Gun Review: Stevens 555 E Over/Under Shotgun

A field gun needs to be three things: comfortable, accurate and light. When you’re trudging across Nebraska plains in search of grouse or pheasant, you want your shotgun to point and swing smoothly and naturally without weighing you down. At the same time, if that over/under’s price doesn’t lighten your wallet quite so much, result. Enter the Steven 555 E.

Like so many affordably priced scatterguns, the 555 E is a Turkish import. In my experience, Turks produce two types of shotguns: firearms with impressive aesthetics and excellent reliability or guns with perfunctory finish work and slapdash construction. The 555 E leans towards the former.

Which is easy enough to see. Unlike the base models in Stevens’ 555 line, the E (for enhanced) version sports nicely figured laser engraved filigree on its aluminum receiver.

The engraving gives the 555 E a higher end look, elevating the gun from workhorse toward heirloom status.

The Enhanced version includes upgraded walnut. TTAG’s T&E 555 E was attractively figured and finished to a low luster, with clean consistent wood-to-metal joins.

The E models have ejectors rather than extractors. As a trap shooter, I’m firmly in the extractor camp. For fast shooting and reloads in the field, though, ejectors are the way to go.

The 555 E’s machine-cut checkering isn’t as deep or tactile as you’d get in a hand-cut gun; I’d prefer something a little more aggressive. But what do you expect in an over/under retailing for under $700?

The vent rib in on the 12 gauge version’s 28-inch chrome-lined barrels is finished with a brass bead. Side ribs are vented, too. Stevens also offers the 555 E in 20, 28 and .410 gauges.

The gun comes complete with five flush choke tubes (cylinder, IC, modified, IM and full), making it suitable for anything from low house skeet crossers to circling teals.

The Stevens is chambered for 2 3/4 and 3-inch shells, but there’s a caveat there.

Thanks to its steel reinforced aluminum receiver, the 555 E is officially rated at a svelte 6.5 pounds. On paper, that’s a good pound to a pound-and-a-half lighter than its budget-priced competitors (e.g., CZ Redhead, Mossberg International Silver Reserve or Stoeger Condor).

My 555 E tipped the scale at barely over six pounds. On the plus side, you’ll be able to sling the 555 E over your shoulder and carry over hill and dale all day long. On the down side, physics being the harsh mistress it is, you will feel it when you pull the trigger.

By giving up 1.5 pounds to its chunkier competitors, the 555 E makes shooting 2 2/4-inch loads something of a shoulder-punishing endeavor. Load the Turkish shotgun with heavier 3-inch loads and she bucks like an amphetamine-fuelled bronco. It’s best to feed the 555 E the kind of upland loads for which the gun was designed.

As for patterning, I shot a variety of target and bird loads, including Federal’s new Hi-Bird #6’s, just the kind of loads you’d expect to shoot in the field. The Stevens produced consistent, even 50/50 patterns. Put bead on bird and that chukkar is yours.

Stevens (or rather KOFS) managed to equip the 555 E with a more-than-decent trigger. It breaks at about 5.5 lbs. with minimal creep. The trigger guard is just roomy enough to accommodate a gloved hand.

Despite being a steel-barreled over/under with an ultra-light aluminum receiver, the 555 E isn’t front-heavy. It’s balance point sits at the front edge of the receiver, enabling easy, natural pointing and swing.

Equally satisfying, the tang-mounted combination safety/barrel selector is right where God intended it to be.

The Stevens’ 555 E ticks all the right boxes: it’s comfortable, accurate and light. It’s an affordable, attractive everyman’s over/under that looks good at the club and carries well in the field. You could spend more and get more, but you also could spend more and get less. Which makes the 555 E another excellent value shotgun from the former Ottoman Empire — provided you feed it carefully.

Specifications: Stevens 555 E 12 Gauge Over/Under Shotgun

Gauge: 12 (also available in 20, 28 and .410)
Chamber Size: 3 inches
Barrel Length: 28 inches
Total Length: 44 7/8 inches
Length of Pull: 14 1⁄8 inches
Weight: 6.5 pounds
MSRP: $865 (about $695 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit and Finish: * * * *
Attractive engraving and upgraded, figured walnut make for an impressive looking budget-priced smoothbore. You can see every dollar of the $170 premium you pay over the base 555 shotgun models.

