Firearms

Stevens Arms: Legendary Firearms Company

Picture is of a drawing of Arthur Savage and Joshua Stevens.

In 2014, legendary firearms company, J. Stevens and Company will celebrate 150 years of making high-quality firearms. Now, a subsidiary company of Savage Arms, the company still brands shotguns and rifles under the Stevens name.

Together with investors, W.B. Fay and James Taylor, toolmaker Joshua Stevens founded the J. Stevens and Company in 1864 in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. The company’s first gun was a tip-up, single-shot pistol designed by Stevens. Though Stevens was a toolmaker by trade, he worked with gun makers C.B. Allen, Eli Whitney, Samuel colt, and Edwin Wesson. In fact, Stevens helped Samuel Colt make Colt’s very first revolver in Colt’s small Hartford, Connecticut shop. Stevens went on to invent the most popular cartridge in the entire world—the .22 Long Rifle. At first, most of the company’s income came from making and selling tools, but J. Stevens and Company was quickly built into one of the largest manufacturers of firearms in the country.

In the Beginning

J. Stevens and Company began building falling block rifles in 1880. Attention to detail in the quality of a J. Stevens and Company rifle at a price lower than Winchester made the gun very popular. In 12 years, J. Stevens and Company sold over 3.5 million of the falling block long guns.

Picture is of a drawing of Arthur Savage and Joshua Stevens.
Savage and Stevens merged in 1920, becoming the largest manufacturer of firearms at the time.

Stevens developed the .22 Long Rifle cartridge in 1887, chambering the #1, #2, #9, #10, New Model Pocket, and Bicycle rifles for the round. The .22 Long Rifle remains the most popular cartridge in the world with yearly production varying between 2.3 and 2.5 billion rounds. Savage Arms remains one of the top manufacturers in the world for reliable, dependable and honest craftsmanship of rimfire rifles today.

Company bookkeeper, I.H. Page, along with his partners, purchased the company in 1896. Stevens retired that same year to Meriden, Connecticut. However, he still travelled back to Chicopee Falls to offer advice and watch over the manufacturer of firearms.

J. Stevens and Savage Merge

By 1902, J. Stevens and Company was one of the top firearms manufacturers in the world. With the merger of Savage Arms and J. Stevens and Company in 1920, the company, of course, grew to become the largest manufacturer of firearms at the time. By 1915, the company opened offices in New York, London, Australia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

The War Years

During World War I, Westinghouse took over Savage and the company made Mosin Nagant rifles for Russia. The company also produced the Lee Enfield rifle, Thompson sub machine gun, Browning BAR, and Lewis machine gun.

Savage… a Car Maker?

Picture shows a drawing of a 1902 model Stevens-Duryea Runabout motorcar.
A 1902 model Stevens-Duryea Runabout motorcar.

Savage dabbled in other areas, too. In 1901, the company partnered with Frank Duryea, who designed the first motor car in the United States, to make a 2 cylinder, 5 hp Runabout car. Fifty cars were produced out of the Savage factory in 1902. The contract ended in 1904.

Hard Times Turned Around

Savage fell on hard times during the 1980s and in 1988 filed for bankruptcy protection. However, in the mid 90s, Ronald Coburn bought the company and completely turned it around. Now Savage is back on top of one the biggest firearms manufacturers in the United States, producing more firearms a year than Beretta and Taurus.

Stevens Model 320 Security Pump-Action Shotgun

People tend to overlook Savage as a major contender when shopping for guns. Maybe it is because Savage does not jump on trendy bandwagons or try to make guns that are not its specialty. However, Savage has been making dependable high-quality firearms for the serious shooter for nearly 150 years. In 2003, the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence awarded the company manufacturer of the year. Savage produces long-range and precision rifles and shotguns that are unprecedented in accuracy and capabilities for the price.

Picture shows a black pump-action shotgun with synthetic pistol grip stock made by Stevens.
The Stevens 320 12-gauge, pump-action workhorse is inspired by the extremely reliable Winchester 1300 action.

Savage is still branding Stevens guns today. In 2012, the company debuted the model 320 shotgun in two different models, the Security and the Field, in seven different configurations. This 12-gauge, pump-action workhorse is inspired by the extremely reliable Winchester 1300 action. When you pull the trigger, the rotary bolt moves away from the barrel extension. The recoil from firing the shotgun helps moves the slide backward, aiding in pumping the shotgun for the next round. It is a solid and strong action. Winchester used to call it the “speed pump” because the action allows the shooter to quickly fire follow up shots. The dual slide bars connecting the forearm to the breech bolt on the 320 Security help this action.

Much like Mossberg does with its line of Maverick guns, Savage imports the model 350 Security under the more affordable subsidiary brand Stevens. Stevens’ rifles and shotguns pass Savage quality control, but are less expensive than Savage-branded guns.

Picture shows a close-up of a shotgun forearm.
The longer forearm makes the Stevens 320 comfortable to shoot.

With the shorter, 18.5-inch carbon steel barrel, the 320 Security is optimal for home defense, but just as versatile as any other 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. The 3-inch chamber also accommodates 2-3/4 inch shells and the tube fits five rounds. You load from the bottom and the gun ejects from the side. Dimensions on the 320 Security are standard with a 13-3/4 length of pull, 1-3/4 inch drop at comb and 2-1/2 inch drop at the heel. The pistol grip stock is matte black heavy-duty synthetic. The steel barrel offsets the lightweight of the stock, making the 320 a well-balanced shotgun. Overall, the shotgun weighs nearly seven pounds. The trigger pull is slightly heavier than six pounds.

You will notice the longer than normal forearm (the pump mechanism) on the model 320. Combined with the pistol grip stock, women and shorter shooters (shorter than 5’ 5”) find the Stevens model 320 Security more comfortable to shoot than a standard shotgun without the added grip.

Picture shows a close-up of the buttstock of a Stevens 320 shotgun.
With a natural pointability, the solidly built 320 shoulders well for shooters of all sizes

With a natural pointability, the solidly built 320 shoulders well for shooters of all sizes. It comes with a bead sight that is easy to aim. Recoil is a bit rough, but a nice cushy recoil pad will fix that.

As one of Cheaper Than Dirt!’s most affordable pump-action shotguns, the Stevens model 320 Security shotgun makes a perfect trunk gun. If you need a gun you know will get abused and possibly even neglected, but need it to go bang! every time, the Stevens 320 Security is the perfect shotgun for you.

Do you own a Savage or Stevens firearm? Tell us about it in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (67)

  1. I have a 410 gauge single shot shotgun. On the side I can barely read, it says
    Stevens
    Savage Arms Corporation
    Chicopee Falls, Mass usa

    on barrel it reads …. proof tested 410 bore
    3 inch chamber
    on other side it says…. selected forged steel

    My Dad purchased it for me in 1959 or 1960 I believe. Is there a serial number and if so, where is it located. Any information on it would be appreciated. Thank you.

  2. My grandfather gave me a 20 gauge Stevens SxS in 1960 I was 10 years old. I have many fond memories hunting pheasants in Nebraska. Thanks for the memories of

  3. I have a 22 Stevens pistol circa 1890 is it original or made by a gunsmith from a stevens favorite rifle? Thanks any info will be appreciated.

  4. LOVE STEVENS SHOTGUNS.I HAVE MY GRANDPAS 12 SIDE BY SIDE.I ALSO HAVE A 12 SAVAGE OVER UNDER.I JUST RECENTLY GOT MY 41O MODEL 940A BACK .I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE IT TO MY GRANDSON.IT NEEDS WORK–??BARREL NEED TO REBLUE BUT PITTED AT END//////FOREEND MIDDLE PART -DONT KNOW WHAT IS CALLED—BROKEN&MISSING LONG BOLT THROUGH MIDDLE OF FOREARM.HELP APPRECIATED.fentonknott@sbcglobal.net

  5. I am trying to find an online manual or information for a Stevens Arms 16 gauge shotgun Model C20-A or G20-A (not sure if it is G or C).

