Uberti Silver Boy
John Northmore considers Uberti’s first budget, lever action rimfire rifle and wonders why they went for a silver receiver
I have been a fan of Aldo Uberti for many years. This Italian company made its name in producing beautiful reproductions, or should that be faithful recreations of the guns of the American West? Nowadays their cartridge revolvers are off limits as they are banned, but not so their, range of pistol-calibre and fullbore lever-action rifles. Starting with the Henry they move forward through the Winchester 1866 Yellow Boy and 1873, plus the Colt Burgess. If you want bigger then there’s the 1876 chambered in 45/60.
Beautiful guns no doubt as I can attest to as I own an 1873 Sporter in 45 Colt, but very expensive for what is a historic and rather specialised design. They did offer some 22 Long Rifle versions some time ago, but to my knowledge they have discontinued them. Well that is until I saw mention of their new Silverboy, which is a sort of budget, 22 rimfire western gun.
To be honest if you were expecting the same high build quality as say a comparable 1866 Yellowboy or 1873 then you would be mistaken. However, the asking price of around £400 indicates to me that even Uberti is looking at things from a different perspective. Do not get me wrong, the rifle is solid and well made, but areas like materials and finish show scales of economy hitherto unthought-of of by a Uberti fan like myself.
The look is a generic blend of 1866 and 1873; it’s also unmistakable with the alloy receiver being chrome plated along with the lever and the barrel band. This contrasts sharply to the blued barrel and magazine tube, colour case-hardened hammer and walnut furniture. I have to say I do not care for this look and would have preferred either a flat brass, black or a case-hardened effect!
Cosmetics aside let’s go down to the mechanics! Being a classic rimfire loading is not through a gate in the side of the action but from the muzzle. The magazine tube which attaches to the underside of the barrel by a ring features a brass, pull-out follower tube with captured spring. The end is knurled and all you do is rotate it ¼-turn anti-clockwise (looking from the muzzle) and pull it out to expose the loading port.
Unusually and to my mind more practical, Uberti have cut the loading port in the side of the tube as opposed to underneath. It looks a bit odd but means you can hold the rifle on its side and keep better control while you load it. Rounds go in base-first to a capacity of 15, and then you slide the follower in and lock it down. One of the beauties of a 22 rimfire tube magazine is that it can reliably feed any type or length of cartridge from Short to Long Rifle. In fact it’s even possible to mix up the ammo in the magazine and it will work. Not that there would be any point but it illustrates the versatility of this system.
GROWING ON ME
Moving on we have a round, 19”, mid-weight barrel that is more blacked than blued. The foresight is a windage-adjustable (screw-locked) blade set in a dovetail. At the rear the first real economy - a very basic sight plate. No elevator wedge, semi-buckhorn here but a simple L-plate with a U-notch, again windage-adjustable. So elevation correction is either by aiming off or filing the front sight down to raise point of impact or the rear to lower it.
The action is closed-topped and side-ejecting and runs a circular, steel bolt. The high-spurred hammer shows half and full cock notches so giving a basic, one-up-the-spout safe carry position. The trigger is smooth and releases crisply and breaks at around 4-5 lbs. The operating lever shows a big trigger guard and well sized finger loop, while the throw is short and offers a very smooth movement. At the back is a straight-hand butt with a rather basic, checked, black, plastic plate.
A first for Uberti is the top of the action is drilled and tapped for a dedicated scope base. The possibility of optics then puts what might be seen as a primarily classic rifle onto a level that will allow it to compete with other lever-action 22s. The muzzle however is not threaded and also the end of the magazine tube is flush with it so forget about a moderator!
As expected the Silverboy proved it could shoot. Loading is easy and as I said, it’s a simple job to keep hold of the rifle by the butt with the right hand and roll it on its side to fill it with the left. Certainly more so than holding it with the port at 12 o’clock on all the other designs that places it on the bottom at 6 o’clock. No complaints on reliability as this, some might say old-style, feed system is near fool proof.
Accuracy, well as always that’s down to the quality of the sights. The mid-width front blade stands out well, but the rear U-notch was a bit too wide and the lack of easy elevation adjustment annoying. After all it’s not like Uberti are short of semi-buckhorn elevator wedge rear sight units! As for accuracy, the rifle was shooting 1.5 - 2” at 50-yards. However, with the scope on, what for a 22 is in fact a heavy barrel could drop the groups to 1” or better!
22 lever-action rifles are fun, accurate and efficient and the Uberti Silverboy is no different. I spent a good few enjoyable hours on the range shooting it. If you’re more of a classic nature then the western looks of this model will doubtless appeal. However, the garish (spaghetti western) chrome-plated action was a real turn off as in my eyes it cheapens the product for no good reason. Come on Uberti, you have a neat little product here at a decent price, all you need to do is stick on a proper rear sight and make the action brass or black and it would have a lot more appeal!
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates