Rare H&R L61R "Ultrarifle"

Discussion in 'Other firearms built on Sako actions' started by stonecreek, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I have a fascination for "proprietary Sakos", those rifles built by or for other brands of firearms marketers using the Sako actions. The fine little H&R Ultrawildcats receive a lot of attention (deservedly so), but H&R did use some larger actions for longer cartridges. Harrington & Richardson's large action Ultrarifle mostly used FN Mauser actions and was available in .270, .30-06, 7mm RM, and .300 Win, I believe. Very late in the run H&R switched to the less expensive Zastava Mauser 98. The circumstances are not clear, but a very few of these H&R's were also built on L61R actions (and a few medium calibers were on L579 actions). I ran across one of these in .270 Win a couple of weeks ago. When I received it, it had, as the seller mentioned, been in some kind of storage for 30 years. It had also been gather dust and grime like a magnet gathers steel filings. At first I was taken slightly aback, but as I scrubbed wood and metal a really nice, 98% rifle emerged. I thought maybe the group would like to see some of the features (especially since I understand that these are virtually unheard of in Europe, Australia, and S. Africa.)

    The stock is gloss finished and has a rollover cheekpiece, contrasting grip cap and fore end (with WBY slant), and a thin Pachmyer pad. The checkering is sharp, appears to be hand-done, and is a bit coarser (fewer lines per inch) than most Sako checkering. QD sling studs are factory. The barrel is of a very light contour, measuring 24" long and having a muzzle diameter of .588".


    The receiver is ROUND TOPPED, a rarity in the L61R. This one came with Weaver-type bases, thankfully, so I don't have to hunt down a set of bases for it. Also note the unique two holes in the right side of the rear bridge which are filled with filler screws. These are factory, and I've seen them in other round top Sakos. The sights are Williams. The caliber is engraved like a Sako circumferentially in front of the receiver ring, but I'm confident that the barrel is from H&R (or their supplier) rather than from Sako.
     

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    gowyo likes this.

  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Here are a couple of more photos.

    I forgot to mention: The bluing is not exactly matte, but is not polished as highly as the standard Sako blue. The bolt is a replacement (numbers don't match) which must have come from a "Sako-Sako" since it's bluing on the handle and shroud is brighter than that of the receiver and barrel. Fortunately, checking with come cartridges cases of known dimension, the headspace seems well within tolerances.

    Catalogs show H&R offering its "Ultrarifle" from the late 1960's into the 1970's. This one had to have come fairly late in the run since it is definitely a post-1972 action with a two-lug bolt and no recess in the receiver for a third lug. The only other manufacturer that I'm aware of to use a round top long action was Magnum Research, but MR used the L691, a much later model. I wonder if the round top L61R is unique to H&R?

    I own a couple of the little H&R's on the L461 action, a .223 and a .17-223. Now I'd love to locate an L579 model to (more or less) complete the set.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  3. iwanna

    iwanna Well-Known Member

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    A very handsome rifle. Just enough restraint on the styling. My favorite caliber, too. Gee, Stonecreek, when's the last time you STARTED a thread around here?!!
     
  4. RANE

    RANE Well-Known Member

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    Congratulation stonecreek for finding this rifle..really looks like new.I gather these are quite
    rare...I have never seen one - just pictures & even they are rare....Great Sako!!
    RANE
     
  5. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    It's easier to just hijack someone else's thread, but I was feeling energetic, so I started one of my own!
     
  6. misako50

    misako50 Sako-addicted

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    Stonecreek- The one you look for is the one I have never seen. All I have had my hands on were FN action rifles and your "new" acquisition is the first L61R that I have seen in detail. I can't remember if the model designation for these (medium actioned) is 330 or 340 or something else.-Misako
     
  7. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Misako: Looking through several editions of Shooters Bible from the late 60's to the mid-70's it seems that the H&R "Ultrarifle" was designated Model 300. The 300 had a "deluxe" walnut stock with contrasting grip cap and fore end. There is a plainer version without the contrasting pieces and non-rollover Monte Carlo which is designated the Model 330. Nothing in the description of either the 300 or the 330 mentions anything other than being made on an FN action, although we know that they were later made on a Zastava. Interestingly, the 1975 Shooters Bible lists a Model 333 which is illustrated with a Sako action. The Model 333 appears to have an uncheckered hardwood stock and is presumably an "entry level" rifle. The listing has "new" beside it, indicating that it is the first time it has appeared, but shows no suggested retail price. The Model 333 disappeared after only one year from the next year's edition.

