My father taught me safety principles and shooting skills in the backyard with a single-shot .22 rifle and empty soda cans. And while I have fond memories of the experience, I maintain no affection for that first rifle. It was a chain-store-branded bolt gun that required pulling a knob on the shroud to cock the gun and a trigger that was abysmally creepy and heavy.
First lessons with a firearm can have a lasting impact on a shooter’s confidence and their desire to continue their shooting careers. When a child is old enough to learn the ropes he or she not only require a seasoned mentor and a safe place to shoot, but also a gun they can manage.
Enter the Savage Rascal. This dainty single-shot .22 was engineered specifically for the juice-box-and-crayons crowd, with an overall length of 31.5 inches with a 16.125-inch carbon steel barrel and a weight of just 2.66 pounds. The synthetic stock has trim dimensions with a textured pistol grip that even the smallest hands can wrap around and a length of pull that’s a hair over 11 inches.
The fore-end is also quite trim—measuring right around an inch wide—and there’s a finger groove under the barrel. The trigger guard is molded into the stock and the Rascal comes with sling studs. It’s available in a kaleidoscope of stock colors, including orange, red, blue, purple, yellow, green and pink. There’s also a walnut-stocked version and a left-handed model.
In addition to its slight stock dimensions, the Rascal also has an action that is easy to operate. Lifting the bolt handle cocks the rifle, and based on my RCBS trigger scale, it requires just under eight pounds of pressure to do so. That’s considerably less than a standard centerfire bolt action, and our six-year-old tester had no difficulty operating the gun.
The rocker-type two-position safety is located on the right side of the receiver, and it allows the rifle to be loaded and unloaded with the safety engaged. There’s a visible cocking indicator extending from the rear of the shroud, so one quick glance or a swipe of the thumb tells you the rifle is ready to fire.
The sights are basic. Two screws on the left side of the receiver hold the entire sight assembly in place. Loosening the rear screw allows for elevation adjustments, and tightening locks it in position. Windage is adjusted via an aperture sight that, when loosened, slides left and right and is secured when tightened down. Both the windage and elevation adjustments have corresponding centerpoint lines that give some indication of how far left, right, up or down the sight has been adjusted.
This setup allows shooters to quickly and easily alter point of impact in the field, although it would be nice if there were additional lines to give a clearer indication of adjustment settings. The receiver is also drilled and tapped for scope bases.
The Rascal’s AccuTrigger is the antithesis of that awful trigger in my first .22. Designed to be creep-free, light and smooth, the AccuTrigger is a nicety for more experienced shooters and a necessity for the youngest shooters. The test rifle had a trigger that broke right at 3.5 pounds and is user-adjustable from 1.5 to six pounds. It’s also designed with safety in mind.
There’s a smooth polymer feed ramp designed to aid in chambering that is pressed downward by the closing of the bolt.
I tested the loads with iron sights at 25 yards instead of the usual 50 yards for rimfires. The most accurate loads went around 0.6 inch (see accompanying chart), and even the largest groups were well under an inch from the bench. The bottom line is that with a steady rest this gun will dispatch small game or soda cans at 25 paces.
The real test came when I enlisted the help of my friend Scott’s six-year-old daughter, Riley, who was interested in learning to shoot. She proved to be the ideal tester. With help from her dad and the aid of a pair of telescoping shooting sticks, Riley managed to shoot the rifle effectively and hit targets at 10 yards.
Most importantly, she could safely handle the rifle and didn’t feel overwhelmed. The light trigger pull, short overall length and relatively easy-to-use sighting system made the Rascal an ideal fit. Riley had no issues with length of pull and sight alignment, and she was able to hold the rifle steady. When she was finished shooting, she was successful and had enjoyed her experience—the true test of the Rascal’s effectiveness.
The Rascal is aimed at a critical group of shooters. We want our youth to have great experiences on the range and learn to appreciate firearm ownership, and great experiences are what the Rascal is all about.