Beating over 150 other products, the 2019 “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” was Henry Repeating Arms’ Big Boy All-Weather lever-action rifle.
The contest is “meant to showcase the top industry in our state and all the cool things we make here every single day,” Kurt Bauer, the contest organization’s president and CEO, said in a press release.
“Not only do we make cool things in Wisconsin, the careers available in manufacturing are pretty cool, too,” Bauer stated. “As we celebrate manufacturing month this October, it is important to recognize the nearly 500,000 Wisconsinites who make not only the coolest things in our state, but in my opinion, around the globe.”
According to the contest website, more than 240,000 people voted to pick the winner from 160 nominees, with the top 16 products running against each other in a tournament-style bracket. The top four products then competed in a final popular vote, with the Big Boy winning out. The rifle is manufactured in Rice Lake, Wisc.
"Being a company with a large presence in Wisconsin, and specifically Rice Lake, is something that we take a great deal of pride in,” Andy Wickstrom, vice president and general manager of Henry Repeating Arms, told America’s 1st Freedom. “It was incredible to see the amount of support we received throughout the duration of the contest from the local community and our fans around the country.”
The Big Boy All-Weather is the new generation of the company’s Big Boy lever-action models. It is designed to be a “working gun” with hard-chrome plating and a moisture-resistant, industrial-grade coating. The previous versions were available in .30-30 Win. and .45-70 Gov’t, but the Big Boy All-Weather uses three popular handgun rounds: .44 Mag./Spl., .45 Colt, and .357 Mag./.38 Spl. Gun owners can therefore use the same ammunition in both a revolver and the Big Boy All-Weather rifle.
Wisconsin has the ninth-highest percentage of hunters and fishers nationwide, according to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. (2011 is the last year they included state-specific data.) The contest results seem to reflect that heritage, with the rifle winning and the runners-up being a custom specialty vehicle, a clay target machine, and an outboard motor.
“I love to hunt and fish in the beautiful Wisconsin country. I did it with my dad and now I do it with my boys. Many people come here for vacation, but we’re fortunate enough to live here,” Wickstrom said.
The Big Boy All-Weather’s suggested retail price is $1,050.