View Full Version : Hopkins & Allen .22 RF 1890
At an indoor flea market today, ran across an antique dealer with a Hopkins & Allen falling block for sale. The rifle is originally .22 RF, rechambered to .22 Remington Special, in what I would call good plus condition. It is an early version that looks like the .38-55 on Gunbroker.com, and has what appears to be a carbine sling ring on the right side of the receiver. Stocks are good, with no major flaws, though the checkering is somewhat worn. The tag with it says 1890, though it also said .22 WCF, which it is not. The owner said it is .22 Remington, and that he used what he called a sleeve to enable use of .22 LR. The barrel is octagon, with worn finish and some dings between the receiver and rear sight, receiver is bright with no blue at all. My interest is in it as a neat old shooter, no collector here, and would probably have it rechambered or relined for .22 WMR or WRF. The price tag said $350.00 and I did not attempt to dicker. Should I have bought it? Have the contact information at hand and can get back to him later if I think myself to have made a mistake. Thanks for any help.
03-31-2007, 05:10 PM
If it was the mid-size Hopkins and Allen, the Carbine version had a sling ring on the left side of the frame. They are quite uncommon, and, from what I read, were in .44 WCF (".44 Model 1873") exclusively.
Both the early mid-size and the smaller "Junior" model had a takedown screw somewhat like the one on the early Stevens Favorites, with a metal ring rather than a slot or a lever for finger purchase, sticking out of the right side. Perhaps this is what you saw. These models were marketed by Merwin, Hulbert, but when they went out of business, the Hopkins and Allen Company was formed and a number of design changes occurred in the rifles, one of which was the elimination of the ring screw in the side. The larger rifles had the lever screw in the right side and the smaller ones had the ring screw on the bottom of the receiver.
The .22 Remington Special is the same as the .22 Winchester Rim Fire (.22 WRF), which is still available on a limited basis from both Winchester and CCI. Nominally, if the original boring was .22 RF, it would be undersized for the .22 WRF, but I would imagine the black-powder ammunition of the time was low enough pressure to squeeze the .226" bullets down to .223" without anything untoward happening. I don't know what would happen with smokeless ammunition. Somebody on the old Shooters' forum rechambered one for .22WRM and set the breechblock back in the frame, creating excessive headspace, in a few shots.
I'm kind of fond of these rifles myself, (especially the medium-sized) but unless the rifle was a Saddle-Ring Carbine, a Scheutzen model, or a Noiseless model, or a specimen in mint condition, I would not pay anywhere near $350 for one.
Thanks for the information, Bent Ramrod. This is definately not a Junior model, having a receiver and hammer shaped like the earlier center fires. It is marked Hopkins & Allen, has the (takedown?) ring on the right and looks almost identical to that .38-55 I mentioned before, except the receiver has no engraving, the receiver side is flat with no swell at the front, and the stocks are not glossy finished. Also, the shape of the barrel is nicer, with a round boss, very short, at the receiver, then changing to the octagon form. If this is not worth $350, then some of those auction prices are really out there. That would be a surprise. Wouldn't it?
03-31-2007, 07:35 PM
I bought a H&A/Merwin & Hulbert in 32WCF 6 years ago for $750 on Auction Arms. Externally, it was in very good condition, but the bore was rough. This 'medium' size action was also used for the 38-55. A photocopied section of a book on single actions (Grant?) mentions that none of the H&A falling block actions should be used with modern centerfire cartridges because the barrels are not threaded into the action and the receiver is of questionable strength.
Looking more carefully at the article, there is no mention of the medium size action being made in 22lr, only the 922 'small' action. The hammers on all sizes of the falling block models seem to have the same look. All models had either the takedown ring on the bottom of the receiver, or a lever the right side like the 'medium' action shown above. The differences between the actions can be measured: The small action is 1.00" thick and the sidewall is 0.125" thick. The medium action is 1.20" thick and the sidewall is 0.145" thick.
