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Long Guns

Remington’s Model 12

by Paul Scarlata   |  September 23rd, 2010 32

The Model 12 was Remington’s first successful pump-action .22 rifle. It featured a compact receiver and a tubular magazine.

I’m certain that most members of my generation have fond memories of the shooting galleries that were an important attraction of almost every amusement park, county fair, and church carnival of our youth. At those emporiums of marksmanship, you bellied up to the counter, handed the hawker a quarter, and received a pump-action .22 rifle containing 10 or 12 rounds of .22 Short ammunition. You then proceeded to pot away at various moving targets in hopes of winning a Kewpie doll for your latest sweetie.

The rifles most commonly used in those shooting galleries were the Winchester Models 1890, 1906, and 62. Designed by John Moses Browning, they proved immensely popular with small-game hunters, trappers, farmers, and plinkers, and by the time production ended in 1958, in excess of two million units had been produced.

Such sale figures did not pass unnoticed by one of Winchester’s biggest competitors. In Ilion, New York, the marketing officials at Remington Firearms Company realized that the shooting public wanted repeaters, and as the lever action market was dominated by Winchester and Marlin, “Big Green” placed its bets on semiautomatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns. The latter type proved especially popular, and a significant number of American shooters began gravitating toward these slide-action, a.k.a. trombone, rifles. When it came to pump-action repeaters, Remington turned to John D. Pedersen, one of the more prolific firearms inventors of the early 20th century.

The Model 12 utilized a push-button safety located at the rear of the trigger guard, a slide-release button positioned in front of the trigger guard, and a distinctive teardrop-shaped ejection port.

Pedersen had already designed a number of semiauto pistols and pump-action shotguns for Remington, all of which were popular with shooters. But despite the popularity of these Pedersen-designed guns, most collectors and engineers will tell you that his designs had a shortcoming—they tended to be overly complicated, albeit no one has ever denied that they worked well. A Remington engineer once confided to me, “Pedersen always used three parts where one would have sufficed.”

The Model 12 Up Close
Pedersen designed a rifle in which the forearm was attached directly to the magazine tube. As the forearm/magazine tube unit was pulled to the rear, an action bar on the end of the tube retracted the firing pin and then pulled the bolt down, retracting a locking shoulder on its front edge from a mortise in the top of the receiver. It then pushed the bolt to the rear, extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge. As the rear of the tube entered the receiver, a carrier lifted the next round from the magazine so the forward-moving bolt could chamber it. As the bolt went into battery, the action bar pushed it up, locking it in place. At the same time the trigger/sear lock and the firing pin were freed so the rifle could be fired. A locked bolt could be released by depressing a button located inside the trigger guard.

Unlike the Winchester pump-action .22s, Pedersen’s rifle was a hammerless design with a safety button located at the rear of the trigger guard, and the rear of the receiver tang was drilled and tapped for mounting an aperture sight. It also differed from the Winchester in that it had a solid-top receiver, and cartridge ejection was via a port on the right side of the receiver. These features not only gave it a slim, streamlined appearance, but they sealed the action against dirt, debris, and moisture far better than the competition’s rifles. The then-new .22 was released on the market in 1909 as the Model 12 Slide Action Repeater.

To load the Model 12, the inner magazine tube was withdrawn by depressing the catch on its cap, and rounds were then inserted through the opening on the tube body.

The Model 12’s magazine was loaded by depressing a catch on the knurled end cap, which allowed the inner tube that contained a spring-loaded follower to be withdrawn forward and exposed an opening just in front of the forearm into which individual cartridges were inserted base-first. The inner tube was then pushed back and locked in place, exerting spring pressure on the foremost cartridge in the magazine for feeding into the receiver.

The fast-shooting Model 12 proved to be a natural for small-game hunting, and a significant percentage of purchasers were hunters, who wandered the woods and fields in search of rabbits and squirrels for the pot, and farmers, who used them to dispose of pests, such as groundhogs, raccoons, and crows.

Like many of the sporting rifles of that era, the Model 12 was a take-down design. Unscrewing a large-headed bolt at the left rear of the receiver permitted the stock and trigger unit to be separated from the receiver/barrel unit for cleaning and easy storage.

As was the company’s usual practice, Remington offered the Model 12 in several grades: 12A (Basic Model), 12B (Gallery Model .22 Short only), 12C (Target Model and NRA Target Grade), 12D (Peerless), 12E (Expert), and 12F (Premier). The Model 12A came with a round barrel, whereas all the rest were fitted with octagonal barrels.

