I’m a fan of Henry Repeating Arms, and I’ve tested and hunted with the manufacturer’s lever-action wonders for two decades. Henry’s new-for-2023 Homesteader isn’t a lever-action, but this 9mm carbine screams the Henry name, and the 16.37-inch-barreled, semi-auto shooter made an immediate impression on me.
The Homesteader has eye appeal for sure, but my mind immediately went to thoughts of home defense, fun on the range for any sized shooter and an excellent companion to ride shotgun. After shouldering the rifle, the words maneuverable, balanced and compact come to mind.
Drilled and tapped for scope mounting, I love the old-school feel of the rear peep sight with the raised front iron sight. The muzzle is threaded for a suppressor, but I did not add one for testing. The 9mm shooter comes standard with a pair of magazines—a five-round and 10-round—and can also be purchased with a magazine well adapter to accept Glock, SIG or S&W M&P 9mm magazines. I swapped in the adaptor for testing’s sake, and the process took about 10 minutes. Drive a trio of cross pins out of the receiver from either direction and make the swap.
Both Henry magazines load quickly with zero slop and seat cleanly with an audible click. The mag-release button, located forward of the magazine for quick index-finger activation, propels empty mags with a little force, so be ready.
The charging handle is not inserted into the action for shipping but is easily attached to either side of the action to accommodate right- or left-handed shooters.
The bolt slides cleanly and quickly without a magazine, and the dual bolt latch locks open the bolt, which I feel boosts functionality and efficiency. Once the magazine is inserted, a light rearward pull unlocks the charging handle allowing the bolt to spring forward where it grabs a round and sends it cleanly into the chamber. The process is buttery smooth.
I like the location of the safety—a top-mounted thumb switch that shows a red dot when the rifle is hot and an “S” when safe. The safety button isn’t overly stiff but neither is it sloppy.
The 14-inch length of pull feels good, as does the width of the American walnut forearm. Henry wanted to build an excellent offhand rifle, and the width and flat nature of the forearm promotes in-hand feel and overall balance.
The rubber buttpad feels solid against the shoulder, and the thin grip of the stock’s throat with its narrow top, married with the raised metal receiver, promotes solid cheek weld and fantastic sight acquisition. The rifle throws down like a dream and feels ultra-maneuverable. In this shooter’s opinion, the under 36-inch measurement and length-to-weight ratio is ideal. With a fighting weight of 6.6 pounds, the rifle carries well, and most of the mass seems forward in the forearm, which aids in felt recoil and provides, as previously noted, a tremendous offhand feel.
I like, but I don’t love, the trigger. However, for a blue-collar carbine with open sights, it is fine. There is a bit of initial creep, but the shot breaks nicely, and the recoil is super mild. My 11-year-old, 70-pound soaking-wet son tried melting down the barrel on this rifle and he never complained about shoulder abuse or barrel jump. The action operates as fast as you can pull the trigger. With minimal recoil, an experienced operator can stay in the sights and deliver reasonable accuracy even when working the index-finger overtime.
The action design is simple and should be applauded. Simple means less chance for failure, and the expanding gases of the cartridge cycle the bolt and send spent cases flying yards, not feet. My kids and I went through more than 500 rounds during testing and didn’t experience a single jam. This rifle is a riot to shoot, and ringing steel and punching paper with it is highly addictive. You have been warned.
For testing, I fired several Hornady 9mm Luger Critical Defense loads along with the Fiocchi FMJs. The Homesteader handled them perfectly. It was reasonably dirty when I cleaned it, but I’ve seen much worse after 500 rounds.
Another safety feature that needs to be noted is that the bolt will lock back on its own when a magazine is empty. The chamber is hot if you’ve slung a few rounds and the bolt is closed. Remember, when using the rifle, it’s easy to lose count in your head, think it is empty, and still have a hot round ready to go. Give a glance at the bolt, and you’ll know immediately if the chamber is empty.
As mentioned, target acquisition is rapid. The longer sight radius promoted remarkable accuracy at 25 yards and made me feel like a better open-sight shooter than I know I am at 50 yards. I did adjust the rear peep sight and found it elementary. Instruction for windage and elevation adjustment can be found in the included instruction manual.
Yes, this one is definitely a keeper. It’s fun to shoot and highly purposeful, and I plan to use it as a truck gun, for plinking and for home defense. Plus, I can shoot relatively cheaply and still have a magazine full of man stoppers because Henry had the presence of mind to make the rifle in 9mm—arguably the world’s most popular caliber.
• Type: semi-auto, pistol-caliber carbine
• Caliber: 9mm
• Magazine/Capacity: removable stick; 5-rnd., 10-rnd.
• Barrel: 16.37"; medium contour; 1:10" RH twist; ½x28 threaded muzzle
• Trigger: single-stage; 5-6 lb. pull weight
• Sights: front post, adjustable rear aperture; drilled and tapped for Weaver 63B optic base
• Safety: two-position switch, tang-mounted
• Stock: straight comb; American walnut; semi-gloss; 14" LOP; sling-swivel studs; rubber butt pad
• Metal Finish: hard-anodized black
• Overall Length: 35.75"
• Weight: 6.6 lbs.
• Accessories: ambidextrous bolt handle; magazine adapter (available separately)
• MSRP: $928 - $959; henryusa.com