More recently I bought a H&A No. 822 in 22lr for $150. It is definitely a boys rifle, and is stamped "Hopkins and Allen Souvenir New Orleans 1902".
$350 might be right, with the questionable modification, unless I paid way too much for mine! Stan
Excellent picture, Stan. If you replace that lever with ring in a stud, the rifle I saw today is very similar to that, clearly marked .22 RF between the receiver and rear sight. I may have to buy the doggone thing just to get some pictures to post.
04-01-2007, 03:16 AM
.............Would be neat to re-line it to 22 Long Rifle. That way you could afford to shoot it :-)
04-01-2007, 05:56 AM
Contact MoodyHoller on this board or marlin owners forum. He is the most knowledgable Hopkins and Allen man I know of and he will know what it is worth.
04-01-2007, 06:28 PM
The last one I bought, maybe 4 years ago, looked like StanDahl's picture, only an earlier one without the Davenport patent sear adjuster screws on the side. Metal was patinated, wood still had finish but finish and checkering more worn, .32 Rim-or-Center Fire, bore condition NRA Yucchh, tapered octagon barrel, paid $150.
I've never seen a H&A barrel with a round boss (or tulip ?) at the breech end. Did the barrel on the .22 Spl. have Hopkins and Allen markings on the top flat of the octagon? Check the barrel shank to see if it has the same number as the receiver; the action may have been rebarreled. Kind of strange for a low-cost rifle, but H&A put serial numbers on both parts. According to Grant, the medium-sized H&A's were chambered in .22 caliber rimfire, as well as centerfire cartridges. He has a picture of a two-barrel set, one in .22 RF and one 16-ga shotgun, on the medium frame. Quite a stretch for that size frame.
I have another medium frame, same caliber, about in the same condition, missing the internal sear adjuster lever (still has the outside screw and keeper) that I relined to .22LR, and it makes a very classy looking .22, light but with enough hang in the barrel for steady deliberate shots. Have another one with round barrel in .38-55 shot; deadly on clay pigeons if you stand on the roof of the trap house and shoot them as soon as they appear in front of you. I got these for $100 or so, but that was decades ago. I guess I don't fit into the new era of auction prices. I did turn down a Bay State (M&H-H&A's predecessor for that design) for $250 once; kind of bothers me now, but you could get a High-Wall for that kind of money back then.
DeHaas and Grant have a goodly amount of info written on the Hopkins and Allen falling blocks, but the late Charles Carder specialized in Hopkins and Allen and wrote a small but quite detailed book on them. Don't know if it's still in print or not. Moodyholler does know his H&A's; he posts on the ASSRA web site also.
Buckshot, that is probably the best course to follow if I wind up as the owner of this piece. It wouldn't take a lot of boxes of .22 WRF to pay for a reline. On the other hand, if the bore is good then removing the base of a .22 WRF round, leaving the front portion of the rim would make an excellent chamber adapter to use with .22 LR. At least it did with .22 WMR in my sadly departed Colt New Frontier.
SharpsShooter and Bent Ramrod, I will PM or email Moodyholler after I get to see the rifle again, probably Thursday. It will help me to refresh or reinforce my memory on the details, especially the Manufacturers name and address from the barrel, which seems to have escaped my memory entirely. The shape of the barrel was a surprise, as was the quality of machine work for what I assumed was a fairly low price rifle. Quite a few of these seem to have survived. I have none of the DeHaas or Grant books, a situation that will have to change.
Thanks all for all the help and information.
04-02-2007, 11:44 PM
I have a few of the shotguns and the actions are very soft. they rockwell tested down in the
B range(don't remember the number)
04-03-2007, 07:21 AM
I have one similar to that 22 in 45-70 !
