July 28, 2022
One of the lesser-known bolt-action .22 rifles of the last century, Remington’s Model 34 was built for just a few short years, from 1932 through 1935. About 163,000 were made before the Model 34 was replaced by the Model 341.
Several unique characteristics distinguish the Model 34. It’s a tube-fed bolt action, which is somewhat unusual, and the two-position, rocker-type safety located at the right rear of the action is backward, meaning you press it forward to engage the safety and pull it rearward to put it in the “Fire” position. However, most unique is the cartridge lifter.
It’s worth noting that the lifter keeps the incoming cartridge level, lifts it elevator-style, and presents it straight in line with the chamber. Thanks to the lifter’s straight-on, easy-chambering presentation, freshly chambered cartridges suffer no dings or distortion at all. Accuracy, admirers of the design tell us, is generally stellar as a result.
An “NRA Target” Model 34 was offered, and it came with a Lyman 55 aperture sight, a hooded Patridge-style front sight, and a military-type sling useful for entry-level small-bore competitive shooting as well as toting the rifle while hunting small game. No rear barrel dovetail was present, and in addition to the standard model and cartridge designation, the barrel was rollmarked NRA TARGET.
When handled, a Model 34 in nice condition oozes class and history. The walnut stock is slender and svelte, well configured for hard use yet classy and sleek, too. A perfectly fitted steel buttplate protects the butt. Deep finger grooves reminiscent of those in the M1903 grace each side of the fore-end. No swivel studs or loops for a carrying strap are present; this responsive, beautifully balanced rifle was meant to be carried in the hands.
While not a takedown in the traditional context, the Model 34’s barreled action is held in the stock by a single, knurled-head screw in the bottom of the fore-end. As a result, it’s relatively easy to take apart for transport or field maintenance.
A well-made steel magazine tube feeds the action. It has a robust brass follower tube and holds 15 rounds of .22 LR ammo.
Just forward of the action, a beautifully made King semi-buckhorn sight is dovetailed into the barrel. It has a two-sided lifter and features much finer construction than most such sights. Up front, a small bead-type sight complements it.
Like most rimfires, the Model 34 utilizes the bolt handle as the bolt locking lug. The bolt body and handle are polished bright, and the handle is nicely bent for ready-to-hand, easy manipulation.
A robust extractor is positioned at 1 o’clock, and a very unique ejector protrudes through the boltface at an upward angle. When the bolt is drawn smartly rearward, said ejector pops the empty cartridge case up and out of the action just as the lifter starts up with a fresh cartridge inside.
As the bolt is run forward, it pushes a blade-type chambering arm ahead of it. This arm slides the fresh cartridge forward into the chamber, then drops out of the way simultaneously with the lifter block, allowing the bolt to continue closing.
When cocked, the rear of the firing pin protrudes from the bolt shroud. It’s painted red around its circumference, indicating the rifle is ready to fire.
While the trigger isn’t anything to look at, being housed in a simple sheet-metal trigger guard and cast from pot-metal, it’s surprisingly crisp and relatively light. According to my Lyman digital trigger gauge, it breaks cleanly at 3 pounds, 12 ounces.
Although the rifle shown isn’t an NRA edition and does not have the appropriate sling and Patridge front sight, as you can see, it has at some point been fitted with the same excellent Lyman 55 aperture sight the NRA rifles had.
A local farmer in my hometown in Idaho kindly loaned it to me for review in this column—or perhaps I should say, his wife did. Her grandfather purchased the rifle in Utah, new, shortly after being married in 1932 and in the midst of the Great Depression. This timeline puts the Model 34 in the same family for nearly 80 years! It’s in very nice condition and has clearly been well cared for.
Although I’d heard and read that Model 34s can be very accurate, I wasn’t expecting the tiny groups this one produced. Sandbagged at 25 yards, even with my middle-age eyes and iron sights, it averaged five-shot groups of between 0.53 and 0.69 inch with all three types of ammunition I tested. Imagine what it could do with a good scope aboard. Not that’d I’d ever desecrate such a fine old vintage rimfire by drilling and tapping the action for an optic base.
Of the three loads I tested, SK’s 40-grain, roundnose Magazine ammo turned in the smallest groups and the tightest extreme spread and standard deviation. Point of impact with all three loads was an inch or so high at 25 yards, which is a really useful zero for shooting small game out to 50 yards.
To determine what a nice Model 34 is worth, I searched Gunbroker and a few other sites. The first thing I discovered is that they’re not commonly available, and most that do come up for sale are pretty beat up. As a result, prices vary widely. One in battered condition might bring only $100. A pristine NRA gun with all accessories could bring $1,500 if brought to the attention of the right collector. My friends’ rifle, in very nice but well-used condition, is likely worth between $350 and $700.
The Model 34 is a sleek, great-shooting .22 bolt action with tons of vintage panache, and it’s one of the most intriguing rimfire bolt guns I’ve tested. It was built between the two great wars, when American gunmaking still called for handfitted parts and handtuned actions. And as this rifle demonstrates, it’s legitimately capable of shooting out the eye of a squirrel or cottontail at 25 yards.
Model 34 Specifications:
- Manufacturer: Remington, www.remarms.com
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Caliber: .22 Short, .22 Long, .22 Long Rifle
- Magazine Capacity: 15 rounds (.22 LR)
- Barrel: 24 in.
- Overall Length: 42 in.
- Weight, Empty: 5.5 lbs.
- Stock: Walnut
- Length of Pull: 13.5 in.
- Finish: Polished blue
- Sights: Adjustable semi-buckhorn rear, Lyman 55 aperture, bead front
- Trigger: 3.75-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Two-position