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Long Guns

Stevens Model 200: Defining Value & Offering Performance

by Scott E. Mayer   |  April 11th, 2006 8

Base models offer “strictly business” shoppers with function over frills and also let manufacturers begin earning customer brand loyalty. While the Stevens Model 200 does both, its performance also makes it one heck of a value.

My evaluation of the Stevens Model 200 bolt-action rifle corresponded with my buying a new truck. If you haven’t been new truck shopping lately, it’s hard to find one that isn’t essentially a luxury vehicle that has a bed on the back.

Standard equipment on some models these days includes such things as multiple zone automatic climate controls, XM radio, satellite electronics, and heated mirrors. All I wanted was a truck–something strong and well built that a muddy, wet bird dog could get in without me freaking about damaging Corinthian leather. I didn’t need a status symbol to take the weekly garbage to the dump or haul deer out of the woods.

I had given up in frustration and was ready to consider restoring a classic truck when the Stevens blew in here like a breath of fresh air and renewed my faith in manufacturing sanity. Here was a rifle that was what I was looking for in a truck: a no-frills tool–plain and simple. There’s no wood to warp, no delicate finish to scratch. It’s a rifle.
It obtains its performance heights in terms of function first and foremost. That it uses the time-tested Savage Model 110 action assured me it was strong, and free-floated, button-rifled Savage barrels have always provided me with accuracy that belies their moderate price tags, so I was confident about its accuracy. I was also floored to see that the Stevens 200 retails for only $316 even though skilled union workers in a New England state known for high taxes and operating costs made it.

To get the price tag down without sacrificing quality, Savage (Dept. ST, 118 Mountain Rd., Suffield, CT 06078; 413-568-7001; www.savagearms.com) did exactly what auto manufacturers do–offer a base product that’s essentially the same under the hood as the higher end models and then let the higher end models with the extra bells and whistles carry the margin. In terms of automobiles, then, the Stevens 200 can be thought of as the base, with the Savage-brand being the upgrade thus carrying more options such as left-hand, different finishes, wood stocks, and muzzle porting.


A No-Frills Work Gun
That’s not to say the Steven’s is a cheap gun. In fact, if you turn the calendar back a few years to when Savage offered a more limited selection of rifles, the Stevens is essentially the basic blued and synthetic Savage rifle. It’s different from the past guns, though, because it offers advanced features, such as dual pillar bedding, long- and short-action lengths, and even magnum chamberings. Distinguishing it from the current Savage line are features such as a matte metal finish obtained by hand-polishing in contrast to the high-polish (and more expensive) finish on Savage rifles derived from “tumbling” the parts in huge vibratory polishers.
It didn’t save any money at the manufacturing or retail level, but another thing Savage did with the Stevens line was instead of waiting to retire an on-line and fully functional Savage synthetic stock mold, the company bought a new mold for the Savage line and relegated the “hand-me-down” mold to the Stevens line.

This is an effective use of equipment as it ages, and at Savage it isn’t unique to the stocks. While visiting the factory a few years back I saw where barrels go through a multiple reaming process called “broaching.” The oldest reamer in the series does the first cut, and when the barrel gets the final “broach,” it’s done by the newest reamer, resulting in the best possible finish.

Just like a base model truck may come standard with a bench seat with the next higher version having captain’s chairs, the Stevens comes with the familiar Savage trigger. It’s hand set at the factory to a reasonable pull weight and can be further adjusted by a competent gunsmith. The trigger upgrade, if you will, is the AccuTrigger. It has added safety features and is user adjustable down to about 11/2 pounds of pull, but you have to upgrade from the Stevens rifle to a Savage to get it.

While you can often get base model vehicles in a limited variety of colors, the Stevens Model 200 comes only with a gray synthetic stock and blued steel. Variety kicks in with calibers. You won’t find base trucks with much in the way of engine choices, but in the Stevens Model 200 you’ll find no less than five short-action chamberings from .223 Remington to .308 Winchester. Available long-action chamberings include .25-06, .270 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield, you can also have 7mm Remington Magnum or .300 Winchester Magnum.

I received a long-action sample chambered in .30-06 Springfield to evaluate. It has everything a no-nonsense shopper could want in a basic rifle including sling swivel studs and an action already drilled and tapped for scope mounting. It was a simple matter to select a matching pair of Warne Maxima rings and bases for a perfect fit.

NOTE: All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

 

In them, one of the new-style Simmons ProSport 3-9X 40mm riflescopes drops right in without a glitch. For me, it was as though that ensemble was made to go together. I had a rifle with that “classic” American bolt-action look and the redesigned Simmons scope proportioned like a sporter riflescope should be instead of like a couple of beverage cans joined by a section of conduit as was the rage a few years back.

Possibly The Best Value In Bolt Actions
In the Stevens Model 200 I had found in a rifle what I continued to seek in a truck–a sturdy, well-made, task-specific tool. Of course, that task was launching well-aimed shots, and at the range well-aimed shots were rewarded with good groups. At my experience level as a shooter and hunter, I’d gladly tote a Stevens Model 200 into the woods, but I reasoned that most Stevens purchases will be made either by shooters on a tight budget or as entry-level guns.

Budget-conscious shooters shoot inexpensive ammunition, and entry-level shooters should start with low-recoils loads. For those two reasons, I included Golden Bear ammunition as an economy load and Remington’s Managed Recoil as a low-recoil load.

I wasn’t disappointed with either in the accuracy department. Golden Bear does have quite a muzzle flash, though, which probably indicates some of its economy may come from simply leaving out flash suppressant from the powder formula. Remington’s Managed Recoil is nothing short of a powder puff on the recoil end, even in the 6.5-pound Stevens Model 200. I have used .300 Winchester Magnum Managed-Recoil loads for whitetail and found them to also be great within their range limitations on the receiving end.

