View Full Version : NEF Handi Rifle

October 5, 2009, 08:36 PM
I am thinking of getting a New England Firearms Handi Rifle in 45-70. Maybe one in another caliber too (270, 30-06, or 243). What are your thoughts of the gun if you have or had one?

October 5, 2009, 08:51 PM
I have one in .223 - not the most accurate - but will do for plinking - I wouldn't use it for serious PD shooting. Fairly light, so I would imagine that a 45-70 will have some fairly stout recoil

October 5, 2009, 09:00 PM
I have a Handi-rifle in 45-70. I put a NECG aperture on as a rear sight. It is a fine shooter. In addition, t's a strong gun, able to stand up to some pretty stout loads. A real thumper.
It is accurate as well. I have not tried for groups with the thing - not with heavy loads - but it did shoot right where I was aiming every time.
The down side for some folk will be recoil. It's not a heavy gun, despite sturdy construction, and it does come back when shot.

October 5, 2009, 09:47 PM
If you buy one, you can have other barrels including shotguns fitted by the factory for very reaonable prices!

October 5, 2009, 09:53 PM
one synthetic handi in .45-70 and another in .243 both great guns and pretty accurate. I'm thinking of getting a 410/.45colt barrel and cutting back to 16" for backpacking

Old Grump
October 5, 2009, 10:04 PM
Have the predecessor, H&R in 308, cheapest centerfire I have and the most accurate, go figure. It's my main deer gun and the gun I use for hunting class fun competitions.

Rusty W
October 5, 2009, 10:04 PM
I've owned the NEF in .223 bull bbl, .243, .270, and .45/70. The .223 shot 1-1/2" at 100yds with cheap factory ammo. I reload and using BLC2 powder and Fed Match primers with a nosler 55gr BT it would shoot 1/2" groups at 100yds. If you shoot from a bench, rest the rifle behind the forearm, just in front of the trigger guard. The .243 and .270 would also shoot well with factory ammo. I didn't work up loads for them. You wouldn't want to shoot the .45/70 from a bench much. It has some recoil to it because it is a light rifle. I didn't shoot factory ammo through it because it cost too much. I loaded 300gr jacket hollow point and 405sp using IMR 3031 and H4895. It would clover leaf a 3 shot group at 100yds. I really liked the .45/70. It can be loaded mild or wild. I've since sold all the NEF and replaced them with bolt guns just because I wanted a repeater. I replaced the .45/70 with a Ruger #1.The rifles are great for the money. I sometimes wish I would've kept them....so many toys and so little money.....

October 5, 2009, 10:19 PM
Thanks guys, enough said, I'll have one soon and report on my experiance.

October 5, 2009, 11:06 PM
90 gr Sierra FMJBT with 42gr of H4350 moves out at 2951 and produces 1.3" groups at 100 yards. Great varmint gun out to ≈ 400 yds. It goes everywhere I go in the winter.

Dave R
October 5, 2009, 11:18 PM
Ah, yes. The buttcuff "magazine." Favorite accessory of NEF shooters.

My bull-barreled NEF Handi Rifle (UltraVarmit) shoots 1/2-3/4 inch groups with my handloads. It has dis-assembled many a varmit.

October 5, 2009, 11:23 PM
I have a NEF .45-70 that I am selling currently. It's a very accurate gun. Mine is scoped and has the fixed express sights. I'm asking $325 + shipping to your FFL. It's in great shape, but it does have a large amount of recoil as it is so light.

October 6, 2009, 01:20 AM
I have one in .223/12 Ga. and another in rimfire set up with 17HRM. Both are serious tack-drivers, can't even estimate how many varmints they've turned the lights off for. Love em both to death.

roy reali
October 6, 2009, 07:16 AM
I believe the these rifles are the best gun bargain today.

You can even get one in .500 S&W.

October 6, 2009, 08:29 AM
I have one in 7mm-08 great hunting gun. Thinking of getting a 243 barrel for it.

Superhouse 15
October 6, 2009, 09:03 AM
I had shot one in .223 that was MOA with loads it liked. I put lots of rounds through that one. I would consider that a very good value. A customer bought one in .500 S&W and liked it, but he ordered aftermarket polymer stocks and they did not fit without much swearing, sanding, grinding, and swearing. Not sure if that is a different version or just a bad set of stocks. The .500 was not MOA accurate, but use of hot reloads and flinching may have been a factor for that one.

