Correcting the Record: Innovative Guns of the 1950s

Remington Nylon
The Remington Nylon 66 semiauto in Mohawk brown.Wikimedia Commons

In my post on the Remington Nylon 66, I wrote that during the 1950s, a dozen or so guns came out that were years ahead of their time, and were not truly appreciated until now. As it happens, this was a grotesque exaggeration, and I blame it on listening to too much Donald Trump. (When I get down to flat-out lying, I can blame Hillary.)

There were a number of radical developments in the gun biz during the ’50s, but almost all of them were yowling successes from the get-go, and are still very much with us.

To wit: The Savage Model 110 (1958), an inanimate hideosity if ever there was one, but it was a successful attempt to make a bolt-action inexpensively, and it survives today, highly modified, but still with the same basic design.

The .44 Magnum (1955). It redefined the game, handgun-wise. When next you crack your hand with your Casull, thank the .44 Magnum.

The Ruger Single Six (1953). Bill Ruger, who never feared to swim against the tide, brought out this simplified .22 rimfire version of the Colt 1873 just as the TV Western craze was peaking, and it pretty much resurrected the single-action as a viable revolver form.

The Weatherby Mark V (1958). Not only a radical gun, but a radical line of cartridges that said it was OK to burn colossal amounts of powder in the achievement of truly high velocity.

There are probably more, but these are the ones that come readily to mind.

There were two that did not succeed. One was the Whitney Wolverine automatic pistol, a streamlined .22 rimfire 10-shot that looks modern even today. It was made from 1956–1957 and only 13,000 were produced, despite its very reasonable price and the fact that it was a very good gun. The Wolverine had an investment-cast aluminum frame, and was likely the first American-made firearm to utilize this technique. Today, a re-created Whitney is made by Olympic Arms, but if you'd like one of the originals in really nice shape, the price is over $1,000, which is a bit more than the original $39.95.

The other was an aberration from Marlin that they called the Model 455. It was manufactured by FN on an FN commercial bolt-action with a 24-inch Marlin Micro-Groove stainless steel barrel. (I recall the barrel as being quite heavy for a sporter, but apparently not.) The trigger, a very good one, was by Sako, and the American-style stock was probably from Fajen. It was on the market from 1957 to 1959, and was chambered only in .30/06 and .308. The sights were a bead front and a Lyman 48 or a Lyman 57 rear (it probably varied).

Talk about a nice gun. It failed probably because people went to Marlin for lever-actions, not bolts, and because the scope was just coming into its own and the 455 was designed for iron sights. Only 1,059 were made.

Prices on these are still very reasonable. A good one costs in the $300–$400 range. A really nice one should be around $600. And think what you get for that; it beggars the mind.