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Old 09-09-2017, 02:45 PM
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Stevens 44-1/2 - An American Classic Stevens 44-1/2 - An American Classic Stevens 44-1/2 - An American Classic Stevens 44-1/2 - An American Classic Stevens 44-1/2 - An American Classic  
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Default Stevens 44-1/2 - An American Classic

Ok, this is not British Best. It's machine-made American.

Stevens produced their finest design falling block single shot rifle - the Model 44-1/2 - from 1902 until 1916. About 13,000 were produced. They competed with the Winchester 1885 High Wall and Low Wall.

One advantage of the 44-1/2 is the manner in which the breech block tilts to the rear. This feature allows it to "gobble up" a cartridge that has not been fully seated in the chamber. The action is quite strong, though it is not as large as the Winchester 1885.

Known for their accuracy, many left the factory in full-blown schutzen configuration.

These rifles are relatively hard to find in good condition. Many years ago I had the good fortune to own a 44-1/2. That one started its life as a .22LR, but the bore was badly corroded. The friend from whom I bought it had the original barrel bored out to .357 Magnum and the breech block converted to center fire. It was topped with a Burris compact 4x scope. I used that rifle for almost everything. In a weak moment back about 1992 I sold it and regretted selling it ever since.

Last May I ran upon a nice original 44-1/2 rifle chambered for the .25-20 Single Shot cartridge. It was equipped with a tang mounted rear aperture sight and remained in excellent condition. I snapped it up.

There is a company now making a new version of the 44-1/2 and doing service work on vintage rifles also. CPA Rifles in Pennsylvania. CPA Rifles They offer new barrels that are shaped exactly to the original contours. It occurred to me that a new barrel in .38-55 Winchester would do everything my old .357 Mag. would do, and then some! Without wasting any time I sent my rifle to CPA for a new .38-55 barrel.

Another great feature of the .44-1/2 is that barrels are interchangeable by hand. You remove the breech block and extractor, back out the lock screw on the bottom of the action, and the barrel unscrews like a take-down rifle.

Well, CPA didn't waste any time getting my new barrel fit. It's part octagon and part round with the exact same outside dimensions as the original barrel. The original forend fits perfectly. It's made from a Douglas XX .375 blank so that the full range of .375 bullets can be used.



I researched the .38-55 for a good "try" load. I had a box of Hornady 220 grain .375 bullets on hand, so decided to use them. I decided to load 35.0 grains of IMR 4895 and a WLR primer.

Getting it sighted in required fiddling with the elevation adjustment of the rear sight and drifting the front sight into proper position. The first range session got it roughed in. One thing I noticed was that the tang rear sight was fairly loose in its adjustment. I knew I would need to make a little rod to insert into the assembly for the staff to bottom against firmly. One thing I noticed in this first session was that the rifle really wanted to shoot accurately.

When I got back home I took some careful measurements and made the stop rod mentioned above. I left it slightly long knowing the next session would be a bit high on target. From the second session I would be able to calculate how much to shorten the stop rod, thus lowering the rear sight.

The second session was shot at 100 yards last Saturday. As I anticipated, the group was a bit high. It was also a bit to the right. While at the range I drifted the front sight and shot another group. Windage was good now. Wow! What fine groups this rifle wanted to shoot!

At home I filed down the stop rod to almost where I thought it should be, still leaving it slightly high in anticipation of a final adjustment.

To the range I went again on Monday. I fired two 5-shot groups. The first was under poor light, but the group was fantastic – three shots in one hole with two shots slightly outside. I put up another target. Now the light improved. The next five shots went into one ragged hole.





Here's a close-up of the same target. A penny covers the group!





Yes, I think I am going to like this rifle and cartridge quite a lot.





My next effort will be to see how it shoots with its .25-20 barrel. Stay tuned!

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Old 09-09-2017, 04:44 PM
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Phenomenal 100 yard groups, especially using only iron sights!
I'd say rifle and load are about as matched as possible.
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Last edited by JayCeeNC; 09-09-2017 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 09-09-2017, 05:20 PM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is offline
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I have a modern 1885 Winchester made in 2005, chambered in 38-55 Win. With a load of approximately 8.5 gr Trail Boss, Bear Creek .376", 255 gr coated lead, Fed 210M primer and virgin Win. brass, I got a 20 shot group to rival yours but my velocity is only around 850fps. At that time I had a Lyman #17 globe with post insert and Lyman Tang for a 1886 on it. I've since had a 20x Unertl Varminter mounted, but I don't think I can shoot any better than that!