Numrich actually had the missing parts ....
that thing is a hoot to shoot !
load the 45-70 with bp and have a blast
04-03-2007, 08:04 PM
I've been acquiring H&A rifles in a desultory fashion for several years now. H&A was actually a pretty large manufacturer, but they sold through Merwin & Hulbert for years, and then on their own after M&H failed. They also sold a lot of boy's rifles to the hardware trade, so H&A guns show up with all sorts of odd names on them. I have one that is hand engraved "Enders Royal Dead Shot".
I have Charlie Carder's little booklet, which has a lot of information about H&A, and as much as he could assemble by looking at found specimens. He was selling them at a gun show in Ohio, and I bought one. It's even signed.
The medium action in ANY form is rare, and I'd pay $350 for a complete gun in a New York minute unless it was seriously trashed. I have only two myself, neither of which has a barrel. One was without a barrel or any wood when I got it. One had a 20 guage shotgun barrel. I've been haunting gun shows, on the lookout, for the last 6-7 years and I've only SEEN one more.
The one I saw but did not buy was a so-called 'Schuetzen' model on the medium action, but in .22 rimfire. The guy wanted over $1000 for it so it is not mine. The stocks had a sorta-kinda Schuetzen buttplate, and the whole thing looked very original. The barrel was marked with a H&A rollstamp. This was 3-4 years ago.
Because H&A had a disastrous factory fire in 1903, there are no records before then, except catalogs of M&H and other retailers. Establishing a proper history is catch-as-catch-can at best. They seem to have made all sorts of variations, especially after M&H collapsed, so almost anything is possible.
That Davenport "adjustable set trigger" is an abomination, IMHO. I have a Bay State in .32 Short Colt CF that has it, and it doesn't work worth a tinkers damn. (Davenport was in business as Bay State for two years, about 1885. The basic H&A falling block design is his.) Bay State sold out to H&A about 1887. H&A quality wasn't as good, but they sold a lot of the smaller rifles over the next 20 years or so. Not many have survived, and those we do find are usually in rough shape. They were cheap and cheerful, and when they got tired they were mostly scrapped.
The Merwin & Hulbert catalog lists .38-55 and what looks like the .44-40 cartridge. I would be a little leery of firing one chambered 45-70. That tapered takedown pin going in from the right side is all that's keeping the barrel from going downrange when you fire it.
It's very easy to switch it to fire a CF cartridge. Simply make a longer link.
Cheers! Send me a pic if you buy it.
04-04-2007, 09:08 AM
I have some limited experience with the H&A rifles. A friend bought a rather nice "Schuetzen Junior" in .25/20 SS. It had a oerfect barrekl but he had it relined to .22 rimfire. It shot extremely well and was a joy to carry. I shot it quite a bit when we were trading rifles back and forth at the range. At first, I didn't like the high walls when using the little .22 rimfire. However, that was merely a matter of accomodation. After I used it a bit, it ceased to be a problem. .22 rimflre is a really good choice for these rifles. I would NEVER chamber one of them for ANY centerfire cartridge. As lar45 mentioned, these actions are soft iron.
The same friend rebarreled a shotgun action for 40/65. After just a few shots with black powder, the action started to "set back" and excessive headspace was beginning to be a problem.
.22 rimfire, great! Anything else, "I don't think so."
04-04-2007, 09:33 AM
A last bit of H&A history: During the run-up to World War I, a consortium in which the immor(t)al J.P. Morgan was involved sent around a request for bids to make a large number of 7mm Mausers for "a friendly foreign power" (actually, a "cover" for 7.65 Mausers for Belgium). H&A bit, tooled up at considerable expense, and started production, but when Belgium was overrun by the Kaiser's forces the deal collapsed, and the "syndicate" sucked up H&A. Marlin declined, but the syndicate bought up their stock and took them over too, at the end of 1915. Both companies ended up as components of Marlin-Rockwell. Good old monopoly capitalism at work!
