H&R/Sako .308 Mannlicher-style Carbine

Discussion in 'Other firearms built on Sako actions' started by icebear, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    783
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    A couple of months ago I posted a brief note on this rifle, along with a Tikka I had bought the same day. I've finally gotten around to mounting a scope and photographing it, so here it is.

    First, some background. Harrington & Richardson made the 300/301 series Ultrarifles in the early 70's. The guns were first produced on FN actions, later on Sako actions, and according to some sources they also made some on Yugoslav Mauser actions. Calibers included .30-06, .270, .308, .243 and likely some others. The model numbers were the same regardless of which basic action was used - 300 for a conventional rifle, 301 for a Mannlicher-style carbine. The Sako-based rifles were built on round-top actions - mostly L579, but I believe H&R did build a few guns on L61R actions as well. According to various sources, the barrels were Douglas Air Gauge and the stocks came from Fajen. Stocks were a good grade of walnut and were hand checkered at the H&R factory. The checkering was finer and with a more elegant pattern than typical of Sako. Both models had contrasting pistol grip caps and the 300 also had a contrasting forend tip. I don't know how many rifles H&R made on Sako actions, but it wasn't many. I've seen figures of 1,000 or so total for all the different basic actions, but I can't confirm that. A couple of years ago I passed on a .30-06 Mannlicher carbine on an FN action and I've been kicking myself ever since.


    When I got the gun, it was equipped with a Williams receiver-mounted aperture sight and a globe-type front sight on the original ramp. I quickly came to the conclusion that whoever mounted the sights had never actually tried to use them. The H&R stock has a very high cheekpiece and it proved impossible to get my face down far enough to line up the sights. So, the first order of business was to remove the iron sights and mount a scope. The gun was originally fitted with Williams open sights and I may decide to get an appropriate set of those later, if I can find a set tall enough that I can use them with the stock.

    Late edit - According to a thread posted on this forum in 2011, it appears that all of the round top Sako actions, or at least the ones made for H&R, were drilled and tapped on the right side for a receiver sight. That's interesting, and I'm glad to learn that my receiver was not messed with by some unknown gunsmith.

    The H&R/ round top action, unlike the Browning version, has the front and rear action rings of the same diameter. Therefore, the mounts I had left over from a long-ago Browning/Sako were not going to work. Weaver does list bases for this model, but I decided to go a bit more upscale. I found that Warne makes a base that will work. It is their model M898/848M, which is actually made for the Cooper models 16/22/50/52. Optics Planet had a set in stock. These bases work with any Weaver style ring, but NOT with Picatinny rings, which have a wider crosspiece. I chose to mount a Leupold 2.5-8x, a compact scope in keeping with the carbine's size.

    The carbine is now ready to go. If things work out, I'll test fire it this Friday. If not, it will be a while because I'm having some minor surgery next week that will keep me from the range for a month or two.

    This is sacrilege, I know, but in a lot of ways this is a better looking gun than the equivalent Sako. Better wood, finer checkering. I especially like the rounded shape of the checkering on the forend. We'll see how it shoots; a Douglas barrel should be just fine.

    Here are some photos:
    HR Carbine 1.JPG HR Carbine 2.JPG HR Carbine 3.JPG HR Carbine 4.JPG HR Carbine 5.JPG HR Carbine 7.JPG HR Carbine8.JPG

    And here's the carbine as received, with the aperture rear and globe front sights.
    2 Holy Grails.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
    tripledeuce and FLT like this.

  2. CVCOBRA1

    CVCOBRA1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    104
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Illinois
    Very nice checkering on that. Looks like it would be a handy little rifle. What is the barrel length on it, looks shorty than the Sako 20 incher carbines. Nice......
     
  3. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    3,522
    Likes Received:
    662
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Iowa
    That checkering is very nicely executed. Much better than your standard Sako checkering from the same era. Some of the best I've seen on a factory rifle from that era. Most people don't look that closely at their checkering to see how shoddy some of it can be. Thanks for sharing!
     
  4. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

    Messages:
    7,463
    Likes Received:
    1,406
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Texas
    That is probably true of those on the FN and Zastava actions. However, the H&R-Sakos are listed in the Sako factory shipping records by specific caliber (and Sako didn't list their actions-only in the shipping records.) Thus, the barrels were made by Sako. The barrels of the sporters are of a lighter contour than contemporaneous Sako barrels, however. In addition to the 300/301 there was a plain Jane Model 340, I believe. The rifles had rollover combs, while the full stocks had a conventional Monte Carlo.

