Revised October 3/ 04
Tweaking the NEF and the Ultra H&R rifles for improved accuracy.
H&R Ultra 25-06, 26" Barrel, 4-12x40 Bushnell Banner scope, Weaver med Rings on H&R rail base.
Here is a list of things you can do with simple tools. There is no way of knowing that they will improve accuracy in all Handi rifles but they did in the 25-06 Ultra I have. There is only so much that can be done with such an economy gun at home.
1.) The forearm.
Shape a piece of 1/8" thick rubber to fit the recess in the barrel groove where the screw goes that holds the forearm in place. Glue it in place with epoxy. Drill a hole through the rubber with a Dremel tool the size of the barrel stud. Tighten the forearm in place and count the number of turns you make when turning the screw good and tight. You should now have a space under the forearm. With a pencil mark the sides of the stock for an even gap.
Take off the forearm and remove the wood up to the pencil mark. Install the forearm and check the gap and the hinge fit. Remove wood screws that hold the hinge cap in place. Fill the screw holes with glued in dowels and sand flush. Fit the cap tightly to the action by light sanding and checking with lipstick.
Install the forearm with light screw pressure and wedge the cap with 4 thin wood wedges snug against the action apply glue to the wedges on the forearm side only and line things up and let it set up.
Remove the forearm and cap without disturbing the wedges, apply steel bed to the wood and cap and put it back together and align the two pieces. Tighten the forearm screw and let it set.
Clean up and install the two wood screws in new aligned holes. See my new Gap Fix Page before going any further. You must have a tight breech before fitting the forearm tight.
Sand the inside of the cap for the Steel bed to bond. Apply release agent to the front of the action and barrel and bed the cap solid to the barrel. The forearm screw is now tightened to the same tension as before. Remove forearm when Steel Bed has set. Steel-Bed by Brownell.
Install forearm again and tighten. Place the forearm tip in a padded vise. Place a pull scale on the barrel in front of the forearm tip and pull up 15 lbs and slide a small wedge between the barrel and the forearm and mark it. Put some glue on the wedge and drive the wedge in to the mark and let it set. Now you have 15lbs pressure on the barrel in time it will be less than that after the foam is compressed.
Remove the forearm and wipe the barrel with past wax and spray the bottom of the barrel groove with DOW Great Stuff foam and put the gun back together. The foam will expand for three days. Remove the forearm, clean up edges and remove the small wedge, reinstall the forearm and you are done. The foam will effectively dampen vibration and it is easy to remove if you like to try a complete free float later. I tried this on a M70 Win 300 Mag and it seems to work well. My name for this is, a dampened free float.
2.) Remove lateral play from the underlug.
Take some exact measures of the lug just behind the hinge pin and at the end of the lug. In the action well you will see four raised strips where the under lug supposed to fit against. I found the strips are too far apart to make contact with the underlug. You have to measure the distance between the four strips to find out how much steel shim stock you have to solder in place. The shims after soldered in place on the lug are then honed to fit snug. If you have a selection of steel shim stock close to the right thickness, fitting is much less work.
I also bedded the barrel between the hinge pin and the standing breech with Devcon Epoxy Steel for a total fit this will take care of any vibration above the under-lug. This provided noticeable additional accuracy. Devcon Steel must have the steel primed with a light 1-5 epoxy before Devcon is applied. Devcon Steel is too dry and won't stick too good with out a thin bonding layer. So far it has not come loose.
Note: Remove the ejector and spring when soldering.
Do only one set at a time. Some one with a fine wire TIG welder could put on a four beats in no time. The honing and fitting is a very slow job, but it takes out most of the vibration created by barrel torque. In my rifle this stopped nearly all-horizontal stringing. The big ailment is vertical stringing caused by barrel latch. The barrel latch itself is a very poor design, because it slides under uplift pressure and it is only retained by a compressed coil spring, which in my opinion is not strong enough.
It has been reported that Handi rifles group better from the bench when supported directly under the hinge pin.
