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Buckshot Frank

Stevens 1915 shotgun?

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I just got back from a gunshow. I saw a couple of interesting things, but didn't know enough about them to make a purchace. The one that caught my eye the most was a Stevens hammerless double barrel in 12 gauge. I'm not sure the model, but it had a patent date of 1915 on the side. I don't really need it, but I guess that I can always use a back-up to my Stoeger. It had short barrels (probably cut), and looked old( nice patina on the metal, stock finish gone). The asking price was $275, but it was a private sale so it could probably go for less. Does anyone know anything about these? Would it make a good SASS gun?

 

Other guns that peaked my interest were a Colt single action in .22lr from the 70's ($400)and a German made single action in .22lr ($200). I might go back tomorrow if I get an itch. ;)

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Check older SxS's for the following:

- play with the action closed

- vertical oblong holes around firing pins (this shows that the firing pins stick in the primers after being fired)

- cracks around the tang/wrist

- stock repairs

- complete weld at the muzzle/rib where the barrel was shortened

- dry fire with snap caps (put tape over the 'primer' to check that the firing pins actually hit

- dark stains in the wood that indicate excessive oils or water that could soften the wood

- chamber length (some of these old guns are made for shells under 2-3/4")

- Damascus barrels would not be good (likely not a problem on a 1915 gun)

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I picked up one of those old Stevens' a few years back. Looked OK initially, but on the range the defects became obvious. The wrist had a crack that only became visible under the stress of recoil, and the firing pins were the type that didn't have spring retraction. They would stick in the primers, making opening impossible. Not a good thing to have happen in a speed game.

 

The seller was gracious enough to take it back and refund my money. Save yourself some potential grief and pass on it. If all you need is a backup gun, a Baikal, FIE, or Boito would work fine and can be picked up pretty cheaply.

 

Be careful on the German revolver. If it's a Sauer, it's a quality gun. If it's a Rhom, run away from it - it's not worth $200, more like $20. If you want a 22 single action the Heritage would be a better choice at around $140 new.

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Howdy

 

Stevens made good quality, moderately priced shotguns. They were based in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, not too far from Springfield. Eventually Stevens was taken over by Savage. As far as I know, Stevens shotguns did not have Damascus barrels. At least I have never encountered one with Damascus barrels. I have four of them and have handled a lot more.

 

The most common Stevens SXS commonly encountered is probably the Model 311. Like all Stevens shotguns, the 311 was a well made gun. Nothing fancy, a good shooter's gun. One drawback of the 311 is its tendency for the springs on the cocking levers to attempt to partially close the action while you are holding it open. But from the sound of your description, you are probably looking at an older model than the 311. A 311 will have the model prominently displayed on the side of the frame. My two 311s are plainly marked that they are for Smokeless powder.

 

Most of the older models have the model number stamped on the bottom of the action. They are usually 3 digits with either a 2 or a 3 as the first digit. There is a code to this, it defines the type of action and the grade, but I have forgotten the code.

 

The older models do not share the 311's tendency for the barrels to close. If I hold my Model 355 or my Model 250 open, they stay open. Here is a photo of both of them. That lovely little hammered side lock at the top of the photo is my Model 250, my current Main Match shotgun. The one on the bottom is my model 355. It is a boxlock hammerless model.

 

Stevens Shotguns

 

The one feature common to all Stevens SXS shotguns that I have run into is the large locking lug between the barrels. You can see it in this photo of one of my 311s. This lug can tend to get in the way if you load by holding two shells in one hand. You can see why.

 

Lug

 

Tom Bullweed's list of things to look for with any old SXS is a good list. I have a couple more. Grasp the gun with one hand on the barrels and one hand on the wrist of the stock. Twist your hands in opposite directions. Look for play at the breech. Ideally there should be none.

 

Next, take a small piece of regular paper and close the action on it, sandwiching the paper between the end of the barrels and the recoil shields. If the gun refuses to close completely with the piece of paper in place, run to the checkout counter and throw your money at them. That gun is still nice and tight. If the gun does snap closed with the piece of paper in place, it is still not a deal breaker. Next, take a thicker piece of card, a piece of index card is ideal, and try the same test. If the gun closes on the index card, it is probably a bit looser than you want. If it does not close on the index card, it is still reasonably tight.

 

I love those old Stevens shotguns, I always look them over when I find them. I don't shoot the shotgun fast enough to be bothered by the lug between the barrels. I would have no problem plunking down $275 on a nice old American made Stevens in good shape.

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......Most of the older models have the model number stamped on the bottom of the action. They are usually 3 digits with either a 2 or a 3 as the first digit. There is a code to this, it defines the type of action and the grade, but I have forgotten the code.......

First position: 2= Hammer, 3= hammerless

Second position:= level of finish/decoration, 1- 10

Third position: 0= sidelock, 5=boxlock

 

This system lasted from about 1900 to 1920s, early '30s. Note the 311/511/5100 doesn't follow the system.

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