Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! The rimfire firearm world has seen a lot of recent additions to its ranks with the introduction of great rifles and pistols like the Ruger Precision Rimfire, Taurus TX-22, and the Winchester Wildcat. Although it’s always great to get new and exciting products, I’ve always found myself fascinated by designs that have either unusual, gone obsolete or have flown under the radar for years.
Some of you may have heard of these rare or obscure rimfires but being a relatively young shooter I always find it fun to research and discover “new to me” firearms. For today’s edition of The Rimfire Report, we’ll be looking over 5 unusual rimfire guns that you may not have heard of. If you have heard of these or even own one or shot one, be sure to let us know down in the comments!
The Rimfire Report: 5 Unusual Rimfire Guns You Might Not Have Heard Of
1. Stevens Pocket Rifle .32 Rimfire/.22LR
Soldiers, hunters, survivalists, and sportsmen alike are almost always looking for ways to make carrying their gear around less of a hassle. The concept of a takedown rifle has been alive and well since as early as the 1800s and the Stevens Pocket Rifle is one early example of attempting to take a weapon and slim it down for easier transport.
The Stevens pocket rifle is an unusual rimfire gun in more than one respect. The rifle started out life as a pistol and was quite popular with hunters for over three-quarters of a century. In total, Stevens produced 14 different models of their Pocket Pistol with some chambered in .32 caliber rimfire, some in .44 caliber, and eventually working their way into the .22 Long Rifle caliber.
The Stevens Pocket Rifle took the base design of the Pocket Pistol, lengthened the barrel, and added a removable wire stock to allow for greater stability and accuracy. The Pocket Rifle supposedly weighed 11 ounces and was a single shot-only breech-loading firearm. The Pocket Rifle evokes thoughts of an old-school Chiappa Little Badger. Guys back in the 1800s must have had pretty big pockets if they were carrying this thing around.
2. Garcia Bronco Survival Rifle .22LR/.410
This is a rifle I had never heard of until fairly recently when researching into different types of survival rimfire rifles. The Garcia Bronco survival rifle is one such example that didn’t receive much attention. The rifle was produced roughly between 1965 through 1985 and featured a skeletonized frame.
What truly makes the rifle unique is its loading mechanism. Instead of a top break, magazine loaded, or tube-fed design, the Bronco features an unusual “twist open” breech-loading mechanism. The rifle was chambered in both 22LR and .410 so this leads me to believe that it was inspired by the M6 Air Crew Survival weapon which was chambered similarly. The Savage 42 Takedown could probably be considered a modern interpretation of both.
Garcia Bronco rifles can still be found on the second-hand market and I think more than anything they’d make for a great collector’s item or conversation piece rather than a dedicated survival rifle.
3. Stevens Model 70 .22LR
If you’ve ever wanted to appreciate the look of your fancy polymer-coated 22LR then the Stevens Model 70 would be the rifle for you. Why? The rifle features a very unusual “visible loading” mechanism where rounds are drawn out of the magazine tube via a pump-action mechanism. The rounds are then visible until loaded into the breech of the rifle.
When a new round is cycled, the spent cartridge is actually knocked out of the shell holder by the new round and the accompanying lifter. Fellow writer Sam S. managed to snag a brief video of the mechanism for me when a rifle passed through his shop. These rifles, although unusual and rare can still be found in decent numbers and I know a few people who actually still use them as great plinkers.
4. Wilkinson “Sherry” .22LR
Although these little pistols aren’t priced as such anymore, I personally believe the Wilkinson 22LR “Sherry” pistol was one of the original Saturday Night Special guns. Based on the Wilkinson Auto Nine pistol, the sherry is a concealed hammer rimfire version of the striker-fired Auto 9.
From what I’ve heard and read, both pistols are plagued by poor parts design and production leading to many pistols breaking firing pins. The Sherry (22LR version) also apparently doesn’t feed any type of 22LR ammunition well and better (not perfect) performance can only be achieved through using hotter loadings such as CCI Stingers. All that being said there still seems to be a great amount of support for the little pistol with Wilkinson Arms continuing to provide spare parts for sale on their website.
5. Walther Olympia.22LR
Walther is no stranger to competition pistols. Those of you who watch the Olympics will no doubt be familiar with the Walthers SSP pistol. The SSP looks more like a space gun than anything else but it takes its heritage from the less well-known Walther M1936 Olympia pistol. Designed by Fritz Walther himself, the pistol came in 4 different models, each designed for a different discipline of accurate shooting.
The Olympia Sport was your standard target model, the Funfkamph was meant for Pentathalon competition and the Jaeger was for hunting applications. The two I was most interested in were the Standard and Rapid Fire models which featured spots to install barrel and frame weights for greater stability during competitions.
The Walther Olympia was produced between 1936 and 1944 and all variants were chambered in .22 as this has been the long-standing pistol caliber for the Olympics. The Walther Olympia helped competitors win five gold medals during the 1936 Olympics which essentially dethroned the popular Colt Woodsman Target model as the standard choice for Olympic shooters.
More Rare and Unusual?
All of these rimfire firearms were well known at some point in history. The rapid pace of firearms development means that even great designs will eventually be forgotten by the wayside but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy them! Who knows what firearms we will be calling “unusual and forgotten” in 100 years. What rimfire firearms do you recall from history that are now rare or unusual? I’ll be looking forward to your finds down in the comments. Thanks again for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report!
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