The reason is that the barrel acts as a fulcrum and put more pressure on the barrel latch and helps to keep it from siding down. If----- the fit is perfect? The extra force is easily calculated. With the 26" barrel and scope the unsupported weight forward of the hinge pin is about 2.25lbs on my rifle. The ratio is 1: 8.4 so 8.4x2.25= 18.9 lbs is the extra pressure against the latch. But this same force can also make the latch slide rather than retain it, especially if any lubricant is present.
I would never shoot a rifle from a bench in that manner. Nor would I use such a support in field positions. Offhand perhaps with your elbow jammed into you belt.
3.) Trigger Pull.
At this point we do the trigger by following the directions laid out on the below web site. I did lighten the trigger return spring by one coil to about 9oz because I wanted a 24oz trigger. If you are happy with a 3lbs trigger you do not need to do this. Read the direction careful and then decide whether you can or want o do this work.
Reinstalling of the trigger group is much easier with a piece of wood 3/8x1/2 wedged between the latch- lever and the cocked hammer. This will hold both the hammer and the latch in the proper position for removal and installing the trigger group / guard.
If you go down to a very light trigger you have to lighten the return spring to the point where you just have return. You want as little pull weight as possible on that spring. Be careful and snip only a 1/4 coil at a time. This assures you when a trigger breaks at 1.5 lbs that it follows through all the way. Otherwise you get misfires because of the safety bar is sliding out from under the hammer. This of course is contrary to good trigger action where you try to avoid trigger over travel or backlash as it is called. The safety bar is one of these cover your ass designs to avoid legal actions. A rebounding hammer and a halve cock would have been much simpler, less parts, better trigger and perfect for a single shot with a hammer.
While having the action all apart I also removed the barrel latch and stoned the front of it. I put some lipstick on the front edges and pushed the latch in place and removed all the high spots from the latch for maximum forward movement. I beefed up the latch compression spring by placing a smaller diameter spring inside the big spring.
In the bottom of the hole in the trigger guard, where the latch spring fits in, I put in two .032"alu disks to elevate the spring for a bit more compression.
Note: I have since replaced the latch spring with a heavier one with .036" spring wire. This is .006" larger wire.
The inside spring or the extra one I put in is also stronger. The two new springs will add more pressure against the latch. A .040" spring wire would perhaps eliminate the inside spring? The new springs should be as long as possible to provide max compression. I removed the two washers in the spring hole and fitted the springs 1.5 coils longer. This is a substantial increase in spring compression against the latch. I had two tries at it.
4.) Latch engagement.
Under high-pressure the sloping latch recess in the under lug let the latch slide in some cases enough to open the action. A one thou slide will move the impact of the bullet by more than one inch. I have seen as much as 0.004"
You can tell when you look at the top of the standing breech and the barrel end there is a gap you can measure with a feeler gage after you fired a shot. The sloping bottom of the latch recess and the radiused bottom of the latch don't make a very good match, like a round peg in a square hole.
Any oil on the latch or the latch recess will make the latch move. It is most important to keep these areas totally oil free. The chamber should also be kept oil free by using a bore guide. A bore guide is easily made by soldering two fires cases together and then cut the end off for the cleaning rod to enter.
In my case the latch only partially entered the recess. Coat the recess with a thin layer of lip stick to see how far it goes in and stone away some metal on the forward part only until the latch fully engages. The rear edge of the recess is lower because it is machined straight, while the latch travels in an arc. Do not remove any metal there.
You have to remove the trigger guard so you can view the latch from the rear. You need your two trigger punches and your slave pin. With the latch pushed forward with a dowel you can measure the gap between the bottom of the latch and the top of the rear edge of the recess.
With a flat 3/16" pin punch you need to peen the lower edge of the recess up by what ever gap you got 3-4 thou or more. You have to peen enough so the latch will just clear the edge. You will be able to see just what you got from behind; real close is the way to go. What we are trying to do is to create a radiused latch seat to keep the latch from sliding off. Now you can put everything back together.
Use a piece of wood 3/8x1/2 and slide it between the latch lever and the cocked hammer. This will hold both the hammer and the latch in the proper position for removal and installing the trigger group/guard. Install the trigger group from the rear with the latch spring against the latch, push forward and put the rear pin first pressing the slave pin out at the same time.
