The Crickett .22 – From Trainer to Survival Rifle

cricket rifle 5This is a guest post by Rick H and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

By now most of you have heard of, seen, fired, or even own the Davey Crickett .22 Rifle. For the those who haven’t, it’s a youth-sized training rifle to initiate young shooters in the sport. Barrel length 16.5 inches, overall length 26.5 inches, and weight is a very manageable 2.5 lbs as it comes from the factory.

Built by Keystone Arms, they are an inexpensive and durable little rifle that is sized just right for shooters from six on up. For adults, the length of pull is something to adapt to, but I had no trouble at all getting used to its diminutive dimensions. On range and in the field, it’s an accurate weapon. My copy arrived zeroed at fifty feet, and I have to say, it shoots better than I do. With iron sights and average eyes, a conservative estimate would be a fifty to seventy-five yard maximum effective range, although I’m sure there’s some who could make this little rifle reach out some more.

Bought on a whim for around a hundred dollars a few years ago, I’ve generally used it for target shooting, plinking, and pest control. Mine seems to prefer W-W 36 grain HPHV, but in general it shoots everything well. Being a single-shot, it naturally accepts all Short, Long, Long Rifle and shotshells with no fuss. Shorts hit a little high at fifty feet (about 1”) as do Longs. With CB caps it is as quiet if not quieter than some air rifles, and much quicker and easier to reload than all but the more expensive PCP repeaters.

I refer to mine as “Nature Boy”, as this is the rifle that tends to go with me when I get out into the back pocket of beyond for some well-deserved woodsloafing. While I am genuinely fond of my scoped 10/22, the Crickett is just so much easier to have along with me, especially when going on an “unplanned excursion”. At less than three pounds with a sling, it all but hangs weightless on my back as I pick my way down the trails I take. If I have my daypack, it’s nothing to either break it down into two pieces and tuck it inside, where it won’t startle the more timid hikers and wanderers I occasionally come across.

That’s all well and good, you say, but there are other “survival” rifles purpose-built for this role. You’re right, of course, and I’ve had this love-hate thing with the AR-7 since I was a teen. I love that little rifle, but it has some limitations I don’t like one bit. Now, bear with me, because I haven’t gotten my hands on the “new” ones from Henry, and from what I’ve seen of their products, I’m sure it’s better than what I used to pack with me. The old AR-7s had a number of issues I didn’t like, such as ‘fussy’ magazines, a horrible sighting system (in my opinion), the need for high-velocity ammo, and an annoying tendency to have the barrel loosen up during firing.

Another major issue I had was with its assembly. Inside the pistol grip was a screw that mated with a corresponding hole on the bottom of the receiver. With practice and using care, it was still hard to get the two to line up blindly, and if you were off even a little, you’d tend to chew up the soft plastic screw. Also, if you left it assembled and dropped it in a certain way, the barreled action could become a lever with the screw as a fragile fulcrum. I had to buy two new stocks thanks to this little issue. And in field use, you had to have a hand on it at all times as there was no provision for attaching a sling. Some glued coiled bungee cords to the stock, but I don’t like such a system. Even though I’m a fan of plastic fantastic, I prefer solid metal sling swivels on my long guns.

After the last one I bought (and owned for exactly one day until trading it for something else), I was in the market for a good, cheap woodsloafing rifle. That’s how I ended up with this weapon you see here today. I won’t bore you with muzzle velocities and average groups-suffice to say it hits its target if I do my part. I’m sure by now you’re saying, “That’s nice. My child or grandchild would love to have one, but how is it a survival rifle, especially if it doesn’t float?”

