The varmint rifle is a low-powered hunting rifle, designed for hunting varmint and small game such as geckos. It utilizes a magazine-fed bolt-action system and is chambered for 5.56mm caliber rounds.
Although its damage and damage-per-second (DPS) are low, it can be very accurate at long ranges if used to manually target outside of V.A.T.S. With good Guns and Sneakskills, one-shot kills with Sneak Attack Critical headshots are possible against low level non-player characters. With the addition of the night scope and silencer modifications, its usefulness later in the game is extended.
The varmint rifle has one of the best scope modifications for low light vision. Though it doesn't always make the opponent light up, it does let the player character make out their details.
In first-person, when chambering a round the player character will bring their hand palm-up and grasp the bulb of the bolt handle within their fist. However, from third-person, they will seem to simply grab the bulb with their forefinger and thumb, palm-down.
Even though there is a thumb hole in the stock, it is unused by both NPCs and the player character.
The varmint rifle was intended to be chambered for .22LR rounds at some point during development. Among the indicators is the "Reduced Limb Damage" effect previously shown in the Pip-Boy for both the silenced .22 pistol and the silenced .22 SMG (prior to patch 1.3.0) being named "DummyNVVarmintRifle", as well as Dixon carrying a varmint rifle in his inventory along with 16 .22LR rounds, rather than 5.56mm rounds. The .22LR variant was so unpopular due to the low damage that its ammunition was changed to 5.56mm.
Playstation 3 After applying the silencer to an already scoped rifle, aiming towards the Freeside's north gate from next to the Mick & Ralph's crier causes the screen to completely glitch out; however it returns to normal after exiting zoomed mode or by looking away. [verified]
Xbox 360 While zooming in with the weapon holstered with the scope, a black line will run across the screen. [verified]
Playstation 3 While carrying multiple rifles, attempting to access them in the pip boy will show only one rifle. Dropping or otherwise removing the rifle from your inventory will cause the remaining rifles to be shown. The hidden rifles will also be at 100% condition no matter what condition they were previously at. This can make repairing a varmint rifle problematic. [verified]