Friday, December 12, 2008

Riverwalker’s Gear - H & R “Topper” Model 88 Shotgun in .410 Gauge

The Harrington & Richardson “Topper” Model 88 shotgun is a rugged, reliable and very affordable single shot shotgun. These shotguns are well known to several generations of shooters. They are made in 12, 20 and 28 gauge, and .410 bore with a variety of different chokes. They also feature automatic shell ejection for fast reloading, a brass bead front sight for quick target acquisition, a nickel-plated frame, and a hardwood stock and fore-end.

Harrington & Richardson are most notable for their military contributions. H&R built flare guns during World War I, and a variety of firearms, including the Reising submachine gun during World War II.

Specifications for H & R “Topper” Model 88 Shotgun in .410 Gauge:

Brand: Harrington & Richardson (now a part of Marlin Firearms)

Model: Topper Model 88

Safety: Transfer Bar System

Type: Shotgun

Sight: Front Bead

Caliber: .410 bore

Barrel Length: 26"

Overall Length: 41"

Finish: Blued Barrel, Nickel Plated Receiver

Action: Single Shot

Weight: 6 lbs

Stock: American Hardwood with Recoil Pad on Butt Plate

Features: Automatic Shell Ejection

Choke: Full

Chamber: 3"

The stock on my “Topper” .410 shotgun is genuine American Walnut. It’s great for use against snakes, varmints and small critters. It’s also excellent for hunting quail, doves and rabbits. When I was younger, I used a .410 shotgun almost exclusively for dove hunting. I was never disappointed and was usually able to get my limit on birds. I also appreciated the fact the recoil was almost non-existent. This also makes it a good choice for youngsters and persons with a slighter build. It’s also light enough that carrying it for long periods won’t wear you out!

They are also quite affordable at a price range of less than $150 for what is a very reliable shotgun. I’m currently using Winchester Super X High Brass Game Loads in #6 Lead Shot and have had good results with these shotshells.

You can also read an update here:

Personal Protection Rounds - Kickin' It with A .410 Shotgun

You can get additional information about H&R shotguns here:

I eventually plan on giving my “Topper” to my grandson when he gets older.

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

Great subject Riverwalker - I like .410s too, especially the single shots. Last year, Academy was importing a Turkish Yildiz single shot .410 (and maybe still do) that had a really long (28"+) barrel, that is especially quiet to shoot. It folds very neatly, like those old Galef Italian folding shotguns. Very compact - neatly fit a rucksack.

My only complaint with .410 - factory ammo. Have to learn to be a reloader with this one, unless your last name is Gates.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

I like the .410 for hunting doves. They are expensive to shoot at about $14 for a box of 25 shotshells.

Winchester makes a HS (High Strength) hull that is good for reloading though that can help to keep the cost reasonable.

Although my .410 is an excellent shotgun, I rely more on my Mossberg 500A 12 gauge now.

Thanks a bunch!


scoutinlife said...

Fun little round the 410. I like shooting the 410 slug nice litte punch take a deer with a 410 slug before.... Here in Ohio it's a legal for deer hunting...

riverwalker said...

To: scoutinlife

Yeah, there great fun to shoot.

Thanks scout!


Anonymous said...

Should have mentioned earlier . . .

You've probably seen that article by Miles Stair on reloading brass .410 shotshells. Brass shells have a much longer life than plastic shell casings, so it might be an idea to get a supply of them. Iirc, Midway has brass Magtech cases in 12, 20 and .410.

I think if SHTF, the .410 will be very useful. Why? Shooting game in air will likely become much less popular - much less ammo, so picking shots will become much more important. So shooting at slow moving / standing game will be a rule, not an exception. Groups of perched birds - the more the better.

Pattern your barrel to see what kind of results you have on a fixed target. You might find out that the damage caused by the larger number of shot in 20s and 12s is excessive on small targets. But in .410 (about 1/2 to 1/3 the payload) - less dense, yet still useful.

Gunshows and pawnshops are good sources for .410s and other single shots. Bought an FIE SB .410 in Brownsville this past summer for $60 (thats 4 boxes of shells! :-O).

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

Thanks for the additional info.


theotherryan said...

Getting one of those in .410 could be a good deal. It seems like a great gun to introduce a kid or someone smaller into shotguns.

I know the bigger H&R 12 gauge models kick like crazy because they are really light. I shot the one we kept at work about 8 years back and it was harsh.I will take the 12 gauge coach gun or mossberg 500 over the bigger model any day.

riverwalker said...

To: theotherryan

I think it's important that youngsters not be turned off to shooting with something that may be a little too powerful. Give them a chance to grow a little and then hand them something bigger.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the great article on the H&R Topper model 88.
I have one of these guns in 20 gauge, with a 26" barrel.
Its a bit light in the front end for me. I think I'd do better with a 28" barrel.
Overall though, I'm quite pleased with the gun.
Anyway, I love singles. They're some of the best guns to carry arield, as far as I'm concerned.
This brings me to the other reason for posting this comment.
Not sure if you're aware, but a piece of info I learned may be helpful to you, should you be asked about this gun in the future.
H&R went into receivership back in the mid-late 80's.
They later regrouped as "H&R 1871 Co." AND "New England Firearms" (commonly referred to as "NEF").
The Topper that I have had a broken piece in the trigger assembly, when I recieved it.
I called H&R 1871 to see about having the gun repaired and they said that, legally, they could not supply parts or perform any repairs/modifications on any H&R gun that was made before the formation of the "H&R 1871 Co." (and/or "New England Firearms").
However, the person I talked to did say that they had received requests like mine in the past and recommend I contact a company called Walker Arms
499 County Road, 820 Selma, Alabama 36701
Phone: (334-872-6232 Service Dept.) or (334-875-8056 Parts Dept.)
I called Walker and had a very nice chat with the gentleman who runs the place (sorry, name escapes me right now).
Subsequently, I sent the gun down to him and received the repaired arm about two months later.
This happened in 1992 and my Topper still works as it should.
He even opened up the choke to "Modified" (originally choked "Full", as most of these guns are), upon my request.
Total price was only about $78.00, including shipping.
This is about the same price I would've paid locally for a used version of that gun...and most likely it would've been in "more heavily used" condition.
Anyway, just an FYI to keep in your back pocket.
Older H&R's can be repaired by sending them to Walker Arms in Selma, Alabama.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 12:17

I have a NEF 20 gauge single shot that I recently acquired. It is a compact/youth model with a 22" barrel. I plan on using it for a truck gun...I want to keep it handy for those trips to the farm.

Thanks for the great info on getting H&R shotguns repaired if they are prior to the ownership change.



Anonymous said...

In a 410 shotgun #6 shot is good for squriels and rabbits. #4 shot is good for pegions, dove, ect.

Anonymous said...

My 20. Gauge has a 3inch chamber can I still shot the 2. 3/4

riverwalker said...

To: anon 9:50

2 1/2 and 2 3/4 inch shells are fine in a 3 inch chamber.

Just do not chamber and fire a shotshell longer than 3 inches. The pressures in the barrel can spike rather quickly and may be higher than the gun can take, which could cause serious problems. I quite often shoot 2 3/4shotshells in my 3 inch chambered shotguns. The 2 3/4 shotshells are often cheaper as well.

Thanks anon.


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