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Old 09-09-2019, 07:02 PM
William Harper

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Smile My time with the Stevens Favorite I



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My Fellow Shooters:
I first encountered a Stevens Favorite when practicing under my brother Weston's care in October 1949. A neighbor, Mr. C. was on the range with two rifles that looked much handier than the Winchester Winder Musket I was constrained to use. He had a late 1894 model Stevens Favorite in .25 Stevens with a tang peep sight and a globe front with, perhaps, a 26" octagonal barrel in flawless condition and a well kept M1 Carbine. I was fascinated with both. The Carbine's slight recoil rolled me back out of a shaky kneeling position onto my little arse. I did not want to shoot it again. Later he let me shoot the Favorite. Being used to a peep rear and a globe front, I actually clipped the black of a 25yd pistol target. The ammo was Remington Peters. I was shooting Remington .22 shorts in the low wall from a steadier rest and hit a 50 ft black at ca. 10 yards. By next year I had improved and got my first squirrel, thanks to my brother, and witnessed Mr. C. take one with the .25 Favorite at about one hundred yards off the limb of a hickory tree on our back country place.
The way that squirrel swapped ends as it fell and the bigger than .22 hole in it impressed me. Mr. C. had a lot of .25 Stevens ammo but I think it ceased to be available after 1954 except for a lot Navy Arms is said to have had made in Italy.
I did not see a Favorite again until I bought one for my wife in 1973. After she enjoyed it and went on to other things, my son mastered basic marksmanship with it. Some years later my daughter did also loving the sheer handiness of the little rifle. I did not shoot from 1995 through 2004 concentrating on computer skills and gaining full professorship. But after getting all then having life-saving aortal valve replacement I sought a little pleasure taking up the 1972 Savage Stevens Favorite in the company of the best of shooting pals, Mr. Ed Auerbach a fine student of the rifle. In his company I improved the factory tangent iron sights and tried various loads to improve accuracy.
The best load I discovered for accuracy in my 1972's 22" barrel was the Lapua Master L which had a bullet .001 greater in diameter that ordinary .22 LR ammo.
I suddenly had groups on the 50ft target within the nine ring at 25 yards, in the eight ring at 50 yards then ranging from 1.0-1.5" at 100 yards. In a session with quiet air I put a 2.5" group in the blank at 200 meters really gaining Ed's full attention because it beat the best of his breach-loading black powder target rifles. I pointed out that it was a 19th century black powder design. He challenged me to try it at 300 meters.
To do that I clamped a Williams adjustable shotgun sight to the Stevens tangent rear giving it identical windage. Elevation was found by observation on the range.
Once that was determined we saw that the Lapua Master L .22 LR round was a real gem grouping within 8" at 300 meters on a day with some moving air. This was ultimately refined until the groups were much smaller enabling me to get a dead center hit on demand on a Montgomery phone book at 300 meters which saw the Lapua Master L bullet penetrate 7/8ths of its thickness a little more than CCI Blazer would do at 50 yards. Ed grinned and awarded me a key to the private 600 meter range that I still have.
Despite having no adequate way to mount a tang peep or a convenient way to mount one on the receiver, the little 1972 Favorite had proven an excellent performer. I took a lot of squirrels with it 2004-2009 most of which were headshot at close range with Federal Automatch a relief from the expense of Lapua Master L. During the same years I bought and investigated the Savage Stevens Favorite Models 30R17, 30 M, and the 30. I tried them all on the range and hunted with them, too, but that is another story.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:26 PM
72coupe
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Good story Bill.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:05 PM
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Well done in a classic style, William
I too have the 'new model' Sav. version, after some years of the delicate vintage models. I initially got the commemorative but someone offered far too much to me to keep it. It took some time for me to find the right one, the case colored action with oct. barrel and walnut; imo a 'deluxe'. And it be a shooter, too Our scrum does an annual 'boys rifle match' (mini-silhouette) open sights and CBs only from 12.5, 25, 37.5 and 50yd. offhand. The rifle is competitive. And it has done well at the 80ish yd. junk steel offhand with bulk HV.
The new models do have a much heavier trigger than the well worn in vintage rifles (and those old flat springs are just sweeter than coils); quality slickum in the notch and sear really helps.
It is a big relief to me, at this stage of life, to not have to worry about breaking hard to find/expensive parts in a vintage gun.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:40 PM
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I have not dated my .22LR, no idea when it was made. Certainly not a new(er) rifle. Came to me with a Marble's Tang for a Win 92 and a 17 globe front sight on it. The tang does not go low enough for short ranges. I've debated going to a taller 17, but I've shot it so much that now I know where to aim it. Hate to have to start over.

