Reviewed – Stevens 555 Over/Under Shotgun

For many years my only shotgun was a Mossberg 590A1 which we keep on the farm for predator defense.  A very solid combat shotgun ( I believe it is the USMC shotgun of choice), the Mossie would also be perfect for any ‘social emergency’ but it really isn’t the ideal tool for many of the applications we often look to address with a shotgun like, for example, providing for one of my favorite in season meals: freshly pan-seared duck !

So, it was that a desire to do some birding and possibly taking up the hobby of knocking down some always in season clays that last year I bought the Stevens 555 over and under shotgun in 12g.  Readers will appreciate that it is quite possible to spend a great deal of money on a sporting shotgun and, indeed, many do just that – in some cases spending more on a shotgun than most of us will on a long-range precision rifle – and for those that do I say “good for you” but for me I just couldn’t justify the expense and so I decided to look for something that was inexpensive, reliable and light enough to, if necessary,carry all day long.

By way of general interest background, I’ve read that at one time the J. Stevens Arms Company was the largest shotgun manufacturer in the world and amongst its most famous offerings was to be found the Model 520, America’s first slide-action hammerless shotgun. In 1936 Stevens ceased being a separate company and was absorbed as a division of Savage Arms under which the Stevens name developed an excellent reputation for reasonably priced, well-designed, well-built shotguns and in recent years Savage have been importing affordable, Turkish-made SxS’s and O/U’s under the Stevens name.

The funny thing about shotgunning ( and perhaps – though I would like to think not – about shotgunners ) is the genuine amount of latent snobbery that surrounds this sport.  When I first mentioned to some shotgunning types that I was going to buy a Stevens the almost universal response was one of “oh dear why would you do that – surely times are not that hard that one has to go so low-end”.  Now this is totally different to the precision  rifle world where while a nice Accuracy INternational or Sako TRG is always appreciated no one is really going to look down their nose at a Remington 700 or Savage 12 that someone brings to the range.

In fact the snobbishness about shotguns even extends to reviews. The website Chuckhawks.com has a review of the Stevens 555 that includes the following:

“While the market for utilitarian over/under shotguns is undeniable, as evidenced by the sales of the Mossberg Silver Reserve, the satisfaction of actually owning one is dubious.”

Really ?  Hmmm, Oh well, different sports……and on with my thoughts…….

Made in Turkey and available in Canada for just under $700 this shotgun is a well finished and good looking gun.  The furniture is Turkish walnut and it has a nice grain to it and the checkering is neatly done and The metalwork is finished in a warm and traditional satin black oxide that was evenly applied and without blemish.

In keeping with the usual practice the single selective trigger is assigned an order of barrel discharge by engaging the tang safety and then moving the safety left or right.  Simple and easy to use.

The Stevens 555 receiver is apparently made of aluminum with steel inserted for strength and durability and the shotgun lifts the spent hulls for hand removal rather than ejecting them like other more expensive shotguns do.  For me this is no big deal – as a precision rifle shooter who wants to keep his brass I am used to picking shells out of the receiver by hand !

The same writer who was moaning about the ‘dubious satisfaction of owning a mass market shotgun’ also commented that the Stevens 555 was nose heavy due to the use of aluminum in the receiver.  Hmmm, for me I didn’t think it was nose heavy for that reason – I figure all shotguns with 26, 28 or 30 inch barrels are nose heavy and the reason is physics: hang a pair of 28″ tubes off a lead receiver and guess what….it will feel a bit “nose heavy”.  Seriously though, this shotgun feels no more oddly balanced than does any other.  It feels like any other double-barreled shotgun which means, yes, slightly nose heavy 🙂

This shotgun weighs approx 6 Lbs 3 oz  and has an overall length of a hair under 45″  which means that I can carry it pretty much all day and it isn’t at all cumbersome to use.  The light weigh does mean that felt recoil is a wee bit stouter than my Mossberg 590A1 but it is a small price to pay for the reduced weight and, seriously, we are not talking about a lot of recoil here at all. Sometimes when I read articles about recoil I figure the writers must have spent their entire time shooting guns on X-Box !  When fired real firearms recoil – deal with it.

At day’s end I figure that for the money I spent the Stevens 555 is a very solid piece of equipment – well built and so far totally reliable.  It is an attractive gun without being all fancy and it is something that I feel comfortable carrying in the field with the bonus that if it falls off the quad or gets bounced about in the truck I wont be crying about a dent or a scratch.

Next time here at Rifletalk

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we go from the economy of the Stevens 555 to the almost stupidly expensive Tangent Theta riflescope which at Can$5300 (yes, five thousand three hundred) really better be something special !

 

Back after a long break

I’m pleased to report that I am alive and well after taking  few months away from the keyboard.  While I’ve not been writing, I have been busy and after much thought accepted the offer to  re-up for one final return to the colours so rather than being early retired I am back in law enforcement.  What this meant was a whirlwind of re-quals and such like which, together with the commencement of winter, really precluded any writing.

Now I m all organized at work I can once again set time aside for my writing.  I have some cool reviews in the works:  a nice over under shotgun for the regular guy,  neat new bipod from my friends at Mystic Precision and the super nice Tangent Theta scope in 5-25×56

Thanks to everyone who has continued to visit.  Stay tuned new content is really on the way !

Cheers !

 

 

Buying LE Trade-In / Used Glocks & What to Look For

Happy New Year everyone. Apologies for not writing for the last few months but a return to Law Enforcement for one more tour of duty has meant little time for anything else. Since I am now back carrying a Glock I really liked this excellent article from the folks at Looserounds.com about buying a used LE Glock and thought you may enjoy it also.

