Just to cover the bases – my first 22, that I’ve owned for 60 years, has no serial number. Mom bought it for me at the Fairchild PX just outside of Spokane in 1962. Frankly, she liked the idea of a safety that came on automatically every time you opened the bolt. Since it clicked off with equal ease, it didn’t bother me. I was happy to have my first rifle. Sam didn’t have to wait until she was 12 to get her first rifle – it’s important not to make the same mistakes in raising children that your parents did.
That old Remington isn’t a ghost gun – although the receiver is made from seamless steel tubing, rather than a separate forging. Back in January of 1962, before leaving the factory, the barrel was stamped with a B (for January) and the letter J to indicate 62. The number 5 indicates that it was supposed to be an employee sale. Over a half-million TargetMasters were made between 1939 and the end of 1962 – and Remington dispensed with serial numbers in 1941.
The month code is memorable – BLACKPOWDERX. My B is January. The last one made would b XJ, for December 1962. That J letter was also used to indicate 1940 – but in that year they had a serial number on the bottom of the barrel. My old single shot may not have a serial number – but the 2 letters and a number give me a pretty good chance of picking it out from most of its 550,000siblings.
Despite its total lack of serial numbers, I can testify that it has never been involved in terrorist activities, though the shades of several black bears might debate the point. I never considered it a bear rifle, but it did the job when I needed it. As I look into the field from the house, I recall my badger hunting partner who hunted gophers with me one summer – picking them up and (I surmised) taking them back to her den for the offspring I never saw.
As I got older, I wanted a 513T – the same basic rifle, set up as a repeater, and wearing target sights. I never did get one of those – but the 510 did well for me. I didn’t get a repeater until I was pushing 30 – and it wasn’t as accurate as my old single-shot.