Looking at NEF Handi-Rifle in .22 Hornet. Please advise...


Matt G
February 6, 2003, 10:31 PM
Okay, I've got the inexplicable hots for a .22 Hornet, and have been doing some reading that indicates that the Handi Rifle carries the round off quite well. As I have no light varminter-class rifle, I thought this would be fun way to get into that category. Inexpensive, too, when one considers that you can get about 800 to 1000 rds of Hornet out of a pound of powder, and it performs well with light bullets. Also, my poor wallet can definitely appreciate the value of the Handi Rifles.

A friend picked on up the other day in .44 Mag with a heavy barrel, and we shot it a lot at 100 yds, smacking dingers (2' lengths of 8" heavy steel casement pipe set on end) and generally having a grand time. We were only printing 4" groups, but I am quite certain that with better targets (ours were not very satisfactory low contrast light orange; we basically just held for the center of the paper) and a scope we could shrink those groups below 2". While I never before would have considered a single shot rifle in a pistol caliber to be fun, I had a blast. For added fun, we shot some handload .44 Specials through it, and just generally laughed ourselves silly at the spectacle of encountering no recoil while having enough oomph to knock over a 15+ lb piece of pipe, shooting offhand at 100 yards. Good fun.

What amazed me was that the fit on his rifle was really quite good, the sights, while open, were very easy to use, and the trigger was nothing short of excellent. I'm not kidding: I would be more than happy with that trigger if it came on an $800 bolt gun. He dropped $211 and tax for it.

While I liked his in blue with walnut, I think that stainless would be a more practical option for me, so I put out some feelers, and found that a lightweight barrel contour stainless model with synthetic stock in .22 Hornet is available for considerably less than MSRP, if I act pretty quick. My plans also include later obtaining a .45-70 barrel for it. (because I haven't evidently served enough pennance for the sins in my life, I guess. :) ) Does anyone here have any experience with the lighter-contour barrels? Anyone notice a change in quality from blue to stainless or from walnut to synthetic? Anyone here shoot HandiRifles in .22 Hornet?

Suggestions? Comments?

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February 7, 2003, 02:14 AM
In the July 2001 issue of Guns and Ammo they had an article "A Tackdriving Varmit Rig for Every Budget", and the less expensive rifle was, you guessed the Handi Rifle in 223. G&A put $518.00 into this rifle(price included rifle) and got half inch groups at 100 yard. What I found ironic about the article was they stated it shot better with cheaper ammo. The most expensive rifle configuration cost $3,512.00 and they were 13/32" groups. This was from a Sako 75M .22-250. That tells me for the money the Handi Rifle is a damn fine bargain.

February 7, 2003, 03:45 AM
I have one in .17 rimfire and just dig it!!

....... a few years back I had a bull .223 that was a hoot also, but I find the .17 is even better.

While I don't hunt with it, I do lots of bench target shooting out to 250 yards on calm days. The .17 is like a viedo game.........sight, squeeze, and then 'poof'. The target (usually orange clays or charcoal cubes) instantly vaporizes in an orange explosion or small black puff! No recoil so you watch it all happen through the scope. FUN!! The .223 did the same thing out to a bit further but recoiled a bit hard to watch through the scope.

The only downside is the rather heavy barrel but it's no biggie from the bench.

I'm about to drop some $$ into a better scope.

Matt G
February 7, 2003, 05:21 AM
thumbtack said: What I found ironic about the article was they stated it shot better with cheaper ammo.
Funny thing about that: When we went shooting on Tuesday, Handloading and Reloading moderator Johnny Guest joined us with his Colt Car-15. With his cheap $40 Chinese scope mounted atop the carrying handle, he was getting Ultramax factory reloads to put four shot groups under an inch, with 3 of the four touching a dime! Makes you just say to heck with premo ammo, sometimes!

But tell me about .22 Hornet...

