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Gun Of The Week by S.P. Fjestad

Gun of the Week image   The Gun of the Week is an exclusive editorial article that highlights a different gun each week. The guns featured represent some of the finest and most desirable collectible firearms available in today’s marketplace as well as many common guns that are encountered on a regular basis by many shooters and collectors. Carefully written captions provide interesting and comprehensive information, and up-to-date values are included for an in-depth article you won’t find anywhere else! Check back each Monday for a new Gun of the Week.
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Auction Purchased Winchester Model 1866 Rifle   
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Nylon Wasn’t Meant Just for Pantyhose! The Story of Remington’s Model Nylon 66 - Part 2
3/20/2012

Tom Frye sits next to a mountain of 2 ½ in. wooden blocks he shot at while setting his world record. When the smoke cleared after 13 consecutive eight-hour days of shooting averaging 1,000 shots per hour, he had fired at 100,010 blocks and missed only six! There were no malfunctions or misfires from the rifles whatsoever during the shoot, but Mr. Frye’s trigger finger blistered so badly it had to be re-taped twice a day to help eliminate the pain.

I can personally attest to this rifle’s reliability after watching how my brother’s Nylon 66 has ungracefully aged since it was bought for farm use back in the 1960s. He still brags that it’s never been cleaned, not to mention that a 3020 John Deere drove over it while plowing. Late one fall, in the 1980s, it got lost and he was worried it was gone for good. It was found the next spring leaning against a silo after the snow melted around it. It has never malfunctioned, regardless of weather conditions, or from the cheap ammo it seems to thrive on. I’ve also seen him drop sparrows from the top of the windmill off hand at 60 yards with remarkable consistency. It remains an unsightly shooting machine in his hands. Who could ask for any more out of a .22 cal. rifle, even a real expensive one?

Remington ramped up its initial publicity for its new rifle by enlisting the shooting services of Tom Frye, one of Remington’s field representatives. At the request of Newt Crumley, owner of the Holiday Inn in Reno, NV, Tom was asked to put on a shooting expedition with the Nylon 66. The goal was to surpass Ad Topperwein’s 1907 world record of shooting 72,500 two and a half inch square wooden blocks tossed into the air while missing only nine. Frye accepted the challenge and used three Nylon 66s for this endurance and accuracy record. Four helpers assisted him during this marathon and alternated their positions between loading rifles, handling blocks to the thrower, throwing blocks, and keeping score of the hits. When the smoke cleared after 13 consecutive eight-hour days of shooting averaging 1,000 shots per hour, he had fired at 100,010 blocks and missed only six! There were no malfunctions or misfires from the rifles whatsoever during the shoot, but Mr. Frye’s trigger finger blistered so badly it had to be re-taped twice a day to help eliminate the pain. I consider Frye’s shooting record similar to Wilt Chamberlain scoring over 100 points in an NBA game - it will never be broken. In terms of production, one of the main advantages of the Nylon 66 was its lower production costs since the gun could be assembled with little or no hand fitting. Yet, the trigger pull was excellent and its adjustable open sights were probably the best ever supplied on the post-WWII production rimfire rifle. Maybe its biggest advantages were that it was absolutely impervious to temperature, humidity, and adverse weather conditions, plus it weighed only four and a half pounds. Its only minor disadvantage was that the magazine tube holding 14 .22 LR cal. cartridges in the buttstock had to be completely removed before reloading.

Between 1959-1991, Remington made over one million Nylon 66 rifles and variations before the dies needed to make the two-piece Zytel stock finally wore out. When introduced it had an MSR of $49.95, and when discontinued in 1991, the price had gone up to $130.


During 1966, Remington manufactured 3,792 Nylon 66s with a “150th Anniversary” Remington logo stamped on the left-hand side of the receiver. Because they were made before the GCA was enacted in 1968, this anniversary model was not serial numbered.

So how much are they worth in today’s marketplace? The Nylon 66 was initially available in two primary colors – Mohawk Brown (most common) and Seneca Green (approx. 30% of production). Apache Black was added in late 1961 with a chrome metal finish. Today, an all original, average condition Mohawk Brown Nylon 66 will sell in the $250-$350 range. A mint condition Seneca Green variation with original box can sell for upwards of $700. This model in .22 Short cal. is somewhat rare and 98% original specimens can sell for almost $800. Related Nylon 66 variations included a bolt action detachable mag. Model 11 Nylon and a Model 10 single shot bolt action. The Holy Grail of the Nylon 66 and its variations is the Nylon 10 smoothbore – only 2,064 were manufactured. Believe it or not, a mint original condition Nylon 10 smoothbore can sell in excess of $10,000 if the über buyer is desperate enough!


When the primary stock and forearm construction material is plastic, colors can be easily changed. This Nylon 66 from the Remington museum in Ilion sports ivory colored furniture, but some were also produced in pink. The white variation is said to have been made for a local drum and bugle core in the Ilion area.

When considering this rifle’s unique design, innovative manufacturing technology, legendary reliability, superior performance, low price point, and remarkable history, no other firearm in the last half of the 20th century can equal the Remington Nylon 66. If you are under 65, have kids and/or grandchildren, you can’t afford not to have a Nylon 66 in your gun safe or vault. Once they shoot it and compare it to the newer production guns, it will be immediately apparent why this gun has retained its iconic status. Maybe the best part is that it remains both affordable and distinguishable.

While Gaston Glock continues to receive accolades for his innovative plastic pistol, still mostly sold to a male marketplace, way back in the late 1950s DuPont and Remington did it much bigger and better by crossing the gender lines. Their products and marketing were perfect – the women got their nylon pantyhose, and the men, women, and kids got their Nylon 66s!

Images and most information courtesy of Roy Marcot and John Gyde from their book, Remington .22 Rimfire Rifles.
 

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