    Does anyone know where I can this?

  6. I have a 12 GA. double barrel, 2-trigger shotgun that belonged to my father. I believe it may have been manufactured in the 1920’s – 30’s by the Stevens Company and marketed by Montgomery Wards, I’m looking for any information available. Thanks in advance!

    “Wards Hercules” is engraved on the receiver. “Proof Tested 12 Gauge” is engraved on one barrel, and “Selected Forged Steel” is engraved on the other.

    I’m trying to determine if the shotgun is safe to shoot (using lower compression rounds). One problem I have encountered is that after firing, it is very difficult to open the receiver. I’m concerned that pressure from modern shotgun shells – even low brass rounds – may be the problem.

  7. I have a Stevens model 240, has been in the family since about 1945, I used to hunt quail with it when I was in school. It was taken by a cousin and hidden until he died, Other than a little rust that
    I am working off it seems to be in good condition. I am 85 years old and
    won’t be hunting much now. Just looking for an approximate vallue if I
    got an offer for it ??? RD Skip McClure The Villages, FL.

  8. Hello. I own an old .12 ga double barrel shotgun marked as follows:
    (Left side of the gun)

    ——————–SPRINGFIELD——————–
    J STEVENS ARMS COMPANY
    CHICOPEE FALLS MASS USA

    The right side is marked with 5100, and some sort of mark I cannot make out, or describe to you on the underside near the hinge-pin.

    Any idea as to year of Mfg. Mod, (other than the 5100) etc?

    Any and all information would be greatly appreciated.

  9. I’m trying to find information on a shotgun I have that was my dad’s. I’ve searched several sights but none of them have the model number. The engraving on the top of the barrel is;

    J. Stevens Arms Company Model 59 A
    CHICOPEE FALLS, MASS
    410 Bore Proof Tested

    I’m curious to it’s value. I would appreciate any information you can supply

    Thank you

    Russ McDonald
    russmcd70@yahoo.com

  10. I have a double barrel 410 stevens arms co. hunting dog etched on one side. excellent condition. one owner. inherrited. can any body put a value to it.

  11. I own a 22 falling block J Stevens Co Model 14. I need a trigger and trigger screw. It has been in the family since the mid 1930. My mother had the trigger removed to keep us kid from using it. Somewhere along the way the trigger and screw got lost. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Paul Parish

  12. I purchased a Stevens stage coach 12 gauge at a recent gun show. It is a model 311 H series…supposedly open choke and has 19 inch barrels. Did Stevens make such a gun or has this been altered?

  13. I have a Stevens model 22-410 over under shotgun. It has the letter O on the barrel under the forearm. It is a 22 LR and proof tested 410 bore with a 31 inch chamber. Could you help me find the serial number as I have been unable to find it? Also when was the gun made?
    Thanks

  14. I have had a J. Stevens Arms Co. 20 gauge (20 DB) shotgun for nearly 60 years and my father owned it before me. I would like know the history of it. Also it has a broken firing pin which I would to replace, but don’t know where to start. Any info on this would be very much appreciated.

  15. I have a 22single shot pistol chicopee falls mass #44530 can you tell me the value and information on this hand gun condition is fair.

  16. I have a pump .22 Stevens Rifle with serial number 15563. It was my Fathers rifle, and he taught me to shoot with it. I would like to know when it was manufactured. It still operates perfectly, and holds a tight group.

  17. I am searching diligently for a new stock for a J Stevens Model 258a 20 gauge shotgun. Can you help me find one. This gun belonged to my wife’s father who passed several years ago, I am trying to preserve it in honor or him. Thanks

  18. We just inherited a Stevens Model 56 Buckhorn rifle in short, long and long rifle.No serial number. Made in Chicopee Falls, Mass. Can you give me any idea about when it was made? It is still in very good condition.
    Thank you;
    Jerry Shaw
    judigal2010@aol.com

  19. I recently purchased a Stevens Savage 555 28 gauge over under shotgun.
    I shot a total of 4 shells at the skeet range and the latch that holds the gun together broke off. I was able to get a complete buyback on this shotgun but I am extremely disappointed.