In the 'game' of knocking over shot shell hulls I've been banned several times from using it by my friends. It seems that all of the hulls in one round get blasted over and no one else gets to shoot.....

The friends that know it, though, are always happy when I bring it along as they all like to shoot it. Condenses the shooting experience down to its purest form.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:45 PM
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I have 3 old ones and a couple early 70s vintage. I shoot one of the old ones on a regular basis. It is a really fun gun to shoot and I donít waste any ammo with it.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:59 PM
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Yup!!!

Yup!!! The ammo certainly lasts longer, that's for sure!!! Don't have any of the newer ones, but have rebuilt several of the 1894's and 1915's!!! Have only shot one of the 1894's because that is is the only one completed so far!!! But eventually I'll get them all done!!!
Good story, too!!!
God Bless, Frank.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:02 PM
William Harper

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Smile My time with the Stevens Favorite I

Dear Fellows:
Funny how this little rifle endears itself to so many particularly in the .22 LR chambering. That cartridge had a ready made market due to recommendation already being made for the .22 Long and the .22 Extra Long by famed Sir Henry St. John Halford in his [I]Art of Shooting with the Rifle[I] in 1887 that pressed Joshua Stevens and W.M. Thomas to design the more efficient .22 LR in 1887. Stevens and his firm quickly designed the Stevens Favorite 1889 to be everyone's little rifle. At $6.00 a rifle it was the natural choice of the farm boy and small game hunter because such arms as the Winchester 1890 pump and the Marlin lever action costed ca. $16.00. Most squirrel hunting was still done with small-bore muzzleloaders and shotguns but I found an article written by a gent signing himself "Iron Ramrod" in Shooting and FishingVol. 13 No. 4, Nov. 17, 1892. He had mounted a Mogg telescopic sight on a "Ladies Model" Favorite which efficiently allowed him head and body shots on squirrels at a time when the .22 was generally scorned for that purpose. Later Horace Kephart (1862-1931) loved his 1894 takedown model with its shortened barrel and telescopic sight which he could shoot better than anything else. Kephart, a journalist, folklorist and the conservationist most responsible for the making of Smokey Mountain National Forest was also a rifleman who tested genuine Hawkens. They used black powder and semi-smokeless .22 LR that could be more easily cleaned after from the Favorites breach than was the case with most of the other early .22 LR rifles. They gave good publicity to the Favorite.
Respectfully Yours,
William Harper

Last edited by William Harper; 09-10-2019 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:31 PM
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And the marketing! Calling it The Favorite was genius. Styling somewhat like the 1885 Win. didnt hurt either.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:17 PM
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USOG on YouTube just came out with a video on the Stevens Model 44 in .25 RF and the Favorite. Just Google USOG andYouTube, a good channel to subscribe to.
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Old 09-24-2019, 03:03 PM
William Harper

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My time with the Stevens Favorite I

Dear Fellows: Too bad the .25RF is gone, I wanted to try it. I did get to fire thousands of rounds of various .22RF loads from my 1972 and model 30 Favorites.
Remington Thunderbolt gave 1" at 25 yards.

Last edited by William Harper; 10-19-2019 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 09-24-2019, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Harper View Post
Dear Fellows: Too bad the .25RF is gone, I wanted to try it. I did get to fire thousands of rounds of various .22RF loads from my 1972 and model 30 Favorites.
Remington Thunderbolt gave 1
USOG mentioned that the 5mm rimfire can be modified to fire in .25 rf. But perhaps Aguilla, who makes 5mm rf, could be persuaded to make .25 rf. They did a run of Winchester .22 Auto ammo for the Model 1907, I bought 700 rounds of it for my 1907.

