Mint 50 year old Marlin 101 Bolt Action .22 Rifle

During our early March trip to Toledo to visit family, my father and I had a chance to talk about the new hobby that Gail and I have been enjoying. He was surprised we have been shooting guns. I think he enjoyed hearing about our experiences and what we have learned. And then it was his turn to surprise me! He told me that he had purchased a rifle and a shot gun many years ago. He had always kept them (successfully!) hidden from his three boys while we were growing up. I asked him whatever happened to the rifles, and he said he still had them! I was shocked! I remember him talking about guns on a very rare occasion, and mostly it was about removing bullets from people in the operating room. He was a general surgeon and attended to many Friday and Saturday night “specials.” Those seem to be the favorite days for people to shoot each other. But I never saw him involved in shooting sports in any way, shape or form.

He asked if I wanted to see the rifles and I said, “Sure!”. He went up into the attic and came down with a rusty old shotgun, and with a .22 caliber, single shot, bolt action rifle that looked like it was brand new. And that’s because it was as good as new. He told me the rifle had never been shot! He even showed me a little box of bullets that he bought at the same time as the rifle, with all of the bullets still inside. He bought these things in 1962, fifty years ago!

The best part? My dad offered me the rifles, and I eagerly accepted his generosity! 😀

The .22 rifle has the words “J.C. Higgins Model 41” on the barrel. I have since found out that this was a rifle made by Marlin Firearms, a North Carolina company. Marlin rebranded the rifles as “J.C. Higgins” exclusively for Sears. The little box of .22 Long ammunition also was in a Sears box.

I wrote Marlin and was able to get a users manual for the rifle. Though he can’t remember, I was able to find out that my father probably paid about $19 for the rifle in 1962. It is now worth about $125 – $150. I learned from various gun blogs and sites that this was a rifle many kids got from their fathers as their first rifle, to learn about shooting. It is reportedly easy to shoot and remarkably accurate.

So I brought it home and dropped it off at ProShots Range for a cleaning and inspection. The guys at the range had a good little time with it. They said it was in perfect operating condition. I think they were a little jealous. 😉

I have had a chance to shoot the little rifle, and it is indeed very accurate. More than that, it is really fun to shoot! Since it is a .22, there is essentially no kick. It is very quiet. The single shot bolt action is actually fun to work/play with. And the very best part, I know the rifle will always remind me of my father. What a treasure! 😀

20 thoughts on “Mint 50 year old Marlin 101 Bolt Action .22 Rifle”

  1. OH NO WAY! That looks AWESOME!!!! I would love to shoot a rifle – never have before… and with it being a .22, that would be PERFECT for me as my first. My son has one but it has a good kickback. Not really interested in tearing out my shoulder right now LOL! “I’m just a GIRLLLL.” What a GREAT story too – what an honor to have that gun!

    1. Katherine, I think you would love it! You are such an outdoors girl. You even have the camo pants! You NEED a rifle! LOL

      Why don’t you look into it. Here is a link to the Ruger .22 rifles that hold ten shots. They are inexpensive. There is essentially no kick, so your little shoulder would love it, too! 🙂

  2. Ferd,
    I just came upon this blog post by seaching “Marlin 101.” That’s the first rifle I learned to shoot, and you are correct, it is incredibly accurate for a relatively cheap singe-shot. Unfortunately, my Dad gave mine to my cousin’s son when I was away at school. Take good care of it and enjoy!

    1. Pat, too bad your dad gave it away! I hope your cousin’s son enjoys it as much as you obviously did! Maybe if you have a son (or daughter) of your own…

  3. The Marlin version was my very first gun, got it when I was 9. I still have it and will always. Still take it out shooting once in awhile.

  4. I have one of these that was my mother’s snake gun. My dad & mom moved from Los Angeles in 1969 to a small town in Texas of 300 people. My mom hated snakes and wanted a way to protect the place. Dad bought her a Sears Roebuck Mod 41 single shot and it passed through several relatives hands before I got it back. It is now my armadillo gun because it is very accurate & quiet. I found this blog looking for information on mine trying to find some replacement parts to restore it. One of the best guns for starting out and it is truly an heirloom.

    1. Ha! I’m only 2 YEARS late responding to this comment! Thanks, WD! I hope you were able to restore your rifle and that it is still bringing you moments of fun! It really is an heirloom item! 🙂

  5. That looks like the first gun I ever owned, a Marlin 101T, which was a single shot, .22 cal rifle that one cocked by pulling back on the T-handle on the end of the bolt.

