This is perhaps one of the rarest Henry reproductions ever made and the first one I've seen in 35 years of collecting. This rifle recently came from a collector who bought it back in the mid-1980's. For starters, this was one of the first 500 early Navy Arms Reproduction Henry Rifles that were actually made in the United States in the late 1970's/early 1980's. It's my understanding that the Navy Arms tooling was sent over to Uberti to be manufactured in Italy shortly thereafter. Within the original 500 Henry's were a small group of Union Pacific Railroad Tribute Rifles that was slated for no more than 100 units. In that group, there were an even smaller handful of rifles offered in .44 Rimfire instead of 44-40. And to get even more outrageous, Navy Arms offered a carbine version that had a 22" inch barrel instead of the standard 24". So that said, here is an early USA made Navy Arms Henry Carbine, UPRR Tribute, in .44 Rimfire. Because it's in .44 Rimfire, which hasn't been manufactured since 1935, this qualifies as an Antique. It also comes in the original box AND we were able to find an original February 1981 edition of Guns and Ammo Magazine which features an article debuting this Henry.
When I was a teenager growing up in the 1980's, my dad had the patience to put up with a son who was fascinated with history and old guns. There was only one gun shop way out on the edge of town that specialized in black powder and antique guns and that is where I constantly asked to go whenever the chance arose. It was a renovated log cabin with an American flag on the front that was called J & B Antique Arms. The shop was owned by Bud Carpenter and his son Mark Carpenter who, realizing my father's predicament, offered to let me hang out whenever I wanted. If not for Bud and Mark, I never would have had the opportunity to learn all the things I did about collectible guns. I would usually bring my lunch, oil down the guns on the racks, sweep the floors, and in exchange, I got to read everything I could get my hands on and a free ginger ale from the coke machine. Was I lucky to have met them and while their shop is long gone, many of my sometimes overly-long ad write-ups are a form of repayment to Mark and Bud for all of the hours they selflessly gave teaching a curious kid about their field. One thing they had in the corner of the shop were four big boxes on the floor of old gun magazines which they sold for 25 cents each. There were old Man at Arms, American Rifleman, and my favorite, Guns and Ammo. Since I couldn't afford books at that age, I would sift through the magazines and usually purchase a dollar's worth to take home every week. I went through those boxes from top to bottom in search of magazines with articles about Winchester lever actions. Well, I don't know how I missed it, but one day back around 1985, I found this Feb. 1981 copy of Guns and Ammo...probably opening it because of the Marlin 39 on the front cover only to be stunned to find this article by Rick Hacker on this UPRR Tribute Henry. Of course I bought it and took it home, absolutely fascinated with Hacker's account of an original UPRR Henry Rifle being lost in a firefight between a UPRR surveying crew and hostile Indians in eastern Wyoming in 1867. The UPRR employee killed with this Henry was a surveyor named Lathrop Hills who was last seen galloping downhill on horseback before being overtaken. While the surviving crew members were able to recover Hills's body, the Henry Rifle was lost forever in the wilderness. This was two years before the Transcontinental Railroad was finally completed connecting the West to the Eastern railroads. The story of this skirmish sank into local lore around prompted a remarkable 25 year search by a retired UPRR employee named Peter Keenan who eventually unearthed Lathrop HIlls' UPRR Henry in the year 1917! Talk about grit. This was long before the days of metal detectors and Keenan had to rake and plow for decades before he found it.
The UPRR tribute was a collaboration between Val Forgett of Navy Arms and Guns and Ammo writer Rick Hacker who had previously written an article called "Guns of the American Railroad" in 1977. The U.P.R.R. stamping on the left side of the receiver is an exact duplicate taken from Lathrop Hills' relic Henry now on display at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Nebraska. The right side of the receiver has an individually engraved (not stamped) inscription by Rick Hacker that reads: "To commemorate the iron bond forged between guns and the railroads that helped unite the American frontier". Over the next 33 years, I would occasionally reminisce about that old article and wonder if I would ever actually see one of those UPRR Navy Arms Henry's. When I finally found this one, I almost couldn't believe my eyes. In a strange way, I wonder if that's how Peter Keenan had felt that day in 1917. For me though, this rifle was a ghost and of all places, it came from my home town from another dealer who had set up shop there around 1987 and sold it to a customer...only to buy it back in 2018. Small world.
Overall Condition is NRA Excellent+ to Mint. Being .44 Rimfire, it has never been fired. The bolt has dual rimfire firing pins just like the original Henry rifle. Barrel is stamped "44 R.F." on left side with the Henry's Oct 16th patent date and Navy Arms adress on the top of the octagon. The barrel, lever, bolt, hammer, and screws are nicely blued while the stock is made of select grain American walnut. Being an early American made Henry, these Navy Arms reproductions have a few features not carried over to Italian production Henrys such as the 1873 Winchester style lever catch, safety, and sideplate screw. The box is numbered to the gun with original packing partitions and plastic bag. I cannot find a manual or instructions. There is a rip in the top of one side where the hammer spur punched through the wall years ago, otherwise its in very good condition. Since reproductions of pre-1898 weapons in percussion, flintlock, or obsolete calibers not readily available are considered antique under federal law, no FFL is required. I have heard a rumor that out of the first 500 Navy Arms made just around 25 Henry's in .44 Rimfire never to be produced again. The rest were 44-40. Whether that figure is accurate or not, I cannot confirm although maybe I can ask Forgett's son the next time I see him set up at a show. What I can say is that this is this is the only one in .44 rimfire I've ever seen. Here is a once in a lifetime chance to own one!