Henry 30-30 Review: Lever-Action Field Test

by Joel Wise

November 29, 2022

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Once in a while, I depart from long-range precision rifles to review firearms that just make me happy to own.  This one isn’t perfect, but I definitely don’t regret buying my lever action. Read my Henry 30-30 review to see why.

Henry 30-30 Specs

  • Barrel Length 20 inches
  • Barrel Twist 1:12
  • Weight 7 pounds
  • Magazine Capacity 5+1
  • Receiver Drilled/tapped
  • Stock American walnut
  • Sights Iron rear, brass bead front

Henry 30-30 Lever Action Background

Benjamin Tyler Henry designed his first lever action .44 caliber rifle in 1860.  These rifles were rimfire and had a 16-round capacity.  They were produced until 1866 and were heavily used in the American Civil War.

Reproductions of the design followed. Time passed, and today we have modern lever action versions made by the Henry Repeating Arms company, founded in 1996 by the Imperato family in New York.

The 30-30 round dates back to 1894; it was the first smokeless cartridge introduced in America.

This review is specifically about the Henry Steel Lever Action 30-30 Side Gate.

This particular model was, Henry USA says, “…built from the ground up to wring top performance from this respectable cartridge [30-30].”

Features of the Henry 30-30 Side Gate

Henry-30-30-review_lever-action-30-30-features
1 Side loading gate

Henry lever actions used tube magazines until 2019.  Henry was one of the last lever action manufacturers to add this feature.  I am personally very happy they did as I dislike the tube magazine.  The addition of the side loading gate was the thing that sold me on this rifle.

2 American walnut stock

I am a huge fan of that classic look.  Classic being real wood and metal.  In a modern world of aluminum and polymer, the look of “time gone by” simply appeals to me. Wood is warm, natural, and durable.

3 Size and Weight

With a 20-inch barrel and only weighing 7 pounds, this rifle is very maneuverable in wooded environments.  This makes it an excellent choice for deer hunters, hog hunters, and possibly black bear.

Models and Variations of the Henry 30-30

The Henry 30-30 is available in several versions, including (but not limited to):

  • Steel and American walnut .30-30 Side Gate (reviewed rifle).
  • All Weather Lever Action – satin hard chrome and dyed hardwood.
  • Lever Action X Model – polymer and steel with “tactical” features.

Henry 30-30 Review –  Our Take

Shootability

The shootability of this rifle is second to none.  It’s lightweight and easy to wield, short enough to throw in a hunting pack, and soft recoiling.  The action of the lever is smooth and relatively easy to manipulate.  Follow-up shots are fast and reliable without breaking your cheek weld or compromising the sight picture. The side loading gate is stiff at first but quickly breaks in for ease of reloading.  The Henry lever action .30-30 is simply a joy to shoot, in my opinion.

Reliability

My Henry 30-30 functioned flawlessly. Extremely reliable. To date I have tested the rifle with approximately 200 rounds of 150 grain ammunition from various different manufacturers, and all of them cycled smoothly and fired down range with no malfunctions.  I would expect no less from a design (figuratively speaking) that’s been used this heavily for 162 years.

Ergonomics

The ergonomics of the rifle are probably the sticking point for me. Obviously, the length of pull is fixed, and people are not all made in the same dimensions.  It’s usable, of course, but it’s not exactly the proper fit for me. 

There is also the issue of getting your eye perfectly aligned if you choose to add a scope base and an optic on top of the Henry Lever Action.  Again, the wood stock is fixed and has no adjustment of any kind.  In order to get proper cheek weld and eye alignment using a scope, I had to add a cheek pad to the stock.

That all being said, the fixed iron sights lined up well for me.  The rifle is usable, and the accuracy is acceptable right out of the box. 

Accuracy

Speaking of accuracy, I did not get great results from the rifle.  I want to be very clear here. I believe the rifle can produce close to one minute of angle at realistic distances.  Due to my deteriorating eyesight, I was the weak link in the system. 

As of writing this article, using only iron sights, I produced groups in the range of 2-4 inches at 50 and 100 yards.  (See included photo). My shots were taken from a bench using a front rest and rear support bag.  The ammunition used was a Remington 150-grain soft point.

I have previously tested this same ammunition through this same rifle while having a low-power variable optic attached, and my results were closer to that 1 MOA goal, however inconsistent. My apologies for having no photo of that test grouping.

Value

Value is always tied to budget and purpose for me.  If roughly $1000.00 is in your budget and you intend to use this rifle inside of 200 yards for deer hunting, I think it’s an excellent value. 

If it’s slightly outside your budget, but you intend to use it for a lifetime and then gift it to your child, I think it’s a great value. 

