Previous Post
Next Post

In my home, there are certain non-negotiables with my kids when it comes to things they have to learn. I see raising kids as something akin to predeployment training. It lasts 18 years, and I send them out into the world. One of those non-negotiables is learning how to safely handle a gun. This often gives me an excuse to buy guns, and that’s exactly how I stumbled onto the Hoban No. 45 Boy’s Rifle.

Sometimes you stumble down certain paths, and in searching for a single shot, bolt action rifle to teach my youngest two how to shoot safely. My oldest has become quite the marksman, and I want o pass that on. The Cricket seemed to be the option, right? Well, I had to be sure, and in research, this led me to guns called Boy’s rifles. Boy’s rifles were inexpensive rimfire rifles made from the turn of the century to a bit after World War 2.

The Hoban No. 45 Boys Rifle was one such rifle. I found one locally, and it cost a mere $80. Eventually, I went from shopping for the kids to buying myself an antique rifle. (I did get them a rifle.) The Hoban No. 45 is desirable not only for its odd design but its very low price and unique niche.

Breaking down the Hoban No. 45

The Hoban No. 45 Rifle is a simple firearm. It’s a single-shot, bolt action rifle chambered in .22LR, and it can chamber .22 Long and .22 Short. While the weapon appears to have a magazine, it’s not a repeater. The bolt action ejects the round but does not cock the gun. The shooter has to manually cock a striker by gripping it and pulling it rearward. It’s about as simple as a gun can get.

That looks just like an M1 Carbine handguard (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The rifle has an odd look to it. It seems the idea was to make it look like some form of a military rifle of the era, but no specific model. The Hoban looks a bit like a Steyr Mannlicher carbine or maybe a Carcano, with a hint of M1 carbine in there, too. The M1 carbine looks comes from the top handguard and maybe the barrel band.

Kinda like a Steyr mag…right? (Travis Pike for TTAG)

It’s just kinda odd all around, but it gives the gun a fairly unique appearance. Across the top sits a very simple set of iron sights. It’s got a 20-inch barrel and is 34.25 inches long overall. It’s robust, and my rifle is likely a standard example of these guns. It’s beaten up, however, the rifle shoots true and straight.

The (Abbreviated) History of the Hoban No. 45 Rifle

There isn’t a ton of information around the net about this gun. There was a book written about boy’s rifles in the late 80s, but copies cost north of $150. With this in mind, I had to search several forums and piece together some information here and there about this thing.

Prior to Hoban Manufacturing’s existence, a company called Hamilton produced the Model 51 rifle, a single, shot bolt action rifle that fired .22LR, Short and Long. Supposedly it was one of the first to do so.

These had basically the same guts as the Hoban rifle but featured a standard stock and design. It lacked any military flair. Hoban bought the company from Hamilton in 1945 and began producing the No. 45 rifle. They added the wood, the fake magazine, and made the rifle you see here.

This little gun looked like military rifles of the era (Travis Pike for TTAG)

These rifles were aimed at kids (pun not intended). These boys’ rifles were light, handy, and cheap. Super cheap. They even were even given away as part of a contest or something like it. A company that produced something called White Cloverine Salve. If a kiddo sold enough cans of this stuff, they got a Model 45 rifle free.

Hoban existed from 1945 to 1948. Someone apparently took one of these rifles to Germany, and they reverse-engineered it. Post-war Germany was a cheap place to make guns, and a company called United sold them as well.

At the Range

I like to imagine mine was a rifle owned by a boy who traversed his realm with it. Armed and ready to take rabbits, squirrels, and whatever other game he could find. As such, the rifle was beaten up pretty badly, but it’s mechanically fine. The stock is roughed up, but it looks well-loved and certainly well-used.

It’s tiny, but still a good bit of fun to shoot (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The length of pull is short, as you’d expect. It still mounts nicely, but has an awkward grip that’s oddly thick. The sights are small, with a tiny notch made for the sharp eyes of someone younger than me. They’re still useable, and I can knock a Coke can over at 15 yards just fine.

I let the kids shoot it, and they handled it well.

You have to cycle the action, and then cock the striker (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Hoban No. 45 rifle is fun to shoot. The bolt is fairly smooth and just a little sticky when it comes to extraction and ejection, but not difficult by any means. Boy oh boy does this gun eject shells. It throws shells far and wide from the shooter.

The gun’s trigger is ultra-light and quite nice. It has a crazy amount of overtravel, but the gun goes bang when the trigger is pulled. If you get a bad round, you can recock the striker and try again. Between the single shot loading, the bolt action, and manual striker cocking, you learn a certain dance while shooting the gun.

The sights are very simple (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Hoban No. 45 is easy to handle and fun to shoot. It’s kinda silly and not super useful, but it’s an interesting piece of history, and now I’m developing a want for a collection of Boy’s Rifles from the era.

