Monday, February 26, 2018

Featured Gun: Stevens 325-C

First and foremost I want to thank Leeroy for his insightful write up on these guns, his inside information on these guns is indispensable.

The Savage-Stevens model 325 is a box magazine fed, bolt action rifle made during a few short years. It was replaced by improved models that kept the design in production for nearly 40 years.

The story of the Stevens 325C begins with World War II. Any gun collector can tell you that the war changed the way guns were made. The need to produce good quality firearms fast and inexpensively inspired gun makers to experiment. The use of stamped steel parts (and plastic as well) was a result.

One such example is the story of the M1903A3 rifle: Production of the M1903 rifle resumed in 1941 with the contracts being given to both Remington and Smith Corona. Shortcuts were found and improved to the point that the U.S. Military saw fit to give it a new model number: the M1903A3.

Using stamped steel parts was not just faster, but also cheaper. Many gun manufacturers adopted these ideas following the war. 

Savage introduced the Stevens model 325 in 1947, taking advantage of war time innovations and left over parts.

In case you weren't aware Stevens Arms was purchased by Savage in 1920 (April Fools Day, actually). Savage continued to use the Stevens name on their budget or alternative designs.

The model 325 was priced at $38.25 when introduced,  In 1947 that was about the same cost as a new mattress or chest of drawers.
Accounting for 70 years of inflation that would equal approximately $419 today.

The guns were produced in the old Stevens Chicoppe Falls, MA plant. 
The $38.25 price was well below what the Winchester model 94 and Marlin model 336 sold for in 1947.

In those days it was not a requirement to put serial numbers on guns and the 325 didn't get them, so determining the date of manufacture would seem next to impossible. We can, however, get close, at least with this model. The model 325 (A) was introduced in 1947. Each design change got a letter suffix, 325A, 325B and 325C. Production ended in 1949 with the 325C. We could assume that each model number represented a year of production, but I don't think that would be accurate. The models seem to be more prolific as they progressed, thus my rifle was probably made in 1948 or 1949 and that is close enough for me.

The 325 was produced in 30-30 Winchester only, the cartridge is also known as the .30 Winchester Center Fire (.30 WCF). 

The model 325 had a sister rifle, the model 322 that was chambered in .22 Hornet.

One might ask themselves: Why would someone produce a 30-30 in a bolt action, when most 30-30 rifles were lever guns? 
That would be a good question, here are some answers: lever action rifles cannot use spire point bullets (which have a better Ballistic Coefficient) due to the risk of the pointed bullet setting of the primer of the cartridge in front of it in the tubular magazine. This is not an issue with the Model 325  as it uses a box magazine.

There are other things to consider: The possibility that some states/countries have a strict limit on how many rounds can be carried in a rifle while hunting. Also removing a box magazine to unload a gun (so it can be transported in a vehicle) is much easier and safer than chambering, then ejecting shells from a tube magazine in a lever action. Then, of course, there is the price, which as stated above the 325C sold for nearly half of what the Winchester and Marlin lever actions sold for. 

Keen gun people may notice some similarities between the model 325 and the flagship Savage rifle, the model 110. Many features of the 325 found their way onto the model 110 when it was introduced in 1958. 
This is most evident in the barrel attachment system. The use of an outside nut was new to sporting rifles. Some believe this is a carry over from WWII contract machine gun barrels that were used to design and build the model 325.

If you plan on swapping out a barrel on a 325/340/840 rifle, don't bother purchasing a wrench made for the model 110. The nuts are different size and as far as I can tell, no one made a commercial tool for removing the barrels on the 325/340/840 rifle.

The 325 had a stock that was a bit unrefined and bulky by some standards. The stocks were made of birch and given a walnut colored stain. Most of the pictures I have found online show stocks that have been refinished.

The barrelled action was held in the stock with a bolt at the front of the trigger guard (threaded into the recoil lug). The second attachment point was a barrel band near the front of the forearm, a screw held by an escutcheon screwed in from below.

The 325s bolt cocks upon opening and the firing pin housing protrudes from the rear of the bolt alerting the shooter that the gun is cocked.

Removal of the bolt is pretty standard, you simply open the bolt and pull back while holding the trigger down.

The safety can be engaged when the rifle is cocked or uncocked. The safety blocks both the trigger and the bolt from moving. 

The 325 used a unique "butter knife" or "spoon" bolt handle reminiscent of the Steyr Mannlicher model L, also note the safety lever at the rear end of the bolt.

The Steyr Mannlicher model L

The 325C used a simple leaf style rear sight which sat in a dove tail and a ramp front sight with drift adjustable insert featuring a brass bead.

The sheet steel box magazine held 3 rounds and is believed to have been a modified .410 magazine from the Savage model 58. Before long tooling was made specifically for these guns. 
The magazine is removed by pulling back on the release lever at the front of the trigger guard.

If you have a model 325 and need a magazine for it, the model 340 mags will work with a slight modification.

Info from Leeroy: On the top LH front follower retainer dimple, you need to make about 2 passes with a file from the inner top to inward at a 45 degree angle, just breaking the sharp edge.  You will need to press the follower down a bit (or remove it) when doing this.  If you don't file this off, it may be hard to open the bolt after closing and it will swell the front sides of the magazine out a bit.

Here is what the 325C looks like with the stock removed

Note: the following specs match my particular gun, from my research I found that the 325 was supposed to have a 22" barrel, but mine has a 20" barrel with newer 340 front sight. the crown appears to be factory though, so I am not sure if my gun was maybe a late production, put together with parts left over and maybe some from the 340 production line? Perhaps the barrel was replaced at one time?

Length: 39.5"
Weight: Approx. 7 lbs
Barrel Length: 20"
Caliber: 30-30 Winchester (.30 WCF)
Rifling: 1 in 10 twist, 4 groove, .300/.3075
Length of Pull: 13.5"
Stock: Birch,
Magazine: Detachable box, 3 round capacity

The model 325 was replaced by the Savage model 340 (dropping the Stevens moniker) in 1950 and then with the model 840 before being discontinued in 1985.

This is another featured gun article that is acting as the start to project:
Here is my model 325C, I purchased it for just $100, knowing it was in need of much love. While it looks well worn, mechanically it is sound and the bore is pristine.

Stay tuned as I revive this old hunting rifle, we'll call it "Project Deer Stalker".

Leeroy's Ramblings
Shooting Times