Tomorrow I'm going to a local shop to look at a Stevens Visible Loader, part of a large cache of rifles they took in today, a number of old bolt .22s and, get this, an even dozen, 12, Savage Model 99s. I've a feeling that my credit card will be bleeding when I walk out of that shop tomorrow. Some of those 99s looked quite good in the photos.
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Old 09-24-2019, 10:11 PM
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My Dad was given a 1915 Favorite .32 and a handful of ammo back in the '60's . I ended up shooting off all the long's and short's he had when I was 10/12 yrs. old. They were the old copper shells before brass. He passed away 20 yrs. ago and left all his guns to my brother and I . Of the 25 odd guns he left this old Stevens Favorite was the only one that I wanted . I re=finished the stock and cleaned up the works leaving enough patina that it looks original . He had picked up a complete box of .32 Canuck rimfires somewhere to go with it . After a few gun shows and searching online for more , I am not game to shoot off any more , not at $200.00 a box. We should all have a treasure from our past such as this ........... skwerl
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Old 09-25-2019, 07:00 PM
William Harper

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Smile My time with the Stevens Favorite I

Dear Fellows:
I do wish the 25 RF was still with us even with some modern HV loads. I did get to try a very wide range of .22 LR loads in the 1972 and the Model 30. They both have sporter chambers which will take the CCI Stinger well. The 1972 has a twenty-two inch six groove barrel with six narrow lands and six wide grooves. The model 30 has the same sporter chamber and a twenty-one inch barrel with eight equal lands and grooves. Of the two barrels that of the model 30 is the most accurate by a narrow margin. During my tests which involved thousands of rounds fired from the bench in rather quiet air from 70-80 degrees F. Lapua Master L and Lapua Midas proved the most accurate ammo in both rifles 1-1.5" at 100 yds, 2.75" at 200 meters, 7-8" at 300 meters. Cheaper fare was CCI Blazer, Federal Automatch, and Aguila Match Rifle 2-2.5" at 100 yards, 4" at 200 meters, 8" at 300 meters. Of the hypervelocity loads which proved safe CCI Velocitor was most accurate 1.5-2"- 100 yards, 4"-200 meters, 7-8" at 300 meters sometimes at its best after seasoning the bore with Remington Thunderbolt of all things! CCI Stinger 2.5" 100 yards, no further. I recommend against using Aguila Interceptor in the Favorite's weak pivoting block action. A minor error of mine saw Interceptor twist the pivot pin in my model 30 allowing a case-head split!
Respectfully Yours,
William Harper
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Old 10-19-2019, 06:04 PM
William Harper

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Smile My time with the Stevens Favorite I

My Fellow Shooters:
The 1972 and the model 30 are ca. 37" overall length with barrels 22" and 21" respectively. Both have standard length chambers that will hold a CCI Stinger's long case easily. I have never seen a rifling mark on any round chambered then extracted to see if the bearing surface of the bullet was engaging the rifling. At the muzzles. on the other hand the two rifles' bores are so tight that I cannot force the bearing surface of a bullet into the bores with a reasonable effort. Savage tapered the bores of both the 1972 and model 30 rifles chambered for the .22LR; this may contribute to the remarkable accuracy of these little rifles which weigh about 4.4 and 4 Lbs respectively. Consider, each has a small walnut front-stock fastened to the barrel by a bottom bolt. There is nothing that one can consider bedding or exercising any meaningful torque. That both barrels are fully or half octagonal does not seem a big contributor to barrel rigidity when one considers their small dimensions and that each is partly cut by a big dovetail holding the rear sight. That these light pivoting block rifles delivered minute of angle accuracy at 100 yards when fed the best ammo and fired most carefully under the best conditions does present us with some mysteries when we think about the applications we apply to target and bench rest rifles to get equal performance. Respectfully Yours, William Harper.
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Old 10-19-2019, 06:50 PM
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I concur, sir
My 'new model' in the lovely walnut, case colors and oct. barrel with sporting open sights shoots outside of its class. One one memorable occasion I bested some peep and globe sighted higher priced rifles offhand at 82yds. on junk steel with Fed Auto-Match. Light was poor, overcast and sprinkles; we had to abandon the range and shoot from inside the poorly lit shack and through the window. I think the light was just all wrong inside for the target guns . My open sporting sights were quite visible and a 6:00 hold on the steel knocked em over.
Some days the magic works.
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