.45-70 Henry X Model – Ultimate Reloader

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We have enjoyed working with several Henry rifles as well as their new Big Boy revolvers. We’ve highlighted the .30-30 X Model tactical lever action. This time, we’re looking at the .45-70 X Model

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About the Lever Action X Model .45-70

Gavin has been eager to shoot more .45-70 after shooting one of my guns. The tactical features of the X Model combined with the classic lever action platform made the .45-70 X Model a natural choice.

Though with some considerable recoil, the .45-70 is reliable and predictable – it does exactly what it is supposed to do, and has been doing, for over 100 years. 

From Henry USA:

There are few things as deeply ingrained into American firearms culture as a lever action .45-70 rifle, especially when it’s made right here on U.S. soil. It evokes images and fantasies of days past while still being wholly capable in the hands of a modern hunter. The Lever Action X Model .45-70 borrows all that nostalgia and crams it into a feature-packed modern big bore rifle that begs to be put through the wringer.

Tough synthetic furniture provides a lightweight and worry-free alternative to our typical hardwood and accommodates in-line sling swivel studs, a Picatinny rail, and M-Lok accessory slots on the forestock. The solid rubber recoil pad ensures that the buttstock won’t slip and slide around while shooting a cartridge that can take down even the largest game in the world. The blued steel barrel is topped off with fiber optic sights for quick target acquisition and the muzzle end is threaded (5/8×24 pitch) to accept a suppressor or any other muzzle device you choose. Continuing with the theme of modularity, the rifle’s receiver is drilled and tapped to accept your choice of optics.

Keeping true to our roots, the Lever Action X Model .45-70 utilizes a 4-round removable tube magazine for convenient unloading, and the addition of a side loading gate allows that magazine to be kept topped off without needing to remove the tube or suppressor.

Whether you’re in need of a lightweight brush gun, versatile hog dropper, rugged deer gun, dedicated truck gun, or all the above, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option. The lever action .45-70 has been around forever, but that doesn’t mean it needs to stop evolving to meet modern needs.

What’s in the Box

As with Henry’s .30-30 X Model, the .45-70 X Model arrived in a cardboard box with that wonderful motto: “Made in America or not made at all.” The rifle was in a plastic sleeve cushioned by styrofoam. There was also an owner’s manual with instructions on how to safely operate the rifle.

Specifications and Features

The X-Model .45-70 holds four rounds and has a synthetic stock, blued steel receiver and blued steel threaded barrel. The barrel length measures just under 20”, making it still easily maneuverable.

It comes drilled and tapped for a Weaver 63B mount with a fully adjustable fiber optic rear sight and fixed fiber optic front sight. This rifle includes swivel studs and several sections of M-Lok and Picatinny, ideal for mounting a light or other accessories.

Gavin and I have both run into scenarios while searching for wounded bears where a rifle-mounted light rather than a headlamp would have been much more helpful. 

Shooting

We took advantage of the X Model’s versatility, mounting a Leupold 2-10x Mark 5 HD scope and adding the BANISH 46 suppressor. (We first tried to shoot the rifle with just the iron sights and the suppressor, but the BANISH 46 blocked the front sight.) We stole the rail off of our X-Model .30-30. Looking forward, a cantilever mount would be helpful to move the scope a bit further forward.

We zeroed the rifle at 50 yards on our Mid-Mountain Range. Next, we took it to the industrial yard to chronograph the ammunition and blast some reactive targets. We had fun shooting steel plates, cinder blocks, water jugs, and watermelons! 

We fired two types of Hornady ammunition: 325 grain FTX LEVERevolution and Hornady Subsonic with the 410 grain Sub-X bullet

The 325 grain FTX ammunition is intended for hunting medium and large game such as deer, black bear, wild hogs and even elk. The FTX bullet was developed out of a quest for a  higher BC hunting bullet which would flatten trajectory and better retain velocity. The FTX does all of this and is  known for expanding readily on game. I used the 160 grain FTX from a .30-30 Henry X Model last year for my mule deer hunt. It was accurate and quickly lethal even at 170 yards. The .45-70 version hits even harder. I was thoroughly impressed with the low SD figure of 8.5 fps! Single digit SD’s are outstanding, and I didn’t expect to see that with 325 grain factory ammo. Our .45-70 Henry X Model handled this interesting ammunition well, shooting accurately and cycling flawlessly. Average velocity with the FTX LEVERevolution was 1840 fps.

Hornady’s 410 grain Sub-X ammo was not as consistent, but is particularly well suited for use in a suppressed rifle. This has excellent potential as a hunting cartridge for shooting wild hogs. I’ve been told of hunters who were able to bag several hogs while shooting suppressed before the other pigs realized that something was amiss and left the area. 

This was the first time we’d shot a suppressed .45-70 and I was quite impressed with how quiet the big bore rifle became, particularly with Hornady’s 410 grain Sub-X ammunition! 

The low power Leupold 2-10x Mark 5HD was also a perfect pairing. I’ve used this scope before on our 308 “Shorty” rifle and have found it to be an excellent general purpose scope. It’s a bit bigger than I’d normally put on a traditional lever action rifle, but it works really well.

In this case, the clear glass and bright picture outweighed the size of this scope. Do we need 10x on a 45-70 lever action? Probably not, but the 2x on the lower end with its wide field of view is welcome. The very bright and clear view from this scope is particularly helpful in low light and will come in handy when hunting at dusk, dawn or in a thickly forested area. 

For me, the “feel” of a hunting rifle is important. It must handle easily. I need to be able to carry it comfortably while hunting in rough terrain and get it into action quickly. Lever action rifles are a favorite of mine and the Henry .45-70 X Model was no exception. It was surprisingly comfortable to shoot, the thick recoil pad and suppressor greatly reducing the recoil. 

TriggerScan

The .45-70 Henry X-Model’s trigger felt similar to that on the .30-30 X-Model we used last year.

At 3.77 pounds with a crisp let off, it’s fine for hunting. Most of my hunting rifles have their triggers set at three pounds.

This trigger was actually one of the most consistent triggers we’ve tested in some time with 0.051” travel to actuate and 0.029” overtravel. 

Conclusion

This is a big-bore version of the .30-30 Henry X-Model we used last year! It’s a practical, modern take on the traditional lever action rifle that packs the big bore punch so many shooters are addicted to. This could be the perfect camp rifle for bear defense or for modest range hunting. We’ll be handloading subsonic ammo as well as using cast bullets and jacketed hunting bullets. 

I’d also like to explore reducing the full length and adding a light. It’s important to identify the target and not shoot at “sound” in a defensive situation. The BANISH 46 did a great job in the 9” configuration, but dropping a couple of inches off it might make the rifle handle differently, and should still reduce the muzzle blast considerably. 

Get the Gear

Henry Lever Action X Model .45-70 

BANISH 46 – Silencer Central

Leupold Mark 5HD 2-10×30 

Hornady .45-70 Gov’t 325 Grain LEVERevolution Ballistic Flex Tip at Midsouth Shooters Supply 

Hornady .45-70 Government 410 Grain Sub-X at Midsouth Shooters Supply

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Thanks,
Guy Miner

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