Excellent point, which I will address here. First off, you’re right. The Crickett doesn’t float for a lick. Yes, I tried it under controlled circumstances, and it goes straight to the bottom. But that is easily solved as simply as undoing one of the swivels and looping it around a cross piece in a canoe or boat. If you wish to use it, it is also not a big deal to loop the sling through or fasten to a simple buoy, even a water cooler. If it does go overboard, the buoy/cooler is more visible that a smooth black stock floating just beneath the surface.

cricket rifle 2And now I come to the special part about the Crickett that I think will get our attention the most. The basic model comes with a black or pink synthetic stock, and in order to keep weight and materials expense down, it is made hollow. Yep. Look at all that room in there! Loosen both screws, remove one, and let the buttplate fall to one side and there’s more than enough room for extra ammo or a survival kit. The AR-7 has just enough room inside for the rifle and one spare magazine, and the Marlin needs a separate case to accomplish rifle 3

In this one, you can see the yawning chasm of potential storage space inside.

Here’s what I currently keep inside mine. As long as it fits and you can replace the butt it’s all good. It’s roughly 6”X4”X3” in there. I don’t know what the cubic space is, but it doesn’t much matter. I keep around twenty-five rounds, a mix of solid, HP and a couple of shot rifle 4

Inside, I have my ammo, a combination firestarter/compass, a small spool of dental floss, and a pack of matches. I use those little medicine bags you can get at the drug store, but you can use jewelry bags or even modify regular sandwich bags with an old pair of scissors heated up and hot-cut the bags to size. This is what I feel will work for me, chances are you will make your own decisions as to what goes inside. Not shown is a small piece of cloth I use to fill in any remaining void so it doesn’t rattle when I walk. This comes in handy for kindling, cleaning, or even picking out threads for repair. Also not visible in the picture is a straight leather needle taped to the back of the firestarter. With the floss, I can fix everything from my pants to stitching together leather or what-have-you in the field. Floss is pretty strong stuff, there’s a ton of uses in an emergency, and in a pinch it can even be used to stitch up a wound since it’s cleaner than a spool of regular thread.

Since I usually carry this with my daypack, I have a bungee cord I use to fasten it to the side so I’m not dealing with it dangling as I move. If you need to be a little more stealthy about carrying it, you can take it apart and put it inside. The only caveat I would offer would be to take a piece of cardboard or stiff leather and fold it around the trigger assembly with a rubber band or tie to keep it from getting pronged inside your bag. Since most daypacks have 17” internal vertical clearance inside, the barrel will fit easily without poking up if tucked in at an angle.

I envision needing what I store in the stock if for some reason I’m separated from my pack for any reason. Whether lost, stolen, or misplaced, if I find myself with just my little “Nature Boy”, I know I have the bare minimum to keep going. The list of things you could put inside is endless, and only limited by your own needs and desires. If you’ve been needing a reason to buy one of these rifles, this could be the point that makes your decision.

Note: I am not an employee of Keystone Firearms, nor any distributor of either this weapon or any of the contents shown. Remember to treat all firearms as if loaded at all times, never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot, and only allow youngsters to handle firearms under adult supervision. All items show were purchased at retail and all rights and indicia property of their respective owners.

Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

This contest will end on September 9 2013

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Exile1981 says:

    I bought a wood stock Marlin for my oldest last year and it’s a little short for me to comfortably use but perfect for her. I looked for a crickett for a year and couldn’t get one locally and no one would order one in for me, so the marlin it was.

    • I have a chipmunk version myself and have used it
      Since I received it as a birthday present for my fifth
      Birthday. I am now 30 years old and she still retains
      Her zero and hits a consistent 100 meter water bottle
      Target. It is the most lightweight, dependable, weapon
      I have come across.

  2. JP in MT says:

    I have a friend who travels extensively, and he has a Cricket as his “truck gun”.

    For me, I can’t get my chubby cheek to let me align the sights.

    • One of my friends at the club I belong to has the same problem, The solution is simple: don’t go for a shoulder weld, Just brace it against your cheek. He was able to shoot that very rifle quite accurately when he did that. There’s hardly any recoil in it, and with practice, you can learn to check the wobble from the light front end.

  3. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    That is a neat little woodsroamer / trapping rifle. The empty stock design you show definitely gives the person who has it options that are ALWAYS carried with you.

