Stevens Little Scout 14.5 Falling Block

One genre of firearms that fascinates me is something called Boy’s Rifles. As the name implies, these rifles were produced for kids in an era long gone. Boy’s rifles came about in the late 1890s and were popular into the 1940s. A boy’s rifle is a rimfire rifle, typically a single-shot .22LR, and was produced fairly cheaply. The type of rifle varied quite a bit, but one of the neatest has to be the falling block J Stevens Arms Co Model 14.5 Little Scout. 

The Little Scout was a very simple rifle that carried a somewhat Western motif. Tales of the old west and frontiersmen lightly lit up the imagination of young boys who saved and scrapped to be able to purchase a Little Scout. 

Little scout markings
The Little Scout was an affordable falling block back in the day. It still remains an affordable rifle option.

The falling block design on the wee little .22LR rifle is downright cute. Falling block rifles are known to be quite robust and were the superior option over something like a rolling block. It’s not a surprise to find one in good shape, even after the abuse a young boy likely threw at it. 

The Little Scout – Squirrels Beware 

Boy’s rifles ruled the affordable rifle market — and affordable rifles aren’t fancy. I won’t call the Little Scout cheap. The rifle is solid and well-made. It’s a product of steel and wood. Produced from 1906 to 1941, it’s anywhere from over a century to at least 83 years old. Boy’s rifles are high-value collector’s items, so there isn’t an extensive network of collectors who can easily date my rifle, especially since it lacks a serial number. Serial numbers weren’t required in this era, plus the inscription might have cost an extra penny. 

Little scout profile
The Little Scout is light and small, making it perfect for smaller shooters.

The Little Scout isn’t cheap, but it’s very simple. The iron sights across the top are crude and very small. Youthful, sharp eyes seem to be required to use them properly. The rear sight’s divot is quite small, and the front sight is incredibly thin. I found they worked best when used against a bright target like an orange steel gong. 

The forend is dinky, and the rifle is very short and light. It’s certainly not made for my frame. With a kid-sized length of pull, I feel cluttered around the rifle. The very nice wood stock looks fantastic and provides a decent enough cheek weld to get behind the sights. 

little scout take down position
A simple screw makes it easy to take the rifle down for a more compact package.

Our falling block action doesn’t have a lever like most larger caliber falling blocks. Instead, a simple knob on the block allows you to press it downward and access the chamber. An ejector sits there waiting to help remove a fired round. If you press the knob on the block fast enough, it might auto-extract and eject the case for you. 

The Falling Block

Falling blocks date back to the late 1800s and are still produced to this day. Outside of rifles, they have been used in artillery pieces. To understand the falling, you have to understand the need. The earliest long guns were muzzle-loading devices. The block was just part of the design and remained unmoving. When it came to cartridge firearms, shoving them down the barrel wasn’t an option. 

loaded little scout
Drop the block, load a cartridge, and you’re ready to go.

You needed a block. The era’s rifle cartridges were big bores and very powerful. While rounds like the .44 Rimfire worked fine in lever guns, they weren’t quite strong enough to digest cartridges like the .45-70, .45-90, and .50-110. Single-shot rifles were the norm, and these guns were loaded from the breech. 

Breech-loading meant loading the chamber from the back of the gun’s barrel. Once loaded with the cartridge inserted, you needed a means to lock the cartridge in place and prevent it from flying rearward when the weapon fired. Basically, you needed a ‘block’ that could also get out of the way to load the weapon. 

A falling block is exactly how it sounds. It falls downward beneath the barrel to access the chamber. Most guns use a lever to pull the block downward. Since the Little Scout is only a rimfire gun, the block is small and manipulated via the thumb. 

At the Range 

One of the good things about a single-shot rifle is I can shoot even the cheap anemic stuff without issue. In fact, it pays to pay attention to your ammo with guns this old. You don’t want to send something like a CCI Velocitor downrange with it. These high-pressure .22LRs are not advised for guns made back in the day. Stick to standard velocity or subsonic. 

shooting the little scout
The Little Scout is a boy’s rifle, and it’s easy to see why a young man would enjoy it.

The small sights and short length of pull felt awkward for me. However, with absolutely hardly any recoil, it didn’t really matter. Each shot was fun, and hearing the clank of a steel target as lead smacks into it always feels nice. The rifle features a very crisp ultra-light trigger. It’s likely well-worn by the boy who owned it before me, and the Little Scout still has the ability to please my inner child. 

The gun isn’t bad in terms of accuracy, but the sights hold it back. I doubt these guns were ever super accurate, seeing as how their goal was affordability. However, at 25 yards with a bag as a rest, I produced what I feel is a decent group…after several tries. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only shooter. To bring an expert on being a boy, I grabbed my 12-year-old, and we geared up and went shooting. 

shooting the little scout
The Little Scout proved to be quite accurate.

He threw quite a few rounds downrange to figure out the sights. After a few, though, he had the steel target ringing. I observed as he fired, and the rifle certainly fit him better than I did. The LOP was easy on him, and the small foregrip was fine for his hands. 

Old But Awesome

Reliability was high. A few rounds failed to fire on their first try, but I put that up to the 10-year-old bucket of Remington ammo more than the Little Scout. While every round was removed easily, the extractor slid in front of the rim once, and I had to use my thumbnail to get it out. Still, it was crazy reliable for a rifle that’s at the very least close to 100 years old.

The Little Scout was a blast to shoot and a great and affordable way to enjoy the falling block design. This was my first experience with the falling block, and it was fantastic. It’s a great way to experience history without risking an actual historic rifle or spending a pile of money. The Little Scouts aren’t necessarily common, but when they pop up, they are affordable. I scored this one for $120. 

The Stevens Little Scout fills another slot in my collection of boy’s rifles, which I’m happy to have. It’s crazy that this rifle was considered cheap in its era, seeing how well it’s made. For a Boy’s rifle, it’s quite robust. If you can snatch one, do so; they are well worth it. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap