View Full Version : NEA Handi Rifle in .223

05-31-2008, 11:42 AM
One of my friends bought a one of these a couple of years ago and could not get it to shoot better than about 1.5 -2.5 in. at 100 yds. He put it away and quit messing with it. He gave it to me to play with about a year ago. I was able to get about 1.5 in. groups @ 100 yds with some plain jane Win loads. He recently gave his dies, powder and bullets to try to work up a load.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this rifle and could offer any tips, tricks, modifications, powders, j-bullets or bullet weight ranges to stay in which may make this rifle a shooter.



05-31-2008, 12:30 PM
No way I could do any better than the FAQ at the Handi Rifle forum at Greybeards. They have their rules and way of doing things, but a wealth of info for the Handi there.


Which model do you have (barrel length/dia at muzzle/stocks)? There is a lite barrel gun that can be problems, otherwise the .223's usually do pretty good.

The older .223's were 1-12" twist, so they work pretty good with 45gr. Later they went to 1-9" twist. If the gun is an extractor barrel (instead of ejector) then it's probably a 1-9".

Check the barrel to wood forearm contact & freefloat it if possible - some use o-rings/washers to lower the wood away from the barrel if it's touching & they don't want to modify it.

For the money they are decent little guns. They can respond to some tinkering, but then again, the only factory guns I own that I haven't tinkered with to get to shoot better have been my Glocks.

05-31-2008, 01:13 PM
With any kind of a break-action rifle, lock up is paramount in getting accuracy. (So is making sure the butt stock is as tight as possible.) The Handi-rifle shooters at GreyBeards learned to fit their own barrels by using aluminum strips from pop cans to shim the barrel/hinge pin fit. I wonder if using the same aluminum tape we use for 'Beagling' in this area wouldn't maximize contact between the barrel and recoil shield and improve accuracy.

bruce drake
06-01-2008, 05:28 AM

I wish I had a shooting buddy to hand out rifles. Think you could send him my way to be my friend? I'd love to talk him into purchasing a 45-70 Springfield for him to get bored with later. I'd be sure to be the first in line to catch his cast offs.

Good luck with the Handi. It took me about a year's worth of tinkering with my 30-30 Handi and the load recipe until I got the groups I wanted. After that, she became a sweet shooter.

Then again, experimenting is one of the reasons we handload anyways. I've yet to meet a serious shooter that didn't handload.


06-01-2008, 07:58 AM
Mik McPhearson had quite a bit to say about the Handy Rifles in his book "Accurizing the Factory Rifle" from Wolfe Publishing. As I recall, a lot of his tricks were related to what would be bedding on a bolt gun, modifications to keep a solid connection between the receiver and butt stock, and keeping the forearm from modifying barrel vibrations. I don't remember for sure, but there may have been some trigger modifications too. He seemed to think it was a pretty good starting platform for an accurate rifle!

When I can find some time, I will dig the book out, and report back if you are interested.


06-01-2008, 08:23 AM
All of the above good avice and a view towards trigger work. Somewhere around the net there is floating a tutorial on how to tweek the NEA Handi-trigger. A good trigger alone can shrink groups like crazy. I'll see if I can find the article and post it.

06-01-2008, 08:32 AM
I had seen a rifle like this fitted with a muzzleloader trigger,double set off a CVA or t/C,but do not know how it was fitted up.

06-01-2008, 08:56 AM

06-01-2008, 09:32 AM
I have one in .223 and the only thing I have done with it is 25 yd work. It put 'em one hole though. I have a 2.5X Bushnell and 6-9 Harrris Bipod on it. Just kind of a fun gun for now. Has a nice trigger. I may try to bust some yotes with it!

06-01-2008, 10:57 AM
Nice group of guys over there on GB. I have a few handy and only had one bad shooter. Took a little work but got what I wanted out of it.

First question I have is what weight of bullet are you trying to shoot?

Does the barrel fit to the receiver tight? No gaps or side to side movement.

Was the scope mount ever removed? The mount that was on the barrel from factor, it must be removed and cleaned of burrs, I lap that piece to the barrel.

Was the receiver removed from the stock and barrel and flushed out? NEF sends out finished rifles with machining chips in them amongst other things. These can get into the break over pins and may cause a yaw in the barrel. Or worse and lock up something else.

Since you have shot this rifle a few times clean the barrel till it’s spotless and then lap the barrel with Flitz. The barrels are normally fairly rough if not down right rough, lapping is a must if you want a shooter (this one is my option) out of a handy. Make sure you clean the barrel really good after lapping.

What does the crown look like? If the crown isn't right all the above will only help a little, there is a crown fix on GB site which can be done at home.

