Thrifty, Classic, Gorgeous New Rifle: H&R 1871 .38/55
August 27, 2007
I saw one of these at a gunshop not long ago. Man, they are classy! And I've heard of people getting them very cheaply. New, they're about $320. I hear they're very accurate---like, inch groups at 100 yards.
I like so many things about this gun. Simplicity. Affordable. The checkering. The schnabel fore-end. Long, heavy octagon barrel. Curved metal buttplate. Peep sights. Weight-forward balancing gives Kentucky squirrel-gun feel. Low recoil caliber, yet sufficient for deer.
I couldn't find any pics online that really show how neat these guns look. I'll take some of my own the next time I see one.
Here's the brand homepage:
The one caveat I've seen is a pretty important one: my preferred .38/55 cartridge for this gun is in the Target Model. I have a hunch why they call it target. It's a big bullet for a small case, yet it would seem fine for deer, certainly at moderate Michigan ranges. It's a .30-30 with a straight case. Its heavy 250-grain bullet flies pretty slow even though it's accurate, only about 1200 fps! That's hardly supersonic, so it's probably even a very quiet gun. The problem is that such low power won't expand a modern bullet! A bullet needs to expand to kill a deer. Back in the 1871 era this rifle is patterned after they used soft lead bullets. Today, bullets are made extra-hard to tolerate super high-power gunpowder. So, I want to check this out more. Does any maker offer a true deer-load for this cartridge? Hollowpoint and soft lead would be good. No jacket needed, for one thing.
Another popular aspect of this rifle is that the new Cowboy Action people are into it. And, again, hunting performance isn't needed for such target shooting.
The other cartridge this rifle is offered in is the far more popular .45/70. This round is VERY popular with the vintage gun buffs. It's a huge cartridge with huge bullet that goes fast enough to expand. It's a fine hunting round. The thing is, it kicks. This rifle is a lightweight, so it kicks a LOT in this gun. I hate that. Oh well! Still, maybe it would be OK. Actually, a .44 mag pistol kicks a lot, too---but it's a good kick---so maybe there's that. Maybe it's a good kick. I know that people are REALLY into the .45/70 so maybe it has a blackpowder feel. Actually, they might offer blackpowder loads commercially for the .45/70---I think they do. So you can get your smoke, too.
A scary postscript: I'm starting to come around to accepting things like camo-plastic gunstocks and non-glare stainless barrels. I now see a certain postmodern charm in them. And they certainly have ruggedness---abuse em all you like, they don't care. Use that gun like the tool it is. And the critters don't see em. And maybe they're darn lightweight---for an easy long carry. (Hey, I even see a place for the ATV on occasion!)
H&R 1871 Buffalo Classic, .45/70
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