Last year my favorite cheap shotgun went away. The H&R Ultra Slug Hunter is no more.
By and large, I dislike cheap shotguns, which makes the loss of the Ultra Slug Hunter even harder to take. The USH and a few others aside, cheap guns tend to break more often than better guns. For instance, last season a girl on our trap team bought a new, very inexpensive O/U target gun. The first day she shot it, a soldered joint popped and the side rib came off. She and her father took it back to the store, which gave them another one. The next gun lasted about one practice session until the stock cracked. They took that one back and this time they spent a lot more on a Beretta A400, and the girl has been grinding targets with it ever since without a single problem. I’ve seen forends fall off, sears break, stocks crack, hulls stick and more. While all those woes can befall costlier guns, they happen to the cheap ones a lot more frequently. On the whole I believe “buy once, cry once” is the way to go, especially when we’re talking about a purchase that will last two or three generations. That’s a long time for tears to dry.
The Ultra Slug Hunter was that rare and wonderful thing: a gun that sold for peanuts and shot like a million bucks. Even so, in 2015 Remington/Cerberus ceased production of all H&R single shots, the Handi-Rifles and the Ultra Slug Hunter. I don’t know why, although there is a lot of competition from very good, very inexpensive bolt action rifles these days, and Savage makes a terrific, affordable bolt action slug gun, too, which can’t have helped the USH hang on.
The Ultra Slug Hunters were very simple, with exposed hammers and ejectors that popped whether you fired the shell or not. But, the guns had a heavy, fully rifled barrel and a surprisingly good trigger that broke very cleanly. They would shoot just as well as guns costing five times as much. That’s my younger son in the picture with a 20 gauge Ultra Slug Hunter. He shot a doe through both lungs with it at 90 yards and drilled another deer with the gun just as neatly the next year. Then, I stupidly returned it rather than buying it for the pittance Remington asked me for it. I do have the same gun in a 12 gauge that is a shooter, too. That one weighs 11 pounds with its heavy barrel and a scope on top and is not a gun to carry far. The 20 was the one to get, but now it’s gone.
Deer everywhere are safer, and we are a little poorer for the want of one more good, cheap gun.