Re: H & R Handi Rifle
I bought a 7mm-08 Handi a few years ago when my dad's health had gotten so bad he couldn't manage loading and unloading a bolt gun. The Handi replaced a Mossberg SSi One in 270 that he shot fine but said was too heavy. Not the Hanid!
I replaced the factory stock with a semi-finished aftermarket one (and learned that 'semi-finished' means just slightly more shape than a blank!). Turned out well though. I steel bedded the barrel and forearm screw, butt, and bedded & shimmed the foreend atachment on advice from the Handi nuts on Graybeard. It's got a 2-7x32 Nikon Prostaff on it. The trigger is surprisingly good - crisp and just under 3 lbs (as checked with a digital fishing scale, not a trigger scale).
The gun shoots about MOA at 100 with 140 gr Nosler BT's and Accubond's at 2600 fps, with Rem 9 1/2 primers, fireformed Rem brass, and RL-15. Very mild load with no recoil.
My fireforming load was 139 gr Hornady SP with same components. It shot OK with initial loading @2474 fps, and when I bumped the powder to 40 grs it shot great. Velcoity is now 2516.
That load is now going to be the deer load for my cousin's 9-year old boy's first deer season this year. I cut 2.5 inches off the factory birch stock and added a Limbsaver slip-on pad and a sorbothane cheekpiece for him but left the doctored forearm on it. We shot it with him last weekend and it shoots just like it did (MOA or a bit less), at least with me behind it. His shooting was limited to water filled milk jugs at 25yds from sitting to start out and clay birds at 40 from the bench. He shot it well and recoil didn't bother him. We'll stretch him out to 70 or 80 yards with it and he should be fine for where we hunt. He's a slightly built boy and handled the gun and recoil with no problem. Said the kick was easier to manage than his .410, which is adult size and much more unwieldy for him.
Between 243 and 7mm-08 in this rifle, I'd definitely recommend the 7mm. MUCH more versatile for deer sized game, minimal recoil, plus there are reduced or managed recoil loads available if you don't handload. I've no experience with 243 in the Handi so I can't comment on the issues you read about with it in that gun. I do have 2 in other rifles and have killed deer with both. The 7mm-08's better deer killer IMHO.
Good luck. Have fun! -WSJ