Floodgate (the left-wing gun nut)
04-04-2007, 07:36 PM
I have to defend old J.P. here a bit. J.P. Morgan the man died in March of 1913. His company did succeed him under his son Jack, however. H&A didn't start production of the Mausers until 1915, and didn't file bankruptcy until 1917. The factory was run by the US Govt. and Marlin management until the war was over. Marlin then bought the assets in 1921. The Morgan banking interests may well have had a hand in the financing of H&A, but I would seriously doubt that they did so with a purpose to destroy the company.
J.P. Morgan was a very remarkable man. Among his many activities, he did, through his banking organization, act very much like the Federal Reserve does today, and in that capacity he personally guided the entire US economy through some tough times in the days around the turn of the century. A great many people revile him, but they know little about him. Had he been an evil dictator, as most detractors picture him, US history would be rather different, and not for the better. The lack of such guidance was a significant factor in the early years of the Depression. The detractors of J.P.Morgan are the anti-globalisation activists of today.
Sorry to hijack the thread, guys, but while I earn my crusts as an engineer, I'm an economist by training! The life history of J.P. was required reading.
04-04-2007, 08:22 PM
I'm part way through Jean Strouse's bio of Morgan. So far he seems a fairly responsible sort of person, given the times he was in.
I guess H&A midsize rifles are not exactly common out here either. Over the course of a year of Gun Show touring, I see a reasonable number of the 922 or Junior size and a lot of the shotgun size (or maybe it's the same shotgun, going begging at every show I go to) but the midsize is less often seen than a Stevens 44-1/2. And I see more Sharps-Borchardts than Stevens 44-1/2's. But the H&A's don't seem to command a lot of interest if they're priced high. Sometimes, the Collector is a rarer Collector's Item than the Item itself.
I have a mid-size receiver that I look for parts for; also a M&H Junior barreled receiver with lever and block in .32-20 that awaits the rest of the furniture. (I'm not timorous, but I don't think I'll shoot smokeless in that one, if I ever get it together.) There used to be a fair number of the wrong size hammers, blocks, etc., around for the small and mid sizes, but the supply seems to have dried up of late.
04-04-2007, 10:25 PM
My goodness - I would have said that only I and my banker son-in-law would have read that! Good on you, laddie!
What is your medium frame missing? I've got a few extra hammers, and other odd bits. Darndest thing about hammers is I never seem to get two alike, though. They must have changed the shape of the hammer every time they wore out the milling cutter that made it !
The Junior frame is just dandy for .32 S&W short (or long). I have a Bay State that was originally chambered .32 Short Colt with the heeled boolit. Not wanting to alter the chamber, I've set it up with the tools to breech-seat a store-bought .312 100 grain wadcutter, after which I load a case with powder and a card wad, just like the old Schuetzen guys did. It actually shoots quite well that way.
So when I acquired a .32 rimfire Junior, I made a longer link for it, and now I can shoot the S&W .32 short. It's a neat plinker, although the 6 o'clock extractor doesn't work very well. Partly that's due to a rough chamber. I haven't started handloading for it yet. Factory ammo is reasonably cheap and easy to get.
04-04-2007, 11:06 PM
The wife bought me a 12 ga for christmas a few years back and it needed an extractor and spring for the lever. I made the new parts and cleaned everything else up while I had it apart. It shoots great now. If I push the lever down and let the spring snap it open the empties will eject over my sholder. The stock pull and cast is perfect for me. it pulls up perfect everytime. When I got it together, I went and shot some clay pidgeons to get the feel for it and then chased a bunny out of the bushes and rolled it. I would rather shoot it than my Browning Auto5.
I have a 16 ga that is slightly smaller and is in great shape. I haven't shot it though. I would like to find a small action to build a 410 on. I really don't want to spend a pile on it though.
04-04-2007, 11:08 PM
There are various "takes" on J. P. Morgan; my most recent was Wheeler's "Pierpont Morgan and Friends", which was fairly well-balanced - though it is clear the author didn't really like him. Yes, he did play a Federal Reserve function in the crises of the late 1880's - but he didn't exactly go broke doing so. I DO think the Hall Rifle scandal was blown out of all proportion, though, and his role there was an early and quite minor one. It was DUMB of the War Dep't. to dump them at scrap prices, and then buy them back after the rebuild, when they could have been rifled at Springfield for a dollar or so each. (I had one, and shot it quite a bit, many years ago.)
[I'll look up Jean Strouse's biography; thanks, Dave!]
Most of the H&A / Marlin story came from Brophy's "Marlin Firearms". Marlin was poorly managed by John Mahlon Marlin's sons, and the Rockwell group (with Morgan well in the background, admittedly, if there at all) had control by the beginning of 1916, and it was THAT incarnation of Marlin that ran H&A for the Government through the war; and by all accounts they DID do a good job.
I got interested in international economics via reading on the British wool and, later, cotton industries in the 18th and 19th Centuries, but that's a whole 'nother tale. And "globalization", like "global warming", "global village" and all the other "global" buzzwords are just vehicles for promoting the "round earth" myth.
"IT ISN'T ROUND; IT'S FLAT!"
You guys have a lot of knowledge about these H&A rifles. Thank you for sharing it. I went to the owners place today and got a better look at it in daylight. The condition is not as good as it first seemed, but is not bad. However, it has indeed been converted to centerfire, and from his wax chamber casting is either a .22 WRF like the tag said, .22 Hornet. If the action is soft iron that second chambering is a little scary. The bottom of the chamber is badly dinged as if by a rimfire firing pin being dry fired. The wood has been refinished and has a very nice H&A plastic buttplate, maybe too nice given the condition of the rest of it. Checkering on the grip is mostly gone, though traces remain, and the fore arm checkering is good. There is no serial number that I could see on either receiver or barrel, but there was a three digit number I could not read on one side of the lever where it is hidden inside the receiver when the action is closed. Shape of the barrel is as described, with the short round swell transitioning nicely to octagonal. In front of the rear sight it is marked "Made by the Hopkins & Allen Manfg Co Norwich Conn USA". No punctuation that I could make out. Between the rear sight and the receiver markings are "Patent June 23 85 Oct 2 88 Dec 9 90 22 RF." Receiver looks just like the one in Stan's photo, except for the take down pin that has been described. The pin removes with almost no effort and goes back in the same way. Bore looks OK. Since I have no use for a single shot hand grenade I believe I will pass. It should be at the Big Reno Gun Show, the 13th, 14th and 15th of this month, table 31 on the west wall for those who wish to look closer. The owner says if he can find a cartridge to fit the price will rise. If the photos taken are useable, I will post them when the chance offers. Again thanks to all for the information.
Forgot to mention, the owner made a "sleeve", a home made chamber adapter of some forgetable material that lasted one shot of 22 LR. One of us, probably me, misunderstood it's shooting history and chambering last Saturday.
04-06-2007, 12:04 AM
That barrel configuration is a new one on me. I profiled a couple of "tulip" barrels on a horizontal mill and it is an expensive and time-consuming modification. Much cheaper and easier to just let the cutter run off the end and cut the flat all the way through. Maybe they made it up special for an employee of the company or something.
All of my H&A mediums have "worn-looking" checkering, but I think it's just that the stockers gave the checkering the classic "lick and a promise" and varnished over the light scratches. No real grip surface at all.
The old designator for the Hornet was the .22 WCF; maybe the owner has that mixed up with the .22 WRF. I relined and chambered a Remington #2 to WRF, figuring I'd shoot up the cartridges I'd managed to accumulate and extend the chamber to .22 Magnum. Haven't done that yet; the WRF definitely has its points, and in a single shot it isn't all that much of a drain on the finances to shoot. The liner is one of those TJ's Gateway jobs, sold by the inch, and it shoots around an inch at 50 yards; good as I can hold with the open sights. Never thought of sleeving the chamber to try to make a .22 LR work in it.