    I don’t own one of these, but do own the older Rogue River Chipmunk. My only objection to them is their very light weight does give the shooter challenges when shooting it offhand (i.e. no rest), it does take some effort to steady down.

    My uncle used a Ruger 10/22 as a ‘boat gun’ – a 2 liter water bottle with cord tied to triggerguard has kept it ‘retrievable’. Sooner or later, dropping it overboard happens.

    Good luck with your new rifle – thanks for writing the post.

    • Thanks, but I’ve had this little critter for awhile now. To date, she’s taken one raccoon, eighteen squirrels, five rabbits, and twenty-one rats (three last week alone). I was tempted to notch the stock, but I like to keep my shooting irons in good shape.

      As a side note, when I was in woodshop in high school, one of the teachers showed is a neat trick to use with a solid-stocked rifle. By using a drill press, he would make a couple of deep holes, swab them with shellac, and you could fit five or six shells inside (after letting it dry of course-it was to keep the stock from absorbing moisture inside), with a cotton ball holding them in place. That’s the genesis of this idea, because I was planning on doing just that when I took off the buttplate and saw all that room.

      • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

        Duh j.r. – “bought it on a whim for less than a hundred dollars” – sorry, missed that part. If you are out to carry it but have no backpack, a folding chair bag would probably be a good way to carry or store it. If you want more protection, a Gun Sack with silicone spray would keep it stored well. Years ago, I bought an Uncle Mike’s case for pistol gripped shotgun that works perfect for the Chipmunk mentioned above. I’ve considered scoping it, but that would remove some of the handiness, plus loading could be a real pain.

        • Funny you should say that about the shotgun case, as that is Nature Boy’s home at the moment. And I’ve debated several time the wisdom of scoping it too. I’d do it if I could find a mount that allows me to use the iron sights, but so far no dice. One of the guys at my club has one, and he installed one of the tinier AImpoints on it using just the front taps.

  4. Just got one for the GS this past week! He got to shoot beer cans with it yesterday, as a matter of fact!

  5. My Daughter loves both her Cricket and her Rossi .22. She does say that the Cricket is sometime a little slower to load but overall a nice starter rifle. Great post, thanks

  6. Nightshift says:

    Good post, I bought a black stock one for my daughter when she was 5. When your child sees her older brothers shooting and asks when she will be big enough it is time. I got black in case friends wanted to borrow it for their sons.

    One thing you didn’t touch on was the cricket scope. Awesome compact 4 power scope. Without pulling it out to measure I’d guess 8 inches long. Amazon sells them for i think $25 or $30 but I havent prices lately. Have on on my breakdown 10-22 also. Bought on partly due to your review.

    Thanks for all you do MD

  7. I’ve had both the Henry survival rifle and the cricket. I much prefer the cricket, though it is hard to hold in position and I’m not crazy about the sites. Also, mime did not come with sling swivels, did you add those?

    Now I have to go fill up the butt stock.

    • They came with the rifle, but I did buy it a couple years back. I use Uncle Mike’s (because I had them in my parts box), and a regulation M-16 sling. Another tip I forgot to add-regular Colibri (if you can find them) CB long caps, are quieter that a Red Ryder BB gun, at least to my ears. Because they’re such low power, I tend to put a drop of break-free and run a boresnake every ten or so shots using those. Most of the sound seems to be the striker when I shoot those. They’re a ten-foot round, though. I spotlight rats from my porch that way.

  8. No offense to anybody , and its as always to each their own , but Its good for 2 things : Jack & Sh*t . Even as a “trainer ” . If the kid is that small , a pellet gun might be just as good to train on , then swap out to something like an old Win 190 , they are cheap ( they are not made anymore ) , more fun to shoot and more practical as a survival weapon than any single shot , again , just opinion . A mini 14 or mini 30 , isnt a bad choice for older kids , if you had one on hand . At 12 years old , I was faster and more accurate birding with a 3 shot bolt action 410 than my older brother was with his pump 12g . Pissed him off !!!! lol .

