The single shot Marlin rimfire 22 is possibly the ultimate initial training rifle. With a nomenclature and manipulation procedure that can be taught in a morning, the gun is simple enough that first time shooters can easily understand. With no magazine to fumble with, nor semi-automatic action to worry about, the gun can be loaded one round at a time by a more seasoned shooter while the apprentice works the bolt. After a few rounds of this, even a pre-teen youth can be trusted with the rifle.
It also can double as a neat and lightweight little hunting arm for adults. Small and light enough to be carried all day in the woods, it still brings enough accuracy to pull down rabbits, squirrel, raccoon and other small game down out to 50-yards. With only a single shot to fall back on, it forces the user to concentrate on that shot because, there will not be a second shot available.
With that being said, Marlin has been in this game for nearly a century.
Model 100 series
Back in 1936, Marlin hit upon the idea to make just about the world's simplest bolt-action rimfire rifle. With lessons learned from the Model 65 takedown 22, they went as easy as they could. Dubbed the Model 100, a super lightweight rifle weighed in at just 4.5-pounds. Equipped with a 24-inch barrel, it had an open adjustable rear sight, bead front, and an uncheckered smooth walnut stock. It could fire 22 rimfire in Short, Long and Long Rifle variants. The entry-level rifle had no magazine to fool with and the bolt action was used to load and eject a single round at a time.
The Model 101 added a ring to the end of the bolt to cock the firing pin. This makes this model very distinctive.
Introduced at a cost of less than $5, these guns sold for Marlin as the 100 and (after 1960 with a ringbolt) Model 101 as late as 1976. It was sold as the Glenfield Model 100G as well. Sears sold it as the JC Higgins Model 103 until at least 1959 so be on the lookout for these. Guns made after 1955 had the Marlin-standard Micro-Groove rifling and are seen to be more accurate. The listed value on these guns in the Blue Book is $50-$90 in good condition and there are plenty out there.
Then came the...
The Model 15
Introduced in 1979 as the Marlin/Glenfield Model 15, this gun was a redesigned Model 100. In the concept of 'if it aint broke, don't fix it,' Marlin simply made a good gun better. A ramp front sight replaced the old bead sight. The stock, still walnut, was made in a Monte Carlo style with a checkered pistol grip (plain on the Glenfield). This longer stock was offset by a 22-inch barrel (two inches shorter than the Model 100) which gave the gun a 41-inch overall length. The receiver was grooved for tip-off style scope rings. To update the surface controls, a thumb safety with a red cocking indicator was installed along with a redesigned extractor on the bolt (minus the ring style cocking latch on the Model 101.) These changes left the gun a little heavier at 5.5-pounds.
In 1984, this gun morphed back to the smaller profile of the Model 100/101 parent. The new (old?) design was classified as the Model 15Y Little Buckaroo and had a 16.25-inch barrel that gave it an overall length of just 33.25-inches and, equipped with an inexpensive 4x15mm fixed power scope it tipped the scales at a trim 4.25-pounds. Problems with the new style ejector plagued the gun and many today are found either without it, or without the bolt altogether. However the old Marlin 15Y can be had in used condition for as low as $75 but more often run a little higher
I say old because the Little Buckaroo changed during the 1990s into the...
This is the latest incarnation of the 100/101/15/15Y saga. With a redesigned ejector to solve the problems some ran into with the 15-series, the 915Y is otherwise the same gun. A few notable exceptions are that the receiver is also drilled and tapped for full size scope rings (along with the standard iron sights and tip-off grooves for rimfire scopes). Also marketed but hard to find is a little more rugged model, the 915YS that has a stainless receiver and barrel, no checkering on the stock, and fiber-optic sights. These retail according to Marlins website at $199 but they are out of stock everywhere which may mean that the company is slowly getting away from this otherwise successful series. But don't worry, if history proves any indicator, they will be back.
Still, with thousands of these handy little guns out there used, there is most likely one for sale in your neck of the woods until they do.