View Full Version : H&R Huntsman in .58 ...should I?

06-02-2006, 05:11 PM
I've got a line on an early H&R Huntsman in .58 for right around $145. What do you guys think, is this a rifle wirth having? By that I mean do they tend to be accurate and if so, will they digest RBs as well as minnies? Can other barrel combinations be fitted or am I running into that stupid "shotgun" issue were the frames won't stand up to CF calibers?

Bucks Owin
06-02-2006, 09:49 PM
I had a .58 Huntsman back in the 70's and other than being easy to clean, I didn't think much of it. I shot the 472 gr Lee "improved minie" in it as well as a patched .562" ball. Neither one would group better than 6" at 50 yds. The trigger needed work as it was pretty crumby from the factory. I finally got rid of it in trade for a used T/C Hawken .50 which was a fine shooter....

I don't know if it's a "twist issue" or what. Maybe the one you're looking at will be better than the one I had. Can't say for sure but I suspect the Huntsman might be built on the shotgun frame....

Would it be possible to test fire it or get a few representative targets from it?



UPDATE: Mine was the old version with an O-ring seal on the breechplug FWIW....

06-02-2006, 11:50 PM
I also had one in .58 back in the '70's. I believe it shot a bit better than 6" at 50 with the Minnie, don't remember using RB's. Even drilled and tapped it and mounted a Weaver K2.5 (Hey, I was just a kid...). I traded for a Navy Arms Buffalo Hunter (a bubba'd Zouve) and shot the Minnie in that as well. I don't think I exceded 70 gr. as accuracy seemed to suffer with the original syle Minnie and heavy loads. That was traded for a Hawken in .50 which is what I have used until I made a muzzleloading .50 barrel for my switch barrel Rolling Block a few years ago. I had a couple .45-70's and a .22 Hornet on the same style H&R frame and they shot pretty well. I suspect that the frames were just shotgun frames but can't recall the firing pin size on the Hornet. I don't see the original Huntsman muzzleloaders as having the ability to swap barrels. As I recall, both series (early breech plug with O ring and later threaded breech plug series) used a larger diameter flat firing pin for positive ignition with #11 or musket caps. I had made breech plugs for a few H&R and Savage break open single shot shotguns to use them as muzzleloaders. I did not change the firing pin and it worked fine. My Rolling Block breechplug is set up for 209 shotgun primers. If swapping barrels is important, I think I'd go with the modern Handi Rifle in a rifle caliber and add a muzzleloading barrel if they will sell you one that way. That is something that crossed my mind for my oldest son who wants an inline muzzleloader. He likes stainless looking metal with tupperware stocks and I believe they have a model like that. If you go with the used Huntsman, I would carefully check the condition of the telescoping ramrod. Many are bent or screwed up. Use a range rod and save the original for hunting.

06-03-2006, 12:58 AM
They weren't the most accurate, but they were good enough for deer hunting and they were the first reasonably weatherproof m/l. I used to cut a donut of waxed paper to make an improved weather seal. They are a good, reliable, entry level m/l, and that's a fair price if the bore is in good shape and has been kept clean. They'll shoot Minnies, REALs, Maxis, etc., but they have the wrong twist for rb's. I know two who still hunt with them. Mine kept 5 shots in 6" @ 100yds. I sold or traded it off when I started to do a lot of target shooting. One thing that often affects accuracy is with their thin barrels, their crowns are easily damaged, but that is easily and quickly fixed, too. You just need to be aware of it. I have never heard of one being fitted with a different barrel. If you want a switch barrel, buy an Encore. T/C's have great adjustable triggers. If you get more barrels for a H&R, then they all will have the same piss poor trigger.

06-03-2006, 01:12 AM
I have a Huntsman .50 caliber barrel on a NEF frame that started out as a .223. I personally love the rifle. I sold the .223 barrel and am going to send in the frame to get a .243 and a 45-70 barrel.

