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Savage Arms New Stevens Model 334 Rifle Review

The new Stevens Model 334 is a well-build, inexpensive bolt-action rifle from a legendary name.

Savage Arms New Stevens Model 334 Rifle Review

For several years, Savage has led the pack in introducing new variations of existing firearms models, as well as new models, with the Stevens Model 334 bolt-action centerfire rifle the most recent example of the latter. Stevens, you ask? Yes, Savage bought Stevens near the turn of the previous century, and you can find the background on this legendary name in the accompanying sidebar. Like the Stevens Model 555 over-under shotgun, which is also sold by Savage, the Stevens Model 334 rifle was designed by and is built by ATA Arms, the largest manufacturer of sporting firearms in Turkey. It is actually the same rifle as the Turqua, which is sold in Turkey and other countries as well. The stock on the Model 334 I shot is walnut, but black synthetic is also available. Initial offerings are .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win., but the action is large enough to handle just about any cartridge one would want to fire from the shoulder.

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A Picatinny rail comes mounted atop the receiver. The 334 feeds from a three-round single- stack polymer magazine.

The extremely thick roof and walls make the Type 4140 steel receiver both heavy and extremely rigid, and it is nine inches long, which is a bit longer than the receiver of the Remington Model 700 long action. The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting, and it comes with a 14-slot Picatinny rail installed. Perfectly flat on its bottom, the receiver is 1.175 inches wide, providing an exceptionally large bedding surface area. Also quite massive, the integral recoil lug is 0.5 inch thick, 1.095 inch wide and .308 inch tall. Excellent design in that area does not end there. Rather than being bedded directly into the stock, the recoil lug rests in a heavy steel recoil plate measuring two inches long, held in place by a large screw.

Here is another interesting difference. Rather than being fixed in the stock as on military rifles such as the 1898 Mauser and others, steel sleeves—or “pillars,” as the manufacturer describes them—fit loosely around the two action bolts and prevent excessive compression of the wood when the bolts are tightened. The pillars come out with the bolts when they are removed. The rear pillar is partially cut away for clearance with the front of the trigger assembly, so be sure that part of the sleeve is to the rear when the bolt is installed. Recommended torque on both bolts with a 5mm hex wrench is 60 inch-pounds. Respective diameters of the fairly heavy 22-inch Type 4140 button-rifled barrel are 1.03 inches at the receiver and 0.71 inch at the muzzle, where it is nicely finished with an 11-degree crown. A slow tour with a Lyman Borecam revealed smooth lands and grooves. The barrel free-floats in the stock, and it and the receiver have a matte blued finish.

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The Turkish walnut stock features a thin cheek rest, and it’s found on both sides of the butt. The recoil pad is 0.75 inch thick and does a good job of soaking up recoil.

In the event of a blown primer or ruptured case, some propellant gases would exit through small ports on both sides of the receiver, while most of them would be dumped into the magazine area. Any gas making its way back around the bolt should be deflected away from the shooter by a well-designed bolt sleeve. A bright red band in view at the rear of the bolt indicates a cocked firing pin. The three-lug Type 4140 bolt has a diameter of 0.783 inch, and its handle is mechanically attached. It has a Sako-style extractor and a spring-loaded, plunger-style ejector. A counterbored face encloses 0.12 inch of a chambered cartridge, although its wall is slotted for passage of the extractor. Pressing the front end of the bolt stop at the left side of the receiver allows the bolt to be removed for cleaning. Instructions for disassembling the bolt for that important and often neglected maintenance detail are not covered in the owner’s manual. The bolt has a hard chrome finish with a matte surface texture. Its travel was not as smooth as I expected, but a light application of Ultima-Lube Lite Oil from Wilson Combat fixed it. The same applied to the cocking cam surface of the bolt also made it easier to rotate to full firing pin compression.

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The recoil lug rests in a steel recoil plate in the stock. Just forward of the plate is one of five lightening cuts in the barrel channel.

The trigger is a two-stage design, something to which I have no objection whatsoever on a big game rifle, especially when it is used to hunt in extremely cold conditions. Stage two began with a slight amount of creep, but it was short and crisp and broke at an average of 6.5 pounds. While the trigger appears to have adjustments, the owner’s manual states that its settings are fixed at the factory and are not to be adjusted by the user. To make sure I was reading the message correctly, I confirmed this with a Savage representative. The shotgun-style sliding safety at the side of the receiver tang is a three-position design. Moving it to the rear blocks the trigger while preventing bolt rotation. The middle position also blocks trigger travel but allows the bolt to be cycled for loading or unloading the chamber. All the way forward is the Fire position. And this brings up my one and only issue with the Model 334 rifle. It was a bit chilly on the morning I shot it, so I wore gloves. Even though the gloves were fairly thin, my hand consistently brushed the safety to its middle position as I retracted the bolt during its cycle and, of course, that prevented the rifle from firing when I pressed the trigger. While the glove was mostly to blame, the same thing also happened several times after I took off the glove.

