Benjamin Tyler Henry

Developed Henry rifle and cartridge

B Tyler Henry left school at the # age of 16 to begin his career as a machinist. Almost immediately he became involved with firearms. His apprenticeship was served with J. B. Ripley & Co., gunsmiths of Claremont and patentees of a "waterproof rifle" which had been developed in 1839. This gun has been described as an intermediate step between the Hall breech-loading flintlock and the Spencer cartridge repeater. It was never popular, but it did provide young Henry with a knowledge of the problems of breech-loading and repeating firearms. After his service with Ripley there followed a series of short terms with various gun shops, including the Springfield Armory, terminating about 1842 with his employment by N. Kendall & Co. which merged in 1843 to form Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence.

At the Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence Armory, Henry had his first contact with the system which he was later to perfect into the Henry rifle. This was Lewis Jennings's improved version of Walter Hunt's "volitional repeater", which the armory started to produce in 1850. Here also Henry first met Daniel Wesson and later Horace Smith, who were developing their Volcanic arms. When the New Haven Arms Co. was organized by Oliver Winchester to make Volcanic arms, Henry joined the firm and supervised production.

It was during this period that Henry devised the improvements in these arms which led to the Henry and the Winchester rifles. In 1858 he began experimenting with a .44 rimfirc cartridge which he soon perfected. Then he adapted the Volcanic rifle to use the new ammunition. He altered the bolt and divided the firing pin so that it struck both sides of the cartridge rim and so reduced the chances of misfires.

A patent was granted on these features in 1860, and the Henry rifle was put into production. Henry received no royalty for his inventions but was allowed to hold a contract for their manufacture which netted him over a 5-year period some $7,500 more than he would have made if he had retained his salary as superintendent. He left Winchester in 1866 and operated a machine shop in New Haven until his death.—Harold L. Peterson

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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