For years, Henry Repeating Arm’s AR-7 Survival has been setting the standard in breakdown packable rimfires. But, the gun maker has upped its game to the next level with introduction of a full bug-out ready Survival Pack.
While the package includes the ever popular Henry Survival rifle, the accessories really drive this product into special territory. So, not only are we testing the semi-automatic rimfire rifle, but also the quality and usefulness of the contents of the kit.
The package includes: Datrex concentrated 1,000 calorie food ration of four bars; Frontier Straw water filter good for 30 gallons; ESEE Fire Tool; Buck Rival folding knife engraved with the Henry logo; H&H Mylar Emergency Hypothermia Blanket; 100-feet of olive drab para cord; SWAT-T stretch wrap style tourniquet; and an allen black nylon Henry Survival zipper case with stowage for additional gear and rifle.
The US Survival Pack retails for $550, about a $200 jump from the bare rifle’s price. It’s a tough upgrade sell until you consider that the kit is already selling online at various retailers for under four bills. My, how the tables have turned.
The Henry AR-7 Rifle
From its inception in 1959, the Armalite AR-7 was originally intended for Air Force pilots ditch survival needs. Through several companies and iterations over the years, we arrive at by far the most popular version today, the Henry AR-7 Survival.
This semi-automatic .22 long rifle rimfire weighs in at a scant 3.5 pounds and takes down for easy carry, packing into its ABS buttstock that is labeled water-resistant and intended to float. The 16.125-inch barrel is topped with an orange blade front and peep rear sight. Overall assembled length is 35 inches with a plenty long 14 inch LOP and packed length at 16 inches.
As for features, the rubber buttpad doubles as the pop-off seal to the stock’s stowage compartment. The 3/8 inch grooved top receiver makes it simple to add an optic if desired, though the name of the game here is small and portable. The rifle’s steel barrel is coated in ABS polymer while the receiver is wrapped in Teflon, all aimed for maximum durability. The gun included in our test kit comes in the standard black on black finish, but those who are interested in buying just the rimfire can now find it in two camouflage versions of as well.
On The Range
Henry’s goal was to cover the basic essentials with the Henry AR-7. The process of either assembling or breaking down the rifle takes less than 60 seconds with little practice and the rifle has a sturdy operation. The side-safety is easy to actuate and magazines lock up tight and feed well.
Despite smooth operations, it takes a few shots to get used to the balloon-like feel of the stock built to house internals instead of a sleek cheek weld. Everybody always wants to know if the Henry actually floats, and the answer is: it does for long enough time to retrieve.
The kit includes everything you need – from the Buck knife to the Firestarter to the water filtration straw – but some of the items could use modernization. Namely, the tourniquet. Coming from a medical background, I’m not a fan of the stretch flex band and would rather see something like the CAT or SOF-T, but that’s easy enough to upgrade later.
All the intentions and features of the gun are moot if it won’t cycle ammo with both reliability and accuracy, so here’s where we got down to business. We fired a wide mix of ammo to this end: CCI Blazer, CCI Mini Mag, Remington Thunderbolt and Yellow Jacket, and finally, Federal Premium Hunter Match.
Accuracy with the simple “irons” was exceptional at 25 yards and easily be covered by a quarter. At 50 yards, things open up just a bit, but many of the holes are still touching and no doubt some of the spread is due to a rather wide front blade. At 100 yards, we were limited again by the bold front sight, but I’m confident the AR-7 would be more than acceptable for providing food and protection in a SHTF scenario.
Plus, it is an enjoyable gun to fire on the range, so win-win. What we were expecting to be a limiting factor on accuracy—the trigger—was actually better than expected given the questionable history of AR7-style rifle’s creepy, hefty pulls. The trigger on our new Henry AR-7 broke repeatedly between 3.5-3.75 pounds on Lyman Pull Gauge when using Lyman snap caps for firing pin protection. We opted to forego mounting an optic, though the 3/8-inch Picatinny-style grooved rail would easily allow such, as the receiver will not fit into the buttstock with either a scope or red dot attached.
Don’t Leave Civilization Without One
If hindsight was 20/20 and I had to ditch, I’d feel good about having this kit, plus a few extra supplements and ammo. Could you simply purchase a Henry AR-7 for the gun at $100 real world prices less and assemble your own takedown and bug out bag? Most likely, but if you actually priced each American-made piece included, you might be in the hole.
Whichever way you play it, though, the Henry AR-7 survival rifle is a legitimate contender in the market, that I don’t ever foresee being without; and for the right price, I’d happily purchase it as the kit as well. Henry just found a way to up the cool-meets-practical flair of the James Bond/Sean Connery approved AR-7 style survival.
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