  20. I have a stevens 22 bolt action. it takes short,long and long rifle. can’t find serial #, all it has is reg pat & fgn.
    is there a # someplace and how old is it.

  21. I have a J Stevens 22 long rifle lever action single shot rifle. It has fixed front and rear sites. The only markings other than the name and address is Pat 17 94. I believe that this rifle came into the family as a used rifle between 1910 and 1920. Any other information would be appreciated.

  22. As a boy I used to shoot a stevens long rifle in our orchard., that was 40years ago. It was definitely antique .very long barrel with a revolving site on the end of the barrel. The barrel was kind of shared not round, seem to remember it being quite difficult to load the round cause there wasn’t much room. A catch was pulled down don’t remember it being an undercover. The stock was a lovely mahogany colour could have been Cuban? I mean pretty sure it had a flat stock with a stag motive on the butt. It also had a long site with went flat to the gun. Didn’t look very substantial. Hope you can throw some light on the stevens model.sceps

  23. I purchased a hex barrel 22 LR single shot rifle but it’s in pieces. I believe I have all the parts but not sure how they go together. The number on the bottom of the receiver is P 539. I would love to restore it, never seen one like it. Could you be of any help please? Thank you

  24. I have a Stevens, Model 621, 12 gauge pump, Serial # 4002. I am wondering when this may have been made and what its current value may be. The gun is in average condition for its age.

  25. What I have is a Stevens Savage Arms Model 59A .410 Shotgun, bolt action; 2.5 and 3.0″ bore. No serial # on bore or stock that I can find. Not in perfect condition but close. Paint worn in spots. Typical and expected patina and pitting. When might this have produced? Any other info?

  26. I purchased a double barrel 12 G shotgun used in 1954 manufactured by Stevens Arms with a model name of Springfield engraved on it above the company name and address. Does anyone know how old it is? The barrels have a number of T92576 and the stock has a # T92575 if that would be helpful in identifying when it was made.

  27. A good friend gave me a Savage 22 pump year 1906 has an octagon barrel and it is missing firing pin would like to know if anyone can tell me where I can get parts? Thank you

  28. I have a Stevens side by side 12 gauge. Was given to my by my great grandfather. Trying to determine year of manufacture so I can replace the stock and forearm. There appears to be a l in a circle under the barrel and an RY next to it. It says on the left side its a Stevens…on the right is says its a 5100. Seen this somewhere…is it accurate?
    Stevens Date Codes. It must have a number and letter within the circle, or it is pre 1949.

    A 1949
    B 1950
    C 1951
    D 1952
    E 1953
    F 1954
    G 1955
    H 1956
    I 1957
    J 1958
    K 1959
    L 1960
    M 1961
    N 1962
    P 1963
    R 1964
    S 1965
    T 1966
    U 1967
    V 1968
    W 1969
    X 1970 ?

  29. I have a stevens 258a 20 gauge in very nice shape, has`nt been fired in about 25 years. The only thing I don`t know about this gun is the choke. I found a small circle with a slash mark at 2 oclock and 6 oclock with the circle thicker in between, but I dont know what that means. any help would be appreciated.Thanks Mike

  30. My father gave me his childhood hunting gun, a J Stevens Model .410-.22. This one had a plastic stock and forearm. Dad told me the gun manufacturers, back in the day, put plastic furniture on firearms because all the wood was used for military rifles during this time. Non the less I have cherished this well made shotgun/rifle combo throughout my young hunting days and then when my daughter was old enough, I passed it on to her.
    Regrettably, shortly after her wedding, their house burned down. The action and barrels were salvaged from the ashes. She wants to restore the gun for sentimental reasons. We would like to find a set of the plastic stocks for the restoration. Does anyone know where a set of plastic stocks could be found?

    1. Try Gun Parts out of West Hurley N.Y. also known as Numerich arms.
      Once had a Stevens .22/.410 myself just sold it this past summer.

