Rat Rifle

Mounting a scope on a Stevens Model 15-A.
by Wendell Dwight Deaner

I wonder how many youth rifles are sitting in a corner behind someone’s bedroom door or gathering dust in a closet. These are usually chambered for one of the .22 rimfires but can be in archaic rounds as .25 Stevens rimfire, Remington .267 Rimfire, or .32-20 Winchester and such. Millions of them were sold during the end of the nineteenth century up until the early 1960s. True, many manufacturers are offering so-called kid’s rifles today, such as the Cricket, Savage Rascal, Ruger American Compact, and other short-stocked rimfires and centerfires to cater to this segment of the market. That’s good and as it should be, but when you see one of these old single-shot rifles and pick it up you’ll understand the difference. It’s a piece of long-gone history.

These types of guns were actually used to teach safe gun handling and also put meat on the table. Remember the old story about giving the kid three cartridges and expecting him to come back with three squirrels or rabbits? I’d be hard pressed to do that myself. Even so, this kind of training does favor the “sit still and let the game come close before taking a shot” mentality, something I believe that the so-called long range “hunters” of today should be schooled in.

Many of these guns required loading the chamber and then pulling back a cocking knob before a shot could be fired. The more modern Cricket shares this feature. This is for safety and is very effective. Kids of those days weren’t interested in killing zombies or spraying and praying shots into the woods. They were very concerned with safety. God forbid that you let an errant shot loose or exhibit poor gun handling. Your peers would never let you forget it. No kid wanted to be labeled as unsafe; it just wasn’t done. We still need that type of training now as ever before. Sadly, some kids can find a gun and pick it up without even a modicum of safety training. We all know what can happen in that instance.

I’ve been having a little trouble with pests around the homestead and decided to get one of these rifles to alleviate the problem. Of course, I have plenty of .22s, some of them expensive with excellent sights, that would do the job just as easily if not better, but I wanted one of these rifles. That’s enough reason for me.

I recently picked up a Stevens Model 15A for a reasonable price and was well pleased with its condition and accuracy with open sights. However, I wanted a scope mounted to help my aging eyes and also to gather some extra light during dawn and dusk when these critters are most active.

Read more in our September 2015 issue.

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