This is a very good example of an early brass frame Model 1860 Henry Repeating Rifle in .44 Rimfire manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company Circa 1862. Today, the Henry is an icon in the evolution of American Firearms. Under the guidance of owner Oliver Winchester and shop foreman Ben Tyler Henry, the Henry was built around the .44 rimfire cartridge and the hard-learned lessons from its predecessor, the Volcanic Pistol. The Henry earned quite a reputation during the Civil War for its unheard of firepower of 16 shots in 16 seconds. Nothing could match it although the Spencer rifle was a distant second. Even though only about 13,000 were built, roughly 75% of Henry's built are believed to have seen service during the Civil War. As one exasperated Confederate General once put it, it was useless for his troops to fight against those armed with "that damned yankee gun you can wind up on Sunday and shoot all week."
This particular rifle was built around 1862 with a low 3 digit serial number in the 500 range and comes with the early features for a low production serial number. For starters, it has the rounded buttplate with the large trapdoor for the early style 4 piece hickory cleaning rods. Note: On later guns, the trapdoor is smaller with a smaller hole bored through the stock for the more slender metal rods. As on many early guns, in addition to the dovetail on the barrel for the rear sight, the frame is also dovetailed to accept the rear sight. Original German silver front sight is more round in contour compared to the later sights which are squared off at the back. Another interesting feature are the lack of sling swivels...these later became standard but were only an option on early production rifles. Finally, if you look carefully at the pictures, you'll notice in addition to the matching serial/assembly numbers on the barrel, frame, stock, and buttplate, early guns like this one even have their wood screws numbered to the gun as well. All 3 stock screws and both buttplate screws are correctly numbered to this rifle and 100% original. In addition to 100% matching serial numbers, there is a sub-assembly number located on the barrel and barrel sleeve which are also matching (see photos).
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Good+ to VG with the barrel turned to a nice smooth brown patina. Nice original rear ladder sight, front sight, and a very nice barrel address with Henry's October 16, 1860 Patent date. Only blemish on the barrel are some noticeable dings on the bottom of the tube along the forward rotating sleeve. The frame has turned to a handsome dark mustard patina with marbled crystal lattice. As you will notice in the pictures, both sideplates (more so with the right than the left) and the loading block are slightly darker in color than the frame. This is a natural occurrence on early brass frame Henry's and even found on many Volcanic Pistols, the forerunner to the Henry. See Page 50 of "The Henry Rifle" by Les Quick showing Henry Rifle serial number "346". Its side plates are just like this one...slightly darker. Very Good+ wood with no chips or cracks. Very good screws throughout. Action works nicely with the .44 rimfire dual firing pins still intact. Bore has a few scattered pits but is still quite bright with strong rifling overall. VG+ bore overall. Comes with a beautifully made set of what we believe to be reproduction hickory cleaning rods. A nice early Henry rifle that would be the center-piece of almost any Civil War, Winchester, or early American firearm collection.