I bought the .50 caliber barrel used and fitted it myself, which there wasnt much fitting at all to do on it. I mounted a cheap bsa 4x scope on it and with sabot's and 240 grain .44 caliber bullets I get 3 bullets touching at 50 yards. I use 2 50 grain 777 pellets with the breach plug clean up is a snap. Plenty good for deer and anything else I might shoot in MI with it. I havent shot any cast out of it yet but I when I find a mold that I like I will be knee deep in ML bullets because I have about 50#'s of pure lead.

Your talkin .58 caliber though, I dont know when they stopped making that caliber so you might not even be able to send it in to get a shotgun barrel fitted, but if you buy a barrel off of ebay or something you should be able to fit it your self if you are inclined to do so.


06-03-2006, 09:50 PM
Before you do,if it has the "O" ring style breechplug-DON'T buy it!
Make sure the breechplug screws into the barrel.
A guy was killed when he opened a gun like that quickly after a hangfire and it blew the breechplug into his head.
Just be careful!

06-04-2006, 01:17 AM
OK, I'm going to call this one a dog and let it pass. i don't need another head ache.

09-29-2009, 08:09 PM
I will buy any H&R Huntsman .58 caliber. Prefer the "O-Ring" breech block models.
If you have one to sell email me at



09-29-2009, 08:50 PM
..... Can other barrel combinations be fitted or am I running into that stupid "shotgun" issue were the frames won't stand up to CF calibers?

Only H&R muzzleloader barrels will fit that frame.
It was built so as not to fall under modern firearms rules.
The firing pin is huge and would probably not stand the pressure of a modern load.
The firing pin is also designed to set back and lock the gun up if you try any cartridge conversion monkeybusiness.

They were good cheap and reasonably accurate in their day.

The earliest models had the threaded breechplug and it could be a considerrable challenge to remove the plug when the breech was fouled with powder residue.

The first barrels with the 'o' ring seal could be dangerous with a hangfire if they were opened too early.

Slightlly later versions had a cross pin to keep them from opening far enough for the breechplug to escape. Many people removed the cross pin so that the plug could be removed for cleaning without taking down the gun. This is a VERY bad idea.

The most serious fault of the gun was the tendency of the firing pin to stick in the extended position when fouled and fire the charge when the action was closed. For this reason alone, they were banned from the firing line at many muzzleloader shoots.

I had a bunch of them and had the most fun shooting claybirds with the 12 ga version.
I sold all of them off many years ago except for a very short 12 ga that I used to fire salutes on Independance Day.


09-29-2009, 09:35 PM
Before you do,if it has the "O" ring style breechplug-DON'T buy it!
Make sure the breechplug screws into the barrel.
A guy was killed when he opened a gun like that quickly after a hangfire and it blew the breechplug into his head.
Just be careful!

I totally agree don't buy it if it has the O-ring breechplug. I had a .58 that I bought new on sale (wonder why?). I used a minnie bullet I bought from my high school teacher and loaded 2 empty 30-06 brass (with shoulder cut off) of 2FG powder (I'm guessing between 60 - 80 grains. On the 3rd shot from clean, the action would open. This happened every time. Sold all my guns when I turned 18 for gas money. Sure wish I had kept them except this one. BTW the telescopic ramrod was a big PITA but it was very accurate. If it has the threaded breechplug I'd go for it.

10-01-2009, 12:15 PM
Besides the differences Jack listed above, H&R/NEF shotgun & muzzleloader receivers (SB1's) are cast, and not forged as are the rifle (SB2/etc) frames.


07-14-2011, 11:13 PM
The knowledge on this site is amazing. And talk about dredging up an old thread.

There is a local auction on Friday that has a H&R Huntsman on the list. I'll be there anyway. I think I will bid on it until it gets to $100 or so. Who knows, I may wind up with it.

07-15-2011, 06:29 PM
i shoot a huntsman in 50 cal the when i bought my huntsman it would take any barrel an SB1 frame would take , then they stopped selling any barrels to huntsman frames is what they told me when i called , i wanted a 44mag barrel , when they said no to that i asked about a shotgun barrel , they said no no barrels for huntsman's i was not happy i had to fill out a 4473 for that huntsman , the sidekick had slightly different frame and was not needing a 4473

it shoots 410gr great planes conical very well