Check all of this stuff out and let us know how it works after words. Just a note if you’re trying to shoot to heavy of a bullet nothing I said will help it. That rifle sounds like it was bought during the transition of 1:12 to 1:9. If I remember correctly even the 1:9 barrels wouldn’t shoot the really heavy bullets.

Here are my two loads that shoot pretty good.

.223 Handy

Brass -Winchester
Primer - Winchester Small Rifle Primer
Powder – H-335 @ 2X.Xgrs. (+.1)
Bullet – Hornady 55gr. SX
Velocity - Average velocity is 3150 F.P.S.
Max C.O.L - Over all length 2.200" (+-.005")
3 Shot Group - Average 3 shot group 0.547”

Brass -Winchester
Primer - Winchester Small Rifle Primer
Powder – H-335 @ 2X.Xgrs. (+.1)
Bullet – Rem. 55gr. PSP
Velocity - Average velocity is 3150 F.P.S.
Max C.O.L - Over all length 2.200" (+-.005")
3 Shot Group - Average 3 shot group 0.650”

I X’ed out my charge as it’s near max and don’t want anyone loading it up as a starting load.

If you have any questions PM me or as it here.


06-01-2008, 11:06 AM

a few Handi-Rifle tips;

do the shoot and clean thing...

1 shot and clean for maybe ten rounds and the 2 shots and clean for another 10. use a good copper bore cleaner and a nylon brush and lots of patches.

make sure the 'ledge' is clean and DRY...the ledge is under the extractor (it's where a H&R locks up)

keep the front sand bag under the back of the fore-end as close to the hinge as you can.

keep the trigger pulled all the way back plum thru the shot...don't ask me why but it helps

I worked up some loads for my buddies H&R 223...AA 2230c and 55 grain PSP shoots ( 5 shots) into less that an inch at 100 yards when you do your part.

my H&R 30/30 puts five 311284's and IMR4064 into less than 3/4" at 50 yards when I do my part

06-01-2008, 11:16 AM
keep the trigger pulled all the way back plum thru the shot...don't ask me why but it helps

my H&R 30/30 puts five 311284's and IMR4064 into less than 3/4" at 50 yards when I do my part

The Handi uses a transfer bar to transfer the hammer strike to the firing pin, if the trigger does come all the way back, or worse - released, a partial force hammer strike will result. That means a light hit/misfire.

06-02-2008, 05:54 PM
Try some 50-grain Hornady SPSX or 40-grain V-max over RE-15. You might be pleasantly surprised. Also try the moly coat version of the v-max. I find that everything seems to shoot better after a few of those go down the bore.

06-03-2008, 11:21 AM
You might also need to do the small indent on to make shell extraction possible when the extractor/ejector jumps past the extractor cut on a fired brass case. One of my co-workers has had one for a couple years and he is just now getting it to shoot. he had a heck of a time getting a scope mounted so it would work. The factory mount had the holes drilled off center line. I finally helped him learn how to shim it into alignment.

It woudl be a good fun gun for the money. But another frined had the small short barrel 45-70 with a small low power fixed power scope that was a whole lot more fun. It busted prairie dogs with our small caliber rifles only in a more spectacular fashion.

06-03-2008, 01:44 PM
I use a gopher 5" shoot and see target with my 45/70 Handi at 200 will keep them in the belly of the gopher. A man at the range said"you not gona use that on P' dogs are you?" why not it is not like I am going to eat them (although I did work with a man years ago that did) what is fun is catch them sitting on there hole and hit right under them. You need a good video camera for that as they jump about 4' high and hit the ground full speed. that is a whole lot more fun than just killing them .

06-10-2008, 09:35 AM
Thanks for all replies and help. The rifle ia a heavy barrel with ejector. The crown looks good and the trigger is fine too. I have looked briefly at some of the links to other sites. Boy, I did not realize there was so much info on handi rifles.

I went to the range the other day and 5, 40 gr v-max's behind 27 gns H335 went into about 1 in with a flier, about 1/2 in without it and 3 went into a clover leaf. The 50 gn v-max did not shoot as well but I think that was me as I was getting tired and rushed and could not settle my pluse.

For both groups I put the rest just forward the hinge pin. It looks like this rifle may have some promise after all. Would like to see if I can get some 55 gn'ers to work. I have some loaded up to try. My friend was happy with the 40 gn group.

Thanks again for all the infor, tips, and suggestions.


06-10-2008, 09:47 AM
Bigscot, no words of wisdom from shooting a Handi, but as a general rule, seating your bullets out a bit so they're closer to the lands will improve accuracy. Anytime you don't have to run the rounds through a magazine, there is no reason to be limited to the book-listed OAL. That is one big advantage single shot rifles have going for them.

06-10-2008, 01:58 PM
Try putting your rest just behind the hinge pin. I know that the balance is a little funny with it there, but just try it & see what happens.