Gear Review: Henry AR7 Survival Rifle

It’s important not to overlook the .22 rifle’s importance in a survival situation.   You can take lots of small game with a .22 and if Survival Gearyou’re really desperate and a good shot you can take down bigger game as well.  I wouldn’t try it on a bear, but I did read that Chris McCandless shot and killed a moose with a .22 rifle in Alaska.  I read the book and watched the movie  “Into the Wild”, which talks about this.

 

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author of Survival Cache  & SHTFBlog

Outside Fairbanks, on the Parks Highway, Jim Gallien spotted a hitchhiker; he pulled the Ford over. Chris McCandless threw his Survival Riflepack in and climbed in after it.  “Where you headed?” Gallien asked.  “Somewhere around Healy.”  Gallien was headed all the way to Anchorage, a seven-hour drive. Although Gallien has never been able to pinpoint the exact date, it was most likely Tuesday, the twenty-eighth of April. They rode out of the Valley of the Chena River. He asked his passenger what his plans were.  “I’m going out in the woods for two or three months.”  Gallien had grown up hunting the Alaska backcountry. One glance at a half-empty pack and low-powered .22 Remington rifle told him that the woodsman wasn’t set up properly for any two or three months.m  He had introduced himself as Alex – no family name. He said he had been living in the woods on the edge of Fairbanks for the last couple of days. He had seen an ad for the rifle in the local newspaper and had also bought about four hundred rounds of ammunition.  “Does anybody know what you’re planning to do?”  “No.” Alex said. And that’s the way he wanted it.  – Excerpt from “Into The Wild”

Unfortunately young Chris McCandless was ill prepared for the harsh Alaska environment and died in the wilderness; however, I thought it was noteworthy that the lowly .22 rifle was capable of bringing down a creature the size of a moose.  And to be clear I’m not saying to take a .22 rifle with you on your next moose hunt.  I’m saying that in the right hands a .22 is capable of doing more than you might think in a survival situation.

Originally designed as an Air Force survival rifle in 1955 the AR-7 has been around a few years.  I’ve been wanting to get my hands survival gear reviewon this rifle for awhile and finally managed to land one.  It’s a great concept and in my opinion Henry really pulled this one off.  The AR-7 is a brilliant rifle for a survival situation.  It’s small and could fit in your pack if you wanted to carry it that way.  It can fit in your truck, car, or boat, and would even fit comfortably in a motorcycle saddle bag.

Specs

Model Number:    H002B
Action Type:          Semi-automatic
Caliber:                  .22 LR
Capacity:                8 round magazine (comes with 2)
Length:                   35″ assembled 16.5″ when stowed
Weight:                   3.5 lbs.
Stock:                      ABS Plastic
Sights:                    Adjustable rear, blade front
Finish:                    Teflon coated receiver and coated steel barrel
M.S.R.P.                 $290.00

First of all it’s a semi-automatic, which can really put some rounds downrange in a hurry if you need to.  Each magazine holds survival rifleeight rounds, so if you wanted to carry just the two mags in the stock you’d still have 16 rounds with you at all times.  Luckily, .22 ammo weighs next to nothing and you could carry a couple hundred rounds without adding a lot of extra weight to your pack. 

It’s pretty accurate as I discovered after shooting it off my deck.  The orange front site post makes it easy to see and everything is lined up the way it should be.  An important note is that the barrel is tight after being screwed on – there’s no slop to it at all.  I was a little worried about this aspect of the rifle, but as it turns out there’s no cause for concern.  The whole rifle feels good when you hold it.

Assembly

The Henry AR-7 comes stored in its own stock, which is very cool.  It consists of the receiver, stock, and barrel, and it also has two magazines that are stored in the barrel as well.

Check out the video I made assembling and shooting this rifle.

Notes On Shooting

It shoots like you’d expect a good .22 to shoot.  It’s smooth, zero recoil, and accurate.  Considering I was shooting off-hand off my ar-7 survival rifledeck with a rifle I’d never shot before it did a pretty good job.  I was shooting at three cans and managed to hit all of them with the sixteen rounds I shot through the two magazines.

