View Full Version : I've inherited my Grandfather's J. Stevens Model 238-A 20 ga. NOW WHAT???

December 10, 2006, 09:05 PM
For those of you who don't know me, let me explain. I was raised by hippies and never allowed to handle weapons as a kid. I'm 26 years old now, and I'm a budding young gun enthusiast. I've had my CCW and been an IDPA handgunner for about 1-1/2 years now. I've just started loading my own .45 rounds for my Springfield 1911. But until now, I've never played much with shotguns.

MMMMKAY! This weekend I was telling my Grandfather about my friend who wants me to come dove-hunting with him next weekend. On a whim, it seems, my Grandfather disappeared to the back of the house and produced his old J. Stevens Model 238-A. (20-gauge, single-barrel, bolt-action with a 2-round magazine) He told me that he shot his first dove with it, and he wants me to shoot my first dove with it, too. He GAVE IT TO ME!!! :D :D :D

So now that I have it, WHAT DO I DO??? How do you clean and maintain one? What kinds of loads are good to use in it for doves? Deer? Is this a suitable home defense piece? Is J. Stevens still in business? Do they have a website? Does anyone know how to get an owners manual for one?

Someone who knows what they're doing, please talk to me about it. Start at the start, and just expound on what you know.

Dave McC
December 10, 2006, 10:22 PM
Bolt action shotguns are not glamorous. They are inexpensive, durable, and part of our memories. Lots of meat and fun have been made with these .

I took my biggest buck with one.

These oft do slugs well, though generalizations are suspect.

Try 7/8 oz loads of 7.5s or 8s for dove.

While a BA shotgun is not the ideal HD piece, it beats fang and claww all hollow.

December 10, 2006, 10:58 PM
I would take that gun to dove hunt 100 times if you have to, just to get your first dove with the same gun your grandfather did. I think that would be really cool.

as stated, it might not be ideal at all especially for dove hunting, but you know, the gun has history/your grandfather ect. so def use it. and buy different guns as you see fit. Its nice to start out with a gun, and as your hunts continue you can see exactly what you like and dislike about the gun, which will give you a great idea of what your next gun should be that will really fit the bill correctly!

December 11, 2006, 02:01 AM
Shotguns are a lot of fun and that will definitely work to get you started. It'll kill what ever you need it to unless you intend to hunt polar bears and hopped up hippies. Okay the last one it will take just use buck shot or slugs. ;) But seriously goto any gun shop and you will see the vast array of shotgun ammo. For doves they offer dove, light field, or even target loads will work good. For bigger critters go with bigger sized shot. For deer and larger I preffer slugs. But thats just me.

December 11, 2006, 03:14 AM
Thats cool.:) Neat to have your Grand dad give you his shotgun like that.

So which one of your hippe parents (whom seem to be against guns) had a Dad whos a hunter??:rolleyes: I bet you made him a happy man, being able to pass on that gun and share something like that with you. Thats just nice.:p

December 11, 2006, 10:26 AM
That would be my mother's father. He is an old Southern rural gent, born in the sticks of Missisippi, career Air Force, gunner in WWII, and has retired to a farm in the hills of East Tennessee.

December 11, 2006, 01:47 PM

With an empty gun, Pull the bolt completely to the rear, pull the trigger and the bolt should remove completely from the receiver. Clean it from the action forward with patches and solvent. Drop or two of oil on the moging parts, and that should be all you ever need to do for this old workhorse of a shotgun. I have an old Mossberg 16g. bolt action shotgun, a similar gift from a great Uncle of mine 23 years ago (My God!! Has it really been that long?!?!) that I still to this day take out of the safe from time to time to kill a few rabbits or squirrels.

Only thing to watch for on these is the magazine dropping out when the gun is fired.

December 11, 2006, 05:00 PM
Don't shoot steel shot through it.

You may or not be able to shoot slugs through it depending on the choke. If the choke is too tight, it could cause some serious problems.

December 11, 2006, 05:20 PM
Ok. No steel shot. So then, how do I find out if the choke is too tight to shoot slugs?

December 11, 2006, 07:55 PM
Why not take it to a local gun shop and have it looked over and ask some questions ???

December 11, 2006, 10:24 PM
I wouldn't trust a gunstore employee over something that could potentially cause bodily injury, unless absolutely necessary. If you have calipers you could use them to check the interior diameter.

December 12, 2006, 10:16 AM
My next stop was actually going to be a trip to the Custom Shop to have it detail-stripped, checked out, cleaned and oiled. Those guys are pretty good, so I suppose I could ask them about it. But, I wanted to bring it up here, because I can typically soak up some knowledge in the discussions on this site. "If I let them do it for me, I won't learn nuthin'!"

Ok. So I've got my calipers, and I check the interior diameter of the barrel. What am I looking for?

December 12, 2006, 11:32 AM
Most of these bolt shotguns were choked "full" it might be marked on the barrel someplace also. As far as deer slugs (Foster type) they are made to be fired in any constriction of choke. If you were to drop on of the slugs down the barrel it will most likely fall right through it to the ground. I have fired slugs through full choked guns many times. The accuracy is generally better with no choke or Imp Cyl though. You are lucky to have received the gun as I did from my grandfather many years ago. He gave me an old Win Model 37 that I still have and will pass it on to my kids. Great hunting.

December 12, 2006, 12:03 PM
The stevens company is still around. It was bought out by Savage in the 40's I think. They still make guns under the Stevens name (good deals on 300 rifles).

I have a Stevens model 58 in 20gauge that is similiar to yours. One thing to watch out for is the retaining clip for the magazine. Mine would have the tendency to randomly fall out when fired (you could yank on the mag while holding the gun and it wouldn't move, but fire it and the mag would drop out). I picked up a new retaining clip and spring for the clip through Numrich gun parts for a few bucks and that fixed the problem.

The bolt guns were mostly meant for goose or longer range ducks shooting back in the days before steel was required. They mostly have full chokes and shooting steel is not a good idea. Slugs are ok though.

I still shoot my stevens to this day. It kicks like a mule (poor stock design), but I can cycle the action faster than my 870 and I really knock the doves out of the sky. The stevens model 58 was my first shotgun and has taken many pheasants, doves, quail, rabbits, squirrels and even a few coyotes. Even bagged a turkey once while squirrel hunting. I believe it cost a whopping 45 bucks used 18 years ago when my folks bought it for me and now a replacement magazine for it costs that much. They aren't pretty, but they sure do shoot well.

You will always remeber the first shotgun. Especially a bolt action. Plus you get some weird looks from the uneducated folks if you take it to a clays range and they tell you that no rifles allowed and you tell them it is a shotgun. Even had one guy look over my guns once at exclaim, "dude! what cliber is that freakin' huge rifle? Is that one of them 50cals?" When I told him it was a 20gauge shot gun he didn't believe me. He said they never made shotguns. Thats when I told him thanks for his 2 cents and please bother somebody else.

Happy hunting.