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Old November 10, 2013, 09:26 PM   #1
Jay24bal
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H&R Handi-Rifle

I am toying with the idea of picking up a H&R Handi-Rifle in 500 S&W. The gun will purely be used as a range toy. Occasionally (every couple years) I do some hog hunting with dogs where the shots are very close, and I may use it for that, but for this discussion, consider it a range toy.

What I am wondering is, does anyone have experience shooting this gun in one of the larger calibers it is made for (500 S&W, 45/70, 7mm)? It is a rather light gun, and I am wondering what the recoil is like and if the gun is well made enough to handle a couple thousand rounds over the years?

I reload so the cost of ammo will not break the bank. I am just intrigued and think shooting 500 out of a rifle would be fun, all for under $300.

Any experience is welcome. Even if you have only shot the rifle in the smaller calibers, let me know your thoughts on the durability of it and if you think it could handle heavier-hitting rounds.

Thanks.
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Old November 10, 2013, 10:28 PM   #2
idek
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I ran some numbers through a recoil calculator.

Looking at Hodgdon's reloading site, some of the most potent loads are 500 gr @ 1482 fps (with 33 gr of powder). I read somewhere about someone getting about 350 extra fps out of a rifle length barrel, so that would bump velocity to around 1830 fps.

H&R lists their 500 S&W at 7 lbs. (though in my experience, H&R weights may be up to a pound off one way or another).

Entering that data, one recoil calculator came up with 49.63 ft/lbs of recoil energy. That's about 2.5x as much as a 30-06 in typical rifles and about the same as a 3" 12 gauge load (without getting into the subjective punch vs shove issues).

At the other extreme, some loads using Trail Boss powder have specs such as:

370gr @ 746 fps (with 8 gr of powder). This probably won't gain 350 fps from a rifle, so assuming about 1,000 fps (which still might be generous), this would come out as a measly 7.32 ft/lbs of recoil.

Since you reload, you could probably find something that worked well for you without beating you up too much.

As for the gun holding up, even hot 500 S&W loads have slightly less pressure than most 30-06 loads, and H&R has been making those a long time.

Last edited by idek; November 10, 2013 at 10:59 PM.
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Old November 11, 2013, 01:54 AM   #3
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Most of the weights listed for H&R's rifles are on the high side. They're using lighter (cheaper) wood for the stocks, and it can shave up to a pound off the listed weight. The synthetic stocks are lighter, as well. Adding the fact that the big bores have lighter barrels, just makes matters worse.


I have a 6.3 lb Handi-Rifle in .444 Marlin, that I've pushed to its limits. With a 437 gr bullet at just over 2,000 fps, it has more recoil energy and velocity than a .416 Rigby launching 350 gr bullets at 2,600 fps in a 12 lb rifle, or a .450 Nitro 3.25" with a 480 gr bullet at 2,150 fps in an 11 lb double rifle. Needless to say, the heavy loads are not for the faint of heart.

If you back that off to .500 S&W (rifle) territory, with a 500 gr bullet at 1,700 fps in a 6.3 lb rifle, it is still on-par with the .450 Nitro. It's a little better with a 350 gr bullet at 2,150 fps, but you still have double the recoil of the average .30-06.


Quote:
As for the gun holding up, even hot 500 S&W loads have slightly less pressure than most 30-06 loads, and H&R has been making those a long time.
If you dig through the various NEF/H&R forums on the internet, you'll find quite a few reports of the .500 S&W guns beating themselves to death. The locking lugs and receiver just can't take the abuse. My .444 Marlin will share the same fate, if I keep feeding it the heavy loads; but I make that decision with the knowledge that I'm causing premature failure.
The same needs to be done with a .500 S&W Handi-Rifle purchase - you need to understand, ahead of time, that its life expectancy will be shortened by a steady diet of full power loads (including factory ammo).

Personally... I wouldn't buy one as a 'range toy', unless most of the 'range fun' will be had while standing. Shooting the thing prone, or sitting, would not be very pleasant for more than 2-3 rounds.
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Old November 11, 2013, 02:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
If you dig through the various NEF/H&R forums on the internet, you'll find quite a few reports of the .500 S&W guns beating themselves to death. The locking lugs and receiver just can't take the abuse.
Thanks for clarifying that. I wouldn't want to be passing on bad information.

Do you think their heavier (listed at 8 lbs.) "Ultra Hunter" line would hold up better? I don't see the 500 S&W listed, but 45-70 is, which might be a reasonable alternative.
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Old November 11, 2013, 07:32 AM   #5
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I've got a .45-70 Handi rifle (among others) and I use a 405 grain cast bullet, pushed to about 1800 fps. I'm not recoil sensitive, but that thing smacks me pretty good. If you have any loose fillings in your mouth, you'll know it.

