My earliest memory of this rifle was my father spotting a groundhog in the pasture across the street from our house. We walk back to the barn and grab the rifle from the homemade gun “cabinet” and a magazine worth of cartridges. Walking across the street my dad lays down on a fence line and hits his target at close to 200 yards. Right below the chin, hell of a shot. Since then my father has passed, and now the rifle is mine.
I love this rifle. I have been shooting it now for more than half my life, and it has never failed me. This is THE varmint gun, in my opinion. This is my varmint rifle, there are many like it, but this one is mine.
This is what I consider to be the second stage of rifle shooting (along with bolt guns). Little more to handle than your starter .22s, but without the recoil of larger bore rifles or the complication of semi-autos. Being lever action it’s still easy to operate for a novice shooter. It offers accuracy and an ease of shooting that won’t discourage younger or more impatient shooters. With proper control, they will hit the target.
For more advanced shooters this rifle can be a viable option for all varmint-removal needs and for leisure. Sadly it is not a large-enough caliber for larger game, but for coyotes, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, and opossum, it is better for longer shots than a .22 and flatter shooting than a .223.
Outfitted with a 4-12×40 Deerfield scope, mine is fairly unstoppable within 300 yards. Little larger optics and a steady shooting platform, there is no reason you can’t go out to 400 yards. Any longer than 400 the bullet really starts dropping, and after 500 you might as well count it out. Fast bullet with a decent ballistic coefficient it keeps its speed fairly well but due to a smaller bullet weight it is affected by Mother Nature a little more than your larger calibers.
I have noticed with my rifle that Winchester-manufactured rounds don’t chamber, but Remington and Federal are fine. The magazine is easy to load and pretty self-explanatory. The lever can be a little stiff to work sometimes, but I’m not sure if that’s due to it being older than I am or a manufacturing issue. The trigger is a harder pull than what you would find on a competition rifle, but for daddy’s old varmint rifle it’s about what you would expect. The trigger may be a little hard to pull, but it has a nice clean snap when it does let go. Ammo might not be as cheap as some other .22-caliber rounds, but well worth a little extra.
All in all I love this rifle, and would recommend it to anyone with a little more than basic knowledge of firearms. Not for beginners, but not far off.