H&R 1871 Ultra Hunter No. SB2-808 308 Winchester
The concept of a single-shot rifle for modern usage goes back quite a few years. Despite the advent of repeating firearms, the single-shot rifle has always held its own, from the Sharps down to the H&R Ultra rifle tested here. Many makers have put together some very fine and also some not-so-fine single shots on a great variety of actions. We acquired one of the U.S.-made H&R 1871 Ultra Hunters in 308 (SB2-808, MSRP $374). We tested the 308 with three types of ammunition, Remington 180-grain Core-Lokt, Winchester 150-grain Power Point, and Winchester Supreme 168-grain HPBT match. Heres what we found.
Harrington & Richardson, currently owned by Remington, still makes its guns in the U.S. Our 308 Ultra came with a sturdy laminated stock with a durable finish, thick but firm recoil pad, matte blued metal, and a 22-inch medium barrel. This was a no-frills package, though the stock was quite attractive with its non-glare finish and decent checkering. The gun opened by a press-down button to the right of the hammer. Opening and closing the action was a bit stiff, but it loosened somewhat during our test sessions. The barrel had a rail for Weaver-type bases, secured with three Torx screws. No scope rings were provided.
Not much came with the rifle but a padlock and a hammer extension for scope use. No sling, no scope rings. The instructions told us to be sure to mount the hammer extension before installing a scope. We tried, but failed. The 8-32 threaded hole in the extension was not tapped cleanly all the way through. We had to run a tap in there and only then could secure the extension to the hammer.
The hammer operated through a striker bar that was raised by pressing the trigger. The rifle could not be opened if the hammer were cocked, but it was possible to cock the hammer with the rifle open and then close the rifle on the cocked hammer. Because the rifle cannot fire unless the trigger is pressed, the latter situation is not as alarming as it might otherwise be.
We could not help but notice the stock felt clumsy in the controlling hand. The pistol grip was big and fat and not to our liking. Were sure the H&R is very strong, and if you dont like the stock you can opt for a thumbhole stock, for slightly extra cost. The company website (www.hr1871.com) indicates you can get a thumbhole stock on the blued Ultra test rifle, but doesnt give prices for anything.
The metal finish throughout had a brushed look, or the result of surface grinding. This was pleasant, and provided a matte surface for the excellent bluing. The forend iron and trigger guard were hard polymer. The forend wood was finished internally, and was fitted around a stout stud that was spot welded to the bottom of the barrel. This stud accepted the single large Phillips-head screw that secured the forend to the rifle. The trigger pull was clean but way too heavy at 6 pounds.
We mounted our Leupold 16x tactical scope and headed to the range. We began with the Remington ammunition, and made some three-shot groups of around 3 inches. The Winchester 150-grain did better, around 2 inches. Finally the match ammo gave us the smallest group of this test, 0.7 inches, with an average of 1.4 inches. This rifle shot all three types of ammunition respectably, if not majestically. The trigger was a terror, and it needed to be several pounds lighter. We wonder how much better we might have shot with a better trigger.
Our Team Said: We thought the rifle needed an ejector, though picking the empties out of the H&R was a bit easier than with the CVAs. Some might want a mushier recoil pad, but we liked what was on it, and particularly liked the excellent fitting of the pad to the stock. Although we liked the feel and looks of the Apex and even the Scout more than the look of the H&R, we would buy this rifle over them in light of its reasonable performance. We thought it was a solid, sound rifle that didnt ask for much, and gave plenty of performance for its modest cost.