The single-stack polymer magazine holds three rounds, and regardless of slow fire or rapid fire, all cartridges made the trip smoothly from it to the chamber. Also polymer, the trigger guard has plenty of room for a gloved finger. Pulling a spring-loaded latch at the front of the floorplate allows the magazine to drop into the hand. Grain flow through the grip of the extremely dense Turkish walnut stock is optimal for strength in that area. Overall, the stock is nicely shaped and while a circumference of 5.25 inches makes the grip a bit larger than I prefer, it does increase its resistance to breaking in the field. Measuring 4.5 inches around at its centerpoint, the size and shape of the fore-end are more to my liking. Grip and fore-end have adequate checkering coverage, and in addition to being tough and moisture resistant, the synthetic finish is quite smooth, with all pores in the wood filled.

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Posts for quick-detach sling swivels are there, and a 0.75-inch pad at the rear soaks up recoil. A narrow hardened section at the top of the pad prevents snagging on clothing as the rifle is shouldered. Designers acknowledged the fact that many left-handed hunters use right-hand rifles by thoughtfully putting a thin cheek rest on both sides of the stock. I rate overall wood-to-metal fit quite good for a rifle in this price range. The Model 334 weighed seven pounds, 13 ounces. The addition of a Meopta Meopro 3-9x42mm scope in Warne low rings, a leather sling and three cartridges increased it to nine pounds, 8.3 ounces. Its weight, along with a good recoil pad and mild 6.5 Creedmoor recoil, made the rifle great fun to shoot. Due to a bigger hole through its barrel, a Model 334 in .308 Win. should be a bit lighter while the .243 Win. will be a bit heavier. Variations in the density of walnut stocks can also cause weight to vary slightly.

Stevens Model 334 Specs

  • Type: Bolt-action centerfire
  • Calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), .243 Win., .308 Win. 
  • Capacity: 3+1 
  • Barrel: 22 in., 6-groove, 1:8-in. twist
  • Overall Legnth: 43 in. 
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 13 oz. 
  • Stock: Turkish Walnut
  • Trigger: Two-stage, 6.5 lbs. (tested)
  • Sights: None; drilled and tapped w/Picatiiny rail installed
  • Price: $489
  • Manufacturer: ATA Arms
  • Importer: Savage Arms

Stevens History

To understand why Savage is offering a rifle under another company’s name, we will hop aboard my magical time-travel machine and apply its brakes at 1864. That’s when Joshua Stevens founded Stevens Arms, which was eventually promoted as the largest producer of sporting arms in the world. The company’s first successful firearms were single-shot rifles and pistols of tip-up design chambered for the .22 Long Rifle, a cartridge Stevens developed and introduced. Dozens of models with various types of actions followed, with the No. 441/2 target rifle with its strong falling-block action in various rimfire and centerfire chamberings used by competitors across the country to set many accuracy records. But Stevens was probably best known for building economy-grade single-shot .22s, many of which were designed and priced to appeal to youngsters. Little Scout, Crack Shot, Marksman, Sure Shot and Favorite were among those loved and cherished by farm boys all across the country. Stevens Arms was purchased by New England Westinghouse in 1902, and 18 years later the company was acquired by Savage Arms.

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The three-position, shotgun-style safety is located on the side of the receiver. The bolt handle is finished in the white, and bolt throw is a nice, short 60 degrees.

Stevens continued to produce rifles and shotguns at the old factory in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, until production was moved to various Savage facilities in 1960. When Savage stopped using the Stevens name in 1991, some guns were discontinued while others remained in production under the Savage name. An example that survived was the Stevens Model 325 bolt-action rifle in .30-30 Win., which became the Savage Model 340. That same rifle was also marketed by Savage as the Springfield Model 840. The Stevens Model 325, by the way, introduced the barrel lock nut still used by Savage on the Model 110 and other centerfire rifles. Savage brought back the Stevens name in 1999, and it lives on today in the Model 334 introduced early last year.




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