Handis have their own peculiarities that we've learned to work with. For example, the locking shelf has to be absolutely bone-dry or the rifle might unlock itself in recoil. It's not a safety issue, because the bullet is long-gone when it happens but it is rather disconcerting to have your rifle open itself during the firing sequence.

The Handi is a great platform for lots of things. They're normally shorter than other rifles due to the action design, they're fairly accurate, and they're a lot of fun.
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Old November 11, 2013, 10:20 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback guys.

It is more the durability that has me concerned as I do not mind a lot of recoil, and that is what a lead sled is for.

I am just concerned with some of the things that have been pointed out in regards to the recoil lug and the locking block. I would most likely be shooting lower power reloads from the thing, but do not want a gun that will fall apart at 500 rounds. I doubt I would run more than 100 rounds through it a year, it is just the novelty of having a rifle chambered in 500 that is drawing me in.

The axiom appears to be true in that you get what you pay for. A $300 rifle handling repeated blows of 500 S&W seemed a little too good to be true.
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Old November 11, 2013, 10:53 AM   #7
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I haven't used any hand loads in my 500 Handi yet, but recoil with HSM 350 gr. HP is substzntial. Not a punishing "smack" on the shoulder, but more of a long, heavy push. Hornady 300 gr. FTX seems to be a bit lighted.
Right now I am working out some set up, and accuracy problems. I think the problem is with the height of the see through rings I mounted the scope in so the fiber optic sights could be used for very close up shots. I'm not getting a proper eye alignment with the scope, and I think I'm having big issues with parallax.
Thinking of either adding on a strap on raised cheek pad, using lower rings forgetting about the FO sights, or frogetting about the scope entirely.
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Old November 11, 2013, 12:10 PM   #8
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I have a Handi in .45-70. It is legal for "primitive weapons" season in Louisiana. I use the Sierra 300gr JHP at 1600. It lets you when it goes off and these are not really hot loads. The recoil is tolerable but I would not like to shoot a lot of rounds in a secession. I can't really comment to the extended durability of the Handi with these loads because I have fired just short of 100 rounds through mine. So far so good.


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Old November 11, 2013, 12:11 PM   #9
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my only memory i have is a 45-70 that had a 12gauge recoil pad on it. it shot about 8 or 10 rounds and then you put it away. luckily it went away,
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Old November 11, 2013, 12:48 PM   #10
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I have both a .45/70 and a .500 S&W ... BOTH HURT ME! I'm getting too old to be smacked around with heavy recoil. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to unload them, but I don't sit there and run 50 rounds like I might with many of my other rifles.
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Old November 11, 2013, 02:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idek
Quote:
If you dig through the various NEF/H&R forums on the internet, you'll find quite a few reports of the .500 S&W guns beating themselves to death. The locking lugs and receiver just can't take the abuse.
Thanks for clarifying that. I wouldn't want to be passing on bad information.

Do you think their heavier (listed at 8 lbs.) "Ultra Hunter" line would hold up better? I don't see the 500 S&W listed, but 45-70 is, which might be a reasonable alternative.
Just to clarify, by "locking lugs", I meant "barrel lugs". I don't see anyone arguing about the term, but I'm sorry if there was any confusion.

As for the Ultra-Hunter...
Most of the owners really like them, and they say the extra weight does help with recoil. But, there isn't a whole lot more to them. Depending on the chambering, they're 1-2 lbs heavier, but the weight is primarily in the stocks. The barrel lugs and receivers are exactly the same. I would expect durability to be the same.
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Old November 13, 2013, 02:07 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I guess the responses were what I was expecting them to be. It is a 500 so I figured the recoil would be substantial. And it is a $300 rifle, so I should not expect it to last for ten thousand rounds of such a powerful cartridge.

I am still intrigued and will add it to my list of potential guns to buy if I come across a deal on one. As I mentioned before, it would be a novelty item and range toy for me, so the priority is not all that high.
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Old November 13, 2013, 03:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
I guess the responses were what I was expecting them to be. It is a 500 so I figured the recoil would be substantial. And it is a $300 rifle, so I should not expect it to last for ten thousand rounds of such a powerful cartridge.
Nope.
Right now it's a $179 rifle.

Dick's has them on sale for $199, plus a $20 off all firearms under $399, for a sale price of $179 on all in-stock Handis.

