Back in the early 1990s, the father and son team of Bill and Steve McNeal created the Davey Crickett, a single-shot .22 caliber youth rifle. The Crickett rifles were the first in a growing Pennsylvania based brand, Keystone Sporting Arms, which opened in 1996. The small company has grown into a dominant powerhouse by making .22-caliber rifles designed specifically for kids.
The original Crickett design is heavily influenced by the Winchester 1900, another in the long line of John Moses Browning designs.
The 1900 was a popular gun, especially in the rural parts of this country, in a time when boys were allowed to carry .22s with them in the woods. The Chipmunk and other single shots would follow, but they had faded from popularity by the later half of the twentieth century.
But the McNeals saw the potential of the design. By the 90s, new technology and materials made it possible to produce these rifles, here in the states, inexpensively. And as Keystone grew, it made some strategic acquisitions. It bought Rogue Rifle Company (who made the original Chipmunk rifles). And it bought Revolution Stocks, who had made many of Keystone’s stocks.
The result is an American based company that now controls a good bit of what is arguably a tough market. After all, one does not simply sell guns to kids. The idea of a gun, and learning to use a gun, has to be sold to some open minded parents, first. Then those adults have the responsibility of teaching.
But it’s more fun than a video game. And, by the looks of Crickett’s price tags, cheaper.
The Crickett Rifle
The design of a Crickett is subtly elegant. They are bolt action, single-shot .22-caliber guns. This slows down the process, immensely. This makes for a perfect training pace. It is less dramatic than a magazine fed bolt action, and much safer than an…