After that I put another 50 or 60 rounds through it just to have fun and it shot smooth without jamming the whole time.  The front site post would be good in low light with the bright marking.  The only thing I found disconcerting was where to put my left hand when shooting.  As you can see in the video I fumble around a little bit on the second magazine, but eventually found the sweet spot and kept on going.

This rifle will definitely be going with me in my pack when I’m out in the back country.  It’s not that heavy and the utility of a good .22 can’t be overstated in my opinion.

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off!
-Jarhead Survivor

Photos by:
Jarhead Survivor
Chris McCandless

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30 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. September 29, 2014, 8:04 am

    Good review. I own a pair of them, an old ‘beater’ Charter Arms purchased 20 + years ago, the other a Survival Arms model. I like them but mine are NOT reliable with standard velocity, nor truncated cone bullet noses. High velocity round nosed ammunition works pretty well.

    Extremely lightweight and compact, the Charter was always carried in my pickup tool box for on the spot small game hunting. I only used it a few times though and after a few years, I stopped carrying it – was afraid it would get stolen.

    I don’t own a Henry Arms, but I like the fact they include a spare magazine to begin with – that is always my 1st addition to a stock gun. Henry does appear to have done things correctly, the Charter and (especially) Survival Arms have a reputation for somewhat sketchy operation, they do jam. Especially with bulk ammunition, much of what does not get high quality control to begin with.

    I read the book and if memory serves, the rifle model was a Remington Nylon 66.

    Reply
    • Jarhead Survivor September 29, 2014, 2:28 pm

      Hey j.r. – I like the extra magazine too. It allows you to carry 16 rounds in the rifle, which is pretty cool.

      Reply
      • Nurseguy April 11, 2015, 9:58 pm

        You can buy an extra mag and leave it in the receiver, giving you 3 full mags inside the stock.

        Reply
  • Flat Rascal September 29, 2014, 11:25 am

    Kind of makes me wonder how many moose the kid shot with his 22 before one fell down.

    Reply
  • irishdutchuncle September 29, 2014, 12:01 pm

    looks like a nifty little rifle.

    I can’t lawfully hunt with one here in PA, (no semi-autos)
    but it should be fun to plink with it.

    Reply
    • Jarhead Survivor September 29, 2014, 2:35 pm

      It is fun to plink with. I wouldn’t try and shoot a deer with it, but a squirrel might find it’s way into a stewpot!

      Reply
      • irishdutchuncle September 29, 2014, 6:12 pm

        Brunswick stew…
        I have a recipe for that somewhere. I mention that to the squirrel that keeps trying to hide nuts in my car. no fear of humans. and wabbit season starts the week after squirrel season. time to get the small game rifle sighted in…

        Reply
  • sput September 29, 2014, 1:01 pm

    Key here is it is the Henry model. Most of the older ones were not as well built, and are not reliable.

    Reply
  • 3rdMan September 29, 2014, 5:40 pm

    I bought an AR 7 made by Henry a few years ago as backpack gun. I was exited to get it and to play with it. My excitement was short live, because mine would jam via feed or fail to extract. Tried different brands of 22, but did not fix the problem. I ended up selling it and buying a marlin 60. It appears you are have better luck than I did, that would make it a keeper in my book.

    Reply
  • 3rdMan September 29, 2014, 5:42 pm

    Correction
    It appears you are having better luck than I did, that would make it a keeper in my book

    Reply
  • Older Cow Girl September 30, 2014, 12:20 am

    I keep my Henry AR-7 in my Bug Out/Bug In bag. I don’t think anyone mentioned that it also floats. Awesome and accurate. No problem with jamming so far. Fun to shoot…no recoil…no noise. And soooo light weight. Great for us gals.