I'd beat one to death, for $179.
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Old November 13, 2013, 10:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Dick's has them on sale for $199, plus a $20 off all firearms under $399, for a sale price of $179 on all in-stock Handis.
Man, a guy can not come here and throw out a single idea without someone enabling him

In all seriousness, thanks for the heads up. I will indeed call around, because I do not think I could come up with a better range toy for that price. Hopefully you see a new purchase/range report from me in the near future.
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Old November 14, 2013, 01:13 AM   #15
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Not a problem.
I've been trying to track down a .223 "Youth" model for my own amusement. ... I want the short barrel and iron sights.

So far, no luck. But, I only have 4 (crappy) stores within 200 miles of me, and only 1 within 100 miles. Even if they don't get one shipped in this week, it's not the end of the world.
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Old November 14, 2013, 11:07 AM   #16
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No luck

Well, I called all the Dick's in the area and no one carried it in 500. They all have 45/70 and 44's in stock and I was told the 500 is not something they have ever seen in the store. I guess I will keep my eye open for something in the future.
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Old November 14, 2013, 03:28 PM   #17
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Well, I called all the Dick's in the area and no one carried it in 500. They all have 45/70 and 44's in stock and I was told the 500 is not something they have ever seen in the store. I guess I will keep my eye open for something in the future.
That sucks. Dick's must not like the cartridge; or perhaps the .500 is currently out of production (temporary, most likely, since they're still selling barrels).
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Old November 16, 2013, 07:46 AM   #18
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That sucks. Dick's must not like the cartridge; or perhaps the .500 is currently out of production (temporary, most likely, since they're still selling barrels).
They make them in batches. When I was looking for my .30-30 Handi, I had to wait almost a year before I was able to order one. I know guys who waited several months to find a .35 Whelen. The "cool" calibers come and go, and they try to supply what people are looking for at the time.
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Old November 16, 2013, 09:39 AM   #19
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I have an acquaintance with a lot of big bore handgun and carbine experience. 5oo sw, 460, 480, 44 mag, and all the rest out of revolvers and carbine encore set-ups. He dislocated his shoulder with the 500 in an the Encore carbine.
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Old November 16, 2013, 05:31 PM   #20
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They make them in batches. When I was looking for my .30-30 Handi, I had to wait almost a year before I was able to order one. I know guys who waited several months to find a .35 Whelen. The "cool" calibers come and go, and they try to supply what people are looking for at the time.
Yea, pretty much all firearms are made that way.
H&R can do things a little differently, though, since they like to keep a lot of extra barrels on hand. It's a piece of cake for them to just slap a bunch of "accessory" barrels on new receivers, and ship them as complete rifles (as long as they have enough receivers). In the last 5 years, I've heard of at least 3 instances in which they did just that, due to higher than expected demand for certain models (such as the .35 Whelen and .38-55), while they had a reasonable supply of barrels.
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Old November 16, 2013, 07:46 PM   #21
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I'm shooting 43 gr. of IMR 3031 with a 405 Remington sp bullet in my 45/70, and it doesn't bark that much. I can shoot mine for long sessions without it hurting me and it's very accurate and fun. With near max loads I imagine it could get uncomfortable, but the 45/70 is very versatile.
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Old November 16, 2013, 07:49 PM   #22
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I bought my .45-70 Handi as a range toy. I only shoot cast bullet hand loads through it and most of the time I down load it to .45 Colt levels.

It's a very accurate rifle and if I decided to hunt with it, I'd load it up to trapdoor Springfield levels only. There's no point to hotting up a .457" round for hunting in most of the US. Unless you're going after polar or Kodiak bears, it'll shoot through all the game you're likely to encounter...

I went with the .45-70 over the .550 S&W because brass, bullet and molds are all cheaper and easier to find. Most of my loads are with Unique or 2400 and I get a lot of shots to the pound. The power is very comparable to a .45 caliber muzzle loader.

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Old November 16, 2013, 08:49 PM   #23
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A buddy once owned a H&R set up as a 58 caliber black powder rifle.

It was a kicker, but we would grit our teeth and shoot it anyway.

Way too light for the size of slug that was being thrown.
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Old November 17, 2013, 12:20 AM   #24
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I haven't shot any of the big bore Handi's but my friends heavy barreled .223 with 3-12x42 Nikon will make cloverleafs at 100 yards. His 52g bthp handloads are sub .5 MOA.

He shoots golf balls at 100 yards.

I've often though about Chambering one for 7.62x39 or 300 blackout and running subsonics for pest control.

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Old November 17, 2013, 12:53 AM   #25
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I've often though about Chambering one for 7.62x39 or 300 blackout and running subsonics for pest control.
Just pick one up with the .30-30 barrel, and load sub-sonic.
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