    Bottom line is I'm not sure what the higher grade model using the Sako action was designated, but since it is identical to the Model 300 except for the make of the action, I'm going to guess that my rifle would have come in box labeled "Model 300". None of the H&R's I've seen have any model number stamped on the rifle -- it was only a catalog or sales designation, not a rifle marking. The larger calibers seem to be marked only "Ultrarifle", while the smaller calibers are marked "Ultrawildcat".

    A couple of years ago Bell's had what must have been a Model 333 Sako action (the plain one with hardwood stock) through the store. It was in .30-06 and had the hardwood stock. I think the gun was actually new and unfired, IIRC, and he had it for quite a while because it was difficult to find mount bases for it. I wish now that I had bought it!
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  8. enotstehw

    enotstehw Banned

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    The H & R L61R's are rare because? They are prototypes? Or they were too expensive? Or Sako and H&R agreed to test the market? Or H&R found an american manufacture for a better price?
     
  9. Bowne1

    Bowne1 Well-Known Member

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    Great find and thanks for sharing. B
     
  10. L-46

    L-46 Well-Known Member

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    Stone,
    Thanks for the photos and detail, i have never seen one, nor knew they existed!
    A great find!
    L-46
     
  11. deerhunter

    deerhunter Well-Known Member

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    Stone,
    Very nice rifle. I actually have an H&R Ultra 243 based on an L579 round top action that I'd be willing to part with. PM me if you are interested. Also, comes with weaver bases.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I don't know the answer to that. It is possible that H&R started using Sako actions after buying the O'brien inventory. Maybe keving can kick in here and tell us when H&R absorbed O'brien and began producing the Ultrawildcat on L461 actions from O'brien's remaining parts. If I have the story right, H&R bought additional L461 actions from Sako to continue the Ultrawildcat, at which time they may have bought some L579 and L61R actions, also. Maybe when H&R went to Sako for more L461's Sako told them they would have to take some of the longer actions, also. And did H&R do so in order to get the all of the actions built with round tops?

    If
    I have the chronology down correctly, the relative handful of H&R's with medium and long Sako actions would have replaced the FN actions for a brief time. Then H&R went to the Zastava Mauser for the remainder of the Ultrarifle run, presumably because they were significantly cheaper than either the FN's or the Sakos, and H&R's existing stock pattern for the previous FN's would fit the Zastavas with little or no modification. This is all speculation based on after-the-fact appearances. It would be great if someone has some more concrete information.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013
  13. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Deerhunter: That looks like a nice one! I'll send you a PM.

    But inform us all a little on this one, since it is also the only one I've seen outside of catalogs. Is the rear action bridge lower than the front ring? This is how the Browning Safari round top is made, but the H&R L61R I have has tops of equal height. Also, are there two holes in the right side of the rear bridge, as if for mounting an accessory like a peep sight? What length does the barrel measure to the face of the closed bolt?
     
  14. deerhunter

    deerhunter Well-Known Member

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    The rear and front bridges are equal height unlike the Browning Safari round top. Yes, there are two holes on the right side of the rear bridge with filler screws. Honestly I hadn't noticed this until you inquired. The barrel is 23" from the front of the receiver.
     
  15. 16b410

    16b410 Well-Known Member

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    Stone - I had to revive this thread to say how envious I am. I was at a gun auction earlier tonight that had this exact rifle, but in 7RM. The round top Sako L-61 action had a serial number in the 80,xxx range.

    Unlike yours, which turned out to be a 98% rifle, the one tonight was treated with little respect. It simply was not good enough to take home regardless of how badly I wanted it. Still, it went for 725.00.
     
  16. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I've always been fascinated with the "proprietary" rifles built on Sako actions. I recently acquired a Magnum Research Mountain Eagle which is built on an L691 round top made especially for Magnum Research. But the H&R's with their relatively high-quality walnut and nice finish are among the most appealing.
     
  17. 16b410

    16b410 Well-Known Member

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    Stone - What a sweetheart of a rifle that is. Certainly keeping in tune with the quality the rest of the Sako-action proprietaries are built on. I have only one of these mix breeds - this Browning, a Safari chambered in .284 Winchester.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    As you know, that Safari .284 is a very scarce bird -- there were only a couple of hundred of them chambered. I owned one many years ago, killed a deer with it, then sold it to someone who thought he needed it a lot more than I did. Not one of my better decisions.:(
     
  19. wolverine

    wolverine wolverine

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  20. wolverine

    wolverine wolverine

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    Noticed an older post of yours expressing interest in a H&R Sako with l579 action. I have one that is new in the box in .308Win. Also have a new 30-06 and a used 300WinMag on L61 actions, if interested.
     

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