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The Henry repeating rifle was an American .44 caliber lever-action breech-loading rifle designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry in the late 1850s. The Henry rifle was an improved version of the earlier Volcanic Repeating rifle. It used brass rimfire cartridges containing 25 grains (1.6 g) of gunpowder to a 216 grain (14 g) bullet. 900 Henry rifles were manufactured between summer and October 1862; by 1864, production had peaked at 290 per month. By the time production ended in 1866, approximately 14,000 units had been manufactured.
The rifle's original list price was $42; as of 2004, an original 1862 Henry rifle may bring $14,000 (one sold in November 2006 for $60,000) in the collectors' market. For a civil war soldier, owning a Henry rifle was a point of pride. Although it was never officially adopted for service by the army, many union soldiers purchased Henry rifles with their own funds. The brass framed carbines could fire at a rate of 28 rounds per minute when used correctly, so soldiers who saved their pay to buy one often believed that the rifle would help them survive. They were frequently used by scouts, skirmishers, flank guards and raiding parties, rather than in regular infantry formations. To the amazed muzzle loader armed Confederates who had to face this deadly "sixteen shooter," it was "that damned Yankee rifle that was loaded on Sunday and fired all week." Not many Confederates could obtain the Henry repeater, few were captured in battle and Confederates lucky enough to get one would have trouble having to get its metallic cartridges. However the bodyguards of President Jefferson of the Confederacy carried Henry rifles.
After the war the Henry rifle proved itself out west, the rifle was used by many native Americans at the battle of the little Big Horn in 1876, the Indians armed with Henry rifles proved to be superior compared the soldiers single shot Springfield trapdoor rifles.
Manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company, the Henry rifle would soon evolve into the famous Winchester Model 1866 lever-action rifle. With the introduction of the new Model 1866, the New Haven Arms Company would be renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
As a memorial to B. Tyler Henry, the letter "H" is on the bottom of Winchester rimfire ammunition. (He developed the cartridge as well as the rifle).