When we consider the 22 rifles and handguns of the 1950s and 60s, which in my opinion would be the Golden age of classic 22 firearms, and was the period that became the pinnacle of classic 22 firearms. About every gun company of that era would be producing 22 rifles and handguns and some of the finest 22 caliber rifles and handguns ever produced were from this time period.
The Winchester Firearms company of that era probably produced the best line of 22 long rifles ever,(in my humble opinion). I will discuss the Winchester firearms in the 22 caliber rifle in separate articles on them. They would deserve a much closer look than some of the other gun companies 22 lineup.
Browning Firearms were not producing many 22 rifles in the 1950s, but by the 1960s, would be producing some quality 22 firearms. Remington Firearms would be producing some very fine 22 caliber rifles also. But they would not have the following in the 22 lineup that Winchester Firearms would have.
REMINGTON CLASSIC 22s
The Savage 22’s were inexpensive and worked great for starter rifles for young firearms shooters just getting into small game hunting. They were learning how to shoot before trying out their deer hunting rifles.
Many of these lower quality firearms were sold, and if you are going to consider them as a collector firearm then you will probably be disappointed. Even those that are in excellent condition do not demand a large gun collectors following and would be of little value for investing in.
They do make good firearms to hunt with, even 50 years later. Most of the 22 long rifles in the 22 bolt action line are still very much, good-quality hunting guns. They can be a nice-looking addition to your target and hunting line of used rifles.
The semi-auto 22 rifles of the 1950s and early 60s would be having an issue with parts by the 1980s. As a gunsmith over the years I finally came to the point where I would not work on a lot of those types of firearms anymore. Remington Firearms and Winchester Firearms did make some excellent semi–auto 22 rifles. The problem is that most of those firearms do not have a good parts supply available.
Now I know you can order parts from companies with used parts, and sometimes that can be okay. But the problem I found with many of those gun parts was that the parts you were ordering were in the same condition as the parts you are replacing them with. The value of the gun is not worth the effort to fix it or make the gun serviceable. I will talk about gun repairs in separate articles, and why or why not to work on particular model firearm.
Now I did over the years know men who wanted to make the gun functional as it was maybe one of their grandfather’s guns. But I would make sure that they understood that it could cost considerably more to repair it than the gun is worth and that they understood this before I would work on that firearm. And if they were okay with that, I would attempt to fix it.
If I was a gunsmith today working on those types of firearms I would be careful about working on certain models of the 22 rifles and handguns of that time period. You can spend a lot of time and not make much money.
Even some of the better 22 bolt actions rifles or other cheaper made 22 firearms from that time are beginning to have problems with quality parts. So you must be careful about repairing them if you are a gunsmith, and are looking to make money on fixing them.
But if it is a good functioning 22 rifles and handguns, then by all means use it. But be aware of the limitations on parts and repairs that can be associated with some models. Some of the more valuable 22 rifles can be fixed by competent gunsmiths who could actually make a part and repair parts in the gun and make it worthwhile to repair. It would be worth the investment to repair it.
The 22 rifles and handguns of that time also ran the extremes in high quality and low quality firearms. Many of the semi-auto 22 handguns would be very good guns. The High Standard firearms Company and Ruger firearms all made quality 22 semi-auto handguns and are good investments for today’s collectors. Colt firearms would produce a great line of Colt handguns. They are not only good investments, but they are fun to shoot and are a pleasure to look at. Just great classic firearms.
Some of the 22 rifles and handguns that were imports of those days were designed to look like the German Lugers of WWII. A lot of other companies from Europe were importing firearms that were chambered in the 22 rifle ammo. These firearms were usually of poor quality.
As a gunsmith in those days I would avoid working on them as much as possible. If you are someone who has the time and likes to play with that type of thing, then fine work on it. But if you are a gunsmith trying to make a living in the gunsmithing world. Leave those cheap 22’s alone, as they are more problems than they are worth.
I did know some people who are very confident with those cheap types of firearms and maybe because they had a lot of patience they could work on them. They may like working on them and that is fine, but for the average gun enthusiast who may happen to acquire one of those types of firearms, you need to be careful as it could cost more to fix them, than what the gun is worth.
I will talk about individual 22 rifles and handguns in separate articles and give more detailed information in those articles.
The 22 rifle scopes that were installed on the 22 rifles of the 1950’s and 60’s were not generally good 22 scopes. They would be mostly in small diameters and have poor eye relief and clarity. Some of the target rifles would use the Unertl scopes. These were good quality 22 scopes and are still a nice addition to the 22 target rifle you might invest in. The Leupold scopes were installed on some of the better 22 long rifles and did give them a nice look. I will discuss more about 22 scopes in other articles about individual scope companies.
For the 22 rifles and handguns of the 1950s and 60s to be considered excellent investments for the gun collector. The gun would have to be in great condition, and be manufactured by the better firearms companies like Winchester firearms.
Many of the 22 rifles and handguns would be very well used. This will hurt the gun values for the collector, but they still make excellent shooting and hunting firearms.
Some of the highly used guns from that period are of better quality and have better character than many of the new guns manufactured today.