I am an avid deer hunter and live in southern Mississippi. In this state, they recently changed the laws that define a primitive weapon. Under the new ruling, any single shot, breech-loading rifle with an exposed hammer and a minimum caliber size will qualify as a primitive weapon. This gives hunters the option to hunt a few more weeks of the season without having to bother with messy black powder muzzle loading rifles.
The H&R .45-70 Handi-Rifle from New England Firearms is a perfect match to Mississippi’s new law, and it is no surprise that these rifles have been flying off the shelves ever since. They cost less than $300 and that makes them a relatively inexpensive investment as far as firearms are concerned. Just know that a box of ammo will still set you back $30. If you already hunting during regular rifle season with a .45-70, as many people do, then you’re already familiar with the cartridge and its performance.
Just because this rifle is inexpensive doesn’t mean that it is junk. The low price is simply reflective of its simplicity. This is just a basic single shot rifle built on a patent from over a century ago. It has a button to open the barrel, a hammer to pull back, and a trigger. That’s it for moving parts. To charge any more would be highway robbery for such a basic weapon. Take one look at this rifle and you’ll see it is all barrel.
My first time shooting this rifle was a good one. From about 150 feet away, I shot a 3″ grouping using open sites while propping the gun up next to a tree and steadying it with my hand. Had I been using sandbags on a table, I’m sure the grouping would have been a lot tighter. I could always add a scope, but then I’d feel a little guilty about calling it a ‘˜primitive weapon’. Besides, the .45-70 round is such a slow-moving bullet that you really don’t need a scope unless you have vision problems.
This rifle is available in both wood and synthetic stocks. I opted for the synthetic because it gives you a little more to hold onto that the wooden one, plus it makes the gun a couple of ounces lighter. This still isn’t a very heavy weapon, and the overall length is so short that I can hold it straight down by my side like a pistol and the barrel doesn’t even touch the ground.
If you are a deer hunter, I highly recommend you get one of these H&K .45-70 Handi-Rifles. They don’t cost too much, are very easy to use and clean, and are quite accurate. The way I see it, anything that allows you to spend a little more time in the woods during deer season is a fine investment.