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New England Firearms – H&R Firearms

Harrington and Richardson Factory

The Background Story of New England Firearms

Attempting to explain the history and present standing of New England Firearms (NEF) is something akin to describing the infield fly rule to a young athlete or novice baseball fan; the conversation is sure to end in frustration but there’s certainly something worth learning along the way. Today, NEF is more of a trademark name than anything else and pretty much synonymous with its parent company, Harrington & Richardson (H&R 1871, LLC). As the story goes, the original Harrington & Richardson (later incorporated as the Harrington & Richardson Arms Company) was founded by Gilbert Harrington and William Richardson in 1871. Harrington was the nephew of Daniel Wesson, brother of Frank Wesson, who founded Smith & Wesson. Richardson was a former Smith & Wesson employee that had the vision to help Harrington produce a revolutionary new-type of break-action revolver. 

Over the better part of a century, the New England-based company underwent several leadership changes, produced many different types of quality firearms, but was forced to close its doors in 1986 (more than two decades after being run into the ground by the Kiddie company, which purchased H&R in 1960). A new team reopened the venture in 1991, this time calling the company H&R 1871, Inc. They resumed firearm production but, in November 2000, sold the company to Marlin Firearms. Marlin, in turn, was bought out by the Remington Arms Company in 2007. Remington is presently owned by Freedom Group, LLC (a private investment firm, based out of Chicago, that maintains holdings in a variety of other firearms companies and various businesses).


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Popular New England Firearms Guns

Most of the H&R rifles stamped “New England Firearms” rolled-off of company’s assembly lines after Marlin purchased the organization in 2000, although the trademark appears elsewhere in H&R’s past. Recently, however, the company made a brand transition announcement stating that, “We will discontinue the use of the New England Firearms brand name on our current firearms but not on firearm parts.” So, what’s the bottom line? You won’t be able to find a new NEF rifle for sale today but there are certainly used guns available for purchase. Below is a short list of some of the more popular rifles produced by H&R, both with and without the NEF trademark. Although some of these firearms are no longer in production, firearms enthusiast Chuck Hawks summed it up best in 2003 when he wrote, “Whether marked H&R or NEF, these rifles come out of the same factory in Gardner, Massachusetts and are functionally identical.”

NEF Handi-rifle

Handi-Rifle

More or less the modern face of Harrington & Richardson, the Handi-Rifle is the firearm that most H&R customers purchase from the company. Although discontinued, the Handi-Rifle remains popular among a variety of hunters and sport-shooting enthusiasts for its dependable action and excellent accuracy. It’s also available is a wide variety of configurations and calibers, including synthetic, superlight, and stainless packages chambered in everything from .22 Hornet to .45/70 Govt. One of the last versions to exit the New York factory was the AAC in 300 BLK, a tactical version of the Handi featuring a shorter barrel threaded for silencer use.

NEF Ultra Varmint

Ultra-Hunter & Ultra-Varmint

The Ultra-Hunter & Ultra-Varmint are essentially H&R’s premium versions of the Handi-Rifle. Available in a similar range of calibers, Ultra-Hunters and Ultra-Varmints emphasize finish and feel for a slightly higher price. So, unlike the basic Handi, H&R produces these rifles with laminate stocks, fluted barrels, and grooved forends (designed to accept bipods for improved accuracy). The Ultra-Hunter is also available in a slug version, making it a great choice for shotgunners looking to bag medium to large game.

NEF Buffalo Classic

Buffalo Classic

Like the above Handi and Ultra, the Buffalo Classic is also a break-action, single-shot rifle, but most of the similarities stop there. Designed more for nineteenth-century firearms and hunting enthusiasts, the Buffalo Classic design is based on the frontier rifles of the Old West that many pioneers used to hunt large game across the Great Plains during the mid-1800s. It only comes in one caliber, .45/70 Govt., which was a popular big-bore cartridge of that bygone era. While not hailed as an exceptionally great weapon, many reviewers found the Buffalo classic a solid and accurate rifle, suitable for both hunting and competitive shooting.

NEF Survivor

Survivor

The Survivor takes the basic Handi platform in a slightly different direction than some of the aforementioned rifles. First and foremost, H&R advertises this rifle as a weapon you want “when the going gets rough”, based on a “rock-solid, go-anywhere, do everything design”. It’s available in four calibers, including .410ga or .45 Colt platforms great for doing some brush hunting in tough environments. The blued version is also produced in .223 Rem. and .308 Win., which make it a pretty versatile hunting gun.

Stocks for New England Firearms and H&R Guns

Whether stamped H&R or NEF, Boyds has a great hardwood gunstock for your rifle. Our most popular products mostly include thumbhole gunstocks or sharp-looking forends for the Handi-Rifle, but we also have a great selection of other accessories. Ultra-Hunter owners will, for example, delight in the look and feel of our Camo Forend, which adds a great touch to an already excellent slug gun.

More into plinking or varmint hunting? We have you covered there, too. Just check out our line of quality stocks and forends for H&R’s Ultra-Varmint platform. Also, remember that many of our Handi-Rifle line of stocks and forends can be found under the Sterling NEF name and, like the rifles they are designed for, are essentially one in the same. 


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