Wisconsin – -(Ammoland.com)- I was once in the same room as Bill Ruger, the founder of Ruger firearms. I must admit I did not get to talk to him.
I also met Fred Bear in the 1970s, the pioneer in bow-hunting and the manufacture of archery equipment. I missed meeting Elmer Keith, the father of the .44 mag cartridge by 20 minutes. I never got to meet Horace Smith, Daniel B. Wesson, Eliphalet Remington, or Sam Colt; they were long gone before my time. Once I had a conversation with Major Uziel “Uzi” Gal, the world-famous Uzi submachine gun designer.
With the exception of Fred Bear, what all these names have in common is those men were the “captains” of the firearms industry in their time. They were the “face” of their firearm brand—the man behind the gun.
Henry Repeating Arms is celebrating its 25th Anniversary.
If you own a Henry, there is a good chance you have seen the drawings of the face of Benjamin Tyler Henry. Benjamin T. Henry was the inventor of the original Henry lever action rifle of 1860 and the first successful repeating battle rifle.
The modern Henry Repeating Arms Company has captured that design, entrepreneurial drive, and motivation and forged a new manufacturing mission. In twenty-five short years of building firearms, Henry has grown to produce the world’s best quality lever-action rifles (and shotguns). I know there are other lever-action rifle manufacturers, but at this stage, nobody can equal the quality, customer service, and total output numbers of the Henry folks.
Anthony Imperato is the face of modern Henry production and the man who demands the best customer service in the firearms industry. Mr. Imperato comes from a family dynasty of over a hundred years in the firearms industry, starting in the retail gun business, branching into the wholesale end of firearms, and then moving into firearms manufacturing.
Mr. Imperato’s maternal side of his family was in the retail firearms business established near the office of the New York (City) Police Department starting in 1911. In the 1950s, after returning from the Korean War, his father, Louis Imperato, worked for his in-laws as the family firearms business branched out to the import-export and domestic wholesale sales side of firearms.
Anthony Imperato told me that in the 1980s, “we had lost our way in the firearms business, and it was actually time to reconfigure or get out (of the gun industry).”
So he took a loan out on his own home, leased a warehouse in Brooklyn, NY, bought some used equipment, hired a handful of people, and started the Colt Black Powder Arms Company. He was licensed by Colt to make historical handguns and long guns under license from Colt’s Manufacturing. This starting point established the ability of the father and son team of Louis & Anthony Imperato to manufacture firearms, and the “need” to branch out and produce modern firearms was born.
Twenty-five years ago, in March of 1997, the first Henry 22 caliber lever action rifle was shipped. Louis Imperato owned the Iver Johnson firearms brand, but by 1997 it was very “dated” and perhaps a little too obscure for the potential modern firearms buyer.
Anthony Imperato advised me there was a bit of a heated discussion between the father and son about using the Iver Johnson name, and he suggested the name Henry and the two men agreed. American firearms history was born based on that agreement.
To date, the original model H001 Classic Lever Action .22 Rifle that started it all has been produced over 1 million times. When I asked how many Henrys in total have been manufactured, Anthony Imperato said, “I believe it is in the 4 million guns produced range.”
“To be the best long gun company in the firearms industry” was the answer to himself over the question (in the early days of Henry Repeating Arms) of what Anthony wanted the company to be. “And what that meant to me was manufacturing a quality American-made product, at an affordable price, backed by the best customer service.”
My contact with the folks in the retail firearms business who sell Henry firearms is hearing the continued comments about Henry’s outstanding customer service in backing up their products. The gun dealers like it because the customers are happy should an issue arise. A problem gets fixed, repaired, or replaced as fast as modern shipping allows. After manufacturing a quality firearm, the primary benchmark of Henry Repeating Arms is customer service.
As for the Face of Henry Repeating Arms, that face, Anthony Imperato, is “out there” promoting and standing behind every firearm he makes. He wants to hear from the “Henry Family” of Henry shooters. He loves to work the crowds of Henry shooters at sporting events, and he will talk to anyone about his rifles.
I have spent time with Anthony Imperato and some of his crew at several events, and it is just fun because we are all gun people, and we love to talk guns. With over one hundred years of family involvement in the firearms business, Anthony Imperato knows the good and the bad of past firearms manufacturing history. He has the stories to tell, and when you are talking with him, whether you just met him or have known him for years, he is talking with “you,” and you appreciate it. This is why he is “The Face of Henry Repeating Arms.”
Henry Repeating Arms moved from New York City to New Jersey and later opened limited operations in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. The international headquarters for Henry Repeating Arms is now in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. In addition, there are extended operations in other locations as Henry continues to expand. Henry Repeating Arms has grown dramatically from the old days in Brooklyn, NY, branching out from a handful of employees and one .22 LR lever action rifle to employing over 550 employees and manufacturing over 200 different models in a wide range of calibers and finishes.
Mr. Imperato has handed over the day-to-day operations of Henry Repeating Arms to the new president, Andy Wickstrom, who leads Henry Repeating Arms internationally and all that that implies. What this has done, though, is freed up Anthony Imperato’s time as the Founder and CEO of Henry Repeating Arms to enhance his primary mission in life. That mission is to tell the story of his American firearms brand.
COVID-19 has limited travel for many, but for Mr. Imperato, the time has come to hit the road. To travel in a fun, laid-back semi-retired way, expending his energies telling the Henry story and meeting and greeting with the Henry shooting family of consumers, dealers, and vendors. Reassuring Henry owners that they make an excellent choice buying a Henry firearm and perhaps convincing them it is time to expand their Henry ownership horizon.
I suggest a large map of the US at their headquarters location with bright colored pins used to keep track of Anthony Imperato’s latest road trips used to tell the gun owners of America just how well “Big Henry” is doing!?
Quite an accomplishment and success story with 4 million quality made American firearms in 25 years. And it does make a person wonder what great things will happen in the next 25 years.
Mr. Anthony Imperato, you are “THE FACE OF HENRY REPEATING ARMS.”
Learn more about Henry Repeating Arms and order a free catalog at henryusa.com.
Major Van Harl
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” firstname.lastname@example.org