Bruce H
February 7, 2003, 07:09 AM
I have two, one in .22 and the other in 45/70. The .22 really likes Russian Junior brand, Klimovsk Stamping Plant ammo. The 45/70 has only shot handloads. Inch at a hundred isn't all that hard. Mine are synthetic blue. Great shooters at a great price and they are dirt simple.

February 17, 2010, 12:26 AM
I am the owner of one of these fine varmit rifles, and wouldn't trade it for nothing, yes you have to find it's load and buljnplet to pull off super groups at a distance but I have achived to my satisfactory a 3.25 in group at 200 yds.
literaly cutting a rabbit in half at 150 yds, or plucking every feather from a pigeon at 70 yds the v-max by hornady is a unbelievable bullet, weighing in at only 35 gr it destroys everthing it comes in contact with, would not be afraid to take a yote at 150 to 175 yds

Vern Humphrey
February 17, 2010, 11:05 AM
Get it, and get a set of Lee Collet Dies. Fire form your brass.

I put two washers on the shell holder (around the base of the case) to cause the collet to activate early and size only the front portion of the neck. This leaves the back portion of the neck to act as a pilot, centering the bullet in the throat.

For a load, I like to dip the case full of Hodgdon's Li'l Gun, then tap the case to settle the powder. Put your charged cases in a loading block and go over them with a flashlight to be sure the powder levels are exactly the same. Seat your bullet well out -- I like to have mine touching the lands.

February 17, 2010, 12:18 PM
I use my 270 for 'yotes, but I would buy a Handi in 223 or 22 Hornet for them.

I like handi rifles...

Al Thompson
February 17, 2010, 01:24 PM
OMG Zombie! :D

February 17, 2010, 09:58 PM
a hunting buddy of mine and I both got the NEF stainless in .22-250 with bull barrel, his is a tackdriver, mine, after trying 3 nice scopes including 2 Leupolds couldnt do better than a 3"group. I always heard single shot rifles are pretty much "what you get" when it comes to accuracy. he owns lots of high dollar guns, but always pulls his little NEF out of the safe, I got rid of mine.:o

February 17, 2010, 10:27 PM
i have one with 22 hornet, 243, and 45-70 barrels. the 22 hornet shoots 1.5" at 100, the 45-70 (4x scope) shoots 2.5", and the 243...

kept having extraction problems- supposedly polishing the chamber will help- but i just gave up on it...

my experience rimmed cartridges is where this gun excels. i also think it is better as a "light" gun with a compact fixed power scope; rather than getting the "ultra" barrel and a big scope just doesn't handle right.

February 18, 2010, 11:11 PM
I have several handi's and they all shoot super some took a little tinkering and others were great out of the box.

February 19, 2010, 11:02 PM
did anyone of all experience the rifle breaking over and open after you fired?? just wondering, scared me.:confused:

March 3, 2010, 09:13 PM
i also have the 20 gauge barrel for my hornet.it shoots very well and the hornet is really accurate on chucks out to 200 yds.i shoot 35grn v max an lil gun reloads.crows at 200 are fun also

March 3, 2010, 10:01 PM
i had the gun break open when shooting buffalo bore 45-70 through it. but i only managed to fire 3 rounds of it anyway :) the gun weighs under 7lbs with that barrel and a weaver fixed 4x. however i used 2 more BB's on doe a few years back and it put them down fairly well :)

the rest are still in the box

March 3, 2010, 10:13 PM
I had the Handi Rifle in .223 for a hot minute. 3" @ 100y at best with good ammo. Traded it. OTOH, I have a family member with one in .243 that is Sub-MOA @ 100y. Go figure...

I really like the 22/77H Ruger bolt action for the .22 Hornet. Mine shoots micro-sized groups right out of the box.


March 3, 2010, 11:15 PM
"did anyone of all experience the rifle breaking over and open after you fired?? "

Basicaly, from what I've been told, you need to keep the barrel/frame junction very clean and lubricant free.

