Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Gentleman's Squirrel Rifle - Stevens 44 or Remington Hepburn

I took the Stevens 44 to the range a couple of weeks ago and had a blast.  The last task was to install the forend tip and shape the forend.  After this, it was just too close to being able to be shot, and I couldn't resist.  Let me tell you, anyone who enjoys single shot rifles would turn into a little kid after just a few shots with this rifle.

That was it's first outing and if you remember it's chambered in 32 S&W Long.   Not known as a powerhouse cartridge, it may just be the perfect chambering for a gun like this.  Targets from 15 to 200 yards were hit with almost boring regularity.  Lest you think I'm telling a tall tale, the owner of the range took several shots, and the smiles got bigger with each pull of the trigger.

200 yards is a far stretch with a gun like this and hits wouldn't be possible with these middle aged eyes without a great set of sights.  The rear is a Lee Shaver Economy Mid Range Soule sight and the front is a Montana Vintage Arms Combination front sight.  These sights make hitting what you're aiming at entirely possible and loads of fun.  You'd be suprised how long it takes that little bullet to go 200 yards before you hear the satisfying sound of lead hitting steel.

The gun is stocked with a piece of claro. The grain flows well and looks pretty good.  Once back from the range, I mentioned that I was using this Stevens to build a  "Gentleman's Squirrel Rifle" and was promptly told that a gentleman wouldn't carry a Stevens.  This comment was made sight unseen, but it got me to thinking.  What would a gentleman carry? (As if I'm really a gentleman!)

I'm pretty partial to the Stevens, but dug through the projects in progress and came out with a Remington Hepburn action.  This isn't a genuine Hepburn, but one of the kits from Upper Missouri Trading Company.  I've had the kit for several years and dig it out from time to time to fit a part or two and ponder what to do with it.

The kit comes as a box of wax castings.  Let me start by saying that it looks like a Hepburn, but nothing even comes close to fitting.  This is not a knock against the kit, but it's not for the faint of heart or those without a fair selection of files, and the willingness to use them.

A bit of work this afternoon and the now the hammer and mainspring are installed.  The website has a great article about the work needed to assemble the action, so I won't repeat it here.

I'm guessing that one more afternoon and I'll have a functioning action.  Why bring up the Remington?  Well just maybe a gentleman would have both. 

A bit more sanding and I'll be ready to start finishing the stock on the Stevens....and I'll sneak in the Hepburn from time to time.

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