Savage 101 “Revolver” (Video)

A little nostalgia for today – I was out at the range with some friends, and this came out of a range bag. It’s a Savage Model 101, in .22 LR, and I thought it was just too neat not to do a quick little video on (I like things that appear to be one thing but are actually another). Savage introduced it in the 1960s, almost certainly to appeal to the growing Old West appeal from television programs.

Beyond the neat-o factor, the 101 is actually a pretty nice shooter. The trigger is pretty good, operating the gun is smooth and easy, and it really would make a very effective starter pistol for a child.


  1. From what I understand the Ruger Single Six Bearcat was originally supposed to follow this concept (fake revolver) but they eventually decided to just make it a revolver as the cost wasn’t too much higher. Kind of an ingenious way to increase sales for cheap plinkers, and its nothing new. Just goes to show companies have been making 22lr replicas of full size guns of all kinds for years.

  2. Another neat .22lr single shot pistol from the same era is the Sheridan ‘Knocabout’ from the Racine air rifle manufacturer. There was also a west coast manufacturer called ‘SM’ which made a single shot .22lr bolt action pistol in that same time frame, but they are much rarer. All of these pistols suggest that ammunition was much more expensive, relative to income, in the 1950’s.

  3. The 101 was designed by Robert L. Hillberg in the late 1950s. Savage made them until the GCA of 1968. they sold for $19.50. Smith & Wesson was mad at us for horning in on their territory. Bob died a few months ago. I was in the R&D at the time,

    • I didn’t realize it would have been Mr. Hillberg’s design, but given the timeline that would make sense. It’s too bad he didn’t get more recognition as a designer; the more I learn about him the more neat and varied guns I find out about.

      Do you know if there was a particular reason Savage stopped making them after the GCA? Doesn’t seem like the legislation would have hurt the 101…or was the market for cowboy themed things shrinking by that point?

    • This is interesting and good thing, to have ‘insider’ here. I was also one time in that business….. well, in past.

      What I would like to know is why (and when) Savage walked out of pistol design; they were quite prolific and successful in that. I’d love to see a piece on .45cal Model907 on FW, if possible. That is one slick piece of kit.

      • I own a Savage .32 Auto dated 1907. It has pearl grips, the bluing is excellent, it shoots well. The .32 is a puny round and expensive and the trigger pressure is at least 10 lbs., so I only shot it with one full magazine…it is now a safe queen. Bought it decades ago in Calif. for $140.

  4. I think it’s a very nive gun. But i don ‘t think it would make a nice gun for a child! Children should not own firearms….

    • Hi Heinz,

      I used to have in my collection several late 19th c./20th c. ‘Boy’s Rifles’. These were scaled down guns, mostly in .22, so that young boys could learn how to shoot with an appropriately sized, comfortable gun. In fact, a few child sized guns are made even today. I wouldn’t be surprised that, if children were familiarized with firearms and taught about care and responsibility, we wouldn’t have fewer accidental firearms deaths than we do now, trying to hide them away. Taking away the mystery and ‘cool’ and replacing it with knowledge/respect.



    • I personally didn’t start shooting until I was in my teens, but I have several friends who were given their first guns at age 5 or 6. I think that as long as the parents exercise appropriate supervision, there is no reason a child can’t start learning gun handling and marksmanship at that age.

  5. GCA 68 shut down mail order guns, which hurt some manufactures that mainly sold via the mail. Don’t know if that hurt this gun, but recall reading that it did in a single action (proprietary .41 caliber I think) that Herters was importing from Germany.

    S&W, Colt, and Ruger by then had well established relationships with retail stores in handguns. Stopping mail order would have, and did, hurt the smaller players.

    Other guns that lost out were some really inexpensive ones where the cost of serializing and record keeping rivaled the cost of the gun, and with paper work they were no longer impulse buys. Probably not the case with the Savage.