Clean the latch recess with acetone, and mix a little Steel Bed 40% hardener and 60% steel mix. Directions say 50/50 but I made it a bit heavier on the steel solids. Put release agent on the bottom of the latch and close the action with the latch leaver depressed and then let the latch close slow and let it set in close position for 12h. Remember this is only an abracive coat and should be a remedy for poor fitting latch
Open the latch the next day, clean up and put it back together and let it cure for a week. This will give you a concave latch seat which allows very little latch movement if any. I reduced my 3 shot groups from as much as four inches to 1-9/16 and with some bullets less than 3/4" but most loads will shoot between 1" to 1-1/2 at 100 meters. This is about, as good as accuracy will get, considering the poor barrel, throat and chamber dimension.
Red dimensions are the proper size.
Chamber at base .472 (.470)
Chamber at shoulder .444 (.441)
Chamber neck diameter .292 (.489)
Loaded neck diameter 0.2854
Radial clearance 0.0035 in neck with a loaded shell (.0015 would be much better.)
Groove width 0.100 (Micro groove)
Land width 0.048
Land height 0.002 (Micro groove rifling?)
Land diameter .0.2545 (.253)
Throat diameter is 0.259 (.2575) at transition and 0.2582 (.257) at the start of rifling.
Throat length 0.265 (free bore) as close as I can measure. (.080)
Bore at muzzle 0.2582 x-x and 0.2585 y-y. (Both .257)
Handloading the 25-06 Ultra and sticky cases.
Polishing the chamber helps with sticky cases but not 100%. To a large degree the ejector system is at fault. Except for a stronger ejector spring there is not much that can be done without spending a lot of money on a rifle that is not worth much. But take the ejector out and stone all flats then polish with Dremel felt wheel and #600 grit this makes a difference.
New cases seem to eject better than fire formed cases, nevertheless the below pictured manual notch will get the case out without much delay.
With hand loads the cases start to stick as chamber pressure increases and with powders that have a high initial pressure spike such as N150 or similar powders with that sort of burning rate. The two powders that have proofed to be best suitable with bullet weights of 85gr to 117gr are H1000 and Reloder 22.
My advice is to use the slowest powders for the particular cartridge to reduce or lengthen the initial pressure spike. I would follow this with all high-pressure loads in any caliber with a case head of .470" produced by H&R.
In order to reach velocities close to published loading data for 24" barrels the powder charges had to be increased by as much as 2.0gr to reach velocities with the 26" barrel of the H&R Ultra and not quite equal to published loading data for 24" barrels. This is because of the over size bore, throat and chamber that this rifle has. Of course with the generous over dimensions comes very mediocre accuracy with most bullets and loads. The .002" shallow lands are another item that lowers pressure. In my barrel the bullet would barely engrave only if perfectly centered.
Side by side tests with a Rugerr#1, 26" barrel and 58.0gr H1000 with 100 gr Hornady produced 2955 for the H&R and 3056 for the Ruger with the same load. This is by no means conclusive, but it gives some idea of the barrel configuration. No matter what you do with a poor barrel you are out for lunch.
It has been suggested to shoot cast bullets and size them to suit the barrel diameter, but that is not my idea of a 25-06. There are much better calibers to shoot cast bullets with a lot more authority.
I did not test the Ruger with the 117gr bullets because there is no real need to use them in that gun. The reason for the 117gr in the H&R was to get into the lands by .005" for better alignment of the bullet and it proofed to give the best accuracy.
With 58.0 gr of H1000 and an 117g bullet produced 2914 ft/sec at about 50kcup, and no sticky cases. 57.0gr shot the better 3 shot groups with only a slight reduction in velocity.
The cartridge case demands a .003" headspace. Due to stretching, all fired cases should have the shoulder set back to achieve this headspace lest the cases protrude beyond the chamber face. A Lee collet die is of no use for this rifle because is does not set the shoulder back. Also it works great in the Ruger#1.
