Since my initial review of the Henry AR& “Survival” rifle (http://guntoters.com/blog/2017/03/12/henry-ar-7-u-s-survival-rifle-model-h002b-product-review/), a couple of upgrades have been made to the firearm that I would like to share.The first of these upgrades was a Red Dot sight, which is a BKRD30/22 unit from TASCO (http://www.opticsplanet.com/tasco-1×30-22-reddot.html) that has a simple red dot, step adjustment for dot intensity, and built-on dovetail rail to fit standard 3/8″ rimfire style bases.
The second major upgrade was to the rear sight. As I mentioned in the original review, Jeff Quinn at Gunblast.com had drilled out the larger of the two rear sight apertures to 0.125 inch (1/8”) on his Henry AR7. I decided to do the same. After all, the rear sight is a $4 item and if destroyed would not break the bank to replace it.
The drilling out of the rear sight really made a difference at the range. The sight picture was obviously larger than with the standard sight aperture. For distances from twenty-five yards to thirty-five yards (or so), I was still maintaining a fair degree of accuracy. As the barrel warmed up; however, accuracy started falling off. I was not surprised at his loss of accuracy. The standard barrel is an ABS plastic steel lined barrel coated in Teflon for complete protection from the elements. Essentially, the barrel is simply a rod with a hole in the center that happens to be rifled. While not a tack driver by any means, I did feel that the accuracy could be improved with a better barrel.An order was placed at https://www.ar-7.com for an AR-7 Sporter Barrel Complete. 416 Stainless Steel, 16 ¼” barrel, twist 1:14, clear coat barrel nut with a contrasting black front sight. The barrel will also store in the stock; a definite benefit. Although AR-7.com does offer target bull-barrel configurations, some even with barrel shrouds, the ability to store the barrel was more important than not being able to store the barrel. The barrel, by the way, comes with a black front sight installed. However, it cannot be exchanged with the standard Henry AR7 blaze orange front sight. The front sight is reminiscent of the front sight of the Ruger 10/22 and is screw-mounted onto the barrel. At the range, the front sight loosened after about sixty-rounds. A small dab of blue thread sealer should keep the screw from loosening.
The barrel is machined well. So well, in fact, that it is a tighter fit into the receiver than the stock barrel. The fit is snug. I found that by pushing the barrel inward while tightening the finely-knurled barrel locking nut ensured a positive engagement of barrel-to-receiver. The SS barrel, like the stock barrel, has a guide pin that provides proper orientation of the barrel to the receiver, which also ensure that the front sight is in a straight line to the receiver.The resulting look of the receiver/barrel combination might put some off since the receiver and barrel are now contrasting. Some might say that the barrel, now being shiny, might reflect sunlight and give away your position. Say, what? If that bothers you, there is this great stuff called high-temperature paint with which you can paint your barrel to your heart’s delight. AR-7.com does stock barrels in black, and which can make your AR7 as “Tacticool” as you like.
I almost forgot to mention that, unlike the stock barrel unit, the SS barrel has a built-in feed ramp that better ensures proper chambering of fresh cartridges.
Of course, the major question is, “Does the AR-7 perform better with the aforementioned upgrades?” For me, the answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!” Groups closed up quite a bit with the new barrel while shooting the same CCI Mini-Mag ammunition as I had with the standard barrel. While not “Target Grade” accuracy by a long shot, the MOS (Minute of Squirrel) accuracy had definitely improved at twenty-five yards.
Putting things into perspective, the Henry AR7 “Survival” rifle is not one to be shot often or long. For me, the AR-7 is a plinking tool that will be shot occasionally to maintain proficiency with, or for some friendly competition with my friend and fellow AR7 operator, and which could be stuffed into a backpack for an occasional walk-a-bout or stored in a vehicle as a tool to be used in certain emergencies. With that said, there are better and more accurate “survival” tools, but I have to give credit to the AR-7 for compactness. The AR-7 Sporter Barrel does not take away from the compactness and does provide a higher degree of accuracy, with or without an optical sight. With that said, I have ordered an inexpensive scope to wring out more accuracy that a red dot optical sight can provide my aging eyes.
I have had excellent experiences with the SightMark line of scopes on my CZ527, AK-variant, and a shotgun or two. The SightMark 4×32 SM13077LR scope, with its 4-inches of eye-relief should be a good addition. It is compact and should be a good companion for a compact “Survival” rifle in .22LR caliber.
Overall, I am well-pleased with the upgrades to the Henry AR-7 “Survival” rifle and I highly recommend the AR-7 Sporter Barrel from https://www.ar-7.com.