U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- There are lots of satisfying feelings in the world of firearms. The ding of lead on steel is one, the recoil of a semi-automatic rifle, and the very best is the feeling of a well-made lever gun. The lever of a lever-action firearm just releases a shot of dopamine in my brain. I’m getting my shot of dopamine today from the Henry Axe.
The Henry Axe is not a lever-action rifle as it fires shotshells. However, it’s not a shotgun either. The Henry Axe falls into that nebulous realm of pistol grip only firearms. These types of firearms became extremely popular with the Mossberg Shockwave. Henry’s model does things a lot differently.
The Henry Axe is a .410 bore lever-action firearm that is based on the famed Henry rifles. Because it lacks a stock and has never had a stock, the Henry Axe is not required to have the standard 18-inch barrel. In fact, it packs a 15.14-inch barrel, and it maintains an overall length of 26.4 inches long.
The Axe weighs 5.75 pounds and holds five rounds of .410 in a tubular magazine. You are limited to 2.5-inch shells with the Axe, so put the 3-inch shells away. Henry added a system of interchangeable chokes that utilize the Invector pattern, so chokes are relatively easy to find. The cylinder bore that’s included works well for what I need.
At the top, we have a simple bead sight that any shotgunner will recognize and appreciate. The top of the receiver is tapped and ready for a Henry rail should you want to use a red dot. The Henry Axe is topped off with a set of sling swivels.
The Henry Axe Ergonomics
The rear grip is interesting, and it’s where the name of the gun comes from. It resembles an axe handle, and looks good and feels good in the hand. The loop accommodates my big hands without issue. The front end of the Henry Axe is a simple wood forend, and the wood on the gun looks fantastic.
The lever glides smoothly forward and rearward and feels fantastic. Henry knows how to make them work, and that’s on full display here. When you manually cock the hammer, it also glides rearward and locks into place with a nice click.
Unlike a lot of the older Henry rifles, the Henry Axe features a side loading gate. You can also remove the tube and drop five rounds in manually. Personally, I do like the removable tubular magazines for unloading the weapon once I’m done shooting.
The Henry Axe is quite light and comfortable to wield. It’s easy to aim and maneuverable. The front and rear of the gun are extremely comfortable and make getting a grip quite easy. The hammer can be easily reached. The textured rear of the hammer makes it easy to decock the gun. There is no manual safety present and with the design, it’s not needed.
The Henry Axe has to be one of the most fun guns on the market. It’s so much fun to shoot. Working the lever action is always a blast. The 410 creates so little recoil that the gun is never a risk for punching the user in the face. Recoil consists of a gentle push and almost zero muzzle rise.
Firing it fast and accurately isn’t tough, and once you get in the habit of working the lever. It’s a blast with buckshot, slugs, and birdshot. Recoil seemingly stays the same, and shooters both big and small can handle the Henry Axe. My son loves the Henry Axe, and he’s still on the small side of shooters.
The bead is perfectly fine for the relatively close-range accuracy the Henry Axe would be used for. Slug use isn’t a high priority with the Henry Axe, and it’s more of a buckshot and birdshot kind of gun. The simple front sight and lack of a stock aren’t really going to let you reach out to 100 yards and I’m slapping it in my Caldwell Lead Sled to find out it’s slug accuracy.
That being said, the trigger is fantastic. It’s extremely lightweight and very crisp. I guess this is what happens when a rifle company builds a shotshell firing gun.
The Henry Axe cycles every 2.5-inch shell I’ve ever tried to put through it. 410 shells are far from standardized, and the various crimp designs can make one 2.5 inch shell larger than another 2.5-inch shell. The Henry Axe doesn’t seem to mind, and the lever will load and eject it all. Loading shells through the loading gate is easy, and the rounds slide into place smoothly.
This niche little firearm isn’t the most useful weapon, but as far as PGO shotguns go, it’s one of the easiest to shoot. Its light and low recoiling design could make this a fun gun for small game hunting. The Henry Axe makes squirrel hunting a fun challenge. It could be used for pest removal as well. The Axe’s small size makes it easy to strap on while riding an ATV, side by side, or even on a horse.
In my case, it’s just a fun gun. I love shooting the Henry Axe and bring it out every chance I have. It’s a fun and well-made gun that delivers lead where I want it. The Henry Axe scratches an itch I didn’t even know I had.
About Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.