 

 

Previous Post
Next Post

25 COMMENTS

  1. The manually pulling the striker to full c-0ck was a common thing in the rifles we kids had back then.

    There were boys rifles and then there were surplussed military training rifles that were also fairly common then.

    One of the most accurate rifles I’ve ever shot was an old .22 made by Springfield armory, the .gov facility and not the traitors in Ill. It was designed to give marksmanship training to military men at a cheaper cost. It was a full sized bolt action that was just incredible in accuracy.

  2. My first rifle was a Savage Springfield .22 single shot rifle which had the Springfield cocking knob. It cost the sum of only $15.00 brand new. Of course we only made $1.25 an hour back in those days.

    A high school friend of mine who recently passed away collected nothing but single shot .22 boys rifles most of his life.

    I find it chillingly strange that most of my friends started out with single shot .22 rifles as boys costing around $15.00 brand new and now at our club we all went back to shooting single shot 22 rifles as decrepit old men except of course the price of our new toys is north of $3,000 compared to the $15.00 I paid for the Savage Springfield I bought way back in 1962 or shall I say the rifle my dad bought for me back then.

    I might add when I was in high school a box of .22 L.R. cost all of 50 cents a box and I often bought different brands to see which brand shot the best. Today .22 match ammo cost me around $20 a box for my match rifles when shooting in competition.

    One of my buddies once put a live round nose first in the dirt and shot it with his BB gun and it went off and the empty case blew back at him and hit him in the shoulder. He started screaming he had been shot until we realized it was the empty case that hit him and we laughed our asses off and never let him forget that for decades. His dad later bought him a Savage pump .22 and last year I found one in mint condition and came very close to buying it. Now I wish I had even though they wanted a kings ransom for it. Nostalgia these days does not come cheap.

    I still get out once in awhile my Browning auto and two .22, Ruger 10/22’s and a Winchester pump 1906 rifle that I rebuilt from the ground up even putting all new wood on it and replacing other parts and rebluing it.

    • The two 90% silver quarters needed for that 50¢ box of .22 ammo in the early 1960s contain about $8 present day dollars worth of silver. The $15 dollar rifle (60 quarters or roughly 10oz silver) would be about $250 today. That $1.25 an hour wage would be about $20 an hour worth ot silver now.

      The dollar has been badly debased.

    • Cool story, bra. But all lies. Remember, we’ve seen your facebook and your unhealthy obsession with an underage Greta T. You’re not educated and you’re not nearly old enough for your usual stories.

      • Does he realize Greta has grown up?

        But she is also an arch-hypocrite so they should get along. And she and her family are very rich.

      • Maybe that was his fake page to throw off the Feds? He does speak like one of those insurrectionists he is always howling about.

        Maybe his young mind was blown by all the drugs?

  3. This often gives me an excuse to buy guns… Who needs an excuse? But now that you mention it, “pre-deployment training” works for me.

  4. YR 1962 ,AGE 13 FIRST WAS ITHACA M49 22LR LEVER , BREECHLOADER … THINK MOM PAID $17 FOR IT , WORE IT OUT , HOWEVER STILL WORKED HAD AT TIMES TO DIG THE 22 ROUND OUT
    WHEN MOVING AROUND MOM SOLD IT …
    DON’T LOOK BACK , JUST WISH HAD FOR KEEP SAKES …

    • I’m not all that old, 40ish, but my first rifle was also an Ithaca 49. It was well worn when I got it but I’ll be damned if I couldn’t hit whatever I aimed it at. It was also the first rifle my daughter ever shot. It’s a fun little rifle and exactly what a kid needs to learn with.

  5. My son did some rimfire matches with my No8 single shot trainer. He said he liked the old-school gun and was good practice for using my No4 .223 conversions.

    • I have a Steven’s model 84 that’s mag fed. the mags honestly need a better retention method but it is otherwise a good gun and still made under the Savage banner. In your case I wonder if they make a single shot sled or one could be 3d printed.

      not quite a boys rifle but certainly a game getter.

  6. My Father brought me a Glenfield Model 10 from the Western Auto when I was about 7. You have to cock it the same way too. My first rifle, and I still have it. I still shoot with it and it was the rifle all the kids learned on and my Granddaughter. She gets it when I meet Heaven 6.

  7. Gee I wish we could by a quality products like that now.
    Every new gunm from every manufacturer has been more or less JUNK compared to the gunms we used to buy.

  8. bought my first 22 from a magazine ad in 1946. it was a Hoban. price was $8.00. box of shorts was .25 cents. rabbits and gophers,pidgeons galore. wore the firing pin down so had to take the shell out and rotate it, put it back in and refire it. took patience but learned how to shoot and was hooked on shooting and hunting. now 88 years old, still hunting and shooting, took a whitetail buck this fall with my son. precious memories. thank you for the story. worth a million.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here