Thursday, May 10, 2012

Range Report - The Stevens 66-B

Wow, what a good rifle the Stevens 66-B has turned out to be, I hope I don't wind up losing it (see previous post if you are wondering what I mean by that). I took it to an indoor range this afternoon and shot about 30 rounds at 25 yards, 2 sets of 15 rounds apiece since that is what the tubular magazine holds. The first target was nothing to write home about but then I was shooting about 4 or 5 different brands of ammo that were mixed in the tube and I was firing with the rear sight step installed backwards. When I got the gun at an auction recently, that part was missing, so I ordered one from Numrich Gun Parts Corp. and put it in yesterday. I was a little uncertain if I had it in correctly but figured I would find out at the range. When I fired another couple of rounds, this time on a target at 50', I saw that the step was canted and had obviously not been installed properly by yours truly. So I flipped it around and then shot these groups at 50' (about 16 2/3 yards): 1 1/8" with Remington Golden Bullets (two way out fliers but that was caused by the rear sight step being in wrong because once I corrected it the group was in there), 1" with CCI Standard Velocity 40 gr. round nose solids (would have been a 3/4" one hole group except for last shot), 1 1/4" with CCI Blazer and 1 1/8" with American Eagle High Velocity round nose solids. I had also shot the NEF Pardner shotgun before the Stevens, and by the time I shot those groups at 50', I was out of time so I did not try again at 25 yards. No failures to feed, to fire, to extract or to eject.

I was pretty happy with those groups. I look at it this way: I shot them with a gun that is probably older than me, with my old eyes, with varying ammo, seated at the bench in a chair that was way too low for the height of the bench, with foregrip resting on my fist for support and my fist resting on the bench. I think I did pretty good and any squirrel at that distance would have been meat for the pot. I certainly got a pretty decent rifle for $90 plus about $8 or $9 (including shipping) that I spent on the rear sight step. Probably more accurate than any new rifle you could get today at $150. Made in the USA too, what more could I ask.

All the best,
Glenn B

The Mystery of the Stevens 66-B

I went to a gun auction up in Geneva, NY recently and picked up a few guns there. one of them is a Stevens Model 66-B. it is a bolt action repeater, tubular magazine, all in pretty good condition. Only one screw hole without a screw and that was apparently the screw that would hold on a peep sight. No serial number, made before they were required. Bore is in excellent condition. There is some surface rust but not too much. It should clean up nicely.

I took it down today to do two things. Clean it up a bit and to check for a serial number under the wood. Well that is when the mystery began. There was no serial number to be found and I got interrupted by my dogs going berserk over something and went upstairs. Once upstairs I remembered I had something else to do, thanks to the dogs getting me upstairs, I saw a package on the DR table that I needed to get to the post office. When I went back down to the basement, I grabbed the 66-B and just put it back together thinking I would clean it later. As I was about to sit down to do that though, I saw a small brownish piece of folded up paper laying on the floor. I thought oh great, this must have been between the metal and stock as a wedge, something must be loose. I was wrong, it was not a wedge.

It was a piece of paper, I was right about that. I unfolded it and took a look and found a name Art F----, in R---, NY with an address and phone number. The phone number was illegible but maybe not a current one since there were not enough numbers in it. It could also have been that the number just had the last 4 digits because maybe, at one time R---, NY only had a single prefix for all the phones there and the person who wrote it out could have figured that would be a given. Whatever, the paper is old, it was put in the gun a long time ago. It has browned over the years and hints of a bygone era. Old as it is, it has created the current mystery of who is the legal owner of this rifle!

I know that I used to do just what someone else had apparently done - written his name, the owners name, and address and phone numbers on a slip of paper and placed it between the stock and barrel. That way, in case it was ever recovered after being lost or stolen, the police might be able to figure out to whom it belonged. What to do? I knew what to do. I went online and I tried looking for Arthur F---- in R---, NY. What I found was a guy shown to be 77 years old on one site and 65+ years old on another in R---, NY. I went to the free white pages and plugged in his name and city and state and up popped an address and phone number for him. I gave him a call. I don't know if it is him or not, the answering machine message was a generic one. I left my callback info and the reason I had called - to see if the rifle I had purchased was stolen or not.

Now I am waiting for a return call. I would hate to lose the rifle and the money I paid for it but if it was stolen from him, well - he should get it back. If not, then he just seemingly forgot to take out the slip of paper with his info on it before disposing of the rifle. The waiting is going to suck, I hope he calls me soon. I did not want to call the auction house first if an illegal sale, they might try to cover it up. I kind of doubt it was an illegal sale but who knows. If Mr. F---- does not return my call, I suppose I will then try the auction house. If they can not convince me that it was legal, as by maybe showing a receipt from Mr. F or from his estate, I will have to contact the police to see if they have any record of a firearm ever being stolen from Mr. Art F---- of R---, NY. In that case I can only hope they don't have such a record.

I really do not think that it was stolen because I do not think that a reputable auction house would have had it up for sale but there is that remote possibility. My checking is more due to what I think is my moral obligation as opposed to me having any strong suspicion that it was stolen, in fact I have no such suspicion just a question that I want answered to make sure all is right with my purchase. Hopefully, Mr. F---- is alive and well and will return my call today to tell me all is well with my purchase and that he simply forgot to remove the slip of paper from the rifle when he sold it. I know I did that more than once when I sold a firearm so I guess anyone could do the same.

All the best,
Glenn B