For many of us, it was our first real firearm. Our single-shot, break-barrel .410 shotguns were carried with great responsibility, great reverence and great joy. We implemented what we had practiced with our air guns, such as how to aim and keeping our finger off of the trigger and the muzzle pointed in the same direction. We knew that if we failed, someone could be severely injured. It was a tool in our rites of passage toward adulthood.
Even today, whenever I pick up a .410, whether to hunt squirrels or rabbits or to watch over one of my sons as they kill a turkey, there’s a brief nostalgic moment as I reflect back on those times of learning to be responsible.
Historically relegated as a kids’ gun, snake charmer, barn cleaner or small-game getter, the .410’s image is changing — rebranding itself, so to speak — and more hunters are showing interest in it as a serious alternative to hard-hitting 12 gauges and slightly softer 20s for turkeys and other mid-sized game, where legal.
Henry’s new single-shot series of field shotguns come in .410, 20- and 12-gauge offerings and are fine examples of each. Traditional checkered walnut meets a contemporary style to create a well-balanced, well-fit shotgun that anyone would be proud to own and carry.
For this test, I focused on the .410, 3-inch-chambered model because I have great interest in using one to hunt turkeys with this fall and next spring. My sons have done well with older offerings from other manufacturers, but those were cut down to fit their smaller frames when they were 7-10 years old.
Out of the box, the Henry is a pretty gun. Diamond-checkered and oil-finished walnut stock and fore-end pair with a tightly fit matte-blue receiver and barrel. A polished brass version also is available in Henry’s Golden Boy fashion. The receiver features contemporary lines, and the top lever and hammer are more modern than traditional in style. The 26-inch tapered barrel is topped with a tall brass bead sight and is threaded for Invector-style chokes. They ship with a full choke installed. While I didn’t anticipate sharp recoil, the generous soft-rubber butt pad made sure that was the case, even with 3-inch, heavy game loads.
Since turkeys are my primary focus for this shotgun, I took it to the range and paired it with the new Federal TSS 3-inch No. 9 turkey loads. I paced off 20 and 40 yards and sent one shell downrange from each distance to check the pattern and point of impact by aiming at the dead center of each 30x40 sheet.
At 20 yards, the shotgun/choke/ammo combo placed the entire shot column within an 8-inch pattern with a center-punched hole where the wad went through the target and foam backing board. The point of impact was close to dead-on and left no holes for a gobbler to escape.
Backing up to 40 yards, the single shot generated a 22-inch pattern with a couple of flyers out to 28 and 30 inches. While the pattern did open up, there are plenty of pellets in great enough densities to easily kill a turkey, but there were a couple of large voids in the pattern that concerned me.
I feel very confident in shooting at a gobbler using this combination out to 35 yards, making it a very viable turkey gun for a beginner or a veteran looking for a new challenge or lighter recoil.
If I had any complaint about the Henry .410 single-shot, it would be the trigger. It is very crisp with no creep but is heavy, measuring at 7 lbs. 4 oz. on my trigger gauge. With no integrated safety other than a rebounding hammer or keeping your finger outside of the trigger guard, having a heavy trigger is mostly a safety feature, but it is something to consider when training a young hunter who doesn’t have a lot of finger strength.
Overall, the 6.6-pound small-bore was a pleasure to shoot, carry and look at. And with an MSRP of $448, it is very affordable for a mid-level budget and a piece to proudly hand down for generations.
Check it out online here.