If it’s way outside your budget, you’ll go into debt to purchase it, and/or it will just sit in your safe for the next 50 years, this rifle will be a horrible value. 

What can I say? I’m a simple, common-sense sort of guy.

Henry Lever Action 30-30 Pros and Cons 

  • Steel and wood – Obviously very durable, plus wood is warm and timeless.
  • Side loading gate – Way faster than using the traditional tube magazine.
  • Size and weight – An ideal choice for deer hunting in wooded terrain.
  • Capacity – 6 rounds is more than enough for deer, hog, or coyote hunting.
  • Accuracy – Could have been my eyesight or ammo choice, but my results were not great.
  • Ergonomics – I’m used to rifles with adjustment options for length of pull and cheek height.
  • Ammo availability – I waited over six months from the date of purchase to find ammunition for this rifle.

Report Card

Shootability

Very convenient size and weight for hunting in the woods.

A
Reliability

No malfunctions of any kind.

A+
Ergonomics

No adjustment for length of pull or cheek height.

C
Accuracy

Inconsistent results with standard 150 grain ammunition.

B-
Value

Priced just right for a rifle you will use for a lifetime and pass on to the next generation.

A
Henry 30-30 review final grade

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Joel Wise

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 2 Reviews

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Lever Action 30-30 Ammo

I only shot the factory Federal 180 grain ammunition, which shot sub-MOA for three shots most of the time. Handloads also shot that well; I have no doubt that with a little work, it might shoot better with some customized loads for the rifle. The ten-twist barrel is ideal for 175-200 grain bullets.

Ballistic Silvertip

Winchester-ballistic-silvertip-30-30

Winchester 150 grain 30-30

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
GunDeals.com $varies
Optics Planet $varies

Hollow Point Centerfire

Federal-30-30-WIN

Federal Premium Power-Shok

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Gun.Deals Varies
Optics Planet $1.82

Need rifle targets?

Henry 30-30 Accessories

Ammunition is somewhat hard to find currently but is available in grain weights from 125 to 190. 

It’s always a good idea to have hearing protection.  If you are just plinking at the range, perhaps you would use a nice set of over-the-ear muffs with a high decibel reduction rating.  We suggest a pair of in-ear electronics with dangerous noise cancellation and normal sound amplification if you are hunting. 

You might find it useful to utilize a sling for carrying your rifle.  Slings keep the rifle pointed in a generally safe direction and allow you to use your hands for other purposes.

Optics are a common upgrade: check out our list of the best 30-30 scopes.

Accessories and Upgrades for your Henry 30-30

Hunter Company Leather Lever Action Scabbard
  • For your truck, ATV, horse, or pack
  • Keep that Henry 30-30 safe during transport
Check price
Leather Lever Loop Wrap (say that 3 times fast)
  • Full-grain American leather: it’ll look good on that lever gun
  • Handmade in the USA
On Amazon
Side shell panel
  • Hold 2 spare rounds
  • This Henry has a side gate, might as well use it!
  • Attaches with hook-and-loop
On Amazon
Dark Angel D.A.R.K. Trauma Kit
  • Always have medical gear when shooting (all guns, not just your Henry rifle!)
  • External Tourniquet for easy access
  • Pull handle for rapid deployment
  • Vacuumed sealed insert to keep your contents protected
  • Kit content scalability
Check price
Atibal Nomad binoculars
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Adjustable Eyecups & Diopter
  • Fog Proof
  • Water Proof
  • Shock Proof
Check price
Spotting scope
  • significant aid to dialing in and determining windage
  • Variety of high resolution options available
  • Lighter weight models are available for field use.
Check Price
Quality shooting matCheck price
The first half of
  • Proper eye protection is critical and should always be worn
  • Ballistic rated, not just sunglasses
Compare top eyepro
The second half of
  • Ear protection is also critical. Protect your hearing!
  • Many styles (some stackable) are available
Compare top earpro
Appropriate cleaning kit
  • For cleaning, care, and maintenance
  • We have a video below to show you how
Compare top kits

Suggested Resources For You And Your Henry 30-30

Lever Action Rifle Maintenance

Unfamiliar with cleaning and maintaining a bolt gun of this type? Give this a watch.

Suggested Reading

Best Lever Action Rifles (rated).

30-30 vs. 30-06 Comparison

Looking for more information on the Henry rifle, its components, and its history? Check out the links below.

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About Joel Wise

Joel Wise has a law enforcement background which later turned into security consultant for non-profit organizations. He spent the better part of a decade as a firearms instructor. Currently, he is a writer, videographer, and competitor in the precision rifle industry. He owns the Precision Rifle Network.

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