As I mentioned in this post I spent my first few upland hunts lugging around a Winchester 1400 pump 12 gauge. The gun could get the job done but it was big and heavy. Bottom line, it was capable of making the shot but far from ideal for diverse upland hunting scenarios. After spending a ton of time reading about and researching guns for upland hunting I decided I wanted an Over and Under Shotgun in 20 gauge.
The Upland Hunting marketplace is full of some amazing and beautiful guns that are more than capable of spending a lifetime in a display case or in the field serving each purpose well. While I’d love to have a gun that ornate and beautiful my preferences were for a light easy to shoulder gun in tight quarters that was a work horse. I guess the starting point for my quest involved a budget and I wanted to stay under $700 for the gun. That dramatically reduced the number of guns to choose from. I ended up settling on a Stevens 555 which has an MSRP of $692 but can routinely be found on sale for under $600. If you’re unfamiliar with the Stevens name you’ve most likely heard of their parent company Savage Arms. Stevens Arms started in 1864 in Massachusetts. They were purchased by Savage Arms in 1920 and Savage produced guns under that name until it was discontinued in 1991 and then they revived in 1999. The current Stevens 555 I believe was released in 2015 and is produced in Turkey. It’s available in 12, 20, 28 and 410 gauge and in model 555 or 555 E which adds some engraving and a couple hundred dollars to the price. The barrel length is 26″ on all models except the 12 gauge which is 28″.
The gun is impossibly light at 5.5 lbs, easy to maneuver and fun to shoot. The firing order is bottom then top. Out of the box the break action was quite stiff and required a little force to get it all the way open for placing or removing shells. However, that quickly went away with normal use. The Stevens 555 also comes with various chokes. When I post a full review I’ll have a much better breakdown of how it performs with different ammo and different chokes but I haven’t gotten there just yet.
The best part of this gun is from the first day in the field it’s felt like an extension of myself when hunting. It’s never cumbersome or heavy and shoulders naturally even in tight quarters. With the heavy Winchester pump I was always aware of its hefty presence and within hours of walking would have notable fatigue from carrying it at the ready, whereas with the Stevens there’s hardly if any fatigue after a day of walking. To date I’ve fired it 3 times while hunting and have 2 birds to show for it, one woodcock and one pheasant.
So far the shortcomings are few and far between but I’ve also not used it a ton and will be able to comment on the issues with the gun in a future full review. My only complaint is minute chipping of the matte black finish around the edges which is hardly noticeable as long as it doesn’t spread. I realize in this market it’s considered really a budget gun but I expect a lot for my money no matter the price point.
Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase and plan to make use of this gun for more than just upland hunting. It will likely see duty both in small game and turkey hunting in years to come especially as my some starts to tag along on more hunts.