Few adult shooters use firearms that truly “fit” them dimensionally; rather, most select a firearm, and then compensate accordingly. Ironically, many of these same arms are also used to teach youth critical firearm skills, yet they do not even fit their adult instructors. How then, can they possibly fit a child or teenager? Ideally, youth-specific firearms for instructional purposes and hunting would fit their small physiques—and they would have features that enhance safety. Such was the concept behind the Savage Rascal.
There’s no mistaking that the Canadian-produced Rascal is a youth rifle; both in heft—2 pounds, 11 ounces—and dimensionally, it is scaled down for proper fit. Concerning length of pull, perhaps the most critical measurement, Savage chose 11 1/4 inches. For an evaluator’s 6-year-old son, the length was ideal. Further attention was paid to the pistol grip and fore-end, both of which have molded-in texturing—on synthetic-stocked versions—and reduced diameters to enhance purchase—the former measures 7/8 inches in diameter and the latter 1 1/16 inches. The synthetic stock features dual sling swivel studs and an integral trigger guard; the wood-stocked version has a separate trigger guard. There is no recoil pad, but rather a 1/4-inch-thick plastic buttplate; given its .22 Short/Long/Long Rifle chambering, diminishing recoil is not a concern, and the plastic prevents snagging when mounting the rifle. In addition to the walnut-stocked Rascal, synthetic-stocked versions are available in six colors.
The Rascal’s 5 9/16-inch-long receiver features a windage- and elevation-adjustable peep sight that is secured to the left, outside wall via two screws; however, for those electing to mount an optic, it is drilled and tapped to accept scope bases. As for the peep sight, we found it to be an excellent choice for teaching marksmanship; the eye naturally centers the top of the front sight, aiding sight acquisition and accuracy.
Being a single-shot, the rifle features an oversize loading port for loading of individual rounds. A spring-tensioned plastic feed ramp held on the forward action stud juts upward through a cutout in the receiver’s bottom, ensuring reliable feeding into the chamber. As the bolt moves forward and the cartridge enters into the chamber, the ramp lowers slightly. On the right rear side of the receiver is a two-position safety, with the forward firing position revealing a bright red dot—an excellent visual indicator as to the gun’s firing status. The bolt can be cycled for unloading with the safety engaged. The overly-large safety button is also a plus.
The bolt, which cocks upon opening, requires little effort to cycle. Its extractor is located at the 10 o’clock position and the ejector at 6 o’clock on its face. Unless the bolt is fully rearward—the ejector protrudes out of the bolt’s face when the bolt stop is contacted—ejection is hindered. The handle and knob are best described as petite—perfectly sized for the small hands of youth—and the root of the former serves as the sole lockup point. Our only complaint here was that, with the safety off, the trigger needed to be pulled for the bolt to be removed.
Not surprising, the Rascal features Savage’s renowned AccuTrigger. The benefits of the design are several: an articulating blade requiring a definite pull to enable; a crisp break; and user adjustability for pull weight. Concerning pull force, the test rifle’s was set at 2 pounds, 10 ounce, which proved to be appropriate given the intended users.
The Rascal’s button-rifled barrel measures 16 1/8 inches in length, contributing to the gun’s 31 1/2-inch overall length. The barrel measures 0.685 inches at the receiver and tapers to 0.510 inches at the muzzle, where it ends in a radius crown. It has a post front sight with a circular top that nicely complements the rear peep sight.
Per American Rifleman protocol, we tested the Rascal using three separate loads; in this case a .22 Short and two .22 Long Rifle, one of the latter being a subsonic round, the other a lead-free supersonic—all excellent options for either instruction or hunting. In keeping with the rifle’s intended user, purpose and sight configuration, we deviated from protocol in that we evaluated accuracy at 25 yards using five consecutive, five-shot groups, and not the normal 10-shot groups at 50 yards. To say we were impressed with the rifle’s accuracy would be an understatement; despite its open sights, we shot several sub-3/4-inch groups, and even those that measured larger were due to a single flier. The standout load was CCI’s 40-grain Segmented HP Subsonic .22 Long Rifle, which averaged 0.87 inches for the 25 shots. There were two failures to fire during accuracy testing, and both were ammunition-induced, as the firing pins strikes were of sufficient depth.
With “formal” testing completed, an evaluator and his son headed to the range for some informal shooting at paper targets, spoiled fruit and empty juice bags. Immediately apparent was the rifle’s fit; the child could shoulder the rifle easily, and cheekweld was maintained when sighting. Having started with a scoped .22, the evaluator was initially concerned about proper sighting using the peep sight; however, those fears were soon alleviated when juice bags, placed out at 10 yards, toppled and inedible apples broke apart. Obviously Savage made a good choice with regard to sights. The safety was also easily engaged and disengaged.
With the Rascal, Savage has developed a rimfire rifle that is not only a top-notch training tool, but, by being dimensionally correct, enables the youth shooter to excel. For a first rifle, there are few better to be found.
Manufacturer: Savage Arms; (866) 233-4776; www.savagearms.com