between the Henry and older conventional leverguns.
The Big Boys use a brass/bronze alloy that's stronger than just brass, while the Marlins & Winchesters & so on use steel.

Frame stretching over time with hotter loads in any caliber will be more likely to happen in the Henry than with a steel frame using the same loads.

How much & how soon you'd experience any frame stretching is unknown.
I liked the Henry Big Boys I tried out, they were smooth & accurate, but I would not want to carry one in the field and I would not want to run a high volume of hot loads through one.

You might email Anthony Imperato through the Henry website & ask his opinion on the Buff .44 Mags. He's pretty forthright.

Depending on where you live, 300 yards is a long shot for hunting. Dense forest will be much closer to 75-150 yards, open desert or high mountains will extend that.
Neither the .44 Mag or the hot .45 Colt is a good candidate for much beyond 150 yards.

If you want a .308 levergun, your choice is a Browning.

What do you want your lever-action to do?
Handgun calibers can be extended range-wise in a rifle, but they're still handgun cartridges.
You want distance & power, you'll have to look into a centerfire rifle caliber.
Marlin makes a couple leverguns that use new loads to achieve greater practical working distances, the Henry Big Boy wasn't built for that.


September 21, 2010, 10:45 PM
Well, now you're going off in a COMPLETELY different direction if you are talking distances out to 300 yards. The Henry Big Boys are really cool, mostly fun guns that can be used out to 150 yards if needed. Mostly, they are a 100 yard affair in reality. They shoot big slow rounds relative to normal hunting choices.

I have a 30-30 and 45-70 lever action and I appreciate them for the throwbacks they are and they are very handy for some things. I would like to get a pistol type chambering one day.

But if you are talking about sure-enuff flat shooting 300 yard type lever actions, then as mentioned you are talking about Browning BLR territory. I have 2 of these as well, one in 7 mm mag and the other in 325 WSM. They both have good scopes and 300 yards is no problem at all for hunting. They come in calibers like 270 Win, 30-06, .308, .243, .223, 22-250, 7-08, etc as well as the cool WSM calibers. I am always looking for a good deal on another one. I would like to get a 7-08 or .243 and actually I have seen a couple in LNIB condition for around $500-600 range. But the new prices are typically around $800-900.

The Browning BLRs are really fine cool rifles and I like them a lot. But they are a totally different animal than what you started out talking about.

September 22, 2010, 10:13 AM
thanx guys. yeah I think for the most part unless we travelled I wouldn't have to worry about anything more than 200yds. does look like price went up- I think I'm looking at about low 800's either way. those brownings look nice but obviously I am lacking in my rifle knowledge experience level. I definately like steel, but I do like the bigboys(originally I did lots of reading about exactly what makes them up and they seem really nice). I am going to email him denis in a minute. I think that mine will be used so much where that would be an issue not haveing the steel. then if I become more and more I would probably want a 2nd one anyways. The weight brings up the same issue sort of but I think I can live with that. I know the rifle and hunting willnot require the leveraction as much since I can take my time aiming and shooting, but I like the feature and will like to practice shooting 10rounds in a row in quick rapidity+I guess it could be used in HD if it came to it. I will probably leave unloaded like the shotgun(and unlike the revolvers though); is it ok to leave the rifle (bigboy .44 as an example) sitting around longer periods of time loaded?? maybe trying to do too much at once isn't necessary, so maybe the bigboy will work. down the road if I do indeed become a regular user of rifles I will want another one too. If not I can just take care of the bigboy for life.please let me know if its ok to leave the rifle loaded to full capacity and/or one round short of it if you know. my wife isn't a big fan of buying firearms all the time but I had an excuse to avoid a debate. lol. I need to a rifle to hunt with my buddies!!

September 22, 2010, 12:39 PM
Whichever way you go, just make an informed choice considering the distance you'd need the gun to do & the amount of usage it'd get.