    • Actually, the idea is to have a reliable, safe, light- and easy to carry- weapon that can serve as not only a trainer, but something that puts food on the table.
      Of course, ‘it’s to each their own’, and I guess my club’s NRA shooting team doesn’t understand what a ‘trainer’ should consist of since we’ve been using the Crickets for years to train the shooting teams. Of course, that the Cricket is light, safe, and extremely accurate has nothing to do with why it’s used.
      A Mini30 or Mini14 might be a good ‘starter’ rifle for some, but not for most, especially 12 year olds.
      What may be an even better buy these days is the Savage version of the Cricket- not sure what it’s called- but with a peep sight and accu-trigger, it’s one heckuva sweet rifle anyone could use.
      As for shooting on the wing, I was shooting partridge on the wing with a Winchester 67 single shot by the time I was 12.

      • I got all my training the redneck way , if I was big enough to carry it , then I was big enough to shoot it . My dad and older brother were avid hunters and we lived rural . Team shooting is a different animal than real life shooting and you know it , apples and oranges . I went out regularly with my dad at a very young age , he made sure I Shot everything I could handle , I could shoot a 12 g at 12 , but didnt like it because of the kick …….he then had me shoot the 1895 carbine in 30-40 …….I loved that gun and still have it , full power round , no kick . Point is , he wanted me to know how to shoot real guns and be familiar with all weapons as soon as possible , living rural , your all alone out there and need to be able to shoot whats on hand with confidence if worst came to worst . Thats the societal difference , people now are programmed to FEAR guns by leftist media , movies , etc . In my day , guns were no big deal , and looked on in the most positive light , as an enjoyable tool , nothing to be afraid of in any way , so people would not be afraid to give a young person a mini or whatever higher ( minis did not exist then ) and not think anything about it . I stand on my statement that single shot 22s are not good for a survival gun . I agree with another poster , the 1022 would be better choice . As a target plinker for an over structured competition environment …….then yes , it would be perfect . But as a survival gun for food , you may want something that gives you a quick follow up shot if you need it as game will not be standing still all the time , you will be moving as well , so may want to get used to shooting on the fly , cowboy style , which is how most rural people hunt and shoot , and why they are better marksmen faster , than those kids that only see the target range . The mini is not the best gun for anything , but its not bad for general purpose either , its simple , small , reliable , and only weighs 6.5 lbs . Just sayin .

        • Valid points all, but if I may, let me add something here. While the 10-22 is a dandy rifle (I have one that is a dream to shoot), it is heavier and larger than the Cricket, as well as being more expensive upfront. Add to that the need for detachable magazines, and then the temptation to start hanging all the nifty stuff you can add to it…Do you get my point here? My 10/22 now tips the scales at a hair under 7 lbs, with a Choate overmolded rubber stock, see-through scope mounts, and a Bushnell scope.

          While a fine and very accurate rifle (I can easily maintain 1″ or less groups at 50 yards all day long with it), it weighs roughly the same as the M-16A1 I used to carry in the service. In the role I use it in as a dedicated small-game gun, it works admirably, but that means I’m loaded out with all the extras needed to keep it running in the field.

          On the other hand, the Cricket (or any of the trainer .22 Chipmunk-clones out there) requires nothing more than a sling and ammo to go afield, is much less expensive than a 10/22 or similar platform, and can be fed the entire spectrum of standard .22 ammo from Shorts to shotshells as the situation demands.

          Other advantages to the weapon range from its light weight, smaller dimensions, and the less-tangible benefit of being a ‘grayman firearm’. I’ve seen 10/22s that wouldn’t look out of place on a full-up military mission, and if one is on the move, the ability to break it down into two very small components could be the difference between hanging onto a game-getter or ditching a more visible weapon to avoid losing it.