October 7, 2009, 08:59 AM
I have a Handi in 45/70 Govt, I love it.

Very versatile cartridge, easy to reload.

Make fun loads down to 780fps or put the bear down loads 420grns 1900 fps

If you shoot lead bullets and reload, the rifle loves Trailboss.

The action breaks open on mine if I attempt to fire any 500grn bullet. I stick to a max bullet size of 420grns

My favorite load is 380 grn LRN using 16grns or TrailBoss, Sweeeeet (This is my load, please consult your reloading manual or manufacturer data before reloading your own)


October 8, 2009, 10:22 PM
Wow thanks for all of the info, now that everyone eles has read it, it'll be damn near imposible to find a NEF out there. I can't wait to get mine.:D

October 10, 2009, 10:15 PM
OK guys, I went to the gun show today and returned with of all things. A H&R Topper (same as the Handi Rifle) in 22 hornet. I still have enough to buy another Handi Rifle and I'm thinking of 30-06 or 270. I can't wait to shoot this little bad boy, anyone out there have a 22 Hornet that can give me insight? Thanks guys.:D

December 29, 2009, 06:25 PM
Hi new to the site I just bought a 243 handi rifle for my son. Every time I shoot it the gun opens up after firing. Everything seems to be tight even when closing the barrel up feels like it locks up fine. Just after every shot it opens. Other than that it shoots great 1/2" groups at 100yards.
Thank You Matthewdew

December 29, 2009, 06:38 PM
Ah yes, the good ol' NEF Handi Rifle.. Top choice for mall ninjas everywhere. :D

In all seriousness, though, buy with confidence.. They are pretty good rifles.

December 29, 2009, 06:44 PM
Hi new to the site I just bought a 243 handi rifle for my son. Every time I shoot it the gun opens up after firing. Everything seems to be tight even when closing the barrel up feels like it locks up fine. Just after every shot it opens. Other than that it shoots great 1/2" groups at 100yards.
Thank You Matthewdew

If the rifle is new you should be able to send it in for warranty work through the H&R 1871 web site. If it is used I'd still send it in but expect to pay for the reapirs. I wouldn't shoot it until you get it fixed. However, this isn't the first time I've heard of that happening. I read somewhere where a person had the same problem with a 500 S&W Handi.

December 29, 2009, 06:49 PM
Every time I shoot it the gun opens up after firing. Everything seems to be tight even when closing the barrel up feels like it locks up fine. Just after every shot it opens.The HandiRifle is designed to have the locking block clean and dry (and the owners manual clearly states this). Chances are, the gun was oiled and there is oil on the locking surfaces that is causing them to seperate under recoil. Dry off the oil, both from the lug of the barrel and the locking block in the receiver, and it'll probably not open up again under recoil.

December 29, 2009, 10:56 PM
Yea I have a friend that traded for a used one and got ripped off to start with. After getting it he had that problem with it opening up. They thought it as dirt or something on it. They have had other issues now too. I looked at the gun and wasn't impressed at all. I wouldn't buy it at all because I didn't really like it but if I did want one I couldn't see paying more than 100 bucks for it. At any more than that it seemed like a rip off. For not much more if anymore than one you can get a Savage or Marlin that would be a lot nicer.

December 30, 2009, 12:03 AM
i dont know about any mall ninja stuff but my handi rifle shoots1-1.5 in 100 yrd. groups. its a 243 with a burris scope. love it.

December 30, 2009, 12:06 AM
the 45-70 is one of the most accurate H&R calibers, along with the 30-30

(both of which I have)

definitely buy it, but you will turn into a handi-holic...

also, look into Greybeard's Outdoors... TONS of info on the handi rifle

December 30, 2009, 10:45 AM
1.5" groups isn't that good. I have friends with both Savage model 10 packages you can get for $400 at Walmart and seen posts of Marlin XL-7's that cost around $300 and both have shot under 1" groups. So why pay that much and have a single shot that has issues with staying closed after shots that isn't as accurate? What's the advantage to it?

