Many firearm enthusiasts may not know it, but a garden gun is a smoothbore firearm used by gardeners and farmers to rid themselves of pests, and it's been around for a while. Throughout the years, big companies such as Remington, Marlin and Winchester have produced variations of this concept. The new Garden Gun by Henry Repeating Arms is the latest take on the garden-gun theme.
When I was a young boy, we lived in a big farmhouse next to an even bigger barn. The barn was so big, we used it as a garage and the school board parked several school buses inside. After my father presented me with my first BB gun, I was assigned the task of ridding the barn of pigeons roosting in the rafters. As you might imagine, pigeon droppings aren’t compatible with school buses. It was a great learning experience and the start of my love of shooting. I sure could have used a garden gun back then, but the thought of such a thing never entered my mind.
The Henry Garden Gun is a smoothbore variation of Henry’s Classic Lever Action .22 with an 18.5-inch round barrel, a tubular magazine holding 15 rounds and with darkened ash wood stock and fore-end to make it distinctive from other offerings in Henry’s extensive lineup. Weighing just 5.25 pounds unloaded, it is a lightweight, easy-handling little lever action with a trigger breaking at a crisp 3.5 pounds.
The only game in town these days for .22 LR shotshells is CCI, which, in fact, makes an extensive line of pistol-caliber shotshells. The .22 LR shotshell contains 31 grains of No. 12 shot at a claimed velocity of 1,000 feet per second. In my experience, it is marginally effective on critters like poisonous snakes when fired from short-barreled handguns because of the small shot and large spread of the pattern. Assuming the pattern would be tighter from a longer barrel, I was anxious to see what patterns the Garden Gun could produce.
Since most critters like snakes are often disposed of at close range, I fired my first test target at a mere 6 feet. I was pleased to see the pattern was very dense in the center and had an extreme spread of only about 8 inches. You never seem to have a poisonous snake handy when you need one, so I settled for shooting at the “head” of a snaky-looking stick. The shot load at snake-shooting range was very effective in shredding the snake stick.
Backing up, I next fired a pattern at 15 feet. While not as dense in the center, the pattern was evenly dispersed and had a maximum spread of about 9 inches. I think it would be quite effective in dispatching small pests at this range. I sacrificed a water bottle for testing and was pleased to see it shredded in dramatic fashion.
At 30 feet, the pattern was evenly spread in the center with stray pellets dispersing out to about 18 inches, a pattern I think suitable for eliminating pigeons in the rafters as well as garden pests. Stretching things to 45 feet, the Henry Garden Gun still produced a number of centered pellets, so I’m going to agree this little smoothbore is effective at “garden” distances.
The Henry Repeating Arms Garden Gun is a smooth-handling, lithe little gun. It’s very quiet when fired with shotshells, so it’s not likely to disturb the neighbors while conducting pest control. You can pick one up for pest-control needs for $421.