Check on this board-these guys are Handi experts:


Matt G
December 9, 2010, 04:44 AM
In late 2003 I bought a Handi-Rifle, sight unseen, in .22 Hornet. I ended up gettin gone blued in synthetic, with a medium-light contour barrel. It's pretty light. I've got a 6 power Tasco on it, and can't seem to break 1.25" at 100y with it. :(

In early 2004, a friend I was hog hunting with asked me to bring it along for popping shoats (quiet guns wouldn't chase them off so far). I ended up killing a nice 200 lb sow at about 80 yards with a single round behind the ear. Wow. I don't recommend .22 Hornet for hog, and readily admit that it was a stunt (it was dim light, and I thought that it was a much smaller pig, much closer), but I have to say that it caused her to drop into her own tracks.

I have had to employ it as night time varmint control, and have been very impressed at the killing power vs. noise ratio. Small towns would do well to keep one of these in each Animal Control Officer's truck, because off the efficacy at taking down critters as big as large dogs, with bare minimum of alarm to citizenry. Noise is comparable to a .22 WMRF, but with FAR better killing power.

A friend of mine just gave a wood stock for mine, which I will put on to try to pretty it up. But I'm still dissatisfied at the accuracy. I've felt better Handi-Rifle triggers, and just need to cherry-pick some at gunshops until I find a good one. (with riveted actions, they're not really triggers that can be worked on, without spending more than the rifle's worth.)

I still want to get one in multiple calibers.

Vern Humphrey
December 9, 2010, 09:19 AM
The Hornet is a problematic cartridge. Designed originally as a black poweder round (the .22 Winchester Centeral Fire), it has "generous" chamber dimensions and is quite tapered. You need to fireform cases and then disturb them as little as possible.

I resize mine with a Lee Collet Die, and put a washer on the shell holder to cause the collet to activate early, only resizing the front half of the neck. I like to load the 35 grain Hornady V-Max right into the rifling, with a case full of Hodgedon's Li'l Gun.

In my M82 Kimber, this load produces about 3,000 fps and shoots well under 1" at a hundred yards.

December 9, 2010, 10:44 AM
I had a Handi in .223. After reading all the glowing reports of how accurate this rifle was I was REALLY disappointed. I guess I got the only stinker they ever made. :D I never got a half decent group from any factory ammo. I spent a lot of time and money trying to find a hand load that was worth messing with. I finally gave up and traded it for a Stevens 200 in .223. I immediately got groups of .6" -.7" at 100 yards with one of the loads I was experimenting with in the Handi. I never did anything to the Savage except to adjust the trigger before ever shooting it. That experience cured me of ever buying another Handi.

December 9, 2010, 11:57 AM
Those Handi-rifles sure seem to be hit and miss. I have two myself; one in .45-70 and the other in .22 Hornet. Neither one has ever shot better than about 3" @ 100 yds for me (I can shoot better than that even on my worst day with a good rifle).

Actually the Hornet is an older H&R. In all honesty I haven't tinkered with it much yet or tried different loads. I've been down that road before and my experience has been that spending a ton of time trying to find a good load for a bad rifle is usually an exercise in frustration.

December 9, 2010, 12:07 PM
handi rifles are great shooters. Some people make a slight mod to the forearm furniture attachment point. Something about sensitivity to where the barrel is supported.

Al Thompson
December 9, 2010, 01:21 PM
Buddy has one in .223 and it is very accurate. IMHO, as MattG correctly points out, checking the trigger before you buy can yield big benefits.

I have one in .45-70 that shoots great at 50 yards, iron sights.

December 9, 2010, 01:36 PM
I have one I bought in .308,..I quickley added the .223,...and a BP barrels as well, and it takes a 20 gauge barrel I have as well. All function quite nicely,..and the rifles barrels do as good as I do,..if I do my part well. I agree that the trigger on my rifle receiver is surprisingly good,...much much better that what the shotgun receivers give.

All in all,..very satisfied. Will likely continue to add barrels,..which is the worst down side,..they ARE addictive,...

Do keep the hinge points clean,..don't let lube or gunk build up there. Had the 20 gauge pop open once. Cleaned it up,..keep it clean,..never happened again. I have had that gun a LOT of years.


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