I don't know about you, but my roots with the .22 rimfire go back to early childhood days. Spending summers on the farm with an old Winchester showed me the right way to hunt, to hunt humanely and to deliver a decisive shot every time. Today, that tradition still continues with me, and when a new .22 rimfire rifle hits the market, I can't wait to try it out.
The most recent gun to appear on my doorstep is the Uberti Silverboy — a trim, lever-action repeater that is easy to shoot, fun to carry and smooth to operate. The action cycles without any effort, and I would rate it as an excellent tool for teaching folks how to shoot, not to mention the fact that it is perfect for small game or varmint hunting. It would also make a good, economical practice gun for a Cowboy Action shooter.
The first thing you notice about the Silverboy is its brightly polished receiver. To keep the gun small and light, the receiver is alloy with a chrome finish. The polishing and assembly are well-done. The fitting of the hardwood stock is true, if a bit proud, but overall I was impressed with the wood-to-metal fit.
Topside there are three tapped holes for scope mounting, but I like this gun without optical sights and chose not to install a scope. The sights that come with the gun are more than adequate, consisting of a blade front and notch rear. Both have set screws, allowing them to be drifted for windage, but there's no elevation adjustment.
When the hammer is forward it blocks your view of the rear sight. I think Uberti would be wise to notch or cut back the top of the hammer so you can follow up on a shot without having to change your head position in order to look over the sight.
On the plus side, the hammer sits tall at the end of the receiver — a boon to those who like to hunt in colder weather because it affords additional purchase even with gloves on. The hammer is serrated for nonslip operation and has a half-cock notch for safety. Pulling the hammer back about a quarter of an inch, you hear a click and now the gun is on Safe.
The straight-line buttstock is walnut-stained hardwood and was fitted slightly proud to the metal. The comb is sufficiently high for iron or scope use.
The fore-end has no checkering and is fitted with an alloy barrel band that matches the receiver — another styling cue on a great-looking rimfire.
Cocking the hammer felt as if it was on ball bearings, and the sear broke at 3.5 pounds with just a minute amount of slack in the blued trigger's travel.
Like the hammer, the lever is also very smooth, and the bolt slides into firing position with an audible click. Uberti says the mechanism is a controlled-round feed, permitting the gun to be fired at any angle — even upside down.
I was impressed by the polishing of the lever/trigger guard combination. This is a complicated area to get right — particularly on the inside curves of the lever — and there were no rough edges or missed spots.
The wood on this gun is nothing to write home about, but then again, I would classify this lever gun as a working gun, not a wall hanger. It's hardwood with a walnut-colored finish, but the dark tone does contrast nicely with the bright receiver and blued barrel.
The fore-end is slim, held secure with an aluminum barrel band, and feels good in a firing grip even without checkering. The buttstock is typical lever gun designed, with no pistol grip or checkering. It has been configured with just enough of a comb to allow the shooter to use iron or optical sights without any problems. There are no sling swivel studs, and the butt is finished off with a plastic nonslip buttplate.
The barrel is 19 inches long, with a magazine tube extending nearly right out to the muzzle. You can load up to 14 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammunition into the tube. Looking at the loading port on the magazine tube, I think that maybe, just maybe, Uberti might be planning to chamber this gun in .22 Magnum at a future date. In any event, loading the gun is typical; just rotate the knurled knob off its detent and counterclockwise. Pull the brass tube out of the gun until it passes the loading port and start filling up the gun.
It's hard not to have a good time at the range with a gun like this. The action was smooth, worked every time without fail. With iron sights, the gun is accurate with one-inch groups at 25 yards with Remington's fine Target ammunition. Accuracy with the Winchester loads was not too shabby either, and I would surmise that with a good scope, this rifle would be a hoot out to modest ranges. If we were giving out ratings, this Uberti Silverboy would collect five stars easily.