Stevens 414 Armory "Ideal" Rifle
Last Friday as I was driving home after a strenuous but short business trip to Mexico I stopped at Great Guns in Acme, just of M-72 as you are arriving in Traverse City. It has been a long time sinceI had visit this shop and as it is my habit I started browsing at the used gun rack.
The issue is that there are very few modern guns designs that atract my attention. Plastic, stainless steel and tactical designs just don't turn me on. I must confess that I love my Beretta A-400, a truly innovative autoloading shotgun, but when out hunting I carry one of my classic (and old) side-by-side guns, not the A-400.
Also, in the recent past I started gathering (I am not disciplined enough to be a "collector") .22 rimfire rifles, and I was really missing a traditional single shot falling block exemplar for a long time (or at least since my dear friend Stan Bell refused to trade with me one of the nicest Martini Cadets you can dream about. His lame justification is that he wants to keep the rifle for his grandson. What about my grandson?!)
Well, a hunk of walnut and steel with a deep and secular patina coating it immediately got my attention. It had a massive bull barrel with some tapper, a sizeable forend, an elegant under lever, globe front sight, miniscule peep sight and a Whelen shooting sling in great condition. As I handled the heavy but well balanced target rifle, or would it be a military trainer?, I quickly found the Stevens name and immediately the names IDEAL and FAVORITE came to mind.
While I waited for another customer to be helped I used my i-Phone (even I sucumb to modern technology on ocasion) to ckeck some information on the piece, including going price on the most popular on-line auction sites. But soon I was being tended to and negotiations started, and the price was more than reasonable. I used a snap cap to test all functionality and when satisified, done deal!
Later on the day I was able to continue my research the STEVENS 22 Rim Fire No. 414 ARMORY and a 1921 Stevens ads that I found surfing the internet reads the following:
Accuracy is the finest recommendation any rifle can have. It means everything.
Balance, sight adjustment, barrel alignment, easy trigger control, smooth action, "feel" - these are the qualities an accurate rifle must possess.
High prices do not necessarily insure this accuracy, but the Trade Mark that has stood the acid test for 57 years does.
- And that was one of the principle reasons the U.S. Olympic Rifle Team selected STEVENS last year.
You can improve your shooting with a Stevens.
For all ages, for all needs, at all prices.
J. STEVENS ARMS COMPANY
By the way, the price in the 1920's was US$ 21.00!
Bill Ward's "WALNUT and STEEL - Vintage .22 Rifles" dedicates its Chapter Two to Stevens. It starts like this: "it seems only proper to begin a review of vintage .22 rifles with the originator of the most popular cartridge of all time. that man is Mr. Joshua Stevens, and the cartridge, of course, is the .22 long rifle." Mr. Ward talks about Mr. Stevens and the popular SCHUETZENFEST of a time gone by, the boy's rifle Stevens Favorite and its bigger and more serious brother the IDEAL or No. 44 Rifle.
Stevens at one time was the biggest firearm factory in the world, as "the Favorite became the most popular youth rifle of the early 20th century, while the 44 and its brethren would go to become the premier target rifle of the same era."
I was slightly disappointed to discover that my beloved Aguila 22 Super Colibri would not shoot through the heavy 26-inch long target barrel. As that is the only ammo that is safe to be used in my basement I had to make a trip to the Cedar Rod & Gun Club to test my "new" target rifle.
At a stepped through deep snow 50 feet distance I shot the rifle at NRA 10 Meter Air Rifle Targets, first off hand and then supported. The two targets on the picture clearly show that all shots hit the black bulls-eye and the groups could be covered by a quarter. The rifle probably can do better than that, but I have not shot a target rifle on paper in about a decade, so give him a break.
While in terms of pratical accuracy the Stevens 414 Armory does not have the ergonomics advancements or superb sights of modern target rifles, I doubt that it is far behind, if behind at all, in intrinsic accuracy.
I am completely in love with my almost century old new Stevens 414 Armory and I just need a more robust bullet trap to realize its full fun potential.