RiflesSingle ShotUsed£ 2,600
Single-shot rifles were manufactured in a multitude of designs by a host of makers including Ballard, Maynard, Remington, Sharps, Winchester and Stevens.
The most prolific manufacturer of single-shot pistols, rifles and shotguns was Stevens.
This is a beautiful Stevens Model 44 rifle in 25-20 centrefire single shot obsolete calibre British Nitro Proofed. The rifle is about as good as you will find and is complete with the original Stevens Scope and mounts and the correct period Lyman Tang sight. The rifle has a very good bore and solid action and the extractor is extant. The original Stevens Bakelite butt plate has also survived and is in remarkable condition. The rifle evidences much original finish including case hardening on the receiver. There is one small sliver of wood missing from the end of the left-hand side of the forend but this is not easy to see unless you look for it and could be simply repaired if you had the time and inclination to do so.
J. Stevens and Company was founded at Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts in 1864, Joshua Stevens being the senior partner with W.B. Fay and James Taylor providing financial backing. The company began to produce vest and pocket pistols based on Stevens’ patent of September 6, 1864 as well as a line of precision machine tools.
In 1886 the firm was dissolved and the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company incorporated. Stevens sold his shares in 1896 at which time he ceased to be associated with the company. By 1902 it was promoting itself as the largest producer of sporting arms in the world, a claim that is difficult to disagree with.
In 1916 it was reorganised and renamed the J. Stevens Arms Company. In 1920 the Savage Arms Corporation bought the entire stock and the two merged. The J. Stevens Arms Company operated as a Savage subsidiary finally being integrated in 1920.
Though never as popular or as highly regarded as the Winchester, Remington or Ballard single-shot rifles, the Stevens Ideal Rifle No. 44 endured and it’s a matter of historical fact they were still being made long after their better named and higher priced competitors such as Ballard ceased trading.
In the 1903 catalogue Stevens’ advertising described the Ideal 44 as “manufactured to meet the demand for a reliable and accurate rifle at a moderate price . . . no better or stronger shooting arm can be made for the same cartridges. It is recommended without qualification and fully guaranteed.”
If quantity of arms sold proved reliability and reputation then undoubtedly Stevens were ahead of its collective peers in every respect.
Good quality US Stevens single shot rifles are becoming scarce and increasing in value as the US market recognises their quality and the scarcity of decent examples. These rifles were “work horses” and not purchased for show so although there are reasonable numbers of good quality functional rifles in the market, it is difficult to find such an example and certainly not with an original scope.
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