Learn the Ins and Outs of The Henry U.S. Survival Pack
As seasoned outdoor enthusiasts, we typically prepare well in advance for our upcoming adventures. Got a hunting trip coming up? Better recheck the zero on your trusty rifle, get your camo ready, and check the weather and sunrise for that morning. Taking the family fishing? Gather up your rods and reels, check your tackle, and gas the boat up. The point is we all probably have a mental checklist of things we need to do and items we need to gather so we are prepared for a fun and successful outing. But what if our adventure takes a turn for the worse? In moments like these it’s good to have a plan and contingency toolkit. Enter the Henry U.S. Survival Pack. In this article I will review the full contents of the kit including the AR-7 rifle. Now, you can go online right now and find dozens of articles and comprehensive video reviews on the Henry AR-7. It has been around since 1959! With that being said, this review will not be an in-depth report on the rifle. Rather, it will be a review on the package as a whole and how it may benefit the Great Days Outdoors readership to have the kit on hand in the event your adventure turns sour.
What’s in the kit?
Allen Soft Case
In order to carry all of the items in your Henry U.S. survival kit, Henry provides a nylon soft case made by Allen. The case is a “clamshell” opening design that is padded on the inside to protect the AR-7 when broken down and has two front pockets to hold ammo and other equipment. One of the pockets has elastic banding sewn inside to secure items such as mags, flashlights, multitools, etc.
Esee Knives is a well-known name in the survival and bushcraft world. For those unfamiliar with the company, their bread and butter is high quality, hard-use knives offered at a very reasonable price with an incredible lifetime warranty. Their Firesteel is a simple piece of 1095 carbon steel that can be used to strike flint with char cloth, strike a ferrocerium “fire” rod, or be used as a divot for a bow drill. It comes packaged in a tin that is used to make char cloth and other pre-charred kindling. While most of our readers will probably have a lighter or two in the camp kit I think this tool would be great as a last-ditch backup or for teaching young aspiring outdoorsmen and women how to make fire in a primitive setting. As a bonus, it also does a fine job of cracking open a bottle of beer.
Buck Rival Folding Knife
I’m going to assume that the average Great Days Outdoors reader already understands the importance of carrying a quality blade to begin with. That being said, this knife is better than having no knife at all. While certainly functional, it is still a small lockback knife and not suited for hard use tasks in the field. The drop point blade is 2.75“ long and made from 420 HC stainless steel. The injection molded handle includes a pocket clip and has a nice finger groove for a positive grip. It held a decent edge when performing light camp chores and resharpened quickly with a pocket stone. As long as you realize the knife’s limitations it should serve you well in a dire situation.
H&H Mylar Emergency Blanket
A mylar emergency blanket is always a great multipurpose item to keep in an emergency kit. Unopened it takes up very little space, weighs next to nothing, and this offering by H&H is a nice upgrade from the cheaper versions that are prone to tearing easily. Measuring 84” x 56” when opened it is large enough to construct a quick pup tent, use as a signaling device during the day, and (of course) you can use it as a blanket to keep you warm. On one particularly cold solo camping trip I draped one across my Snugpak Ionosphere prior to placing the rainfly on top and it increased the temperature significantly.
100’ 550 Cord
Ahhh… Good old 550 cord. The uses are endless! Guy lines for makeshift shelters, shoelace replacement, material for lashing objects together, and tripwires for campsite security just to name a few. The “guts” can be used as fishing line, to make trot lines, and small game traps. With 100 feet of 550 cord and a little know-how you can get a lot done in the field.
Accidents can happen at any time and having a tourniquet on hand to deal with a massive blood loss situation can be the difference between life and death. Developed by a former USAF Para-rescue Journeyman (PJ), the SWAT-T Tourniquet is a multipurpose device that can be used as a tourniquet, pressure dressing, and an elastic bandage. An EMT and ER Nurse friend of mine swears by this product and says that it is also great for use on children.
Aquamira Frontier Straw Water Filter
The importance of staying properly hydrated cannot be emphasized enough. Even mild levels of dehydration can ruin your outdoor adventure and when your water runs out the first priority should be finding more ASAP. Designed for the backcountry, the Aquamira Frontier Straw packs a lot of filtration power in a compact package. It is certified by the EPA to remove 99.95% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia spores (the most common waterborne illness bugs) and reduces the chemical taste when using with iodine tablets or other water treatment products. Lastly, the Frontier Straw is capable of filtering up to 30 gallons of water. These types of straw filters are best used with sources of running water such as a creek or small stream if you can find one.
Datrex 1000 Calorie Emergency Ration
As a person who would never even consider eating something like this except (maybe) in a true starvation situation, I had to take one for the Great Days Outdoors team and chow down so you folks could get an honest review. I did a little research beforehand and discovered that among the different emergency rations on the market, these were considered to be the most palatable and enjoyable to eat considering what they are. The ingredients are simple: Wheat flour, Vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco), Cane sugar, Water, and Coconut flavor. Being a health conscious guy, the thought of eating a bar made of flour and Crisco was… off-putting. The bars are packaged in a vacuum sealed foil and are individually wrapped in 250 calorie portions. To be honest, the taste was not bad at all. It had a nice mild sweetness and subtle coconut flavor. My only gripe is that it crumbled way too easily making it difficult to grab and eat. An emergency kit should have a source of calories in it and with a 5 year shelf life the Datrex Emergency Ration is a viable addition.
Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle
A reliable .22 rifle that shoots true is one of those tools that is always good to have in your toolbox. Many young hunters have cut their teeth on .22 and honed their marksmanship skills, ensuring ethical and clean taking of game. No matter where you may find yourself it can be used to take small game and provide some level of defense should you need it. Ammunition is small and cheap enough that you can bring along mass quantities of it with you. The AR-7 is a great example of a no-frills, reliable pea-shooter that simply gets the job done. The fact that it is a light takedown rifle makes it easy to bring along with you anywhere!
Weighing in at 3.5 pounds the Henry AR-7 sports a 16.25 inch steel barrel that is covered in a tough plastic to reduce weight. The steel receiver has a dual peep rear sight, retractable side charger, and a 3/8 inch grooved rail on top. 2 eight round magazines complete this neat little package. The receiver, barrel, and 2 magazines fit inside the buttstock securely in their respective channels and there is no wobble or shake. The rubber buttcap grips the stock firmly and provides a watertight seal. Ergonomically speaking, the rifle feels good despite its seemingly awkward looks. Cheekweld is comfortable and lines up naturally with the sights, balance is pleasant, and the placement of the safety is similar to the Remington 700. When taken down, the rifle is small enough to fit in various packs if you need to carry discreetly for whatever reason.
Assembly is quick and simple. First, remove the rubber buttcap and take out the receiver, barrel, and magazines. Next, place the receiver in the front channel of the stock and hand tighten the receiver bolt until it is secure. Be careful not to overtighten as this will make breaking the rifle down a hassle. Once the receiver is firmly attached to the stock, pull back on the side charger a half inch to allow the barrel to seat. Then, hand tighten the barrel nut, load a mag and you’re ready to go.
I did a fair bit of research on the AR-7 prior to this range trip and the general consensus was that it runs best with high velocity ammunition. Standard velocity .22 reportedly became problematic once the rifle began to get dirty. As I do before shooting any new firearm for the first time I gave the rifle a thorough cleaning and made sure any moving parts had plenty of lubrication before heading to the range.
The ammunition used for the AR-7’s first range trip consisted of 200 rounds of Remington 22 Thunderbolt, 50 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag, 50 rounds of Aguila High Velocity, and 50 rounds of Federal Premium Gold Medal Match. All ammunition was 40 grains and fed through the rifle without a single malfunction. I was fully expecting the AR7 to choke during my rapid fire “mag dump” segment but it ran like a top. After completing the function testing and zeroing, it was time to start laying down some respectable groups. All of the ammunition patterned well at 50 yards, but the tightest groups were made with Federal Gold Medal Match (no surprise here) and CCI Mini-Mags. Two things I learned from shooting the AR-7: 1.) It is capable of very respectable accuracy and I’d be more than happy to take it on a squirrel hunt. 2.) Loading 350 rounds while having only 2 eight round mags was a pain in the butt!
Things to be aware of
After running the AR7 through its paces at the range and in the woods there were a few idiosyncrasies that I had to make note of. First, the rubber buttstock cap became flimsy in the Texas sun and did not hold on very well while it was hot. In cooler temperatures it held on firmly and securely with no issues. This can be remedied by keeping the rifle in its case or covered away from the sun when not in use. Second, the front sight was not very secure in the sight post. When zeroing the rifle I could move the front sight with little effort using my thumb. One can imagine a number of scenarios in the woods where simply bumping the front sight could completely throw your zero off. I plan on using some glue to secure the front sight in place for future use. Lastly, there is no way to mount a sling for hands-free woods carry. I’m sure I could figure out a way to safely add one but it would have been nice to at least have a way to add a loop mount of some sort. This is not a negative, just a suggestion. Ultimately, this rifle is what it is: an affordable and reliable takedown .22 designed to be used in a survival situation.
Henry put together a great survival kit to build on. All of the items in the Henry U.S. Survival Pack cover the basics: food, water, shelter, fire, and protection. I’ll add a compass and map of the area along with a multi-tool of some sort to round it out. The AR-7 was a pleasant surprise for me. It goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover. As a younger guy I never gave the rifle a chance all because of how it looked. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the overall functionality of an item as opposed to just how it looks. Henry lists the MSRP of the complete kit at $550 although several online vendors have it at a much cheaper price.
Where I see this kit being useful for my fellow Great Days Outdoors readers is as an addition to your current loadout. The Henry U.S. Survival Pack is small enough to throw in your vehicle and I think it’s always good to have an extra firearm around when you get away from civilization. With its encased takedown design I think it would also be able to withstand being cached at a hunting camp. All you would need to do is rub some grease on the receiver and down the barrel, put everything in the buttstock, duct tape the border of the buttcap, and wrap it in a plastic bag. Lastly, I think it would be a fantastic gift to give to a young, aspiring outdoorsman or woman. I can already picture myself and my brother taking my nieces out to the woods and teaching them how to use all of the items inside the kit! How to use the Esee Firesteel to make a fire with a bow drill, how to make a little pup tent out of the mylar sheet and 550 cord, and how to assemble the rifle, hunt a squirrel, and then skin it using the small Buck knife.
In closing, I’d like to thank Henry Rifles for sending me the Henry U.S. Survival Pack and giving me the opportunity to review it for our readers.