Hardware: Henry Single Shot Turkey Shotgun

posted on April 26, 2023
Hardware Henry Single Shot Turkey Shotgun Lead

I can remember hunting with my aging father-in-law in his later years when he complained that everything, even his shoelaces, were too heavy. I mocked him endlessly as guys will do. Now, a few decades later, I am him. Every ounce wears heavy on my aging joints by the end of the day. I finally see his wisdom in using a lightweight, break action, single shot to hunt.

This spring will be my 50th turkey season. Looking back, I tend to favor heavy, semi-auto shotguns and I am not sure why. I’ve lost count of how many turkeys I have shot, but it’s a lot. I am searching my memory and I come up with very few, if any, spring turkeys where I needed the capabilities of a semi-auto. Unless I messed up bad, one shot was all I got and all I needed. Turkey hunting is not like upland or waterfowl hunting where you are shooting lots of ammo. It’s more like hunting big game; one shot is usually all you will fire.

Henry Single Shot Turkey 12-gauge shotgun.

When I first heard about the Henry Single Shot Turkey Shotgun I thought, Meh. Then I held it in my hand. It’s light, 6.78 pounds, but not so light that it kicks you senseless. It can handle any 12-gauge ammo, although I probably won’t avail the 3½-inch chamber too often as the modern 3-inch ammo is so good.

I thought of all those miles I have walked while turkey hunting, carrying a big, heavy shotgun, and thought, Why not? A reduction in weight for a gun you carry a lot and shoot a little seemed like a good idea.

I am not going to lie to you; I would not want to shoot a round of trap using 3-inch turkey ammo in this gun. It’s a lightweight, fixed breech shotgun and the recoil is a little stiff. But, you will never feel it when shooting at a turkey.

Henry Single Shot Turkey shotgun break action open with 12-gauge shotgun shell inside.

I am a strong advocate of sights on any turkey shotgun. This one is drilled and tapped for a Weaver #82 base so it’s easy to add optics. I think a scope or red-dot is usually the number one improvement on most turkey guns. However, this one has very good adjustable fiber-optic sights and adding a scope would upset how it carries and balances. The sights are excellent and the stock lets my eye precisely line up with them when I mount the shotgun.

Of course it’s dipped in camo. In this case it’s Mossy Oak Obsession. The 24-inch barrel is threaded for Rem chokes so there are an infinite number of possibilities to choose from. The gun has a “Turkey” choke included, that I measured at .668-inch. The gun has an ejector that throws the empty clear for a fast reload if needed. The shotgun has swivel studs and, my only real complaint, a rather thin, ½-inch recoil pad. Turkey guns kick, and with all the advanced recoil pads available I would have liked something thicker and a bit squishier. There is a rebounding hammer and the opening lever works in either direction, making this a great choice for left handers. The stock underneath that camo is American walnut. The gun, like all Henrys, is made in America.

If you think you may recognize this name, you do. The Henry .44 rimfire rifle of the early 1860s was groundbreaking as it held a lot of ammo and could shoot very fast. It’s the gun dubbed, “That damn Yankee rifle they load on Sunday and shoot all week.” In an era that was still mired in muzzleloaders, it was a huge game changer. The Henry Company became Winchester a few years later and the name faded into history.

Male hunter in camouflage carrying single-shot 12-gauge shotgun on shoulder.

In 1996, Anthony Imperato and his father Louis decided to start a new gun company. Anthony took out a second mortgage on his house and put everything he owned on the line for the company they named Henry. I asked Anthony, “Why Henry?”

“We were going to start with lever-action rifles made in America and what better choice than Henry?” he said. “The lever action is the American rifle. Most of the other rifle designs originally came from someplace else, but the lever action was invented here and has been America’s rifle.”

The modern day Henry company has grown to become a big player in today’s firearms world. Their main claims to fame are some of the best lever-action rifles made. They even make a lever-action .410 shotgun. What is lesser known is that they also make some outstanding rimfires and single-shot shotguns.

Other than the lever action .410, they focus on what was the shotgun of the American working-class hunter, the single shot. In a simpler time this style shotgun was extremely popular. They were inexpensive and easy to carry. Everybody I knew in the sixties had one. Most were starter guns, but a lot of very experienced and successful hunters used them exclusively.

Henry Single Shot Turkey shotgun laying on table with two turkey targets showing pellets.

The Henry shotgun offers several options, including youth models and rifled barrels for deer hunting. This turkey gun is their latest introduction. It costs about half the price of a high-end semi-auto shotgun and kills turkeys just as well.

I patterned the gun at 30 yards with two of the most popular turkey loads: Federal 3-inch, 2-ounce No. 6 copper-plated pellets, and Remington 3-inch, 1¾-ounce No .9 TSS. The results with both loads were outstanding. The No. 6 showed 11 pellets in the turkey head of my target, and the No. 9 had 12. The rest of the turkey’s head and neck were well perforated as the patterns were round and even.

I am looking forward to spring, first because I am sick of winter, but more so I can whack a gobbler or two with this shotgun.

Technical Specifications
Type: break-action, single-shot shotgun
Gauge/Chamber: 12/3½"
Barrel: 24"; threaded for Rem chokes
Trigger: 3 lb., 12 oz. pull weight
Sights: adjustable fiber-optic front and rear; drilled and tapped for Weaver 82 scope mount
Safety: rebounding hammer
Stock: American walnut; Mossy Oak Obsession finish; 14" LOP; 2⅝" drop at heel; 1⅞" drop at comb; sling studs front and rear
Metal Finish: Mossy Oak Obsession
Overall Length: 39.5"
Weight: 6.78 lbs.
Accessories: turkey choke
MSRP: $756; henryusa.com


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