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Sierra Bullets
Rifle Magazine
November - December 2004
Volume 36, Number 6
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 216
On the cover...
The new Nosler Custom Rifle features a Leupold 3.5-10X VX-III scope and is chambered for the .300 WSM. Mule deer photo by Donald M. Jones.
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Henry Mini Bolt Youth .22

My father taught me to shoot with his Model 74 Winchester semi- automatic .22, but these sessions were carefully monitored. The first gun I was allowed to use with-out adult supervision was Granddad’s single-shot Winchester Model 60. Wandering around his desert ranch with the nearly worn-out rifle and a pocketful of .22 Shorts was my idea of heaven.

Before I could nail a ground squirrel, jackrabbit or other critter I’d managed to get within range of, I had to open the bolt (I wasn’t allowed to carry the rifle with the chamber loaded), insert a stubby rimfire cartridge, close the bolt - then firmly grip the knurled cocking knob and haul back hard! Considering the steps needed to prepare the Model 60 for firing, it was one of the safest “first guns” available for fledgling shooters.

Suddenly I’m a grandpa myself, with a trio of grandsons eagerly following my footsteps. There’s a granddaughter, too, whom I helped learn to shoot. She’s already graduated to a tricked-out 10/22 and is about to graduate high school in the bargain.

After thinking long and hard about the kind of .22 I needed to start my grandsons on the path to safe hunting and shooting, I remembered Granddad’s old Model 60. It immediately reminded me of a similar rifle I’d recently seen advertised. I gave Anthony Imperato at Henry Repeating Arms a quick call. A few weeks later I had a Henry Mini Bolt .22 in my hands.

Like the Model 60 of my youth, the Henry Mini Bolt features a single-shot bolt action and a knurled knob that has to be manually pulled .5 inch rearward to cock the firing pin. There’s also a sliding two-position safety on the left side of the action - something I believe the old Winchester lacked.

Unlike that 70-year-old single-shot Winchester, the Henry wears a handsome, black synthetic stock scaled to suit young beginners. In place of the badly worn barrel with most of the blueing gone I’d cheerfully put up with, the Henry sports a 16 1/4 inch, matte-finished stainless steel barrel and matching stainless steel receiver. Length of pull is 11 1/2 inches, while the little rifle measures 30 inches from muzzle to butt. Weight is just 2 1/2 pounds to keep young arms from tiring too quickly.

Sighting equipment is thoroughly modern - Williams Fire Sights front and rear. The high-riding, adjustable rear sight is bracketed by two fiber-optic green dots, while the front sight is topped by a fiber-optic tube that glows red. Contrasting colors are an instructional aid – “keep the red dot on the target, position that dot between the two green dots, then gradually s-q-u-e-e-z-e the trigger.” While the trigger requires some takeup and has a serious amount of backlash, it takes an average of just 2 3/4 pounds to release the firing pin.

During a recent plinking expedition with my son Jamie and his son Micah, I pulled the Henry from the car trunk and handed it to Micah. His face lighted up as he threw the little rifle to his shoulder. I was pleased to note that, in spite of his excitement, he carefully kept the muzzle pointing safely downrange. “Always point your rifle in a safe direction,” my late father drilled into me many years ago. I’d repeated the same mantra to each of my three sons during countless shooting sessions as they were growing up. I could see that Micah had received the same instruction. There are worse legacies you could leave to later generations.

”Operate this just like you’ve operated other bolt actions I’ve let you shoot,” I said to Micah. “The difference is you can load only one shot at a time - and once a round is in the chamber, you have to manually cock the rifle by pulling back this knob.”

Then I showed him the manual safety and made sure he knew how to operate it. “Safeties are fine, but never rely on them,” I warned. “Any mechanical mechanism can fail. The safest way to use this rifle is to load it only when you’re getting ready to shoot. Then wait until you’re ready to point the gun at a target before pulling the cocking knob rearward.”

Micah loves the scaled-down Henry. Unlike the full-sized rifles he’d used before, the Mini Bolt .22 is light and compact enough for easy operation. The Williams Fire Sights are also easy to use.

I learned independence early in life and tried to pass this same trait along to my sons. This will be a great rifle to walk the desert with when Micah is allowed to hunt alone.

The Henry Mini Bolt .22 has a list price of $200. See it at your local sporting goods store, or for more information contact Henry Repeating Arms Company, Dept. R, 110 8th Street, Brooklyn NY 11215; or you can visit the company web site at:

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