Remington Model 34-A Bolt Action .22: Simply a Classic
Those of you who have read my work in the past already know about my passion for vintage Mausers and the esteemed David Tong has already done an exemplary job reviewing the Remington Model 341 .22 bolt-action rifle on Guns and Shooting Online. However, a recent purchase of mine has compelled me to write a review of the 341’s predecessor, a slimmer, more elegant and just as accurate piece known as the Remington Model 34.
The Model 34 has a small, but devout following. It is primarily known as a plinking/squirrel hunting gun par excellence that has often been passed down through generations of small game gatherers.
Approximately 161,000 of these guns were produced between 1932 and 1935 at a cost of about $13.50 per unit, a princely sum in those days and doubtless one of the reasons the 34 was discontinued by 1935. There were three major variants: the standard 34-A, which was equipped with open iron sights; the 34-P, which came with a Lyman peep sight; and the NRA Target, which was fitted with the peep sight and a commemorative brass bolt handle.
What made the rifle unique and rock-solid reliable was the shell-carrier design of Crawford Charles Loomis of Remington Arms. The carrier would actually lift a .22 rimfire shell (all three varieties), out of the rifle’s tubular magazine into the chamber, simultaneously aligning it perfectly with the rifle’s bore. The bolt could then be closed, the safety operated and the trigger pulled for a safe and accurate discharge of the weapon. The right-side safety switch also doubles as a bolt release. There is a large, easily accessible takedown screw located at the bottom center of the forearm to facilitate removal of the barreled action for cleaning or maintenance.
I first fell in love with the Model 34 in my late 20's, having fired an excellent example owned by longtime shooting buddy Steve Kewley. His rifle was passed down to him from his mother; it had been his grandfather’s squirrel gun. I just could not seem to miss a target when the 5-pound, 8-ounce rifle came to my shoulder, despite the fact that my eyesight has always left much to be desired. I remember quipping to Steve that the old rifle must have been made equipped with radar.
Now, 25 years later, I have finally gotten the opportunity to purchase my very own Model 34. My Remington Model 34-A carries a Tasco Pronghorn 4x scope. (I can hear the purists gnashing their teeth.) This modification is necessary due to my sub-par eyesight. The scope is probably 1960’s-1970’s vintage, as it is screwdriver or dime adjustable for windage and elevation.
At 44-½ inches total length, cradled in an exquisitely finished black walnut finger-groove stock, the rifle's action sits snug and comfortable. The whole 24-inch barrel is done in a deep, rich blue, except for some minor wear at the front of the muzzle (the crown is undamaged) and the absence of a rear sight assembly. A reasonable assessment of her walnut stock, wood-to-metal fit, the condition of her working metal parts and blued finish puts her at 90% of original condition. The barrel codes indicate that she was manufactured in October 1934. Was she a “safe queen” tucked away in a gun cabinet, or the cherished possession of an everyday hunting family for several generations? I’ll never know the answer to that question. What I do know is that she will be both used and cherished within the Sellers Family for at least as long as I live.
Interestingly, this 34-A does not have a standard rear sight dovetail. She sports original scope mounts that were probably special-ordered from and installed at the Remington factory, making her a truly special specimen. Most Model 34-A’s sported a dovetail mounted rear sight positioned well forward of the receiver, so as not to interfere with the working action of the rifle. My scope mounts are placed just in front and to the rear of the rifle’s breech. Shells clear the action without a problem, but there is no provision for the standard iron sight, or even an indication that a dovetail was originally present.
How does she shoot? Since the third weekend of October, 2013 coincided with my 52nd birthday, I had the opportunity to take the rifle to a makeshift range near the Sellers property to try her out. I suspected the rifle would perform well, because Remington 34’s have a legendary reputation for pinpoint accuracy. What I wasn’t prepared for was the degree to which the rifle's performance would exceed my expectations. With virtually every brand of .22 LR ammo I tried (Remington Golden Bullet, Remington Thunderbolt, CCI Standard Velocity), the rifle kept giving me single ragged holes (per individual 5-shot group) at 50 yards. I did have to adjust the Tasco scope way over to the left before I started hitting the bullseye, but this did not detract from the desire of my 79 year old rifle to shoot extremely well. It is now ready to go head-to-head with any squirrel, rabbit or varmint that crosses our path.
Skeeter Skelton, the well known American handgun writer, said it best: “I sometimes miss, the [gun] doesn’t.” 1930’s Remington rimfire craftsmanship, plus many rounds of .22 LR on hand, equals hours of pure shooting ecstasy.
Copyright 2013 by Walton P. Sellers, III and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.