Remington started making the .22 caliber Nylon 66 rifle in the year 1959 and ended production in 1987 after selling just over 1 million of them. It is a true American classic firearm and now enjoys a cult following among some collectors. Remington knew how to romanticize the gun; some advertisements in the periodicals of the time pictured a parka clad young man with a Nylon 66 in hand, tending to a trapline in the snowy dead of winter. The message was that you were not a true outdoorsman unless you owned a Nylon 66. The rifle was light in weight, durable, reliable, accurate, affordable, and downright cool looking. A young impressionable gunslinger could ask for nothing more.
I learned to shoot with my Dad’s guns but my first personally owned rifle was a .22 Remington Nylon 66. I still have it tucked away in the gun safe, it is one rifle I doubt I will voluntarily ever part with. It holds fourteen rounds in the tubular magazine and one in the chamber for a total capacity of fifteen. That trusty old rifle dispatched many troublesome raccoons, groundhogs, and opossums for me back in the old days. It was a companion on many woodland hikes, and a decent enough squirrel gun when adorned with a scope. When using a .22 to dispatch any critter, especially something as large as a raccoon, a head shot is the best shot. It was my experience that, when using a .22, a single body shot to a raccoon rarely provided instant gratification; they are tough varmints, their vitals are small, and raccoons can be quite aggressive when hurt or cornered.
I bought my first house when I was 20 years old, a roomy, drafty old relic in need of more repairs than my meager income, limited carpentry skills, and deep-seated laziness could keep up with over the many years that we lived there. The house was at the edge of large woodland and near a swamp, so invasive creatures were a common problem. On one memorable night, two female raccoons got into the attic at the same time and proceeded to engage in a horrific donnybrook over nesting rights. There is nothing more demonic than the sound of two large raccoons screaming, snarling, and thumping around as they try their natural best to defend turf, especially when the brawl is taking place on the attic side of the thin drywall ceiling just above your head. As I stood beneath them, rifle in hand, pondering just what exactly my next move was going to be, the combined weight and gymnastics of the critters provided the answer by breaking through the ceiling. The snarling raccoons were hanging onto each other with their fangs all the while they were holding onto the edge of the broken ceiling with their paws, both unwilling to give up the fight and both trying not to fall from the attic to the floor below. Rather than wait for the fight to continue at my feet, it was in my best interest to deal with the raccoons while they were still overhead, so I opened fire with the Remington. After four quick shots, two to each critter, they both scrambled over the edge of the broken ceiling back into the attic. Following a brief eerie silence there was the sound of blood running from the attic to the floor where I was standing, then the howling battle resumed. I caught a glimpse of one of the raccoons through the hole in the ceiling and hit it with one more shot, which finally broke up the fight. That raccoon scurried out of the attic, jumped to the ground outside of the house, and from the rear window I watched it disappear into the darkness; I found its carcass in the woods the following day. It took a few more days of adventure to extricate the remaining wounded raccoon from the attic. Ah, yes, those were the good old days; on the other hand, maybe not so good.
Click here for a Chuck Hawks article on the Remington Nylon Rifles.
I picked up another Nylon 66 in like-new condition about a dozen years ago. You can’t have too many copies of a good old gun.