    When I grew up in the 60’s, our neighborhood in Covina, CA, was like Erma Bombeck described in her books as “Suburban Gems.” It was idyllic living, though we didn’t know it. All the houses in the neighborhood were the same age, occupied by young couples with their first child; most were WWII veterans, buying on the Cal Vet program or GI benefits.

    The Christmas of the year in which all us boys turned 8 or 9, all of our Dads got us a .22 rifle, but we weren’t allowed to shoot it until we finished the NRA Hunter Safety class. My Dad gave me the Marlin, though some of the other kids got different guns. The class was held at night in the cafeteria of our grade school, and our Dads took the class with us. After passing a written exam, we all had to attend the range and prove that we could follow range safety rules, as well as hit a target. We got 100 rounds of ammo to use that day, and all proudly graduated!

    After that, we could ride our bikes to the sporting goods store and spend our allowances on ammunition to our hearts’ content. It never occurred to any of us to take a gun to school, and we understood that a gun is never to be pointed at anything one doesn’t intend to shoot. We saved – okay, hoarded – our precious ammo for the rare outings we had with our families in the desert, near Phelan, CA, where we gleefully executed uncountable soda cans and paper targets, all of which we picked up and brought home for proper disposal.

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down Memory Lane, to a happier time when this was still a strong, proud, free country guided by a rock solid Constitution. We may be the last generation to remember that such a thing once existed on this poor, suffering Earth.

  6. I just bought one of these in a local gun shop. What a cool rifle! Very simple but nicely made. You can feel the quality. The stock has a ton of character and it’s clear this rifle was used a lot, but well loved and well cared for. I keep thinking there’s some family out there missing their heirloom. Well, it can make memories in my family for the next 50 years.

    1. Ha! Just a year and a half late in responding! You are so right about this rifle having character. And it is obviously pretty durable, too. I bet it WILL last another fifty years! Have fun! 🙂

  7. My Dad bought a Marlin 101 for me in 1968, I would have been 12… I have the receipt he paid $19.31 including tax… I still have it – it still shoots very well! I shot many a gopher and rats (at the local dump) over allot years growing up. I have taken it to the range to help teach new shooters with it a number of times. They always forget you have to cock it manually!!! Great little gun to learn how to handle guns safely and correctly!

    1. We’re about the same age, Tim. I was 13 in 1968. I’m glad you had that sales receipt! It confirms what I thought about it costing around $19 back then. That is remarkable! Glad you are still enjoying it from time to time! 🙂

  8. Ferd,
    Just another similar story with a different twist. My Dad too gave me mine at age 14. Having been shooting for 9 years prior and becoming a little “better than the average bear” at marksmanship. It was accurate enough to encourage me to modify it for more accuracy. So I lightened the trigger pull to maybe a one to two lb. pull. I had no idea doing so could affect the safety of the rifle.

    Well, on Christmas day I had told Santa that I sure could use a
    scope for it, and because my behavior was EXEMPLARY, he delivered. So to my room to mount the scope and out the back door to zero it. Using an old oak tree for a rest I reloaded with a LR, and cocked it, checked safety off, and as I began to rest it on the tree I dropped it and it hit the ground butt first firing almost vertically. UH oh, something wrong, my abdomen jumped and yes I had shot myself. Entry just above the belt line centered, there was no exit hole. To shorten this story of my great little rifle, the Dr. removed the bullet and on the third day I was back home and healthy.

    Not the end of the little Marlin story. A friend of mine was admiring that great little gun, and he had an old moped that just barely ran so a deal was made he was the happy owner of the Marlin with a now zeroed 4x scope, and I a member hecks angles on the old moped.

    History holds that I would push that old moped more miles than I rode it, he probably passed that little Marlin to his son or daughter 10 or 15 years later.

    Good thing I did not go into trading as a profession.

    Thank you for the memories Ferd.
    (careful lightning those triggers)

  9. Reading this article, brought me through my memories. I received my little Marlin for my 8th. Birthday, 1973. Talk about a happy little boy. And to this day it’s still my prize possession . The rifle was given to me by my uncle. And my grandmother gave it to him for I believe his 10th birthday. I think that may have been around 1957. I’ve shot that little thing a thousand times and then some. It’s also the most accurate gun I own. It’s still fabulous, Monte Carlo stock beautiful wood grain, the little white spacers between the plates, yes sir. Again thanks for sharing your story..

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