The top-selling pump-action sold in 2019, according to volume of purchases on Gunbroker.com, is actually no longer in production. It’s a classic last produced in 1936—the Remington Model 12.
Roy Marcot’s book, The History of Remington Firearms (his page with the Model 12 entry is seen above) describes it as “…one of the best-selling guns ever produced by Remington, as 831,737 rifles were made in a 27-year period…” If you’re a Big Green fan, or own one of its guns, his full-color, 128-page work is certainly suitable for a coffee table. Better yet, get a copy for reference.
The Model 12 is one of many designed by John Pedersen. The public got its first glimpse in September 1909, when enthusiasts could take one home for $12.95. It came in a dozen versions during its run, and improvements during that time were contributed by C.C. Loomis and G.H. Garrison.
Nearly all of the hammerless, solid-breech guns were chambered in .22 rimfire. Magazines were tubular, and could hold 14, 11 or 10 short, long or long rifle cartridges, respectively—capacities that were increased later in the guns run by one. The rifle fired all three without fail, a versatility that likey helps maintain its popularity.
Undoubtedly the biggest number of rifles still available are Model 12As, the basic version with a 22-inch barrel and straight-grip stock. A gallery version, the Model 12B, didn’t show up until 1910, but it was worth the wait. It had an octagonal barrel 2 inches longer than its predecessor, pistol-grip stock and savvy carnies could order an extended magazine capable of holding twenty five .22 Shorts.
The same year the Model 12C Target Rifle appeared, followed in subsequent years by the 12Cs, DS and ES. Four more, slightly different versions were introduced to enthusiasts, all .22 rimfire chambered. The Model 12C NRA Target Grade (1923) featured Lyman tang sights and ran .22 Long Rifles only, setting it apart from all the other side ejectors in the line. The FS arrived in 1914, with something of a rogue chambering for the line—.22 Rem. Spl., which is nearly identical to the .22 Win. Rimfire.
Gun owners recognize the timeless craftsmanship poured into these gems from Remington’s Ilion, NY, factory. It’s the primary reason it was tops in pump-action rifle sales last year, that and the fact that they were built to last, ammo is cheap and there’s no expiration date on rangeside fun—even if it’s behind the trigger of a gun that’s more than 100 years old.