  31. I have a J. Stevens Arms and Tool co. Model 70 visible loading repeater in 22lr. It is complete, functions flawlessly and is all original. I love the little rifle as it so unique and it doesn’t seem that there are many left out there.

  32. I have a Stevens mod 311 series h double barrel 12 gauge…this gun was bought somewhere around 1970 or 71…what would this gun be worth…just a fair price…gun is in very good condition …?

  33. i have a stevens model 110e,series k,30-06,this gun holds 5 rounds but does not have drop out floor plate.i am wondering what year it is?it has 51 and 7 stamped oon the top of barrel.real dark finished wood,and has been drilled for scope base.has flip down rear sight.

  34. Hello, I have a Springfield J Stephens Arms model 87A 22 long rifle. Has
    A broken firing pin and springs. Need to know how old and if I can get the parts

  35. To #17 Eli: Since you posted her you obviously have computer with an internet connection. Ever heard of Google? Use any search engine and search for Savage Arms and you get their website with contact info. Also, the info you seek is also in the owner’s manual that came with the gun.

    And you may want to consider the ammo you’re using. I have a Mossberg 12 Ga that HATES cheap Russian 3″ ammo and jams. I threw it away and now always use Fiocchi.

  36. Well i have only shot my shotgun about 50-75 times before it started jamming and having internal problems. Walmart will not take back any guns that you bought from them period. Stevens makes the model shotgun i had and it is an act of congress to get in touch with them. I still havent found an address or phone number to even get in contact with this company. They should fix it for free, i had nothing to do with what went wrong with this shotgun. If anybody knows how to get in touch with this company please post a comment and let me know. It would be greatly apprectiated

    thanks

  37. I have an old stevens ss 22 that breaks open to the side . Push a little button on the left side and it opens tothe right side. It has patent applied for on the left side and a 4 didget serial no. I would just like to know what it is………Thanks

  38. dear sir or mam
    my name is james Rodgers I have a 12 guage hamerless double barrel shotgun gave to me by my grand farther about 47 years ago it is a stevens the onley numbere on it are +20660 the story go it was brought from California around 1908 and gave to my grand farther by his brother can you tell me any thing about the gun or put me in contact with some one who can

    best regards
    james rodgers

  39. I just acquired a J. Stevens Arms Company 12 gauge G20-6 2 3/4″ shot gun. It has a “Z” stamped on it just in front of the trigger guard. I am trying to find out what year it was manufactured. I’d appreciate any help with this.
    Robin

  40. Gentlemen, Just a little backtrack here I am 22yrs old,and a U.S. Marine I have fired many different types and sizes of weapons. I own a 30-06 savage and a stevens 12ga. single with a 36″ full choke barrel, and I wouldn’t trade either of them for a newer model. The 12ga. is an awesome shotgun and I know there is a difference in the way a single and a pump shoot but if the pumps are made anything like my single barrel they are more than likely great guns. One thing I love most about my 12ga. is the assembly my stock got broken next to the metal and I was able to take a piece of black walnut and fabricate a brand new stock for it its extremely easy for anyone who has worked with wood and it was fun if you have a broken stock I suggest find a carpenter’s shop and let them look at it with the rarity of parts it might well be cheaper if that doesn’t work try a marlin stock I have seen them fit as well.

  41. Sirs: Have shot, owned, and trade many savages over the years. Still have 3-4. This problem was brought to me this week. A Stevens model 258A 20 ga. bolt action shotgun. Stock has been abused to say the least. Is there some place that I can order a replacement stock for this shotgun. The metal is in good shape and with a stock would be a good shooter for a child or woman. Please, if you can help me out I would appreciate it.
    Thank you
    Dick

  42. For the money, this is a super bargain. Yes, the fit & finish is not perfect and typical of Chinese manufacturing but mine works all the time. I have shot several boxes of various shells & loads and no problems whatsoever.

  43. Not sure why JOHN would call them junk and leaving NO reasons why is a waste of time

    Bought the 320, it shoots perfect, well made, great features

    Yes, have other shotguns but for the money this will not fail you

    Well worth having 1 around

  44. Just wanted to mention that the Savage .22 single shot rifle that my dad got me was bought in a grocery story (those were the good ol’ days). While there are better guns, I sure don’t think they deserve being called “junky” at all.