December 30, 2009, 11:09 AM
I have had 3. Bought a .280 for my now ex-wife, so now it is my ex-rifle. The .280 was cool because it was one of the few Handis offered with a 26" barrel. That one was a tack driver. Built and installed my own muzzle brake on it. Kicked like a .223.

Bought another for my son when he was 14 in 30-30. Loaded it with 130 grn. Barnes X with IMR 3031. It shot great.

Currently have one in 7mm 08. Cut the barrel back to 18". I use it for river bottom whitetails. Works great for that. I haven't spent alot of time on load developement for it yet, but I'm sure I can find a load to make it shoot pretty good. Right now it wears a 2.5x shotgun scope. Groups an inch or less at 50 yds., which is where I set my zero on this one, off the hood of mt truck. One day I'll get serious and put it on the sand bags to see what it can really do.

December 30, 2009, 11:38 AM
What's the advantage to it? Ergonomics and cost.

It (like all single-shots) is a terrific field rifle; trim and easy to carry, short (since it has no reciprocating bolt) for any given barrel length, excellent balance for offhand shooting, and it can easily be set up for a right proper cheekweld. All of these attributes make the HandiRifle a very useful critter for still hunting. The fact that I can buy a HandiRifle for field use, a backup to leave in camp, and a significant supply of hunting ammo all for the same cost as just getting a T/C or a Ruger #1 out-the-door doesn't hurt so much, either. The Ruger #1 is sexy, but the HandiRifle is practical. I tend to take the Handi in the field instead of my other single-shots simply because it doesn't matter to me if it gets scratched up.

For playing at the range off a bench or hunting-shooting from a box stand, it probably doesn't have nearly the appeal.

December 30, 2009, 01:32 PM
I purchased one a few years ago in .308
Had problems with a poorly cut chamber causing failure of the extractor. Sent it back but problem was not fixed. Sent it back again and got a replacement barrel in 308 (for free) to fix the problem. Also paid for a new barrel in .223

The .223 barrel shoots about 3/4" @100 yrds. I had problems initially with the very slow twist rate that only stabilized bullets under 50 gr. H&R/NEF denied it was the twist rate, but also could not tell me what twist rate it had. After I counted for myself and calculated I needed under 50 gr, the improvement was huge.

The .308 barrel sometimes swings open when shot and only shoots 3" @100 yrds. As I was informed by customer service manager, you just have to be careful to five it a firm "snap" when you close it. Tried two different scopes, lots of ammo, and spots of epoxy on the barrel to take up the looseness on the action, but no improvement. Next I will try lapping the barrel.

I also got a half price deal in a topper deluxe shot gun for my trouble. It is fun to shoot but not interchangeable with my rifle parts.

With manufactured goods today it is the luck of the draw.

December 30, 2009, 02:42 PM
It's been my experience that there is a fair variability in the manufacturing of the HandiRifle. If you get a decent one (and the four that I bought have all proven to be keepers), you're going to be a very happy shooter. If you get a bad one, then it's going to be very frustrating to try to make a shooter out of it. IMO, it's better to send it back for rework or simply have the factory fit a replacement barrel than to try to figure out how to make it work well. Given that they only charge $90-$130 for replacement barrels, I cannot see it being worth my time to troubleshoot a bad one.

December 30, 2009, 02:47 PM
On Greybeard's outdoors, they have a whole section of the forums on how to make your handi a great shooter. these are VERY knowledgeable gents and ladies.

Old Grump
December 30, 2009, 03:35 PM
Mall Ninja????????????????? Wow!:rolleyes:

My 308 is all over the place with lighter bullets, with 178 gr and 180 gr I shoot 2" or less at 300 yards and that is the best group I can get with any centerfire rifle in my house. It is also my cheapest centerfire. With 165 gr bullets of any type I am lucky to stay in the scoring circle at 100 yards. Need to find what your gun likes. Take into account it has a 1-10 twist rate.

December 30, 2009, 11:35 PM
I love my handi rifle and hope to buy additional ones. Mine is very accurate and built like a tank. They are very popular around here and I have never heard of anyone with a complaint. I have no desire to hunt with any other rifle. I am 100% sold on the handi rifle.

