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H&R Huntsman

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Danny Creasy, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Danny Creasy

    Danny Creasy Member

    Joined:
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    427
    Location:
    Northwest Alabama
    I tired of seeing does and never a buck at the Lauderdale Wildlife Management Area during my mid-teens. I turned 18 in 1975. They were still building a herd in those days. After viewing the primitive weapons hunters' takes of either sex deer at the management area's weighing station, I decided to get myself a muzzleloader.

    With nothing like today's vast array of choices, I eyeballed a .58 caliber H&R Huntsman at The House of Guns. $59.95! That was tough for a high school senior to come up with in the dead of winter with no yards to mow.

    My Dad heard me talking to a buddy about the Huntsman at supper one night. The next day he proposed, "Dan, I'll pay ya' forty bucks to finish digging out the back of the basement.

    I dove into the dark cavern at the west end of my folks' basement and had the dirt moved after a few after school pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow sessions.

    I added the excavation proceeds to some Prince Albert-can-cash and having turned 18, I acquired the first firearm ever purchased on my own. I ordered a Lee bullet mold a few days later.

    Over the spring and summer, I put more than a few big lead projectiles into paper targets, cans, and one unlucky Starling (only found a wing).

    The next fall and winter rolled by and I had no luck with my Remington 742 Woodsmaster .30-06 Carbine during the gun season. The season ending Lauderdale primitive weapons hunt arrived on the last two days of January 1976. I was sitting patiently at the base of a big oak when a doe trotted by and stopped behind me (maybe 20 yards). I had to quietly stand and turn to get a shot. The big Lee "target minie" passed through the deer's lungs and after a 50 yard sprint, she was down and bleeding out. Another doe fell to it a few years later.

    I have not shot the rifle in two decades, but I was giving it a wipedown a few moments ago and the memories of days afield on cold late season mornings came flooding in. I had to share. I recall these things were going for a premium in the 80s or 90s, but the plethora of inlines have erased that demand spike — not that I would ever consider selling the rifle I took my first deer with.

    [​IMG]

    I missed a big doe at about 80 yards the next year. Some longer range work at the gravel pit showed the big minie bullets were tumbling past 50 yards. I did some reading and discovered that the H&Rs were slow twist weapons designed for patched round balls. I purchased a box of Speer swaged balls and never looked back. This patched ball combo could bust water filled plastic bottles at 100 yards with regularity.

    The second doe mentioned above fell to one of these round balls. A sitting position shot across a small hollow, I figure the distance to target was about 50 or 60 yards.

    I need to take this old friend out for a walk, huh?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  2. SHIPCHIEF

    SHIPCHIEF Member

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    Location:
    Great Northwet
    Thanks for the reminisce.
    'Way back then I got the H&R Shekari 45-70. Still have it, but always wondered about the Huntsman 58.
    Those things are sure easy to carry, light & handy. But they exact a price for that when you pull the trigger.
    ;)
     
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  3. Danny Creasy

    Danny Creasy Member

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    Location:
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    Thank you. The .58 is handy. Not quite as true for the .45 caliber Huntsman. I handled a friend's once. The smaller bored version had more steel up front - muzzle heavy.
     
  4. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    That is is extremely neat. How is the gun primed? Does it take #11 caps?
     
  5. Danny Creasy

    Danny Creasy Member

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    Location:
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    Good question. H&R's design incorporated a threaded nipple intended for use with small percussion caps. I experienced a horrible misfire rate with that set up. The factory flattened the tip of the firing pin to enable it to smack the head of the cap, but by the time the hammer had transferred its energy to the pin much had been lost. About one out of three shots misfired. I was lucky the rifle went bang on that first little doe.

    Sometime later, I spotted an aftermarket device designed to replace the nipple. The design uses shotgun primers. 100% reliable. Here is a picture of it:
    [​IMG]

    I overheard (third party, so take it for what it is worth) there were some horrible failures with this ignition alternative with the aftermarket company's versions for exposed hammer muzzle loaders like the Hawkins and Hopkins and Allen clones. Allegedly, a guy from across the river lost an eye to it. My rifles enclosed breech design made such an occurrence virtually impossible. Nonetheless, I always wore eyeglasses with this rifle.

    Different subject, but you may find these pics of items from my memorabilia cabinet interesting. I came across one of the Lee target minie bullets (giant wadcutter, huh) and the section of the first doe's hide complete with bullet hole. I tanned the hide and made a pistol case out of it. I started to discard this "holy" section but ended up keeping it. The entrance and exit holes were identical. This one (not sure which side) got misshapen during the tanning process.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Cooldill likes this.
  6. lastofthebreed

    lastofthebreed Member

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    Danny: What a neat story. I love reading first deer stories. And the Huntsman was ahead of it's time.
     
  7. Danny Creasy

    Danny Creasy Member

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  8. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    A very cool gun for sure and for certain. It's a shame that the whole H&R lineup was liquidated recently. They made great single shot shotguns, of which I have a cut-down 12 gauge and a full sized 20 gauge.
     
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  9. midland man

    midland man Member

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    I hated that I bought the last 12g singleshot shotgun at my lgs new it has a full choke! I wonder who's gonna make singleshot shotguns and rifles on the cheap??
     
  10. cheatin charlie

    cheatin charlie Member

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe somebody got hurt when they had a hang fire and broke open the rifle and it went off hitting him in the head with the breech plug.
    I think they went to a threaded plug after that. It has been a long time since I saw one, a friend of mine had one years ago and if it misfired he waited a minute or two
    before opening it up. The original rifles just had rubber o-rings holding the breech plug in when it was open.
     
  11. Danny Creasy

    Danny Creasy Member

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    Mine is an o-ring model. Glad that never happened to me. Something to remember.
     
  12. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    I had one, and had a lot of misfires with whatever size caps I could find. There was a recall due to the breech plug. H & R replaced it with one that screwed into the barrel. My transfer bar broke, and my gunsmith fixed it doing away with it completely. I loaned it to a friend with instructions as how to clean it, and when I got it back it was a total mess.
     

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