The Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle from Henry Repeating Arms. Don’t Leave Civilization Without One. That’s what Henry says. With the popularity of survival rifles, takedowns and other 22LR rifles the last handful of years, I am sure the U.S. Survival AR-7 has seen its share of purchases.
At first glance, I will admit that this rifle looks…gimmicky. The orange sight, the plastic look and feel. I thought this was going to be junk, honestly. What got me to take a look at it further were three things. First of all Henry has a great reputation for making high quality American made rifles, most notably their lever actions. I have one and I love it. So, I couldn’t see Henry putting out something that was only a gimmick. Secondly, I found out that the original AR-7 was designed by none other than Eugene Stoner, of AR-15 fame. Definitely a guy who knew what he was doing. This was designed for Air Force pilots to throw under their seats in case they went down in enemy territory. Maybe not an M16, but better than nothing. Third, let’s face it- it’s pretty cool. I am a fan of takedowns and pack rifles, and this definitely fits the bill.
As a sidenote, Sean Connery even used an original AR-7 in one of the Bond films. It seems that James Bond always seems to help gun sales.
The U.S. Survival Rifle AR-7 is a 22LR Semi-Auto. It’s light, weighing in at a little over 3 pounds. And apparently it’s even waterproof. The action, barrel and extra magazine all pack up into the buttstock. The buttstock’s cap seals to make it waterproof. Oh, and I can’t forget that supposedly this floats. I haven’t tested this out, but I did read about a guy who lost his AR-7 and found it months later in a pond and it was just fine. Pretty cool. You can check out the additional specs here.
I have had the Henry U.S. Survival Rifle for years now and have a lot of experience with it. I got a couple accessories for it- a 22 scope, an extra mag, bipod and compact soft case.
In the box is the rifle, two mags, instructions, lock, and if I remember right it came with an extra front sight. Assembly is simple. You thread the action into a slot in the buttstock and then screw the barrel onto the action and that’s it. If you drill it, you can get pretty fast at it.
Even though this is a very inexpensive rifle, I still read up about it before I purchased it. There were complaints about this rifle, which I will take up as we get into more details.
Let’s get this out of the way first since I may refer to it over and over. The Henry U.S. Survival Rifle was $250 out the door. I got the black model from a local dealer and was around $215 or so. There is a camo model which usually retails for $299 and I find the black one is usually retailing for $250. There used to be a silver model, but I think Henry discontinued it. I figured for $250, what could I lose?
Funny enough, the AR-7 is very accurate out of the box. I’ve never done any mega long range plinking or really tested the limits beyond what this was meant for, but from 50-75 yards this was more than acceptable. In fact, at smaller yardages I was hitting the same point over and over. I did adjust the rear peep over time, but this exceeded what I had initially expected out it. It has an adjustable orange front blade and this sort of punched steel rear peep. The set-up seems sort of cheap, but again it was surprisingly accurate. Function over form, I guess (I did find a lot of aftermarket accessories including threaded barrels, steel black sights, alternate stocks and other things for the AR-7. Turns out there is quite a community of AR-7 lovers out there).
I don’t love the trigger. It is a metal blade and is not very comfortable to shoot over a longer period. But then again, this rifle was really not designed for all day plinking. Still, I do wish it had more of a comfort factor in its trigger. It works and fires when it is supposed to. Never had an issue with the trigger for years and many, many rounds.
If you start to read up on other reviews on the U.S. Survival AR-7, this is one of the beefs you will run into. People complain about its reliability due to failures to feed. If you read the manual, it says right there that the rifle is best with and actually designed for .22LR high velocity rounds to cycle best. When I have used decent high velocity rounds like CCR Mini-Mags, I have not had a failure to feed with one exception that failed to feed big time — Remington Yellow Jackets. If you look when these jam, you can clearly see that this rifle does not like the truncated cones. If you’re using Winchester or Remington Golden Bullets, CCI Mini-Mags or any other high velocity .22Lr round, they cycled just fine. So you can consider this a slightly finicky rifle, but just find the rounds that work well and keep a good stock of them (easier said than done with 22LR these days).
As a comment but not recommended, I put some Aguila Super Colibris through this rifle. If you are not familiar with these rounds, they are quiet 22 rounds that use the primer to fire (est. 500 fps muzzle velocity) and are substantially quieter than normal 22 rounds. I did get them to work in the U.S. Survival Rifle, but only by manually cycling the bolt. But they did work. Still, I don’t recommend ever using a rifle for rounds other than it was intended for, obviously. Do as I say, not as I do. The Aguila Super Colibris seem closer to 22 Shorts to me, and are fun as hell in a lever action, but I digress.
This was very simple to take apart and clean. As is normal with 22LR rifles, they get dirty very quickly and this does not have too many internal parts. Be careful as there is a plastic piece, the Action Spring Guide (wish it was steel), that you can easily break when cleaning, so just a heads up. But if you do have to clean it in the field or out hiking, this is good to know.
The Henry Ar-7 has a 3/8″ Dovetail. I added a Simmons 22Mag 4×32 rimfire scope. Great set-up and puts the shots where I want them without spending an arm and a leg. I just couldn’t see myself throwing even a $100 Nikon on a $200 rifle. The Simmons was around $40 from Amazon. Clear glass and does the job.
Henry ships the U.S. Survival Rifle with two mags. However, there is enough room built in the stock that if you want to keep one mag in the action, you can put the other two mags in the stock, holding a total of three 8-round mags. I liked the idea of having 24 rounds ready to roll. But I am sure I am the only one…
I also picked up a steel adjustable clamp-on bipod by UTG from Amazon for $20. There was a plastic clamp-on for $11, but for $9 bucks more, go with steel. Splurge. Even with the accessories it still weighs in at around 4.5 lbs so is still very manageable in a backpack.
All in all I was very surprised with this little rifle, and since I read the instructions I don’t have as many complaints about it as you may read from others. I have found this to be a fun, accurate and mostly reliable addition to my collection. Even if I gave it a horrible review, I doubt it would kill the AR-7’s popularity amongst new and old gun owners alike.
So if you are looking for an occasional plinker, SHTF rifle, survival rifle, a pack rifle, a rifle to keep in the back of your truck or to even take out in the fishing boat, the Henry U.S. Survival Rifle AR-7 may just work for you. That it has a secret agent James Bond feel doesn’t hurt.
Thanks for reading our review on the Henry U.S. Survival Rifle AR-7, and keep on protecting the 2nd Amendment and exercising your Constitutional Rights. -BGR