Making the NEF Handi Rifle Better

 by AJ Jordan


The NEF/H&R 1871 SB2 Handi Rifle is a very good bargain. It can be had in most areas around the $200 range. The gun balances very well and is compact due to the short receiver and 22" barrel. For a walk around gun it is great. I have a NEF rifle that was bought as a 223 Rem Heavy Barrel. I sent in for the extra barrel offer and purchased the 22 Hornet, 45-70,

.410 bore shotgun and another 223 Rem that was rechambered to a 22-250 Rem. 


The biggest complaint about the SB2 is the trigger pull. It is crisp from the factory but in the 7 lb. range. This hardly leads to great accuracy. A good gunsmith can get a safe 2-lb. trigger pull from this gun. It is not a do it yourself job like the Remington 700. BE ADVISED that if you want the extra barrel offer from NEF they will make your trigger the way it was originally. So get the barrels first, and then get a trigger job. If you are mechanically inclined you probably can do the spring work. If you can totally strip the gun and put it back  together (without spare parts left over), you should not have a problem lightening the trigger pull.  This is what I do for a trigger job.




I like to cut a coil off of the trigger return spring. The hammer spring can be bent a little to change the tension rate. This will have a big change in trigger weight. If it is taken too low, the gun will not ignite the primers, when the trigger is pulled. I hone the hammer and sear engagement surfaces on a Power Custom Series I fixture (around $100) using a homemade adapter. Engagement surfaces MUST be kept parallel! Visually checking the engagement of hammer and sear is a must. I use a good moly lube on the surfaces and for the through holes. I also debur everything that moves in the receiver. This can get pull down to 2 lbs. With the cost of the fixture, stones, and adapter, you are very close (money wise) to buying another Handi Rifle. It is cheaper to take it to a gunsmith and pay the $30-$50 they charge. Or, buying all the equipment, screwing it up and then paying the $30-$50 for a gunsmith to fix it. If you insist on doing your own trigger job, have it checked by a competent gunsmith.


There are a couple things that will make the SB2 shoot well. One is to float the forend. I remove about 1/8" of wood to float the barrel. After that, I make a rubber washer out of 1/8" rubber. This goes in the forend, in the inletting for the forend hanger stud.  See figure 2. This will get rid of the vibration that is transferred to the forend while the barrel is doing its thing when a bullet is going through it. This vibration will cause the gun to bounce off the rest un-naturally. This spacer will dampen these unwanted vibrations.


The SB2 uses a transfer bar to move the firing pin when the hammer drops. This is for safety, should the hammer drop  prematurely. To get consistent results the trigger must be fully depressed through the follow through. This may sound like a minor thing, but it greatly impacts how the ammo is ignited. I have seen on the chronograph standard deviations in the 70-100

fps range from just flicking the trigger just enough to get a bang from the rifle. A deliberate and full squeeze dropped SD's down to the high teens.


Another useful trick is to use bedding compound under the scope mount. Because of the way the mount fits it is not the most helpful item towards accuracy. I like to use Accraglass by Brownells to help the mount be as rigid as possible. This is most helpful when long heavy scopes are installed. Be sure to put release agent on the barrel and screws, or it might become a

permanent fixture.


I just installed a scope level on my gun. If you are shooting from a bipod, it will keep you level. I shoot from mechanical rests. It helps shrink the groups to have the gun sitting consistently on the bags.


Tip by Coyotehunter_1

NEF’s Weaver Style Scope Base


Do not trust the factory scope base mounting job.  Remove the base and reinstall using Locktite (removable) on the base screws.  Combine this with bedding the forward end of the scope base that dangles unsupported over the barrel. 


Tips and info by popgun

NEF Factory Trigger Job


NEF will now do a free trigger job for you at the factory lightened to about 3 ¼ to 3 ½ lbs.  Contact NEF customer service for shipping and ordering instructions.  NEF contact info is at  

A good time to have the trigger job done is when you send in your action, stock, and forend to have additional barrels fitted.  You have to request a trigger job setting the trigger below the factory standard of 5 to 8 lbs. and the trigger job is not done automatically when you send your action in for the additional barrel offer.


NEF Barrels


NEF custom fits/headspaces each barrel to its action.  This applies to the extra barrel offer also.  Each additional barrel you buy is fitted/headspaced to your action and the barrels cannot safely be used on another action that it has not been fitted/headspaced to.  If you buy a used NEF check to see that the barrel has been fitted to the action that it is on.  NEF stamps or etches the last 3 numbers of the action serial number on the barrels fitted to it.


The extra barrel offer selection has been expanded some.  This has happened since Marlin bought NEF.  If the NEF barrel that you want is not on the list and it is a standard offering on NEF rifles/shotguns don’t hesitate to ask NEF customer service if you can get the standard barrel you want.  You may have to pay extra for it but you can probably get the standard barrel that you want.  Of course barrel availability and current policy will determine if they can fill your request.  ‘Request’ is the key word when talking to NEF.  If you ‘demand’ a barrel that is not listed in the extra barrel offer they will probably say, “it’s not available”.


Shipping your NEF to the factory


NEF requires that you send the action, stock, and forend to them when you order extra barrels.  Again, this is because the barrels have to be headspaced to the action.  You can either ship UPS or USPS.  I shipped mine USPS and it cost $10.70.  It arrived at the factory in 4 days and NEF sent me a ‘Confirmation of Receipt’.  NEF sent my rifle back to me via UPS and it took the usual 4 day delivery time.  Do not mark the box in any way that indicates that there is a firearm in the package.  Include an envelope inside the package that says ‘extra barrel offer’ on the outside of the envelope and insert your order form or instructions in the envelope.

Note, you have to be at home or have your gun delivered to someone 21 years of age or older that must sign for the gun.  No signature no delivery.


NEF Turn Around Time


Depending on the work/repair that you request from NEF you can expect a turn around time of at least 3 weeks and as long as 5 or 6 weeks.  Parts/barrel availability plays into the time factor as does the amount of work your request.  I requested a trigger job and ordered two barrels that had to be fitted to my action and the turn around time was 5 weeks.  That is reasonable for that amount of work plus I special ordered one of the barrels.