There were also the Models 12 CS/DS/ES/FS, all chambered for the .22 Remington Special cartridge. For all practical purposes, the .22 Remington Special was dimensionally and ballistically identical to the better-known .22 Winchester Rim Fire (WRF) cartridge, but Remington produced the cartridge under that designation as it did not want to mark its competitor’s initials on its rifles. Unlike earlier .22 ammunition, the .22 WRF/Remington Special was loaded exclusively with smokeless propellant in an attempt to dissuade the use of blackpowder ammunition in the new repeating rifles.

The Model 12 D, E, and F were deluxe variants. As the grade increased, the quality of the wood used on the rifles improved, and they could be ordered with any number of custom embellishments, including but not limited to special sights, engraving, and silver and/or gold inlays.

The Model 12 could be disassembled quickly for cleaning and/or storage by removing the large, knurled bolt on the left side of the receiver.

Production of the Model 12 ended in 1936 with in excess of 832,000 units coming off the assembly line. It was replaced by the Model 121 Fieldmaster, which had a redesigned bolt and firing pin and differed cosmetically, having a more substantial stock and forearm. It was available (by special order) chambered for the .22 WRF cartridge or with smoothbore barrels. Loaded with .22 shot cartridges, the latter were popular with exhibition shooters for indoor or short-range displays of their aerial marksmanship. The Model 121 was produced until 1954, with just under 200,000 being manufactured.

Shooting A Model 12
My brother Vincent’s gun collection yielded a Model 12 in fairly nice condition, and its serial number indicated that it left the Ilion factory some time in 1917. As was common with many of the early .22 repeaters, its slim lines, small receiver, and straight-grip stock remind me of what we today would call a “youth rifle.” While it functioned reliably, I must admit that it was not as smooth in operation as my friend’s Winchester Model 62.

After assembling an assortment of .22 LR cartridges, I headed to the range to see how this sleek, little trombone rifle performed at an intermediate range of 35 yards. After a few practice shots, and making some elevation adjustments to the rear sight, I was soon firing well-centered groups. After chronographing the five brands of ammo, it became obvious that the little pump gun liked hot loads and consistently grouped tighter as bullet velocity increased.

I then decided to have some fun. As one of the Model 12’s primary duties in life was small-game hunting, I set up a series of Birchwood Casey varmint targets at 25 yards and proceeded to send .22 projectiles in their direction firing offhand.

This quickly proved to me that any critter foolish enough to stand still for a few seconds in front of a hunter armed with a Model 12 would have made the transition from “wildlife” to “camp meat” rather quickly.

I found the Remington Model 12 to be a well-made, reliable rifle. But even more important, it was capable of providing a heck of a lot a fun, and when you clear away all the advertising hype, that has always been the .22 rimfire’s primary purpose.

  • Curt

    Greetings model 12 fans!! I have an "older" model 12 with the octagon barrel and tang (Lyman) rear sight, My reason for posting is that my little baby will not eject spent rounds !!!! I've replaced the ejector/ spring to no avail?
    It will cycle live unfired rounds slick as he– but after firing they stick every time!
    Anyone REALLY know what's up? Please no guessing I've been down the guessing road to far already!
    Thanks very much!!

  • Mike

    Well, I just had a similar experience with my model 12 and bought an extractor from Wisners, Inc and it fixed it right up. 360-748-4590. Also, make sure there is not rust in the chamber that might hang it up after firing. Other than that they are pretty basic.

    • Billy

      Do you know how much this gun would cost? Its in working order

      • lazy charlie

        $150 in low grade, excellent about $600+

  • Billy

    Anyone know how much one of these would sell for?

    • Dave R

      anywhere from around $400 for a 12a in descent condition to over 1000

  • Randall

    I have on that has no writing on the breach and only has the pat. stuff on the barrel. It has a straight trap like stock and forearm, checkered like a rem model 29 or 11 or high grade model 10. No fold up sight, shoots all 3 sizes, no ingraving, or anything else special.Oh yeah the wood is factory to the gun. What grade is it??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Larry Lengfeld

    I have removed the bolt as instructed by a owner of a model 12. He instructed me to move the slide to the most rearward position and lift the bolt and pull it out. This worked fine, but in reversing the process I am unable to reinstall the bolt. Is there a special process or step I am missing to reinstall the bolt? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Bear

      Larry, On the slide part of the rifle, there is a button on the underside just rear of the wooden grip. Place the bolt in the reciever, THEN slide the cocking mechanism back and depress the button so it goes a bit further to the rear. Then slide the assembly forward again and the bolt should engage and become part of the slide mechanism again. I hope this helps.