  6. An interesting small firearm of the type not usually associated nowadays with the marque, but still exhibiting most of the characteristics normally conjured up by the Savage name — quality construction, outstanding accuracy, excellent fit and finish, and attention to detail, all of which apply even to their lower-end firearms.

  7. Ian,

    How does the overall quality on that Savage feel? From my monitor it looks pretty well made for a single-shot .22 handgun. Is it pot metal or something better? The bored cylinder + fake bullets is a nice touch, a good eye to detail.

  8. Hi ian H, i always tought my two children respect for my guns, and they are used to the fact that i own them. However they are not interested at all… Friends of them usely are very interested because they do not see them around a lot , here it’s very difficult to own firearms at all…. What age do you think children should have the opportunity to own and shoot guns ? Best regards, Heinz

    • Heinz,

      I think the first time I was taken out to shoot was around 6. Going shooting was a pretty rare occasion, once or twice a year. Really, I have the Boy Scouts to thank for getting me interested in shooting at a young age. When I was around 8 I got my ‘BB Gun Shooting’ belt loop with the Boy Scouts. Later, we moved on to .22 rifles and I got my ‘Rifle Shooting’ badge. The environment (adult supervision, activity with your ‘buddies’ i.e. not wanting to look like a fool) was very good for learning, our instructor was very strict but it was also fun and I kept those lessons for life (finger off the trigger, keep the barrel pointed down range, know what is behind your target, check to make sure the gun is clear before passing it etc). When I was 9 I moved to the Netherlands and so I could not have any guns. When I was 16, partly out of my interest in history and partly as a token act of defiance, I bought a Martini-Henry long lever (classified as antique) in pristine condition, if only I could have got ammunition for it. At 18 I moved back to the US and began buying firearms in earnest, 7 years later I have owned over 30.

      To answer your question, I think you could be seriously introduced to shooting around around kindergarten with very close supervision. Depending on the individual and their level of maturity/responsibility, I would feel comfortable letting a a child have an appropriate firearm of their own around 13-14 (I keep the ammo though).

  9. Hi Ian, the Netherlands , that’s a coincidence, i think when you become a member of a sporting shooting club you’re not allowed to shoot firearms until your 18 years old, so first you shoot air guns. But nowadays they aren’t the ” bent barrel and shoot ” kinds we knew they are pumped up with an oxygen bottle and shoot accurate at a 100 meters, 4,5 mm. You can get a beer at 16 though….;-) Best regards , Heinz

  10. I still have a Savage 101 pistol that I got in the late 1950’s but the spring is broken that controls the trigger and hammer. I don’t see how to fix it as the mechanism does not seem to be accessable.

    Any thoughts?

    • Sorry, Jerry, but I haven’t actually tried to take mine apart. I did some searching, and wasn’t able to find a manual or other instructions – so it looks like I ought to figure it out and make a video on the process. I’ll do that, but it will take some time to get it done.

    • Hi Jerry. I just recently restored an old Savage 101 pistol so I may be able to help. To access the trigger return spring you will need to remove the grips first. Then remove the hammer spring and guide. Next drive out the pin that the hammer pivots on (out = left to right). Next drive out the pin the trigger pivots on, again left to right. At this point the plunger and trigger return spring can be accessed through the back of the frame where the hammer was located. Note that it can be somewhat difficult to re-install the trigger as you must push against the trigger return spring to align the the holes in the frame and trigger. Also the pins re-install right to left. Here is a link to an exploded view of the pistol

  11. Hey guys,

    I had one of these Savage 101’s for my first handgun. I bought it in 1973 used for $15.00 to get my pistol permit. Newly married, crappy job it was quite a big deal back then. Took it out a few times and enjoyed shooting it a lot. Never had a problem with it. A real “fun gun”.

    Foolishly traded it in for a S&W Model 18 22 revolver One time traded S&W 59 for something else too. Guess what don’t trade anymore. Buy it keep it leave it to my son.

    Anyway would love to get another one of these Savage 101’s

    Thanks, Bob

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.