    Then there was the Ultrawildcat made on the L461 action (both round top and dovetail can be found). The version with the 20" barrel was largely a continuation of the pretty little O'brien mini rifles (H&R bought out the existing O'brien inventory when O'brien exited the business and those actions were probably the ones with the dovetails).

    H&R also imported another rifle on the L461 action which was also marked "Ultrawildcat", but was virtually identical to the contemporaneous Sako Vixen with a 23.6" barrel and similar barrel contour. There were exactly 1,000 of these made, but only 999 shipped to H&R. I guess one of them is still floating around in Finland somewhere. I've seen three or four of these and all have had a kind of "creamy/grayish" tint to the wood which is very attractive, some with some bit of figure, also.
     
  5. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    783
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    That is surprising, as the barrel on my rifle is stamped H&R Cal. .308 and does not contain the usual assortment of Finnish proofs, or Made in Finland (unless it is below the wood line). The action has the usual lion's head and squiggle, but nothing on the barrel. The barrel appears to be a slimmer profile than contemporary Sako barrels, but I don't have a Sako L579 carbine for an exact comparison. S/N is 117304. Do you have any idea how many of the larger H&R/Sako rifles (L579 and L61R) were made?

    It measures 20" from the bolt face to the muzzle.

    Most people think of H&R as a maker of cheap revolvers and break-action single shot long guns, but as this example shows, they also made some better-quality sporting arms. Their repro Trapdoor Springfields are also well finished and have a good reputation. H&R also made M1 Garands in the early 50's. These are said to be the best finished of all the Garands. Not being a Garand collector, I can't say, but I will say that my H&R Garand is quite nicely made and it shoots well.
     
  6. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    783
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    Took the carbine out to the range today and zeroed the scope with some cheap Federal 150-grain soft points. Didn't have a lot of time to play with it, but I did manage a 1" 3-shot group, which strikes me as an excellent start. When I get time I'll try some handloads with a faster-burning powder, which should work better in the short barrel. The guy next to me did comment on the noise and muzzle blast - he asked me if I was shooting some kind of magnum. Nope, just a .308 with a short barrel and factory ammo. I bet it will be a great shooter with handloads.

    And while I'm posting on the H&R-Sako carbine, does anybody have one with the original sights, or a good, high-res photo of one with the original sights? I'd kind of like to restore mine, but I'm not sure which height of front and rear blades to use. I know I'll need the small-diameter Williams rear base, and the original front sight base is still present, but I'd like to get the height right, as well as the shape of the front blade. I had to remove the peep sight setup to install the scope, and I don't see how anyone could have used it anyway, but it would be interesting to try the gun out with the original style iron sights. This would require switching to QD rings, but that wouldn't be a big issue.

    Here's the target.
    Sako-H&R 308 Carbine Target 2-26-2021.jpg
     
    coldspring likes this.
  7. Jeffy1

    Jeffy1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    22
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Montana
    Nice HR carbine. Coincidentally, yesterday I sighted in my 308 L579 bofors mannlicher carbine. I also was happy with a similar group with 160 Sierras. Nice treestand rifles.
     
  8. DAKurttila

    DAKurttila Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    Icebear - can't with 100% certainty say these are original sights, but I do believe they are. I have two H&R Sako .270s, both round top actions, both on L61R actions. One of them has no iron sights but are drilled and have the same screw locations as the one with the williams sights on it.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    783
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    Thanks for posting the photos. I agree that the sights are almost certainly original. The front ramp looks like the one on my carbine, and I do have a blade for it in the same style as yours.

    Is your .270 a full length rifle or a carbine? Would you mind posting a photo of the stock? My major concern with putting sights on my carbine is the very high comb on the stock, which might keep me from using the sights if the ones I install are too low. And finally, would you be so kind as to measure the height of the rear sight blade? Williams makes two or three different blades for that sight.

    Many thanks.
     
  10. DAKurttila

    DAKurttila Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    Sorry, down with a cold for a few days, ugh. Total rifle length is 44 1/4 inches, from original butt pad to muzzle. barrel is 23 1/4 inches from action to muzzle (i.e. excluding threads). Believe those are full length but thought I'd share the measurements. The height of the rear sight blade (just the blade in the dovetail, not the bottom base nor the middle piece the blade sits in) measures about 7/16th inch. I find the three piece williams rear rides very comfortably high enough to use without issue with the stock comb height.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    783
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    Many thanks. Now to locate all the parts to add sights to mine. I have a complete rear assembly but of course it's for a different barrel diameter. Shouldn't be too hard to find once gun shows return.
     

Share This Page