All handloading was done with a Lee F.L sizing die, with the shoulder opened to .442 from .436 with the expander plug removed. 19 RWS 30-06 sized to 25 cal and all cases were partially outside neck reamed. These cases fitted better for the large chamber neck and reduced radial clearance a bit.
To give you a better idea of what you can expect from a Handi barrel you should slug the barrel and the throat and or make a chamber cast including the throat/freebore to ascertain dimensions. In this way you can complain to H&R and demand satisfaction if the barrel is off spec like mine.
One thing about the Handi rifle, it is easy and safe to handle and looks quite good with that laminated stock. Too bad the factory does not put in a bit more effort to produce a better shooting rifle. With to days machinery there is no real good reason for sloppy work. Quality control is not really that expensive when you consider the financial benefits and less recall.
Here are the results with the factory Rem 100 gr PSP in the 25-06 Ultra. Fired two three shot groups at 100m 1-1/4" for the first one and 1-1/16" for the second one. This is as good as the best hand loads I tried. I never had a rifle that would shoot as good with factory loads as my best hand loads.
Alas a disappointing average velocity of 3188ft/sec compared to the Ruger #1 at 3297 ft/sec, from the same box of ammo, well we know why that is. All my hand loads showed the same 100 ft lower velocities, and stoking in more coal is not the answer. Accuracy will not improve with higher pressure in the chamber. None of the factory loads got stuck.
I also toke a factory shell apart and weight the powder, which looks like IMR4350 and weighs 50.5gr. Loading manuals lists load very close to that velocity. I gave the IMR 4350 a try and worked up some loads. Starting with 49.5gr for 2868 ft/sec adding one grain at a time to 53.5gr for 3119ft/sec. Non of the five loads showed good accuracy, all about 2" or a bit more. All loads were made with Rem 9-1/2 primers and 100gr Rem PSP bullets.
For load testing I used a 36x B&L target scope. All my hand loads were made with Moly coated bullets, a reduction in powder charges is advised with uncoated bullets. The loads I used are safe in my rifle only and they should not be construed as a loading recommendation.
Manual extractor notch for stuck cases on Ultra 25-06. Notice the poor edge on the ejector.
I made the above notch easily with a needle file and a Dremel tool and alleviated frustration with stuck cases.
Remove the barrel plug the chamber and tape up the ejector and any
openings, to keep the grit and steel shavings out of the barrel and other places. I should not have to say this but it happened that someone got steel shavings and grit everywhere it should not be. Here is a discription of how I do the notch. To do a good job on the extractor notch you need a set of needle files and a Dremel high speed tool with a thin 1/8"stone wheel and a cutting disk. Put a patch in the chamber and pack modeling clay or chewing gum around the extractor, otherwise you have filings all over the place. With a bit of trial and error you will find the right shape. 0.100" is plenty deep for most cases. I found the best tool to be a short small flat screw driver that fits into your ammo box. A little pry and the ejector will take over.
Remove the barrel plug the chamber and tape up the ejector and any openings, to keep the grit and steel shavings out of the barrel and other places. I should not have to say this but it happened that someone got steel shavings and grit everywhere it should not be.
Here is a discription of how I do the notch.
To do a good job on the extractor notch you need a set of needle files and a Dremel high speed tool with a thin 1/8"stone wheel and a cutting disk.Mark the notch and make a protection sleeve from a fired case that sticks out from the chamber. Cut away halve of the case on the top end and stick into the chamber opposite the notch, Without that sleeve you will damage the chamber. With the cutting disk you cut into the edge, square and straight, remove the center between the cuts with the thin grinding wheel and finish off with a square needle file. With this file you can shape the sides and the bottom. There is not much room to move the file, so just take your time.
Put a patch in the chamber and pack modeling clay or chewing gum around the extractor, otherwise you have filings all over the place.
With a bit of trial and error you will find the right shape. 0.100" is plenty deep for most cases.
I found the best tool to be a short small flat screw driver that fits into your ammo box. A little pry and the ejector will take over.I also installed a stronger ejector spring.
If you have any comments and or advise I very much like to hear about it.Fred the Reloader and Wildcatter.