February 19, 2019
Once one of the top-producing sporting firearms manufacturers in the world, Stevens was known for quality, inexpensive firearms, particularly for break-action single-shot rifles and shotguns. Of all the company’s contributions to modern firearm history, certainly the greatest was the invention of the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge introduced in 1887.
The Model 907B shotgun featured here was built between July 1, 1916, when the firearms division was renamed the J. Stevens Arms Co., and April 1, 1920, when Savage Arms purchased Stevens. Like many firearms of the era, it is not serial numbered.
The Stevens 907B is simplicity personified. A thumb lever unlocks the action. Tilting the barrel down opens it, allowing a shell to be placed into the chamber. Snap the action closed, thumb back the exposed hammer, and squeeze the trigger to fire.
Simple though it is, the 907B is an ejector gun, so you don’t have to manually pick the empty hull from the chamber. Open the action fully and the spring-loaded ejector will launch the empty from the chamber.
There is no halfcock safety position. Rather, the hammer is a rebounding type, and the trigger—unless pulled to the rear—blocks it from contacting the floating firing pin and accidentally detonating a primer.
The finish appears to have been rather nice for the most part. The action body was color-casehardened, and this example still retains a fair amount of the vivid browns and blues. The barrel was blued over a decent brushed surface. Only the trigger guard has suffered from age. It appears to be made of aluminum or some alloy and was finished with a paint or anodizing that has mostly flaked off.
The buttstock and forearm are of good, dense walnut that was well finished. Considering the fact that this was a budget gun, a surprising amount of figure is present.
Roll marks on the barrel breech indicate that it was made of “Selected Forged Steel” and “proof tested—12 Gauge 2¾ Chamber.” No choke markings are present. The left receiver flat touts that it is “Stevens The Fully Guaranteed Single Gun.” Marked on the right flat is “J. Stevens Arms Company, Chicopee Falls, Mass. U.S.A.” Below, faintly, are the model numbers 907B.
I purchased the Model 907B shown here off the used-gun rack for $35 while working in a gunshop during my college years and promptly presented it to my British father-in-law who had never owned a shotgun before relocating to the United States. The on-staff gunsmith helped me go through it, safety checking it and installing a fresh bead to replace the missing one. The stock had been cut, and the buttplate was missing as well, so I installed one that I scrounged from the parts bin and ground it to fit.
Although the stock is too short for my gorilla-armed build, the gun raises and points nicely. At 5 pounds, 6 ounces, it’s easy to carry but recoils with zest. The hammerspring is stout—probably too stout for most youngsters to thumb back comfortably. As for the trigger pull, it’s quite crisp and relatively light, breaking at 4 pounds, 14 ounces.
When I originally fired the Model 907B with my father-in-law, we concluded that the recoil is too significant to make it fun to shoot. The Model 907B was originally designed to put meat in the pot, pure and simple, without fanfare or recreational benefits.
Now wiser by many moons, I opted to test-fire the sleek Stevens single-shot shotgun with Kent’s new 7/8-ounce Low Recoil-Training load, which boosts a cloud of #8 shot to 1,200 fps and kicks rather politely. To overcome the too-short length of pull, I added a Galco leather slip-on pad.
Slinging clay pigeons from my Champion trap, I shot birds that were going straight away and crossing from each side. The choke, judging by how the gun pulverized birds up close and shattered them comfortably way out there, is surely Full.
This gun offers a nice, slightly forward-weighted feel between the hands, and though it can’t be said to shoulder like a fine British double, it mounts well enough. Because it’s so lightweight, however, it doesn’t swing with any momentum.
That said, I don’t doubt that back in the day these shotguns accounted for a lot of squirrels and sitting grouse shot off tree branches, in addition to downing the occasional pheasant and duck. Simple, sturdy, and well built, the Stevens Model 907B Fully Guaranteed Single Gun is an effective tool for the job.