Tuesday, September 16, 2014

That Old Handi Rifle

I've changed my hunting area this year, getting closer to home, and the simple fact is that I don't need a long-range rifle.  Indeed, my longest shot will be on the near side of 75 yards.  I surely don't need a flat-shooting .25-06, nor a hot loaded .243, nor even my old trustworthy 30-06.  So, I was perusing my battery this year for the deer rifle of choice, and my eyes fell upon my old .45-70 Handi-Rifle.

The .45-70 is an old cartridge, originally adopted by the US Government as a centerfire rifle cartridge in 1873 as the round for the 1873 Springfield rifle.  Originally known as the .45-70-405, it threw a 405 grain lead bullet to about 1400 fps.  The .45-70 is a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and handloaders have to be careful when they're loading the old cartridge.  It's one of only a few that are loaded to different power levels, depending on the action type.  A modern Sharps, or Ruger #1 can handle a whole lot more pressure than an original trapdoor Springfield, and handloaders should be careful when loading this cartridge.

Regular readers know my fondness for the Handi Rifle, a single shot rifle built by Harrington and Richardson, it's chambered in a variety of calibers and are very useful game-getters.  I've written about my Handi Rifles before, at my domain site, and if anyone's interested they can click over there and take a gander.

So, I took it out of the cabinet for a closer look.

Very basic rifle, not unlike similar rifles that were used on the frontier long ago.  Some say it's almost a direct descendant of the Frank Wesson rifle, a crack-barrel poor man's rifle.  Mine isn't even scoped, instead I mounted a Williams peep sight on the rear of the barrel.

At 7.5 pounds, it's not a light rifle, but at 37 inches, it's handy.  When you're throwing a bigh honking 405 grain bullet, you don't want a light rifle.  When you're pushing that big lead bullet at almost 1600 fps, it'll rattle your teeth.  The load below is interesting, but I can't recommend that anyone try it, simply because it isn't listed as a viable load these days.

You won't find that load in any of the reloading manuals today, indeed I found it several years ago, and even then, it's below minimum.  However, today IMR 4895 isn't popular in the old government cartridge and you won't find many loads for it.  This load is safe in my rifle, but cautious handloaders will check their manuals before trying a load in their rifles.  Again, the .45-70 is one of those cartridges that can be loaded mild or wild.  If you load a wild cartridge in a mild rifle, it might come apart on you.  Be careful in handloading for this old cartridge.  The usual caveats apply.

I think that the old Handi Rifle might be just the ticket for my new hunting area.  I'm certain that the rifle and the cartridge are capable, they've been taking game for over 100 years.  The question, is am I capable?  We'll see.


Old NFO said...

It'll get your attention, even at 7.5 lbs worth of rifle! :-)

Sport Pilot said...

It does get ones attention, but is such a remarkable value when one can find one.

Gerry N. said...

About ten years ago I acquired an H&R Topper rifle in .30-30 Winchester. Research indicates it was made in 1964. A little while ago I got an Ace Dube adapter in .32 ACP. Shooting that is just plain fun. Interestingly it is also a legal deer gun in WA State, proving beyond doubt that State beaurocrats, at least in decision making positions are crazier than sh*t house rats.

I've got one of Ace's adapters for shooting .30 M1 carbine in my 308 Win. cal Ruger #1.

The .30-30 Topper really shines when loaded with 00 shotgun pellets lubed with Lee Liquid Alox , push sized .309" with the Lee sizing kit and loaded in .30-30 cases using a Lyman 310 tool.
I use 8 gr of Unique which yields almost no recoil and reliably groups 1 1/2" at 50 yds., a good plinking load that doubles as a rabbit, snake and grouse load. Yes, In WA State, grouse can be taken with a rifle or pistol.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking that I should sight in my Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 in case I want to use it in the November deer

No handloads yet. Do have some Barnes
copper slugs in Cor-Bon ammo.
I think they'll work OK.

Anonymous said...

I just bought one in 44mag and had the barrel shortened to 16 inches.It shoots 3 inch groups at 100 yds with the same load that I use in my Marlin.Fun little gun.