    Reply
  • Roger September 30, 2014, 1:04 am

    I have a Henry AR-7, and want to buy another (from a private owner, of course), it is nearly a perfect pack gun! I added a old canvas canteen cover with a two-pocket pouch that fits over the butt of the weapon (on the right-hand side since I’m right-handed) keeping the butt cover on. This gives me a better non-slip surface for the cheek weld and the shoulder-hollow/weapon-butt connection. The two-pocket pouch gives me attached room for 250 rounds of ammo, 2-15rd mags, skinning knife, 2 lighters, knife sharpener, cleaning kit, P-51 can opener, all in two plastic air-tight containers (helping to maintain positive buoyancy); for a total weight of about 9 pounds, basically a survival kit in one very portable packet! Nearly perfect? I wish it had more internal space so the survival kit could be all stored inside it. Also, space for a small 4X scope (since the rifle already has a dove-tail scope rail) inside would be great, and making it available in .22 mag. caliber would be a good bump-up in fire power! I’ve had no feeding/extracting problems with my Henry except for when using sub-sonic ammo, not enough recoil to cycle the action fully. Finally, making the barrel about 22 inches long instead of the current 16 inches would increase both velocity and accuracy a lot although increasing overall length about 6 inches! Henry Arms, are you reading this? Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Anonymous November 20, 2014, 10:11 pm

      Rodger, where did you get 15 round mag for the ar 7?

      Reply
  • highdesertlivin September 30, 2014, 10:53 am

    Over the years I’ve owned 3 Ar7s ,I think they are a cool weapon. That being said, I have found the 10 22 to be far more reliable, and robust. When ruger brought out the take down model, my henry came out of my Bob. And was replaced w/ a 10 22 takedown. I’ve not looked back.

    Reply
  • chilichef September 30, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Just FYI: quick rundown of some other”takedown” 22 Semiautos; by no means exhaustive but I’ve owned/shot over the years;

    Browning .22 takedown; semi auto buttstock fed, in my experience quite reliable and very handy.
    Norinco made a verson of the Browning; never had one/never shot one.
    Marlin Papoose; various versions over the years; originals were blued/wood stock; current version is stainless/poly stock; the current version seems reliable.
    Oldie: Remington 241 Speedmaster made from circa 1936 to 1951; basic “Browning” type design but a tad heftier; longer barrel, heavier buttstock; not as light and handy as the Browning version but quite elegant and in my experience quite reliable.

    Sovereign .22 takedown; Italian made takedown with cast iron receiver; built like a tank, reliable; cheap (mine was $50) but at least mine was absolutely inaccurate; couldn’t keep it inside a dinner plate at 30 yards, and I’m usually pretty good with a rifle.

    Reply
    • Jarhead Survivor September 30, 2014, 10:02 pm

      Good list Chilichef. I’ll keep an eye for these other ones. I’d like to try a Roger 10/22 at some point too.

      Reply
    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. October 1, 2014, 7:50 am

      I have a Norinco ATD (Browning 22 Auto clone), its similar to the shooting performance of the Henry, but easier to shoot. No where near as pretty as the Browning but I purchased it in 1990 for $70 NIB – Browning was at least 5 times as much. Nice service grade take-down gun. Clinton did away with Chinese imports years ago, you might find one used.

      I never owned the Papoose, but some of my friends did – it is a helluva nice rifle.

      Reply
  • Steve (from the Cape September 30, 2014, 6:38 pm

    I have a Henry Survivor in a silver color. I had trouble with the bolt cycling and, tried to clean the bolt in the receiver. Then I over lubricated it with Remington Dry Lube (I’m one of these old guys that thinks if one drop or squirt is good then two are better – bad habit) So I decided to take the bolt out by removing the side plate – BIG ERROR! A bunch of springs exploded out of the receiver! I couldn’t get it back together – had to swallow the old pride-a-roo and take it to my gunsmith as a basket case! Now all is well. Also, the plastic end plug split and I have that covered by my moose print duck tape. This works well although I doubt it still floats. In spite of all this I like the gun. I also have a Ruger 1022 TD

    Reply
  • Doc Montana October 1, 2014, 10:11 am

    A while back, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown went under the microscope over at Survival Cache. Here’s the link:

    http://survivalcache.com/survival-gear-review-ruger-10-22-takedown-ultimate-survival-rifle/

    Reply
  • Zed October 1, 2014, 6:00 pm

    Good piece of purpose built survival gear. This is not my SHTF rifle but it is a good car/back up rifle to keep in a survival bag or bug out bag.

