The Next Chapter: "My advice to you is to get yourself a gun and learn how to use it."
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Stevens Model .22 .410 combo gun with Tenite forend and stock
Look what followed me home from the gun store the other day, a Stevens Model .22 .410 with Tenite forend and stock. CLICK HERE to read the post by The Fishing Musician that inspired me to buy this old gun. In my book, the superposed .22 long rifle / .410 shotgun combo gun is one of America’s greatest utility firearms of all time. My Dad had one just like this one during his early days in Eastern Tennessee; it was his first gun. I am lucky enough to enjoy hunting as a sport; during his youth, my Dad hunted out of necessity. Small game hunting with guns like this was salvation for many folks during hard times; these guns provided meat for the dinner table. Ammo was an expensive commodity for poor country folks so the standing rule was “one shot, one meal.” Instead of expending a second round, Dad once climbed a tree to recover a wounded squirrel; it viciously locked its teeth into his thumb while he proceeded to choke it to death while balancing precariously on a tree branch high off the ground. Yeah, survival hunting is a much more serious affair than is hunting for sport.
When I saw this old gun on the store rack, a somewhat silly sentiment told me that I had to have it in order to complete a connection to my past. When I was young, I used to sneak Dad’s old combo gun out so I could go hunting in the local woods. I know that my older brother will also get a kick out of seeing this gun; he too speaks fondly of “Dad’s old .410.” I remember Dad’s gun being in very rugged shape; the sights were missing, as was the plug for the Tenite stock and there was absolutely no sign of bluing left on the scarred metal; it had seen some hard use on some rocky trails. Dad’s gun was gone long before Dad passed away. The memories of both are still strong. This gun one will act as a surrogate for me; it will be my foster “Dad’s gun.” Honor thy Father.
As you can see in the photo, the major “weak link” on the Stevens Model .22 .410 is the barrel selector (mine is missing the button and screw). One major problem is the screw coming loose and the selector button falling off while afield, lost forever in the leaves or tall grass. Further, the selector link itself is not durable and eventually it will break. If I were to use this gun as my sole survival tool, I would have a gunsmith convert it to the newer Savage design with the barrel selector on the hammer. Since this gun is nothing but a sentimental purchase that will only see rare nostalgic bunny, bird, and squirrel hunts, I will repair it with original parts. The selector link on mine looks intact; when the button and screw that I ordered from Numrich arrive, I will attempt to fix the gun myself. Failing that, the old gun will take a trip to a competent gunsmith.
The Savage Arms Company bought the Stevens Arms Company in 1920. All Stevens Model .22 .410s were manufactured between 1939 and 1950 and have no serial numbers, some with wood stocks and forends, some with Tenite. According to this site, the U.S. Army Air Force adopted the Tenite-stocked Stevens .22/.410 over-under combination gun as its first "survival gun" with an order for 15,000 of them. After 1950, Savage put its name on the gun and designated it as the Model 24. Sadly, Savage discontinued manufacturing; if you want one, you are at the mercy of the used gun racks and the availability of spare parts. CLICK HERE to visit the UK .410 site for more information on these great old guns.