Everybody knows you can tell a Henry lever action rifle from other rifles, modern and old, by the lack of a loading gate in the receiver. Well, no more.

Today at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Indianapolis, Henry Repeating Arms unveiled its very first lever action rifle with a loading gate. BUT, it also has a removable magazine tube, like most other Henry lever guns, making it unique.

You can have the best of both worlds. You can quickly load and unload a full magazine tube’s worth of ammo when necessary without having to work the action to eject every round, and you can use the loading gate to top of a magazine tube when you need to without removing the tube.

The New Jersey- and Wisconsin- based gunmaker says the new Henry Side Gate is offered chambered for .30-30, .38-55, and .35 Rem.

Henry Side Gate
The shooter can elect to reload with the loading gate or the rifle’s removable magazine tube. The Henry Side Gate will be initially offered in 30-30, .38-55, and .35 Rem. Henry Repeating Arms

To me, this is a fantastic bit of new gun news. Like a lot of shooters, I’ve become a big fan of lever guns over the past few years. I love Henry’s removable magazine tube, as I’ve wrestled with them far less than I’ve wrestled with a stubborn loading gate, especially on a new rifle. And its always good to be able to load and unload a firearm without cycling every live round through the action.

However, the tacticool demon on my shoulder is always whispering that it is simply unacceptable that the mag tube can’t be topped off when necessary.

I mean, technically you can top off a Henry with a removable mag tube, but unless you leave the action open (which is not how the gun is meant to be loaded) and eject a perfectly good cartridge while doing it, you’re waving your hands around the muzzle of a loaded gun. Plus, on longer barreled rifles, there’s really no way to remove or replace the mag tube with grace, or, say, while behind cover.

The Henry Side Gate, to me, is perfect. You get all the benefits of the removable mag tube and the one small downside has been addressed the best that it can be on a lever gun. And for those who simply prefer to use a loading gate, they can do so.

Now for some specs.

Henry Side Gate
The left side of the Henry Side Gate, which includes a hardened brass receiver and an American walnut stock. Henry Repeating Arms

The receiver of the rifle utilizes Henry’s signature hardened brass, which has the same tensile and yield strength as steel, and comes drilled and tapped to accept a scope base. The American walnut stock is laser engraved with deep checkering and scrollwork, with the forearm inset with the “HENRY” name.

The round 20-inch blued steel barrel uses rifling with varying twist rates depending on the caliber and features a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight and an ivory bead front sight.

There are no external safety features on the Side Gate Lever Action rifle. A patented in-hammer sliding transfer bar safety guarantees the rifle will not fire unless the hammer is cocked and the trigger is pulled. MSRP is $1,045.

“The advent of the new Henry Side Gate solidifies Henry Repeating Arms as the first name in lever actions. For those who have been patiently waiting on a Henry with a loading gate, we have delivered – and then some,” says Henry President and owner Anthony Imperato.

“It is no accident that our modern lever action rifles take inspiration from the legendary 1860’s era Henry rifle that started it all. Today’s Henry firearms retain classic looks but take advantage of state-of-the-art technology to build reliable, accurate and modern lever actions that are second-to-none. However, there has always been a segment of the market that prefers a loading gate. With the dual loading options, it’s the best of both worlds,” says Andy Wickstrom, Henry’s vice president and general manager.

So who can’t wait until they put out a Side Gate version of their All-Weather and Big Boy rifles? I know I’m in line.