I took off today to go to the range and shoot my son's H&R youth Handi Rifle in .243 that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. This is a 20" barrel version which is only 33" overall length. Since he is only 8 and weights about 60 lbs I figured this was a perfect fit for him. I picked the H&R over the Rossi combo set partly because of some of the reviews but mostly because of the Rossi's plastic fiber optic sights. The H&R's sights are actually metal and have both windage and elevation adjustments with well defined tick marks on the elevation adjustment. They seem to be solid and lock down tight once they are adjusted.
I had worked up some loads with H4895 powder at reduced loads starting from 20 grs in 1/2 grain increments up to 22.5 grs. I loaded with 100 gr Remington SP lead. I have had this stuff floating around since 07 when I bought it for one of my buddies kids who is shooting a .243. We never got around to making any ammo for him.
So the purpose of today was to go through the loads and find which ones grouped the best. I decided to start at 50 yds since I was using the factory sight on the H&R and they only have a 13" sight radius. Also where we hunt there really aren't any shots past 100 yds or so. I figured if I can get a good grouping at 50 yds, I can work the load from there and then bring it out to 100 yds and zero there once all the kinks are worked out.
Below is what I deemed the best grouping for the day. It is 5 shots with 22 gr of H4895. The one low right was me. The other two groups of two touching each other are withing 1.25 inches vertically and is probably a result of too much black. The sights on the H&R are solid black front and back and I didn't take time to print any colored targets before heading out. I am assuming that I sighted differently or held at a different point between the two groups.
The only other load that showed promise was at 20.5 grs. They grouped within 1.5 inches but were basically in a circle. I will work either side of that in .1 gr increments and see if I can tighten it up at the reduced load.
I had heard both good and bad on the little H&R rifles. Some people claim they can't get more than a shotgun pattern at 50 to 100 yrds. It might be the ammo they are using, it might be their shooting, or it could be the gun. But based on what this little thing did today, I think once I get some optics on this rifle I can make it shoot sub 1" groups at 100 yds if I do my part. Today I was just using an ammo can and small shooting bag on top of it as a rest.
The gun functioned well. I had a couple of rounds that took a couple of tries to get the gun to lock closed but since these were all my reloads and were made with once fired brass, those might have been a little out of spec. Everything ejected cleanly with nothing hanging up in the chamber as I had heard some reports of. The trigger was ok. Not the best but definately not the worst I have ever shot. It might get better with time, I certainly am not going to attempt to "work on it" as I have read about some folks doing. Not with the gun intended for an 8 yr old.
I had full intentions of chronographing the rounds, but unfortunately I didn't bring an extra battery for the thing and it was completely dead.
Talking to guy at the gun shop, he is going to let me borrow a red dot to put on this rifle when we get the scope base in to see how my son can do with it. The thought behind it is there will be no parallax to overcome and since we are talking about 100 yds or less it should work well. My other options were either 4x or 6x short tube scopes I have floating around here, but I will have to check and see if they will be feasible. Before mounting anything, I may see how he does with the open sights, but in the back of my mind I feel that some sort of optics will probably be best.
Anyone have anything good or bad to say about putting a red dot or similar optic on an 8 yr olds deer rifle?