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H&R Stainless Ultra Hunter .45-70

After playing with the Thompson Center .45-70 handgun (see February's issue), my interest was spurred toward the .45-70 cartridge, so I thought I would check out a rifle in the same caliber.

I looked at several rifles and chose two. This one and another one that will be the subject of a later article.

I have always had a soft spot for the H&R line because they shoot so well. When I saw this one, I had to have it.

I have long been a believer that the person with a rifle that has only one shot will be a better shooter because they know they only have one shot to get the job done and must make that shot count.

I have owned many H&R rifles, and all of them shot great, with a couple shooting like target-grade rifles. I have one in the safe in .223 that is “one-hole” at 100 yards with my hand loads, and I have had many that shoot well under 1 inch. These rifles are easy to maintain, easy to clean, shoulder good, are lightweight, built like a tank and won’t break the bank.

One way to determine how well a rifle is built is to look at the Buffalo Bore ammunition website. They make super-high-performance ammo that is only designed to be shot out of guns that are very well made and almost indestructible. When they list the guns they recommend for use with their ammo, they do not list them all, but they do list the Handi Rifle.

This has always been a good source of information on who makes the most durable guns, whether it is a rifle or handgun.

The Ultra rifles are the ultimate combination of today’s state-of-the-art features and the simple, accurate, time-tested action H&R has built their name on. It opens smoothly with the push of a lever, and locks up tight as a bank vault when you’re ready. This rifle has the extreme weather resistance and durability of laminated hardwood thumbhole configuration. It comes scope-ready with a rail mount and hammer extension for easier cocking. These are truly top-of-the-line rifles at prices within the budgets of most hunters. The two-piece stock is made from an attractive, cinnamon-colored laminate, with a pistol-style grip and comb height optimized for eye alignment with a scope. A rubber butt pad and steel sling swivel studs are included.

The action and 24-inch heavy barrel are stainless steel. The barrel length is perfect for maximizing contemporary high-performance .45-70 Gov’t. loads, yet because of H&R single-shot configuration, overall length is minimized, making the rifle easy to handle.

It’s stainless steel construction, synthetic trigger guard and fore-end spacer with laminate stock make this gun weather-resistant as well as attractive. The stock has a trap-style recoil pad for performance and comfort.

This new rifle is part of H&R’s Ultra rifle line. Like all rifles in this family, the Thumbhole Ultra Hunter series is superbly accurate, has a transfer bar safety and a smooth, single-shot action that opens with the push of a lever.

With Hornady’s introduction of their flexible tip ammo a few years back, this rifle has the extended range needed for those longer shots and provides the knock-down power to shoot through brush and still hit the aim point. That is a big plus with a great-big, heavy bullet. Small twigs do not deflect the bullet as easily as a smaller bullet.

This was my first rifle with a stainless barrel that I intended to hunt with, and the silver metal had me a little concerned as to light reflecting and giving away my position, but with a matte finish, this did not seem to be a problem.

But, I had a couple hundred feet of rubber camo tape and wrapped the rifle all the way to the receiver with the tape. I actually like the way the wrap job looks and intend to leave it on. The tape I used does not have adhesive backing, so it will not leave a mess when I take it off. One big plus about the tape is the protection it provides. It is like having a thin rubber cover on the rifle.

So now when I am beating around in the woods, the rifle is protected from the usual bumps and scratches that we all end up with after carrying our guns to the woods. I made a few more modifications by adding a soft padded cheek piece and a slip-on butt pad that not only added a little more protection to my shoulder from the recoil, but had a neat little area on the right side that holds about 4 shells.

For me, a place to conveniently carry extra bullets has always been a problem. I have tried bullet holders that fit on your arm, pouches you could put in your pack or pocket and the elastic slip on ammo carriers that slide over the stock. The main problem I have had with the ones that slip over the stock is the bullets are partially exposed and can get beat up or fall out. The one I installed has elastic sleeves for the bullets and a nice pouch to keep the bullets completely covered and out of harm’s way. After mounting a scope and gathering some ammo (both factory and hand loads), I was off to the range to see if this gun lived up to the accuracy claim.

As always, I started on the 25-yard range to tweak out my bore sighting, then went to 100 yards for the real test. I set up the rifle on a Caldwell Lead Sled so my shoulder would be usable the next day. My hand loads consisted of both Hornady and Combined Technology bullets, Hornady Brass, Federal 210M primers and different weights of IMR 3031, H 4895 and Varget powders.

For a few years now, I have been using the Hornady Lock-N-Load Comparator to make my hand-loading a lot easier and faster. With the use of this tool, I am able to find an accurate hand load much faster. Therefore, I use less powder, fewer bullets and have less wear and tear on the firearm. You can see this product at http://www.hornady.com/store/Bullet-Comparators/.

The factory loads used on this day were, Federal 300-gr. Power Shock, Remington 300-gr. JHP, Barnes 300-gr. TSX, Winchester 300-gr. Super X, Federal Fusion 300-gr., Hornady 250-gr. Monoflex Leverevolution and Hornady 325-gr. FTX Leverevolution. After shooting at least one box of each of these, I felt like I had a good sampling.

My process was to shoot five shots, then clean the barrel and let it cool down before I shot the next five shots.

The factory ammo produced groups from 4 inches all the way down to 1 inch. The second-best factory offering shot in this rifle was the Federal 300-grain power shock at 2.5 inches, and the best was Hornady 325-grain FTX Leverevolution with groups of 1.25 inches.

Using the Hornady Comparator, I was able to determine the seating depth of the gun’s rifling and start from there with different loads with different seating depths. This tool sure makes it easy to find accurate loads.

I found this rifle is a pleasure to shoot. The trigger was clean and crisp with no creep. The recoil (without the use of the lead sled) was plenty manageable, even with some very hot loads I ran through it.

I took it to the woods a week or so after my range time and was able to harvest a doe. She stepped out onto a road 159 yards away and, with the help of a very accurate rifle, I placed a bullet in her neck to drop her where she stood.

H&R was correct about a couple of things they mentioned in the marketing of this rifle. It is very accurate and the hunter with only one shot, makes it count. I think anyone who purchases one of these fine rifles will be extremely pleased. It's a keeper!

Shoot Safe, Shoot Straight.

If all guns were treated as if they were loaded, there would be NO MORE accidental shootings.


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”