Getting Ready for Groundhogs
by Greg Ritchie
I recently acquired a Harrington and Richardson Ultra Hunter in 25-06. It is 1998 manufacture. Looks almost new. The only markings on the scope are the parallax markings. It is a fixed power and appears to be about 10x.
I once had an extensive collection of the H&R / NEF Handi Rifles, along with the Survivor Rifles. I had just purchased my first of the Classic line and was going to move into the Ultra line when H&R closed shop and became an importer for the Pardner Pump shotguns. This is the only Ultra Hunter that I have owned. H&R prices have gone way up since they are no more, but only among collectors, the rank and file still look at them as the $150 rifle you bought at the big box store. This rifle sat in the rack at the LGS for a long time. I was not interested at the price it was listed at, but when it was offered to me for what was a better than fair price I did not hesitate.
I am no stranger to the 25-06, having owned the Handi Rifle version. When I downsized my collection I weighed the merits of the 25-06 Handi Rifle and the 280 Handi Rifle, I chose to keep the 280. The .284 bullets just have a much better ballistic coefficient that a comparable .257 bullet. Within 300 yards there is not much difference, but beyond that the .284 really begins to shine. I considered the two to be my Beanfield Rifles where my ranges could realistically reach 600 yards out of my stand so I kept the better long range option. I have never shot a deer over 100 yards but the possibility remains.
As a dual purpose varmint / big game rifle I do think the 25-06 excels. Many will tout the 243 Winchester because of the better BC of the long 6mm bullets. But realistically most of the .243 rifles are hampered by the same 1:10 (some are 1:9) twist rate of the 25-06. Thus they can not take advantage of the high BC bullet anyways. They just will not normally stabilize them. The 243 does well on varmints with the lighter bullets, and works on CPX2 class game with the heavier bullets, though many consider it marginal. The 25/06 likewise works well as a varmint round, and produces spectacular kills on CPX2 game. I have never had a deer move more than a couple of feet from where they were hit. DRT!
I am going to use my 25-06 H&R Ultra Hunter as a dedicated ground hog rifle. I have only shot it 50 times since it’s purchase using the 87 grain Sierra Varminter bullets At just over 3200 FPS out of the Rifles 26" barrel using RL19 powder and brass formed from some 270 Winchester, just run it through a 25-06 full length resizing die and trim and you are GTG. Sighted in at 200 yards it is not quite 1 1/2 inches high at 100 yards and just a little over 5 inches low at 300.