The Handi-Rifle series of break open single shot guns produced by Harrington-Richards/New England Firearms offers versatility that AMOST rivals the Thompson Center Contenders and Encore guns. Both are break open single shots that can be had with barrels in several calibers that are interchangeable, but H&R does not stress that feature nearly as much as Thompson does. While Contenders and Encores can use virtually any barrel made for their respective model with no fitting or alterations, H&R prefers the customer to send in their action to have an additional barrel fitted at the factory. H&R does offer shotgun barrels, however, that can be “fitted” to the Handi-rifle action – but they only offer rifle and carbine length barrels, not the handgun length barrels that are the trademark of Thompson Center – and I have a soft spot for sngle shots and hunting with them.. Changing barrels is actually easier on the H&R, as there is no hinge pin to remove and then replace. I have both types of gun, and like them both.
Several years ago I acquired a Handi-Rifle in .22 Hornet for my wife. This is a really pleasant little rifle to shoot, very accurate. We have used it to take quite a few coons and several smaller feral hogs. A very useful gun, but not what you would call “pretty”. Recently I have been “jazzing up” some of my older guns, and when the time came for the Hornet to take it’s turn, I began by putting a Scope skins wrap on the 4X12 UltraView scope mounted on it. I had enough material left to cover the receiver, also. Even though the metal of this gun was in really good shape, I rust browned the barrel – just for a color contrast.
Next, the plastic stock needed to be replaced. I chose a laminated “thumbhole” stock in a camo color scheme with a matching fore end. The stock was fairly easy to install – only one screw attaches it, but after I received the set I learned the fore end does not fit without what H&R calls a “Meld adaptor” that mates the squared end of the fore end to the curved surface of the receiver. H&R did not have any of these adaptors, and Brownell’s – whom they recommended as a source – listed the part as no longer available. After some internet searching, I finally found a seller of used parts – Al Bolduc, of Siloam Springs, Arkansas – The Gun Garage (www.gungarageparts.com) who had these plastic adaptors, and ordered one. When it arrived it was a quick job to screw it to the fore end.
In my opinion, what we have now is a pretty “wild” looking little gun that is very useful as a truck or back door gun for varmints and pests that can also be used for bigger game if necessary. I already had a Lee Loader for .22 Hornet and a supply of 45 gr .22 hollow point bullets, so I ordered a set of Lee dies to really get serious about optimizing my .22 Hornet ammo. Maybe I’ll get other barrels for this action, when I decide which caliber might be the most entertaining. H&R makes barrels up to .45/70 and even .500 S&W, if the need for a stout cartridge spitting heavy bullets calls to me!