View Full Version : Stevens single-shot .22 pistol

November 3, 2009, 07:19 PM
I have a .22 cal. Stevens top- break, single shot pistol. It's been in the family so long, no one remembers where it came from. Finish is worn-rough, missing action latch ? or safety? on frame . Firing pin (nail?) is really peened from years of dry firing. Top of barrel marked, I Stevens A & T Co, Chicopee Falls (?), serial # 32946 on side of barrel below chamber. Some kind of hinged extractor/barrel catch in frame below chamber. Approx. 3.25" barrel w/blade front sight.
Looks like something that would fit in your boot, walnut smooth grips. The portion of the rear of the frame and grip curve reminds me of the look of the Smith&Wesson .44 topbreak.
I would like to know a little about it if possible.

Thanks, Packrat

November 3, 2009, 07:50 PM
There were at least 5 or 6 different Stevens break-open single-shot pistols, target guns and plinkers, made from 1884 to the 1930's.
AFAIK, none were marked with model numbers, although the different models were numbered in the catalogs of the day.

All were similar, except one or two models, but pics would be needed to nail down the exact model, as there are at least 3-4 to pick from, given your description.

As in: it could be as Model 35, or a Model 41, or a Diamond, or a ...................... :confused:


November 4, 2009, 09:20 AM
Hi petah,
I don't have access to a good camera, so apologies on pic quality.
Just curious about the pistol, seems like a compromise design that I can't figure what it originally would be good for.It's going to be relegated to wall hanger status.
Thanks , packrat

November 4, 2009, 10:28 PM
Your pistol appears to be a Stevens Model 41 Tip-up, first patented by Joshua Stevens in 1864 - although your gun most likely dates from the 1880's.

At that time, Stevens A&T Co (Arms & Tool) was the world's largest manufacturer of firearms - making rifles, pistols and shotguns in the many hundreds (if not thousands) each day.
Stevens had several multiple-story mill buildings, dedicated to making firearms, at the time, in Chicopee Falls.

The .22 chambering was a blackpowder .22 rimfire Short - the first .22 rimfire invented, and nowhere near as powerful as modern smokeless ammo.

Even though we may not think of .22 rimfires, and .22 Shorts in particular, as being particularly powerful - if chambered & fired in that old gun, it would most likely open under the pressure, or soon break/wear out.

In any event, the bore is also probably like a sewer pipe from shooting BP .22 ammo through it - the only kind available until well after WW I.

The original finish would have been nickle plating - a common & practical pistol finish of the day.
There's no safety, other than a half-cock postion of the hammer.
The cross button on the frame side is the push button to release the barrel lock, to tip up/open the barrel for loading/unloading.

As a point of reference, this is my similar but different Stevens Gould Model 36 Target, ca.1892:


November 5, 2009, 08:35 AM
Thanks petah,
Very informative. The bore is very rough and where the firing pin has been impinging on the edge of the chamber a ridge has built up preventing a cartridge from being chambered. An inadvertent safety feature, as a kid I'm sure I would have loaded it with one of the hotter .22's and gotten myself in trouble. I do have some CB and BB caps, but I don't see any point in firing it.
I was curious about its intended use as the sights are crude and the chambering is so mild, is it , as you previously suggested, a plinker?

November 5, 2009, 11:07 AM
Consider the timeframe, in which that pistol was made/marketed:

.22 rimfire was relatively new - and .22 LR hadn't been invented as yet.

For it's time, the .22 Short wasn't considered mild - it was innovative, and in heavy use for self defense, especially by city folk and ladies (purse guns).

There weren't many .22's in the marketplace - mostly the comparatively more expensive S&W Model 1 revolver and the Winchester Model 1873 Levergun.

Sooooo, the "new" Stevens caused an unprecidented demand for itself - due to it's low price, utility and "cutting egde" chambering.
Not many folks, back then did "plinking", as it was considered wasteful of money/ammo - but the design would certain qualify today.
They would have been used as a utility pocket pistol, for defense (lead poisoning DID kill, back then B4 modern medicine), and/or trapline maintainence, whatever.

Although the raised metal at the chamber edge can easily be swedged back into place (NEVER filed/ground off) with the proper tool - I wouldn't recommend doing so, since it would only encourage someone to fire it, and there's really NO safe ammo available for it today, AFAIK.

I would make a small, glass-topped picture-frame/box to fit it, line the box with felt, and hang it on the wall.

November 6, 2009, 05:11 PM
Thanks Petah, most informative, I agree with your assessment:no firing, display only!