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Stevens (New) Favorite .22 From Savage.

Back in 1890, the Stevens Arms Company introduced a .22 single shot marketed as the Stevens Favorite. The falling-block rimfire was more accurate and of considerably higher quality than earlier break-top .22s the company had produced. It quickly became the most popular rifle in the Stevens lineup. The Favorite was offered in several different versions and was chambered for .22, .25 and .32 rimfire ammo.

In 1902, the standard Favorite rifle sold for $6, but optional target sights could boost the price to $9 or more. A special bicycle case could be purchased for an additional $1.50. The standard half-round, half-octagon 22" barrel could he lengthened for $1 per extra inch. Fancy wood and checkering could also be ordered for an additional charge. The Stevens Favorite was discontinued in 1939.

The new Stevens Favorite, now being made by Savage, wears a 21" half-round, half-octagon barrel and measures 36 3/8" in overall length. Scaled to fit younger shooters, the little rifle weighs 4 1/4 lbs. and has an abbreviated 13 1/2" length of pull. It sports an oil-finished American walnut stock with a straight grip and Schnabel forend.

Neither barrel nor action are highly polished; both wear a matte blue finish. The rear sight is step-adjustable for elevation and can be drifted sideways in its dovetail for rough changes in windage.

Dropping the lever (which also serves as the trigger guard) opens the falling block, exposing the chamber for loading. Operating the action doesn't cock the action. The exposed hammer must be manually cocked after a round has been chambered.

An inertia-operated firing pin doesn't contact the base of the cartridge until struck by the falling hammer. There's no external safety -- the rifle is in "safe" condition when the hammer is lowered to rest against the breechblock. The trigger breaks crisply under 51/2 lbs. of pressure.

Because you manually insert cartridges directly into the chamber, I thought the Favorite should be able to digest any standard (not magnum) .22 rimfire load. Stubbier rounds like the .22 Short and tiny imported RWS BB and GB Cap ammo generate less noise. Diminutive BB and CB cap cartridges are so whisper-quiet no ear protection is really needed.

However, the instruction manual notes the Favorite should be used with .22 Long Rifle ammo only. I asked Savage about this, and was told ultra-short rimfire cartridges (smaller than .22 Long or Long Rifle rounds) can cause loading problems. If the cartridge is inserted between the chamber and extractor, closing the action could bend the extractor arm. The .22 Long and Long Rifle cartridges are long enough to prevent this from happening.

Expended cartridges aren't kicked to the rear when the action is opened. Instead, an extractor pulls empties from the chamber just far enough to allow you to grip and remove them. How did the Stevens Favorite shoot? Firing offhand, I was able to print 5/8" three-round groups from 25 yards.

This handsome little single shot is fun to shoot. A slick little rifle with nostalgic ties to the past, it's as cute as a bug's ear. It's also sized right for junior shooters. List price is $193,
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Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2000
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