Trust me- If you do ground hunting on foot, the Big Boy's weight WILL be an issue at some point.
The ones I shot were nicely done, but I couldn't see myself carrying one for very far.
200 yards is unrealistic for a Henry in any handgun caliber.
The .45 Colt in standard pressure loads should run through a Henry for many years & they're fairly cheap & easy to handload (inexpensive lead works just fine). Hotter .45s run into the same potential for frame stretching as the .44 Mags, and they're more expensive to buy or handload (jacketed bullets, usually).

The Browning (I've tried one in .308) is a well-made levergun (any prejudice against it being made in Japan is idiotic, that Miroku factory turns out better quality guns than most of our US companies do), and it's easily capable of 200-300-yard shots with adequate power and accuracy.
The frame there is aluminum nowdays, but the design is a thoroughly modern gear-driven system that locks the bolt into the rear of the barrel, and the frame doesn't take much stress (One Browning rep told me the frame on those guns "could be made out of cardboard" when we were initially setting up a loaner & talking about alloy vs steel.)

I'd be interested to hear what Anthony has to say, myself. We talked about the Big Boy when it was first introduced & a couple times since. I have no worries about the strength of the frame's bronze alloy in what I'd consider normal usage, but high pressures combined with high volume can create the risk mentioned above.
Just make sure you either email him or ask for him direct on the phone, I'm not sure what you might get from anybody else there.

There are better hunting rifles for 100+ yard terrain than the Big Boy (or any conventional handgun-calibered levergun), but in the forest if you can learn to shoot well with iron sights you can be effective with one inside that distance & slightly beyond it.
Generations of hunters used the Winchester Model 92 in .44-40 as a deer rifle & brought home meat every time they went out.

On leaving the Big Boy loaded, the only risk there is a possible (I said POSSIBLE) set developing if the mag spring is left compressed over long periods of time.
If that happens, it COULD alter feeding reliability.
Leaving the mag one round short could help.


September 22, 2010, 12:57 PM
henrys are fine rifles. i am the type that would want to match a handgun to my rifle so i would ask myself what i am trying to accomplish. if you are going to use the rifle for hunting as well as pleasure shooting then i would opt for the 44 mag. ammo easy to find, powerful and match it to a ruger super blackhawk single action revolver.

if you like cowboy shooting i'd go for the 45. the 45 is a great cartridge and can be loaded to compare to 44 mags so it is still practical for hunting. also there are ALOT more western handguns to match it to if you want. the 45 gives you the ability to shoot milder loads if you like or come close to the 44 mag. be careful if you pair it up with a handgun and shoot the hot loads that your handgun can also handle them. or keep the hot loads seperate so you don't shoot the wrong load in the wrong gun.

as for the smaller calibers, if it doesn't start with a 4 i'm not interested.

September 22, 2010, 04:59 PM
hey guyz I went w/the henry bigboy .44 // he had to order it but gundealer down the road said 5days and even if I never returned his phonecall someone else would buy it(usually you pay when you order it). I ordered some hornady .44 magnum 300 gr ammo online(ables.com). hollow points/extreme penetration. I spoke w/that guy I think @ the NJ phone# on the site but might have been someone else denis(I think it was him). it can handle all of the pressures but he let me know that anything over 305gr is usually a more lengthy round. he agreed with you about the steel thing and said his is just as good but with rounds like .44 overtime if there is lots and lots of use it would get hot&what you said can happen. he said besides that though this rifle could definately last a lieftime if you dont push it to its limit. he said the 240gr works real well. before I called I googled the henry using buffalo bore and this issue came up in 08(I didnt copy paste the forum talk from google because I wasnt sure if I could). he tested all the rounds and it more than passed every test past by what was needed by standards easily. I think up to 360gr. being in VA and not in the flatlands or plains I hope the bigboy is ok when we go hunting but I feel pretty good about it. maybe someday I can get the .45 and engrave it

September 22, 2010, 05:05 PM
thanx for the help+knowledge. I just bought my 1st rifle

September 22, 2010, 06:01 PM
Congratulations! :)

September 22, 2010, 10:10 PM
i think you made the right choice in caliber and rifle. congrats..:)