My extra H&A midsize receiver has a trigger, the outer set for the screw for the sear adjuster, and nothing else. I've managed to accumulate a hammer that's too big and a breechblock that's too big and one that's too small. Thought Stevens Favorite hammers were bad--every one seems to be different but if you have a 94 hammer, it can at least be made to work in a 94 action by judicious grinding on the mainspring. H&A hammers, as you say, are different every time, and the breechblocks seem to be as well. That's the firearms jigsaw puzzle hobby for you.
I was impressed with the Forward in Strouse's book on Morgan. She said she had laid down four or five chapters of a pretty decent hatchet job on the guy and then realized that her source material was badly skewed. Morgan's contemporary and later detractors were slick muckraking journalists--wordsmiths who could point up a verbal barb or polish an innuendo for its maximum effect. Morgan's defenders, on the other hand, were business types who probably wrote nothing more dramatic than the Annual Report to the stockholders, and their writing was stilted, boring and came across as fawning and unconvincing. She then scrapped her start and went to the Morgan family papers, and got a much more satisfactory view of the man. That kind of introspective critical thinking is very rare in these days. She's a real historian, not a feelings-driven propagandist.
04-06-2007, 07:59 AM
URNY, I have 5 medium frame rifles and shotguns, and two large frame shotguns. I am in the process of negotiating for a 6th one.
22lr 28 oct barrel with tulip and 16 ga barrel
22lr 28" barrel no tulip oct
If it is in any centerfire cartridge, you would best be shooting black powder. I have had a couple of them cracked at the top of the breechblock mortice. Saddle ring carbines had a staple and ring on the left side of the action and there is a version that has a ring on the takedown screw. The screw in the side of the action makes it a deluxe, and the adjustment seldom works. There are two hammer styles, one is long and the other one is short, depending on the cartridge chambered. I am enclosing a picture of mine. You can download the picture and pull it up close to examine details. I would say if the barrel has a tulip, it has to be on a shotgun action as they had much larger holes in them. I can get some measurements from mine as time is available. The 20 ga in my avatar and the other large frame came after this picture. moodyholler
04-06-2007, 08:33 AM
Bent Ramrod, my 2 barrel set has a 16 ga barrel and a 22lr barrel. It has the link with two holes in it to change from CF to RF. It is like new and the checkering is sharp. I have recently found out that a medium frame rifle cost more than a highwall when new. I love the old medium frame rifles and am amazed at how many different configs there are of the breechblocks, levers, hammers, and receivers. I am in the process of modelling one in SOLIDWORKS cad to have two made locally from good steel and heatreated to make a 32-40 and a 40-70 out of. I will have large and medium action models. Thanks, moodyholler
04-06-2007, 06:41 PM
That new manufacture sounds like an interesting experiment. There's nothing inherently weak about the breeching, just the malleable-iron material used. I would surmise that it would still be a blackpowder-pressure proposition with the nonthreaded slip-in barrel, and a low-pressure smokeless proposition with the rebounding hammer, if you went to a threaded barrel.
I fire my .38 Shotgun with blown-out .30-30 shells, Large Rifle primers, 5 gr Unique and a column consisting of a .375" card wad, two .375" waxed felt wads .20" thick, #6-#8 shot to top of shell, and another .375" card wad crimped at the mouth of the shell. Alternately, a .38-55 shell with 6.5 gr Unique and the same combination as above. If I'm quick enough, I can generally break a clay pigeon in two; sometimes even break it in three pieces.
It's a cute little gun, but the game in 1885 must have been perching on the hunters's shoulders for it to be considered a serious hunting gun.
Nice bunch of single shots. Are you having just the two actions made, or is your intent to have more made, perhaps for sale? Either way it's a great idea.
I guess I've never heard of those .38 shotguns before. In our desert they might be useful for potting cottontails in the sagebrush. I generally use a .22 LR or 00 buck in 8x57 with 4.0 red dot.
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