          For those on a tight budget, this weapon and others of its ilk may better suit the need for a reliable pest-control/small game getter, and it’s not so “scary-looking” as to intimidate those who are prone to being leery around firearms. Ever try to run a CB cap through a 10-22? It’s doable, but a major pain in the keester, whereas with the Crickett (I keep forgetting to add the extra t), it’s no big deal.

          And while the Mini-14 platform is excellent in its role as a ranch rifle, it also suffers from the limitations of requiring magazines, accessories, higher price and larger dimensions and greater weight. And while the argument for having a quick follow-up shot ready is valid, there’s simply no substitute for good marksmanship. In a SHTF situation, I’d be employing a weapon of this type in an ambush hunting scenario rather than trying to snap-shoot on the fly. In a age of ammunition limitations, being able to limit the amount of lead being wasted will be paramount. And as history tell us, the pioneers did just fine with single-shot muzzleloaders.

          It’s not the weapon to be carrying into a firefight or zombie apocalypse, to be sure, but I believe it represents a decent, low-cost, flexible and reliable option for either wilderness survival and long-term fixed-base pest control and small game hunting, especially if a shooter is dealing with cost, weight, or concealment issues. And it’s a darn cute little shooting iron, to boot. 🙂

  9. JeffintheWest says:

    Good article — I’m going to have to look into that as a real possibility for my SO — she doesn’t like big guns (can’t hold them properly or something, though I bet we can fix that) and a cut down .22 might be just perfect!

  10. axelsteve says:

    I did not know that it would eat short long and long rifle. That could be handy for shtf to use cheapo bulk pack remington ammo with. Ruger makes a 10/22 compact model with a 16 inch barrel and a youth sized stock. The hollow stock would be handy for stuffing it with paracord and other handy stuff. I would not put ammo in it . I use a cellphone holder and put ammo in it and clip it on the sling.

    • axelsteve,
      Many .22 firearms will feed and shoot all varieties of .22 ammunition. Even something like a 10/22 will chamber and fire .22 short; however, the recoil energy created from that round is insufficient to cycle the action. That is one of the good things about most ,22 revolvers and bolt action long guns. They will feed most, and fire nearly every cartridge in the family.

  11. Another similar option to consider is the Rossi 22/410 matched pair. It’s youth sized, but a little larger than the Crickett, has both a 22 and a 410 shot barrel, can be broken down, and comes with a case.

    • Don’t forget the Triple Threat or Trifecta, either. .243/.44 Magnum, 20/410, and .22 LR. I’m seriously considering getting one of those as well. As you folks can probably tell, I’ve got a soft spot for single-shots. I will always regret selling my Ruger #3 in 45-70.

      • Texanadian says:

        I have a 223/12 savage scoped. Nice shooting firearm

      • Rick,
        My first hunting gun was a Savage .22/.410 OO borrowed from a friend, and I always loved that gun. It took nearly 30 years for me to find and buy one of them for myself, and I still look at it as one of my best in the stash. In the interim I purchased a .22WMR/20 Gauge and it’s also a fine gun, but the .22 WMR is a bit pricey. If I had to carry only one long gun in the field, it would probably be the .22/.410.

  12. Great article. Very informative and inspiring. I imagine the cricket rifle is a lot cheaper than an AR-7 or any of the other purpose built survival weapons. Thanks!

    • Last time I checked, an AR-7 in my neck of the woods was retailing for around $200 bucks, not counting tax. And while I’ve heard good things about how Henry Arms is handling the platform, I’m also burdened by my past experiences with the limitations it will always possess.

      Not to say the AR-7 wouldn’t serve admirably as long as one recognizes and plans ahead, though. If and when Remington ever gets around to making more, the CeeBee caps will work in it, albeit as a straight-pull single shot (which applies to any semi-auto you use them in). Because they’re dimensionally identical to a .22LR, they will feed reliably and are very quiet.

      And you can’t beat it for its ability to store itself in its own buttstock. If you make allowances for it’s chubbiness in the grip, it can serve quite well, especially if one absolutely must have the ability to make follow-up shots.

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