  45. YOU WANT UTILITY YOU BUY THE TOOL THAT IS FOR THE JOB.
    YOU THINK OK SOMEDAY I MIGHT JUST WANT TO NLOW BRAINS GUTS BONES AND DINEWS OF SOME PERP ALL OVER THE FRONT ROOM THIS GUN WILL DO THAT.
    It swings good enough and decent pattern that it will do the job as a throw in mud still functions hunting in a pinch as equally well why not.
    Ya do not buy a Benneli to just throw on back seat floor snf only dig it out to kill the neighbors cats with, that’s what thid Stevens is for.

  46. John, what issues did you have with the Stevens pump shotgun to call them junk?

    I found mine to be 100% reliable during a two day shotgun course and we put 500 rounds down range. It worked, and the money I saved helped pay for ammo and training.

  47. My first real firearm, a gift from my father, was a single shot Savage .22 rife (falling block action). Nice little rifle. I have passed it along to my son. Would not mind getting another Savage.

  48. The first rifle I ever owned was a Stevens Crackshot think it was a model 26 22 cal made in 1916. I traded a few snowshoe pelts at the trading post in Maine and got it and 5 or 6 boxes of ammo. It had native carving, knew the original owner but he had traded it for booze at trading post. I traded and found stock was held together by shrunken leather, wire and brass nails. Moose gut sling. LIKE ONE WHO KNEW NOT I pulled old stock and carved a birch slab replacement.

    It was a squirrel-killing machine and a devil on cotton tail and snowshoes. Great trapline running gun and it dropped more than one partridge, pheasant and a few deer. Must have bought 25 old Stevens 22 bolt guns, cut barrel down moved sights and trimmed stocks down for a juveniles first rifle.

    If any collector has an old crackshot look and see if stock is birch and under but plate a Big M that is fox ears and eyes.

    GO TO VARIOUS STEVENS AN OFFER FOR SALE OR I can at least write a provenance letter for you even original owners name.

  49. I have been hunting with Savage-Stevens shotguns and rifles since receiving my first shotgun for my nonetheless birthday present from my parents, a single shot 410 gauge. At the age of 66. I passed it on to my eldest son, to keep for his first child. Shooting Stevens -Savage rifles has also been a part of my family’s hunting activities for years. My grandfather an excellent shot, took the record whitetail buck, in Pearsal county, TX, shooting it with his favorite rifle, a Savage-Stevens Model 99, lever action, 250-3000 caliber.

  50. Years ago, about 1966, I had a single shot, barrel break, 12 ga Stevens shot gun and my sons and I used it for shooting rabbits and birds. I sold it to a friend and I wouldn’t be surprised if he still had it. It worked flawlessly.
    Now fast forward about forty-five years to my Stevens 350 12 ga pump shot gun. It’s a beast, and it’s at the front of our gun safe for home protection. It comes with two barrels, a long for birds and turkeys and a short for people. Just the sound of it racking a round into the chamber should send anyone but a deaf burglar scrambling for safety.
    My only complaint is that it kicks like a mule. I’m now 71 years old and not in the best of health and the recoil pad just isn’t enough and even with a ‘limb saver’ added. The last time out shooting trap I fired eighty rounds, had a ball, and it sent me to the chiropractor. It’s a great shotgun, reasonably priced, but it has too much recoil for me. If you’re young and healthy it might not matter. Stevens/Savage make great guns. I trust our safety to it. Hank

  51. I have a Stevens Model 71 Visible Loader (pump .22, .22L & .22LR) made in 1931 which I inherited from my father. It has the desirable octagonal barrel. Over the years I’ve had a new firing pin made and recently replaced worn extractors that were causing bad feeds. There are no new parts available, only used parts from old rifles and those that gunsmiths are willing to make. The gun is still accurate and lots of fun to shoot, reminding me of the days of shooting galleries at county fairs.

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