Years ago I has a Stevens tip up rifle in 25-20 SS. The rifle was in pretty rough shape and absolutely no brass was available so it was traded off. I have since come across about ten rounds of 25-20 SS and another 15 or 20 formed into 2RLovell. I think Ballard Rifle Co. is selling 25-20 SS brass now. Let us know how that barrel shoots too.

Ivan
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Old 09-09-2017, 05:38 PM
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.25-20 Single Shot brass was impossible to get 10 or 20 years ago. Now no problem. Jamison is making it. I bought 100 pieces of brass and a set of Redding dies.

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Old 09-09-2017, 11:54 PM
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Like the picture of the rifle. Also like the Leica spotting scope; nice glass.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:50 PM
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Well, today was the day to try the .25-20 barrel.



As mentioned above, this is chambered for the .25-20 Single Shot cartridge. When it came out, it was simply called the .25-20. Winchester liked it and wanted something like it to chamber in their Model 1873. Trouble was, this round is too long for the 1873 action. Not to worry, Winchester shortened it and made it a little fatter. The result was the .25-20 Winchester that we know so well. After that, the Stevens cartridge was known as the .25-20 Single Shot. Winchester far outsold Stevens, so the dominant cartridge became the .25-20 Win.; the .25-20 SS sank into oblivion. Ballistically they are about the same.

For a first try I decided on 11.5 grains of H4198, a CCI 400 primer, and a Sierra 75 grain HP bullet. Overall length was 2.175". I loaded ten of these rounds using new Jamison brass.



At my range I set a target at 50 yards and bore sighted the rifle as best I could. The .25-20 barrel has a traditional blade front sight. That is more difficult for me to shoot than having a globe aperture front sight like the Lyman I put on the .38-55 barrel.

Nevertheless, I snuggled behind the rifle and let three rounds fly. I got a nice little group just a few inches below the bullseye.





The rifle obviously wants to behave!

I screwed the tang peep sight about a turn on its shaft and proceeded to fire a 5-shot group at the same 50 yard target.





This thing clearly wants to perform! Here's the full target showing both groups mentioned above. I laid a penny beside the first group for perspective. The diameter of a U.S. penny is .750"





Yes, I know this thing wants to shoot well! What I need is a nice globe front sight like what I put on the .38-55 barrel. I have one, but the trouble is, Stevens used a larger dovetail than our now-standard 3/8". I need to find something to fit.

At this point I had two cartridges left. I thought about plinking a rock sitting just past the 100 yard target stand. Then I thought I should be more serious and shoot these two remaining cartridges for group at 100 yards.

To index a blade front sight it sometimes helps to have a square target. All I had was a diamond shaped target we use for scope sighted rifles. It's made to have its points coincide with scope cross hairs. I put it at 100 yards tilted 45 degrees so it would be a square. Here it is still stapled at the 100 yard target, with my two shots just below.





And here they are with a penny for comparison. Just two shots, but the rifle certainly wants to return superb accuracy.





Finally, a few glamour shots.









I think I like this rifle!

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Old 09-10-2017, 08:27 PM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is offline
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Montana Vintage Arms offers Pope and Winchester reproduction globe sights with dovetails other than Lyman! They will even make custom size dovetails. You can have a dovetailed globe or a dovetailed base and a clamp on globe (but is higher off the bore). These both use brand specific inserts with many configurations available. (I have a Winchester style globe on my Shiloh Sharps with a veneer rear.)

Anschutz uses a larger and metric dovetail that may be of use. Champion Shooters Supply (800-821-4867) stocks these and many of the Lyman's.

Lyman used to make none cut dovetails on globes and you cut the size you need. I don't believe these are currently in production , but there may be old stock around.

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Old 09-10-2017, 08:35 PM
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Thanks for the info. I knew there should be something available to fit.

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Old 09-10-2017, 10:05 PM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is offline
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In thinking about it, you have a Lyman globe for this gun already, have you given any thought to placing the Lyman in the dovetail and shimming it in place? I've never tried anything like that, but what have you got to lose? I would shim from the muzzle end first, to a just snug fit! Then from below to lock it in.

Just a idea to get better shooting until a permanent solution can be found.

Ivan
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:24 PM
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Default 38-55

I am not surprised the 38-55 does really well. I have always seen that in Schuetzen contests, 32-40 wins the most, with 38-55 a close second. That is great that you can convert it back & forth.
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