Henry’s Single-Shot 20-gauge shotgun is an American-made beauty out of the box, featuring an American walnut stock and diamond checkering on the pistol grip stock and fore-end. We decided to put it to the test in the midst of deer season in the deep South, since we’ve already tested other Henry shotguns for wild turkey and squirrel.
Pairing the 20-gauge single-shot with Federal Premium sabot and rifled slugs, we took the gun to the range before heading into the woods, with the idea to hunt at distances inside 50 yards. Turns out, we didn’t have much luck at the range or in the field.
Henry’s Single-Shot 20-gauge shouldered nicely, and the 26-inch blued-steel barrel was easy to maneuver, particularly with a lightweight 6.62-pound firearm. It’s a smoothbore shotgun, so we were at a disadvantage without a rifled barrel, and the gun was shot without the modified choke, the only choke to come with the gun.
We started at 50 yards with Federal Premium’s Fusion 3-inch sabot slug, using the gun’s front brass bead that mostly covered the entire target. With point of aim dead center, the sabot hit about a foot low. Federal Premium’s Vital Shok 2¾-inch rifled slug loads did the same. With no scopeability (receiver is not drilled and tapped to accept a scope), we moved to 20 yards and put several shots on target, although all remained low — 3 to 4 inches on average. Windage was precise on most shots.
Despite less-than-desirable results, the Henry performed well without any malfunctions. Its ambidextrous safety is a nice touch, and the rebounding hammer is an added safety feature; after striking the firing pin, the hammer rebounds away from the firing pin and the trigger locks to prevent an accidental discharge on the next round.
Henry’s solid rubber recoil pad provides a nice finish to the shot, although the 3-inch load still delivers a slight punch. Overall, the single-shot 20-gauge offering is a fine gun for teaching new hunters that each shot counts, as well as for shooting varmints, rabbits and other small game or migratory birds.
With a price tag under $400, this quality break-action can be used and passed down for generations. — Matt Stewart