To the surprise and delight of many, the year
1977 found me preparing to graduate high school. I had been
sentenced by the state of Tennessee in 1965 to endure twelve
long years of education, of which I was about to complete. The
word came down to us parolees that class rings were about to be
ordered. The cost was 95 bucks each, and I was not about to
waste that much hard-earned cash on a piece of jewelry. For the
exact same price, I could buy either a new Winchester
Model 94 or Marlin Model 336 lever action .30-30 at the
local gun emporium. At that wonderful time in my life, every
year before deer season the local gun sellers would offer the
leverguns at just under a C-note, and that was the rifle of
choice for local hunters, unless one was well-heeled. The folks
with plenty of money went for a new bolt-action, usually a Remington
BDL from Riley Hardware, and almost always chambered for
the .30-06 cartridge. The rest of us chose the levergun, for it
was much more affordable, and got the job done just fine.
However, we all at that time wanted a bolt-action, for it was
the badge of merit for a real hunter, or so it seemed. I lost
the argument with my mom, and ended up spending the ninety-five
dollars for the ring. I also later lost the ring. I should have
bought the Winchester.
Hunting guns cost a lot less back then, but
wages were lower too, so I guess that today’s prices are not
so bad on most hunting rifles. Having the rifles that one
needs is not too difficult for most of us. Having the rifles
that one wants can get expensive, however. Sometimes need has
nothing to do with it, and I certainly have more than I need.
While good bolt-action rifles can be pretty pricey today, there
are a few that offer a lot of gun for the money, and the best of
these is the subject of this article; the Stevens Model 200.
The Stevens brand has always offered
good, solid, no-frills guns at a good price, and the Model 200
follows in that tradition. The rifle is produced by Savage
Arms, and is for all intents and purposes a Savage 110
without the AccuTrigger.
The suggested retail price is only $316.
Now, besides the AccuTrigger you are giving up
in exchange for a much lower price………nothing. The
Stevens has everything needed in a good bolt-action
hunting rifle. First of all, it has the time-tested Savage 110
action, that is known for reliability and safety. The blind
magazine holds four rounds in standard chamberings and three in
the magnum chamberings. The trigger is crisp, and the weight of
pull on the sample rifle was just over four pounds. While it is
not adjustable like the AccuTrigger, it is entirely adequate for
a hunting rifle, and by backing out the screw that tensions the
trigger spring, I was able to get the pull weight down to three
pounds and six ounces. The safety is located on the upper
tang, just as it should be. The barrel is of a medium-slim
profile, and is twenty-two inches long on the sample .30-06
chambered rifle. The magnums wear a barrel that is two inches
longer. The Model 200 wears no open sights, but is drilled and
tapped for scope bases. Unlike many hunting rifles costing three
times the price, the Model 200 comes equipped with sling swivel
studs, as should every hunting rifle. The gray synthetic stock
has molded-in checkering for a positive grip, has the Savage
Indian head logo on the pistol grip cap, and wears a rubber
buttplate. The bolt handle has a section of checkering on top to
aid in a better grip. The barrel on the Model 200 is
free-floated its entire length, and the barreled action is
pillar bedded into the stock. The barreled action is evenly
blued to a semi-matte finish, and shows no flaws or tool marks.
The combination of the black metal and gray stock makes for a
really good-looking rifle.
The Stevens Model 200 that I received weighs
just six pounds and seven ounces, and has a wonderful balance,
being slightly muzzle heavy. This makes for a rifle that is
light and easy to carry, but that points very well, without any
hint of unsteadiness. The balance point is right under the
front receiver ring. Perfect. The action works very smoothly,
and is quick for follow-up shots on game.
Shooting the Model 200 for accuracy and function
was at first frustrating, but was no fault of the rifle. I had
mounted a Tasco Target scope to see how good the accuracy
on the Stevens would be. The scope had proven reliable in the
past, but the internal adjustments had gone haywire on me. I
scrapped the piece of junk and mounted a 3x9 Simmons,
which proved to be reliable. I wanted to shoot the Stevens with
an inexpensive scope, realizing that most hunters would not
mount an expensive scope on a budget-priced rifle. The Simmons
worked okay, but it was obviously not the best of optics. I
would suggest that a hunter take the money saved on the rifle,
and apply it towards a good glass like the Leupold VX-1,
which can be found for just under 200 bucks. This would make for
a dandy combination that would be reliable and inexpensive.
I tried the Stevens with both factory and
handloaded ammunition, and accuracy was very good, producing
some groups of under one inch at one hundred yards. One type of
ammunition that shows good promise is the new Managed Recoil
ammo from Remington. They advertise that it delivers half
the recoil, and I believe them. This .30-06 loaded with their
125 grain Managed Recoil load felt like shooting a .243
Winchester. The 125 grain bullet is designed to perform on
deer-sized game, and I look forward to trying it out this season
I am very pleased with the performance,
accuracy, aesthetics, and value offered by the Stevens Model
200. With a suggested retail of only 316 bucks, I have seen
these for sale for less than $270, which is an outstanding
value. There are other low priced bolt-action rifles available,
but none that offer the quality of the Stevens. In today’s
dollars, this Stevens Model 200 cost less than did the
ninety-five dollar leverguns of my youth. A hunter today can buy
the Stevens, mount a good scope, and be set for a lifetime of
hunting. If you are in the market for a good, reliable hunting
rifle, look closely at the Stevens Model 200. It is made in the
USA, and I highly recommend it.
Check out the entire line of Savage products at:
To To locate a Savage/Stevens dealer near you,
click on the DEALER LOCATOR icon at: www.lipseys.com.
For more info on the Remington Managed recoil
ammunition, go to: www.remington.com.
To locate a dealer where you can
buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:
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