Stevens New 411 Upland Sporter 12 Gauge Double
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 8th, 2003




After being absent for many years, it is good to see the return of the Stevens name to the world of shotguns. For decades, the Stevens name represented quality products for the field. They were guns built for the hunter. Stevens shotguns were more likely to be found in the gun rack of a pickup truck rather than the rack at the local trap club. They were guns for the common man. They were affordable, but built to last. They were for the hunter who was more concerned with bringing home the meat than impressing the boys at the country club.

The J. Stevens Arms Company was founded in 1864, and was purchased by Savage Arms in 1920. Over the years, besides rifles, pistols, and combination guns, Stevens shotguns were built by the thousands. My first gun was a Stevens Model 95 single shot which I received at age eleven. I still have that old gun, and it is just as tight and reliable as ever. Stevens double barrel guns were built in several variations over the years, ending with the discontinuation of the model 311 in 1989. The 311 was a good, solid boxlock side-by-side that was the workhorse of double gun world. It was nothing fancy, but was strong, reliable, and affordable. There are thousands of them still in use, and their prices are steadily climbing in the used gun market.

Savage Arms has now introduced a successor to the 311, and that is the new Stevens 411 Upland Sporter. I was first introduced to the 411 at the 2003 SHOT Show in Orlando, Florida back in February. I was immediately excited to learn of the new Stevens double gun, then a bit concerned when I learned that it was being built in Russia. I have nothing against Russian guns, but they are not known for superior looks or handling qualities. While being built like the proverbial T-72 tank, many Russian shotguns balance and swing like a pig on a shovel, and have stocks that are made of some of the homeliest wood on the planet.  After handling the prototype 411 that Savage had on display, my fears were abated, and I requested a test gun to be sent when the shotgun went into production.

I recently received the new 411, and was greatly impressed with the quality of the product, especially considering the selling price of the shotgun. The 411 is built by Baikal to Savage’s specifications. This is definitely not your typical Russian double gun. The most readily apparent feature of the 411 is the quality of the wood used for the stock and forearm. It is made of European walnut, is nicely finished, and has cut checkering on the pistol grip and forearm. The pistol grip is of the long-radius, or "Prince-of-Wales" style, but without the round knob, which is a good compromise between the tight radius grip of a target gun and the straight grip of an English bird gun. For a field gun, it feels just right. The fit of the stock to the action is a bit proud, sticking up slightly above the metal in the tang area, but nicely fitted to the decorative side plates. The cut checkering is functional, with few overruns, and is a great improvement over the machine pressed checkering found on older Stevens guns. The butt stock is completed with a solid rubber pad. The stock has a drop at comb of one and three-eighths inches, a fourteen inch length of pull, and a drop at heel of two inches, with a slight cast-off for right-handed shooters.

The boxlock action has, as mentioned above, decorative side plates. The side plates, trigger guard, and forearm latch are laser engraved. The latch and guard wear a tasteful scroll design, while the side plates are engraved with hunting scenes; a retriever and duck on the right side and a pointer and pheasant on the left.

The action has a single selective trigger, with the selector at the top of the trigger blade. It pushes to the left or right to fire that respective barrel first. The automatic safety is located on the top of the tang, just where it should be. The trigger guard is, thankfully, large enough to accommodate a gloved finger, for comfortable use in any weather.

The barrels are twenty-eight and one-half inches long on the twelve gauge, which is the only chambering available at this time. Later, the 411 will be available in twenty gauge and .410 bore. The chambers accept both two and three-quarters and three inch shells, and are built to handle lead and steel shot. The barrels are joined by a raised solid rib that is tapered toward the front and matte finished on top to prevent glare, and has a red front bead and a silver-colored mid bead.  The 411 is supplied with three screw-in thin wall choke tubes marked full, modified, and improved cylinder. The forearm latch easily removes the forearm for disassembly without tools. The metal parts on the gun are of polished blued steel, nicely finished, and without any flaws or tool marks visible. The overall aesthetics of the 411 are very good, and would be acceptable on a gun costing twice as much. It is also much better looking than the 311 series of shotguns. The only aesthetic flaws that I found was the use of Phillips-head instead of slot-head screws at the rear of the trigger guard and on the forearm, but that is just a personal opinion, and does not affect the performance of the shotgun.

The twelve gauge 411 weighs just over seven pounds, balances very well, and shoots exactly to point-of-aim for me, despite my being terminally left-handed. The twenty-eight and one-half inch barrels swing well, without being either overly heavy or whippy. I fired the 411 with several different types of shells, and there were no malfunctions of any kind. The trigger pulls measured between just over six pounds to right at eight pounds, with the second pull always being the heavier of the two, regardless of which barrel was fired first.  I found the barrel selector to be ideal, and much easier to use than a tang-mounted selector. Simply push to the left to fire the left barrel first, and to the right to fire the right barrel first. The Stevens 411 is fitted with selective ejectors, which worked flawlessly, throwing the fired empties well to the rear of the shooter, and lifting the unfired shells for easy removal.

We have long needed a quality, reliable, affordable double barrel shotgun in this country, and Savage has delivered with the new Stevens Upland Sporter 411. The suggested retail on this shotgun is only $395, and the real world price is several dollars less. This is a rare bargain in today’s shotgun market. No longer do shooters have to settle for an unwieldy clunker or spend close to a thousand dollars for a decent double gun. I see the 411 as serving the role of a good field gun, equally at home for upland birds and rabbits, in the duck blind, or in the squirrel woods.  It is a good, all-around hunting gun, in the Stevens tradition. It is a worthy successor to the 311.

Check out the entire line of products from Savage Arms online at:

Jeff Quinn

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Author was favorably impressed with the Stevens 411.



The Stevens 411 is a very nice-looking gun, especially considering its price. Features include well-finished metal parts well-fitted with good-quality European walnut. The modified "Prince-of-Wales" pistol grip features cut checkering. An especially nice touch on a gun of the 411's price range are the laser-engraved side plates.



The Stevens 411 is currently chambered for 12-gauge, with 20-gauge and .410 bore to be available soon.



The Stevens 411 is supplied with thin-wall screw-in choke tubes marked full, modified and improved cylinder. The 411 is built to handle either lead or steel shot.



The automatic safety is located on the top of the tang, just where it should be.



The Stevens 411 is fitted with selective ejectors, which worked flawlessly every time during the author's testing.



The forearm latch works perfectly, and features tasteful scroll engraving.



The barrel selector is well-located inside the trigger, and is very simple and easy to operate.



The buttstock is capped off with a rubber butt pad.



Author found the Stevens 411 to be a very well-handling, well-shooting gun, and a real value equal to shotguns costing double its asking price.



The Stevens 411 Upland Sporter, made in Baikal, Russia, is a lot of gun for a little money!