Taking Stock #15: The Nichols Boys’ Rifle: The Long Lost Remington That Came Home
Into our inventory has come a Remington Model 6 Rolling Block in .22. It’s a nice old rifle, a hammer fired single shot utility rifle, the kind of thing that you would find in barns and garages all over this country, once upon a time, in the better days of America.
The Remington rolling block rifle is a 19th century design. These neat, handy single shot rifles were produced throughout the latter decades of the 19th Century, and the last .22 rimfire rolling block rifles were still being produced as late as W.W. II.
All Remington rolling block rifles use the same basic design, which is a pivoting or hinged breechblock pinned to the receiver below the axis of the barrel and ahead of the breech. The traditional exposed hammer placed behind the breechblock (the “rolling block”) must be manually cocked for every shot.
This action is adequately strong but not particularly fast to operate. It is, however, trouble free and reliable. And Remington rolling block rifles have always had a good reputation for accuracy.
What makes this one interesting is an intriguing bit of provenance that came in with it. This is a very polite letter from the Fresno County Sheriff, circa 1986, which accompanied the rifle as it was returned to Ray and Roy Nichols, twin brothers from theFresnoarea, who had seen the rifle confiscated from them – 52 years earlier, in 1934! It seems the Nichols boys had been, well, high spirited in their youth, and had used this little Remington to perforate any and every target imaginable in their part of the county. One can only imagine the sheriff at the time responding to numerous complaints of punctured mailboxes, pierced windmill blades, shattered milk bottles, and the like.
Well, minus their little Remington, the boys grew up, straight and strong, served their country in the armed services during the Second World War, and like so many of that Great Generation, returned to settle down, building responsible lives, and professional careers.
The rest here is subject to speculation. I picture a sheriff’s deputy doing a firearms inventory 52 years later, and stumbling across a dusty old .22 with attached evidence tag. A bit of research must have revealed that the two former miscreants were still alive, and had become model citizens. With propriety and a good sense of humor, the sheriff took time to see the rifle returned to its original owners as a Christmas gesture.
One can only imagine the thoughts that crossed the minds of the one-time hooligans upon the receipt of their old partner in crime!
It’s a delightful little Norman Rockwell of a story. And all of us here at Lock, Stock, & Barrel would like to offer a tip of the hat to the Nichols boys, whose childish hooliganism matured and became a staunch defense of their country, and to a hard-working sheriff with a sense of humor to go with his sense of duty; such men and women are rare in the modern world!
Read the letter; I can pretty much guarantee it will make you smile. And to all those of us who remember growing up in the country, where anything that a boy could see that wasn’t wearing clothing was pretty much fair game, and where a sheriff had a bit of leeway to exercise gentle discretion on a couple of runagates, well, I must confess, it’s a delicious memory of my own rural youthful indiscretions.
And after 52 years, the Remington No. 6 had come home.
By Mark Romano