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The (savage) Stevens Favorite
Question for ML

Posted By: Eric Stoskopf - Cool Calm Calamity

Posts: 2374

Posted At: (2/15/04 9:38 am)

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First, thank you for the informative post concerning the M6 Scout. I'm sure there are members here that will find the information useful.

If you don't mind, I'd like to pick at your brain tissue for a moment.

I seem to be stuck on the little Stevens "Favorite" rifles as they just seem like they would make a rugged/reliable small game gun. I was wondering if you've had any experience with the rifle(s) and if so, would you care to share those experiences.

Here's some information in case anyone's wondering just what the heck I'm talking about:

I particularly interested in hearing about whether or not mounting a scope on such a rifle would be a wise decision. Maybe that would defeat some kind of purpose...I don't know.

You have to give me credit ML (you to Bill!), at least I'm past the Guide Gun "thing"!


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The (Savage) Stevens Favorite

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 479

Posted At: (2/16/04 6:04 pm)

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The (Savage) Stevens Favorite

As with many of Mr. Stoskopf’s questions, this one, while appearing very simple on its surface, is in reality quite interesting and reaching.

A little background. Recently, Savage Arms brought their single-shot Favorite model back into their lineup (Model 30G in .22 Long Rifle, Model 30G-T as a takedown version in the same caliber, Model 30GM in .22 Magnum, and Model 30R17 and 30R17-TD in .17 HMR as a fixed-barrel and takedown version, respectively.

The rifle is a single-shot falling-block design with an exposed hammer. Savage offered the rifle on and off since 1972, when it was known as the Savage Model 72 Crackshot (note the name as one word).

Much, much before that, though, Stevens produced a similar tilting-block rifle, the No. 26 Crack Shot from 1913 to 1943. These had malleable iron receivers, and used screws instead of transverse pins through the frame to secure the hammer, lever, breechblock, etc. In 1939, Stevens switched these to pins.

These were extraordinarily popular little rifles, often viewed as boy’s guns. Once upon a time, I owned a takedown screw-framed model (ascertaining the exact year of production is difficult as these little rifles were not numbered serially), but it had seen hard, hard use before my stewardship and the bore suffered from both neglect and then over-zealous cleaning from the muzzle (it’s my firm belief that as many rifles—especially .22s—are ruined through improper cleaning as through neglect). Consequently, my little No. 26’s accuracy suffered mightily, and it was traded off.

But the little rifle was a joy to carry, at just over four pounds. And, indeed, it was simple to take down and detail clean.

So, enough of the history lesson: is one of the Noble Savages (sorry) a viable choice today?

The Savage offers a couple of advantages. Yes, indeed, it is simple. And certain models feature a handy takedown design. It’s also available in two other chamberings (.22 Magnum and .17 HMR) It’s probably as capable as any contemporary .22 out there in its class.

There’s no shortage of .22 rifles out there today, but I think the Model 72 is probably best compared with the single-shot offerings from H&R/NEF. These, too, are simple, robust, single-shot takedown rifles, although of break-open design. The Savage, though, is clearly more elegant, at least to my eye.

Make no mistake, though, the Savage is still a little rough around the edges. The stock is hardwood stained to look like walnut, and the wood-to-metal fit is utilitarian. No, it is not as “modern” as a contemporary bolt-action, and one should not expect national-match accuracy, but in terms of handiness it’s quite attractive.

Careful readers know Mr. Stoskopf has learned many lessons from Horace Kephart, and his attraction to the Savage, consciously or unconsciously, may be one of them. Kephart did much to further the concept of marksmanship in this country in a time in which the idea was floundering. One of his pet rifles was a .22 Stevens Favorite takedown, with the barrel cut back to 15 inches (an inch shorter than what the legal minimum is today). He also had the stock cut so that stock and action together added up to an identical 15 inches—thus giving him a takedown rifle in which barrel and stock/action were of identical length for tidy packaging. To this Kephart added a Cummins telescopic sight, again, a question Mr. Stoskopf brings up. These telescopic sights were long and slender, as long as the barrel and probably no bigger in diameter. Accounts hold that when Kephart took this rifle into the woods, “at first he found the shortness awkward, but he quickly got used to it and did much better shooting than he had ever done with the skeleton-stocked pocket rifles [such as the Marble’s “game Getter” or today’s new Springfield Armory M6 pistol and carbine].” Kephart later built up a prototypical period sniper rifle on the same lines, using a Winchester High Wall in .30 Govt. (aka today as .30-40 Krag).

To put a telescopic sight on your contemporary Savage Model 30? The question is more where to find a telescopic sight which does not overwhelm the rifle and destroy its balance. Were there a quality 7/8-inch-tube scope on the market, that would be perfect, but all the scopes with tube diameters like that are junk, and a quality Weaver of that diameter is ancient, and, alas, the glass just isn’t up to today’s standards. Something like a Leupold 3-9X Compact seems the most practical, but size-wise it will positively overwhelm the little rifle—it practically overwhelms a Remington Model Seven.

But you can try a scope, and always take it off. The Savage’s barrel is thick enough to easily drill and tap for a scope mount. And I think I’d follow Kephart’s example, and trim the barrel to 16 or 18 inches (both legal today), so the package would takedown and carry more easily. As to the non-takedown versions, I see less to recommend them. Were I to choose a .22 rifle that long, I’d choose a repeater like a Ruger 77/22, which will return superior accuracy, and which works exceedingly well with a telescopic sight.

Finally, the forend question. “Schnabel” is the German word for beak, as in a bird’s beak, and describes the shape at the end of the Savage Model 30’s stock—you can see it on some of the wood-stocked Remington Model Sevens (although not very pronounced there). It’s purely a function of style. Other forend types are “beavertail” (wide and flat) and “splinter” (very small and thin), both usually found on double-barreled shotguns, and “Alex Henry” (a design named after a noted gun builder and featuring an ornamental groove carved into the tip; it’s offered on some Ruger Number One rifles).


"In the school of the woods there is no graduation day" Horace Kephart

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