      Read more:

  • nzee

    I can not video on find a cleaning video on you tube. I am having problems getting everything back in order. Has anyone found a strip/clean videop that walks us through …or…could someone post a strip/clean of this ancient and incredible weapon.

  • Kent Bowers

    I have a model 12 – hex-barrel with a serial number of 809304. I am not trying to sell it but would like to know approximately it was manufactured, where I can an original forescrew, if I would deminish the value by refinishing the forestock and back stock (some scratches) and what the approximate value is? I do not intend to do anything with the barrell or receiver.

  • Bear

    Larry, On the slide part of the rifle, there is a button on the underside just rear of the wooden grip. Place the bolt in the reciever, THEN slide the cocking mechanism back and depress the button so it goes a bit further to the rear. Then slide the assembly forward again and the bolt should engage and become part of the slide mechanism again. I hope this helps.

    Now, my problem: If I remove the side screw and separate the rifle into to parts, then just replace everything, the rifle will 'cock' and fire, but will NOT re-cock without repeating the disassembly. ANY THOUGHTS ANYBODY?

  • Al Land

    With respect to the great Remington Model 12, I have 3. I am looking for a tang mounted sight for all of them.
    Anybody know where I can obtain one or more? Not picky, I'd be happy with Lyman, Marble or ???.

    Thanks much for any and all info that you may provide (CopterRider at

  • Mark

    In the last couple of weeks I came across an old Remington pump 22 rifle at an auction. I was able to buy it and was wondering what the value was? After looking them up online I was able to determine that it is a Remington model 12-A I believe. It is in pretty good condition and the 2 barrel codes are P and L which I believe means it was made in June of 1942 ? The serial number is 339666 and it has a R W stamped above the serial number? Not sure what the RW is for? Can anyone give me a ballpark value just so I know what I have? Thank You

    • Al Zee

      My 12A serial number is in the 607xxx range and was made in 1923. Yours is probably in the mid teens. I think RW stands for Remington Works. It depends on condition and Model If you have a 12A that is the one with the round barrel and least valued but go from $300 to $600.Call Remington during business hours 1-800-243-9700 and they will tell you the date of MFG. Good Luck

  • Tom Torgerson


    I think I have the model 12A – where do you locate the 12A model (unable to locate the model on the gun)? My serial # starts with 164.

    I am thinking of selling the gun

    • Dave Retz

      hey you have a pretty low serial # so yours is a pretty early gun prob before 1920 and also the model 12a is the "basic" model they made a 12a,bcdef i believe its just like a grade letter the 12 f had checkering and engraving rear tang sight all high gloss finished stocks etc.the model # should be right on top of the receiver i believe

  • M M

    Does anyone have any information as to where I can purchase an inner magazine tube for the model 12A that doesn't require any modifications to be made to the outer tube?

  • sgtmax70

    hi tom:if you are thinking about selling your 12-a rifle. i would like to hear a little more about it and what amount you would be asking for it. please email me with a little more information thanks tom.please add phone number in e-mail tanks again russell, by the way, my email address is

  • ams1957

    thanks so much for the link to Random exploits Mo 12 takedown and reassembly that will do the trick on reassembly broblems.

  • steve

    I have a remington 22 cal. model 12A round barrell. no rifleing and very badly rifleing pitted. Can I replace it with a hexagon barrell or have to stay with the round barrel. ALSO where can I get a round or hexagon barrell. steve 561-762-9973

  • gary

    how mant 22 special or wrf rounds will a mdl 12 cs hold?

  • Ron

    I am missing the butt plate for a model 12A. Can you tell what they were made of and where a person might find a part. Thanks

  • malcolm

    looking for the age of my model 12A serial number 730774

    • Crazed

      call remington. They’ll tell you 800-243-9700 x 7

  • Elaine

    Recently acquired a Remington Model 12 with the no. 97612. Unable to find any info on this rifle and was hoping there was someone out there with knowledge of this rifle. Much appreciated.

  • Bruce

    If you are looking for parts for the Model 12 or any other old firearm, try Jack First Guns of Rapid City, South Dakota. If they do not have the part on hand, they will make one for you.

  • mike laird

    If the 12 won’t eject try a short the chamber is shot out and 22 long rifles will stick. Fix is to have the barrel relined with a true chamber.

  • John Ronald

    My 12-A doesn’t have forearm screws and I want to disassemble it. Has anyone come across this? I can’t find a reference for such a gun anywhere and am stumped at how to remove the action bar

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