December 30, 2009, 11:40 PM
The old guy who runs cattle where we hunt gave one to his grandson last year and my hunting partner set up the scope, etc. for him. This past week, he missed a hog and suspected that the scope was off. They wasted a box of ammo trying to get it sighted in to no avail. They gave it back to my buddy to try and work on.

What he found was that the rifling is extremely shallow and fouls after only a few shots. He cleaned it really well with bore scrubber and it would shoot a good group for about 3 or 4 shots then start scattering them. After another cleaning, it would settle in again.

Willie Lowman
December 30, 2009, 11:46 PM
I had one in .223. It was terribly inaccurate. I tried Remington, Federal, and Black Hills ammo of different weights and two different scopes. I couldn't get better than a 3" group at 80 yards. Unacceptable. I gave the rifle away.

December 31, 2009, 12:49 AM
i think 1-1.5 in. shot group is very good considering i was using remington cor-lokt bullets. i bet i could shrink that group pretty easy with some better ammo. i have right at 400 dollars in my rifle and scope. pretty good gun for the money in my opinion. mine has never opened up when i shot it. if it did im sure H&R would fix it.

December 31, 2009, 02:18 AM
Given that they only charge $90-$130 for replacement barrels, I cannot see it being worth my time to troubleshoot a bad one.

My sentiments exactly. Not trying to be judgmental, but usually when I hear complaints about a bad-shooting rifle that I've known from experience to be very accurate, I tend to suspect the shooter first--THEN the rifle if the shooter pans out. I have two: one in .223 and another in .17HMR. BOTH will shoot dime-sized patterns at 100 yards all day long. Lets look at the facts. The platform itself is one of the most solid and stable--being a break-action. The mechanics are extremely simple, and reliable if everything is mated up correctly. So that leaves one of two variables: a problem with the shooter, or a case of the "monday-manufacture". The first is self-explanatory. The second is pretty obvious too, and more easily solved. Somebody wasn't quite 100% in the game when finishing out a barrel blank. OOPS--it happens with auto manufacturers all the time. They do warranty their rifles, and from my dealings with them they demonstrate a reliable customer service. Last time I talked to them was over a broken firing pin and a yote shoot pending. Their suggestion was to send them the receiver--mine was to send me a replacement pin so I would have my rifle of choice in time for my plans. After establishing with one of their smiths that A) I was qualified to do the install and B) they would still honor my lifetime warranty afterward--with the exception of my paying for another pin if I happened to break it while installing, they over-nighted the pin to me free-of-charge with their blessing. The rifle is still one of the best varmint rifles I own without a single hiccup--especially considering the next cheapest I own is easily 5-times the cost off the shelf without considering optics or anything else.

Why fuss over something that isn't worth the fuss? Troubleshoot with a few obvious things--load variables, bullet grain differences, etc. If that doesn't solve it, then make the call, send it in, and let them deal with it.

December 31, 2009, 02:53 AM
I have had the same problem with the twist rate on my .204 Handi. It only likes 32-34gr.. With the 45gr. Hornaday it was keyholing at 50yds. very badley, but i would buy another. Thinking of geeting a .243 barrel for it. Of the 2 shotguns and 1 rifle in H&R or NEF i have i love them all and hope to get many more.

December 31, 2009, 10:28 AM
I had a Handi Rifle in 30/30, great shooter and super easy to carry. Group size wasn't amazing but more then acceptable. Then, my gunsmith buddy at the local shop ackley improved the chamber and we got some handloads worked out with spitzer pointed .30 cal bullets. I'm not a handloader myself so I have no idea what grain or powder we used. But it made all the differance. 3/4" at 100 yards off the bench and easy 200 yard game killer. Not that I have shots like that here, lol.

As for the .22 Hornet, one of the funnest rounds out there. My best friend got one, and started reloading for it cause ammo was a little hard to find in Va. It was a CZ bolt with the european style military/training stock. Pretty cheap stock actually. That thing would liquify crows at 100 plus yards. Viscious on groundhogs when we waited long enough to see one to, lol. Its small and light recoiling, but super fast flat shooting and really hard hitting for what it is. I don't do alot of coyote hunting anymore bit if I start, that will be the round I'm throwing at them.