Reviewed – The TriggerTech Trigger

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While there isn’t anything really bad about the Remington X-Mark Pro (XMP) triggers, many of us in the shooting community consider it to be the weak point in the rifles offered by Big Green. Some of us simply prefer the old Remington trigger or wish for a crisper cleaner trigger pull but, whatever the reasoning, the fact is that lots of us swap out triggers first chance we get and Remington’s massive – and poorly managed – trigger recall likely added a fair few more converts to the ‘ditch the XMP’ crew.

Unless I am building a pure target (F-Class or similar) rifle off of a R700 action the trigger I’m most likely to replace the Remington factory trigger with the is very reliable and not too expensive Timney 510 but a few months ago a new – Canadian – offering hit the market from TriggerTech. Trigger Tech are very well know for making crossbow triggers but I think this is their first foray into the world of centrefire rifles.

Simple and Easy-To-Read Instructions

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TrigerTech claim to have brought their friction-less technology to the rifle world and they say that this produces more consistency than the standard Remington trigger which uses a sliding friction sear/trigger interface.

I bought a couple of Triggertech triggers back in the summer and installed them in my PGW Rifles which until recently were shipped with XMP triggers (now shipped with… you guessed TriggerTechs ).  One of the new triggers went in my .338 LM Timberwolf and the other in my .308 Coyote. Over the past few months I’ve extensively tested both triggers and actually I went so far as to us the .308 in an F-Class match to see how it and especially this trigger would perform against top-line equipment.

The TriggerTech triggers I bought were the w/o safety flavour and they install as simply as can be using the trigger pins on the action. There is a single click adjustable screw that can be adjusted to move the pull weight and it is easy to use to get the shooter to his or her preferred trigger pull.

Easy Installation – old trigger out

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New Trigger In

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Unlike most triggers – even good ones – there isn’t any sense of real movement or progression. The trigger actually surprises me when it goes off; crisply and cleanly at the same point time after time after time. This isn’t the opinion formed after one range session to write an article but the opinion of a shooter who has been using the trigger in two guns for several months. Yes, I am impressed.

Priced less than the Timney 510 this trigger has to be my go to trigger whenever a XMP Remington trigger now needs swapping out. An excellent product that is well worth taking a look at.

A Plea To Canadian Voters

I’ve not posted for a while because I’ve been very busy with a number of other matters but the upcoming Canadian Federal Election on Monday causes me to want to reach out to as many people as possible.  I ask that everyone eligible to vote in this election seriously consider two things: One – what will happen to the economy if the Liberal or NDP parties form government ? If you are not sure of the answer to this question please look at Alberta and Ontario for examples. Secondly, if you are a gun owner ( and if you found this page you likely are ) please consider that while the Conservatives didn’t give us everything we wanted, they did get rid of the Long Gun Registry and they also reigned in the RCMP who initially (and without notice) banned our Swiss Arms and CZ858’s.

The Conservatives are not perfect – no political party is – but in my opinion they are the very best choice for the Canadian economy.  For Canadian gun owners the Conservatives are the only major party that will work with us to allow us the freedom to enjoy our hobby, our sport and our culture of gun ownership.

Thank you for reading this.  If you are reading this outside of Canada please forgive the political message – hopefully you will appreciate how important this issue is.

Using a Tactical Rifle for F-Class – Update

Back in Mid Summer I embarked upon the journey of selecting a tactical rifle that would suffice for the F-Class game where it would be expected to be competitive against single shot long-barreled rifles that are purpose built for this most demanding of accuracy sports.

The selection of a suitable tactical rifle naturally focused upon which of the contenders could consistently shoot the smallest, tightest groups and so load development was geared towards that which would be most accurate at the distance that the particular upcoming match was to be shot which in this case was the relatively short ( by F Class standards ) range of 500m.

I’m fortunate to have on my own property a nice 500m shooting area so I was able to very easily shoot a particular load, record data, make up a new load and re-shoot.

My Favored Shooting Spot

I’d whittled down the rifle selection to two – a PGW Coyote and a customized Remington 700.  At day’s end the Coyote was chosen but not because it outshone the Rock Creek barreled Remy but because it allowed for the attachment of the better bipod – a LRA versus a Harris.  The choice of the Coyote though came at a price – weight – which quite sadly meant that the first choice of scope; a S+B Pmii had to be forgone for a lighter offering from Sightron ( their fine Siii 8-32×56 ).

The PGW Coyote in Match Condition

Most interestingly, the load I’d developed for long range using a Berger 185 over Varget was not the most  accurate at the 500m range and neither for that matter was another ‘go to’ load that utilized the Hornady 178g BTHP.  In fact the real surprise out of this whole exercise was that out of the variety of loads tested, the majority of the half minute or better groups were found to be shot using a load tipped with a Hornady 168g HPBT – and I though the 168g pills were obsolete !

The final load settled upon was 168g Hornady HPBT over 43.5 Varget in Lapua brass ignited with FGMM primers.  Velocity clocked at 2735 FPS using a Magento Speed chrony and confirmed by using Strelok Ballistic App for Android.

At load development ranges of 200m and 300m the 168g load turned in consistent sub-half minute results just like the one pictured below.

Sub Half MOA at 200m

At 500m the average 5-shot grouping opens up with the 168g load but still averages in the .5’s and since 500m is still shy of the 600 yard “wall” that so bedevils many 168g projectiles with an 11 degree tail I saw no evidence whatsoever of the yaw or tumble that I was mindful of.

Below is a pretty representative 5 shot group at 500m

5 Shots at 500M – 0.531 MOA

So now I figure I am pretty much set – it will be interesting to use a rifle designed for one thing (tactical use ) in a sport dominated by rifles purpose built for that game.  I’ll be posting results in a few weeks time.