    Reply
  • Zed October 1, 2014, 6:03 pm

    I meant to also say that if you are buying this to be your primary SHTF rifle, you are going down the wrong road. You should be looking at the Ruger 10/22. This is a survival rifle – that is it.

    Reply
  • Chuck Findlay October 2, 2014, 1:12 am

    I have the same rifle in it’s previous form, a Charter Arms AR-7, bought it in the late 80s. Not my first choice 22, but it’s a good gun.

    PS I would not hold up Chris McCandless as an example other then to say what NOT to do.

    Reply
  • Rusty October 2, 2014, 4:33 pm

    Could we have some more specific information about accuracy (MOA @ X yards), potential for sling attachments? Does the rear sight have both windage and elevation adjustments?

    Reply
  • TPSnodgrass October 3, 2014, 10:25 pm

    I’ve had a Charter Arms AR-7 for several years. It IS only reliable with high velocity ammo, period. I have taken it completely apart, more than once, cleaned it impeccably, and put it back together to get the thing to working correctly. Finally, in desperation, I used my handy-dandy Dremel(oh, yes, I did!) and fashioned a “slight” feed ramp on the face of the receiver. Older AR-7’s have a straight face, that cause serious jams after about 10 rounds due to unburned powder and other debris. So far, that “slight” feed ramp has helped significantly for the older model AR-7. Otherwise, it’s a piece of junk. great idea, but Charter needed to put a feed ramp on the thing originally, but cheaped the rifle out. The Ruger 10-22 take Down, in my experience, is far superior to the AR-7, far more reliable, far more accurate. Oh, and Crest toothpaste is a superb polishing agent.

    Reply
  • Marc October 7, 2014, 3:45 pm

    I own a Henry purchased around 2011. The only problem I have is the plastic stock end that holds all the parts in falls off very easily. It’s a poor design as they could have made it with some kind of set screw to hold the cover on.

    Reply
  • Joey February 11, 2015, 7:46 pm

    My Henry shoots way too low and to the left to fix by adjusting the irons. It occasionally jams but it is far better than the Survival Arms model. If you want a take-down gun that works, get a 10/22.

    Reply
  • David February 15, 2015, 11:52 pm

    I just bought a Henry AR7 rifle. The accuracy is lousy I don’t see how anyone could use such an inaccurate rifle for survival. The rounds hit all over the place on a 12″ paper plate at 25 yards 3 out of the 8 rounds didn’t even hit the plate. I unscrewed the sight and flipped over to the small hole, and the accuracy improved slightly. I was using a bench rest with these shots. Every time I squeezed a round off it felt like a bee stung my trigger finger. If I had the opportunity to fire this gun before I bought it, I would not have wasted the $299.00.

    Reply
    • SCOTT W ROBINSON March 26, 2016, 11:13 am

      SO MANY PEOPLE SAY THE ACCURACY IS JUNK WITH THE PEEP SIGHT SYSTEM…SIMPLE FIX….REMOVE THE PEEP SIGHT BLADE AND JUST USE THE OPENING AS A FULL PEEP SIGHT AND A BIT OF ‘KINTUCKY’ WINDAGE….YOU WILL BE AMAZED HOW ACCURATE THAT RIFLE BECOMES…AND ALL IT TAKES IS A SCREWDRIVER…LOL

      Reply
  • Randall Faulkner July 3, 2015, 11:57 am

    Buy a couple extra magazines. You can insert a loaded magazine into the well, now you have 24 rounds stored in the buttstock.

    Reply
  • Bob Borowski December 23, 2016, 1:52 pm

    I have an older charter arms and have a problem getting the butt cap off and then the parts are hard to get out of the black plastic stock .

    Reply

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