Winchester’s Super-X 150-grain Power-Point loading showed that the Stevens can deliver power and accuracy from full-power, name-brand factory ammunition, and I used Hornady’s 150-grain InterLock in a moderate handload because the InterLock has always been a benchmark for me in hunting bullet performance. I can find hunting bullets that shoot better or worse for every rifle, but the InterLock has been really consistent for me in terms of accuracy, and its performance on game has never let me down.

My benchmark for accuracy in a .30-caliber rifle is naturally Sierra’s 168-grain MatchKing, so I included a handload with it even though I doubt many Stevens Model 200 rifles will ever seriously be used with target ammunition. My best group with the MatchKing was 0.68 inch, which is something to write home about with any mass-produced hunting rifle.
Savage says the Stevens Model 200 “is the best value in a bolt-action rifle.” Honestly, I don’t know the retail prices of all bolt-action rifles, and I sure haven’t shot all of them, so I can’t say with absolute certainty if that’s the case with the Stevens. Even so, I think it’s accurate for me to say that if the Stevens isn’t the best value in a bolt-action rifle, it’s darn close

  • Terry

    I had a .308 stevens model 200 and it was the worst rifle i ever had . It would shoot all over the target . i put 3 different scopes on it. and it still shot everywhere . Dont waste your money on this rifle . Its Junk

  • John

    Could have been caused by anything…bad scope bases, bolts locking the action to the stock not secure, poor ammo, bad day shooting… I used a Savage 200 in .25-06 that shot under MOA routinely with handloads. It would keep most factory loads under 2 inches.

  • Scott

    Bought a used .308 Stevens model 200 with a BSA scope from a co-worker for $300. The scope was already mounted and sighted in and the stock re-painted flat black. With less than 25 rounds shot total through my rifle including the 8 I shot when I bought it, I feel I have a reliable rifle to hunt bore with this winter.

    I have only shot 8 rounds through it with Silver Bear ammo and i am pleased with it's accuracy, feel and action. I will trust this rifle with better ammo to hunt bore with %100.

    Yes there are better rifles out there but for $300 I do not think that I could find a better rifle in .308 with scope ready to hunt.

  • http://www.rehmemfg.com Mark

    I have one in 7mm 08 that shoots like Terry's – terrible. With factory ammo.it throws bullets all over the place.

    Installed a Timney trigger, and a Vortex scope with some decent rings then bench-rested it, very bad shooter. Installed a Boyd laminated stock, free-floated the barrel and tried it again at 150 yards, I would be afraid to try and shoot a deer with it from a solid rest the chance of you hitting the vitals are poor.

    Now that I am in this deep I guess I might as well install a new barrel and see if I can get my $200 bargain rifle to shoot acceptible groups.

  • http://blog.ahbba.com/vernmulch/2011/10/17/mergents-pays-la-prennent-pharmacie-en-ligne-les/ pharmacie en ligne

    Good tip. I did it and it worked. Thanks.

  • Tim H

    The wife got me a Stevens 200 in .308 for my birthday a few years back. I put on leupold steel rings and a leupold 3 X 9 entry level scope. Good glass, held in place by quality rings, is vital.

    It shoots bettter than I expected and I have used it to kill many feral hogs. 165 grain Sierra Gamekings and Federal 168 grain BTHPs I traded for have proven to stop any sized hogs decisively at any reasonable distance out of this budget rifle.

    It's lightweight, rugged and easy to pack along. I don't worry about banging it around or getting it muddy and scratched up. I wiper 'er down, oil 'er up and I get accurate and reliable performance without the frills. Just what I was looking for in a rifle that is cheap enough not to fret over and more than accurate enough to do the job.

  • Eric

    One of the best ways to determine if it is the rifle or you is to do the penny test. I realize that with this rifle if is tough with tweaking the trigger pull a bit but here's the idea. Get set in a secured stable shooting position, use your sling for stability as well (it's not just for toting your weapon), have a friend (son/wife/hunting buddy) place a penny flat on the barrel near the front sight. If you can hold it there without dropping it work on trigger pull. If you can pull the trigger without making the penny jump off the barrel it's the rifle, if not….practice makes perfect! I have managed to do it a few times but found that in order to do so I needed to use a full finger pull and not just the finger pad stroke I was taught in the military. This is the way that GI's are taught to shoot, or the shooters anyway, and it works. We'd spend hours practicing this way. Oh and one other very important thing to remember is BRAS…Breathe, Relax, Aim, Squeeze…Fire! It's work, but so is a putting stroke, or any other task worth the effort, and we're talking about a good clean kill here which is important.

  • T-Man

    Got a Stevens model 200 in 270 from a friend that won it at an auction for $175. Said it was a piece of junk and would never shoot it. It shot 1 1/2 groups at 100 yard out of the box with a used Nikon Prostaff 3x9x40 scope and Remington factory ammo.
    I was bored and feeling creative so I put on a timney trigger ($90), new Nikon Buckmaster Scope ($180), glass bedded the stock, stiffened the stock by drilling 2 holes in the front of the stock and through the front stock supports, then ran 2 pieces of small all thread with a nut on each end down the center and short of the magazine box and tightened t. I then filled the stock with a marine putty and expanding foam in the butt stock. I sanded and put a quick paint job on it then put on a sling. It shoots sub 1 inch groups now and is my most hunted rifle. I call it my ultimate quad gun. Scratch it, bump it, pack it and it still shoots like a champ. I do things with this gun I would never do with any of my other rifles I paid alot more for.
    To date it's taken 3 large 4×4 mule deer at 300 yards, 200 yards and 75 yards. A 3×3 muley at 100 yards and 2 antelope at 150+ yards. This is my ultimate utility rifle.

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