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Old School Looks – High Tech Performance

Henry’s Long Ranger in 6.5mm Creedmoor

By Randy Gibbs, Associate Editor

I have expressed my affinity for lever rifles in the past. Initially it was the standard Winchesters and Marlins. But the catalyst that solidified my fascination with lever rifles was a short-subject film I saw a long time ago at our local theater during a Saturday matinee. This particular short featured a hunter’s adventures in several environments.

The film opened with a leopard hunt in India, moved to an elk hunt in North America and finished with a muskox hunt in the far North. While the film was exciting, what really caught my attention was the rifle the hunter used. In all three environments, the rifle of choice was a Savage Model 99.

On reflection, I realized that film was basically a 20-minute commercial for Savage, and I have to say, it worked. The sleek lines, the checkered wrist and Schnabel forend, the slight curve of the lever mating perfectly with the pistol grip, all served to capture my imagination of what a classy lever could be. Sadly, Savage stopped production in 1998, and the .308 variant of the rifle I had acquired slipped through my fingers along the way. The old Savage 99 came from the factory with open sights, but it was drilled and tapped so customers could easily add a scope if they chose.

Flash forward to more recent times. Henry Repeating Arms announced an addition to their Long Ranger series of lever rifles. In addition to the .243 and .308 caliber versions already in their stable, Henry announced they were bringing out a Long Ranger in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

When the rifle arrived, I was happy to see that it had both a Picatinny rail for mounting a scope or red-dot sight and classic open sights. Since its release, the 6.5CM has proven its ability to perform at long ranges. Arguably, there have been more articles produced on the efficacy of the 6.5 Creedmoor at long ranges than nearly any other cartridge.

But, unboxing the Long Ranger and seeing the open sights, it made me think of the old Savage and getting back to basics. I have nothing against scopes. In fact, the older I get the more I find myself using them to compensate for shortcomings in aging eyesight. But, with the majority of the articles featuring the Creedmoor focusing on long-range shooting and hunting in Western conditions where long shots are the norm, it might seem to the casual observer that those are the only appropriate applications for the 6.5CM.

The Henry Long Ranger can hold its own in all of those arenas. With the right ammo and scope, 200- to 300-yard shots are possible, as with any other rifle chambered for the 6.5 CM. But I was thinking about more standard hunting opportunities. Specifically, hunting in the Midwest with shots that are rarely over 175 yards and usually under 100. These are the conditions that most U.S. deer hunters are likely to encounter and are as suitable for open-sighted rifles as for scoped rifles. So rather than going the standard approach of scope settings and tack-driving accuracy (of which it is more than capable) I wanted to go old school and see how it (and I) performed with open sights at 50 and 100 yards.

The Long Ranger, Stem to Stern

Henry’s Long Ranger is promoted as “Bolt action performance with the speed of a lever action.” The time I have spent at the range with this rifle confirms that claim. Out of the box, the Long Ranger harkens back to the wood and steel classics.

The forged steel lever works on a rack-and-pinion-type gearing system that smoothly moves the six-lug rotary head bolt into a rear extension of the barrel to provide strong and consistent lockup. The Long Ranger has a safety that is a sliding, in-hammer transfer bar instead of the usual manual safety button.

The 6.5 CM version features a 22-inch blued free-floating barrel, two-piece oil finished American walnut stock with laser-cut checkering and solid steel receiver. The Long Ranger comes complete with sling studs fore and aft and a steel 4-round detachable magazine. There is a fully adjustable folding rear sight and an ivory bead front ramp. The barrel features a 1:8 twist to gain the most from the longer 6.5CM bullets. As stated, the Long Ranger is drilled and tapped for scopes. Standard scope mounts or Picatinny rails as well as spare magazines are available separately.

The function of the Henry Long Ranger is smooth right out of the gate. The lever and bolt operate easily and lock-up is solid. The 4-round magazine feeds with no hiccups and fed a variety of ammo types without issue. The trigger breaks cleanly with no stacking or creep, and the recoil of the 6.5CM is noticeable but not punishing by any definition. The wood and metal construction serve to absorb most of the recoil and the built-in rubber butt pad keeps the recoil relatively negligible.

I will note that removing or inserting the magazine should be done while the lever is closed. When the lever is open, the trigger guard can interfere with insertion or extraction of the magazine.

The Naked Eye

The 6.5 CM cartridge has built a reputation as a long-range performer, and it more than lives up to its reputation in the Long Ranger. With a properly sighted scope, I was able to get a serviceable 1-inch group at 100 yards. The only reason it was not better, I chalk up to operator error and no fault of the rifle.

My sample came with traditional open sights, so I also wanted to see how effective the Long Ranger operated without a scope. I shot two, three-shot groups at 50 yards. I was able to get a half-inch group at that distance. I should mention here that the sights seem to be set at 100 yards from the factory. It took a few groups to realize the rifle was shooting higher than I thought at 50 yards. Once I figured that out, I shot my best groups.

Moving out to 100 yards, I managed to wring out a sub 2-inch group. I have to admit, at 100 yards with no scope, the target sure did seem much smaller than it had been at 50, and it took a bit longer to get that group.

In short, for a versatile big-game rifle with accuracy and low recoil, the Henry Long Ranger can give you your money’s worth.

Specifications

Henry Long Ranger Lever-Action Rifle

MSRP, $1,195

  • Barrel Length, 22 inches
  • Barrel Type, Round blued steel
  • Rate of Twist, 1:8
  • Overall Length, 42.5 inches
  • Weight, 7 lbs.
  • Receiver Finish, Hard anodized black
  • Rear Sight, Folding fully adjustable
  • Front Sight, Ramp w/.062-inch ivory bead
  • Scopeability, Drilled and tapped
  • Scope Mount Type, Available at www.henrypride.com
  • Stock Material, American walnut
  • Buttplate/Pad, Black solid rubber recoil pad
  • Length of Pull, 14 inches
  • Safety, Transfer bar

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