Marlin Model 915Y "Little Buckaroo" Youth Rifle

By Schuyler Barnum

Marlin Model 915Y
Illustration courtesy of the Marlin Firearms Company.

This past summer I had the chance to work for a week at the rifle range at Camp Pioneer, a Boy Scout camp in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness in my home state of Oregon. Among the training rifles there were several Marlin 915Y "Little Buckaroo" models in stock.

The Model 915Y is a youth rifle. It is pretty much a single shot version of the Model 925 with a lighter barrel, no magazine, and a shortened stock. It is quite light, weighing only 4.25 pounds, in no small part due to the fact that it is only 33.25 inches long. Here are some basic specifications:

  • Action: Bolt (single shot)
  • Caliber: .22 Short, Long, or Long Rifle
  • Sights: Adjustable open rear, ramp front; receiver grooved for tip-off scope mounts and drilled and tapped for scope bases.
  • Safety: Thumb operated; red cocking indicator
  • Metal finish: blued
  • Stock: Walnut finished hardwood, Mar-Shield finish, Monte Carlo comb.
  • Length of pull: 12"
  • Barrel length: 16.25"
  • Features: T900 trigger assembly; stainless steel version available as Model 915YS
  • 2006 MSRP: $221

I got to shoot these rifles quite a bit, considering my work schedule. I noticed several nice things about the rifle, and some not-so-nice things.

It is a very handy rifle. Its light weight and short length help make it fast handling, and its standard open iron sights help it along. The single shot feature was nice on a Boy Scout range due to the single shot only rule in place. It is convenient because you can simply set a cartridge in the loading/ejection port and push the bolt forward, unlike the standard Model 925, in which you had to put the cartridge into the chamber before closing the bolt. This made the 915Y shoot very fast for a single shot rifle.

The short throw bolt cocks on opening and is quite smooth in operation once it is wears in. Out of the box, like the 925, it is a bit stiff. I found the 915Y to be very easy to shoot off-hand, and especially fun for some good �ol plinking.

Like all Marlin rifles, it uses Marlin�s patented Micro-Groove barrel rifling. I�m not sure how much good this does; I saw no real difference in accuracy between the heavier Marlin rifles we had (925s) and our Ruger 77/22.

However, the light weight and short barrel does have its downside. With the Model 925 at our 50 foot range I could keep all the shots on an NRA A4 target within the 8 ring or better if I kept my concentration.

However, with the 915Y, I found it much more difficult to shoot tight groups. I didn�t have a similar problem with our other rifles with open sights, so I don�t think it was the sights. With the 915Y I had trouble keeping my shots within the 5 ring, let alone the 8 ring. It wasn�t a problem of fit with the short stock, I felt quite comfortable with that. It's just a light, whippy little rifle that's difficult to shoot accurately, particularly from unsupported positions.

Also, I�m not a big fan of the tip-off scope mount. It is rather weak, as one of our extra scopes showed, as the mounts can easily bend and you can�t do anything about it. I think drilled and tapped mounting systems are far better. Fortunately, the receiver of current production 915Y rifles is drilled and tapped for scope bases.

In short, if you want a fast handling and easy to load single shot rifle, or an inexpensive plinking rifle for your kid, the 915Y can work for you. However, if you want top accuracy, choose another .22 rifle.

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Copyright 2006, 2012 by Schuyler Barnum. All rights reserved.