Reliability: * * * * *
It’s an over/under shotgun. It fired hundreds of different rounds and reliably ejected the shells. Case closed.

Ergonomics: * * * 
The 555 E’s 14 1/2-inch length of pull works for smaller to average shooters. Larger lugs with longer arms may feel a little cramped. No length or pull or cast shims included.

Customize This: *
Nope. The 555 E is what it is.

Overall: * * * 1/2
Choose your loads carefully, and you have yourself a eye-catching lightweight field gun you’ll be proud to tote across fields and through brush in search of winged prey. Load it with heavier stuff and she’ll pound you shoulder like a .50 cal. The Stevens 555 E gives you everything you’d want in a budget over/under in an impressive looking package.

comments

  1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Hmmm. Aluminum receiver.

    Let’s see how long it remains tight, on-face, especially if shooting brisk loads. I see that they put a steel pivot pin into the aluminum receiver, which looks a bit unappealing.

  2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I don’t understand the propensity of people to spend anywhere from $700 to $3,000 on over-under (or even side-by-side) shotguns. They are incredibly simple and should cost less than inexpensive pump-action shotguns.

    Can someone explain the appeal that I am obviously missing?

    1. Again, the cost is in the barrels. That’s by far the most expensive part of a shotgun to produce. So an O/U or SxS doubles that cost.

      1. avatar Tile Floor says:

        I’m not a sxs expert by any means but I do recall reading that the alignment for the barrels is a labor intensive process

        1. avatar BLoving says:

          This ^. And yes, the alignment is critical. Fully joined barrels (solid metal in between) are the most expensive type – cheaper manufacturers will cut corners by joining barrels at the muzzle and breech and filling in-between with a tacked-on trim plate.
          Fit of the receiver and locking mechanism can be very demanding too – overall, making a pump-action shotgun is childs play in comparison.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          If barrel alignment for a side-by-side shotgun is labor intensive, that is only because those manufacturers are dumb. All a manufacturer needs to do is build an assembly/alignment jig. Once built, slap two barrels onto the jig and braze/weld away.

          Sure, making the jig would obviously cost some money. And the manufacturer would allocate that cost over the thousands of shotguns that they would produce.

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Hi Dan,

        You bring up an interesting question: how much does it cost a manufacturer to produce a shotgun barrel? I don’t think it costs very much for two reasons:
        (1) It isn’t much more than a polished steel tube.
        (2) You can purchase Mossberg replacement barrels for roughly $150.

        I would be stunned if it costs a manufacturer much more than $50 to make a simple smooth straight barrel.

        Anyhow, that still doesn’t explain why people are so enamored with double-barrel shotguns and willing to pay well over $1000 for them.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          The gunsmith cost (which is not your cost) for a Mossberg 500 20″ barrel, bead blasted, blued, with a vented rib, is $220.

          Again, that’s my price, not your price. The Mossberg blued barrel bead blasted, which is not usually seen on a double gun, and it is only 20″, instead of 28 to 32″. It has no monoblock, nor any fitting to the receiver necessary, no polishing on the outside of the tube prior to blueing, etc, etc.

          OK, let’s look at a polished/blued barrel. The gunsmith price on a Beretta A400 polished & blued 28″ barrel, with stepped trap rib… runs over $650.

          If you think putting together a pair of tubes for a double gun is so easy, get going on it. There’s a huge price differential – if you can deliver a pair of polished tubes, with ribs, that are polished inside and out, with fixed chokes (eg), all the machining done for the lifters or ejectors to drop in, and ready to be fit onto a SxS or O/U receiver (which will take some more work) for under, oh, $400 at a profit, you’ll have a well-trod path to your door.

          I’ll give you a hint: Your biggest and most difficult job will be getting a barrel polished where you can sight down the barrel and not see any dips, waves, wrinkles, etc. There’s a reason why so many gun companies today use bead-blasting as their finish before blueing – it hides a truckload of sins.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Nice to see you finally have a website, DG.

        Only suggestion I have is to maybe thicken up (make heavier?) the font. Right now it kinda blends in with the background. The text size (point?) is good, since my eyes aren’t getting any better as I age…

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          OK, I’m happy to do that. Have any preference in font/size that you find easier to read? If it’s in WordPress’ list of font choices, and it isn’t offensive to me or other older folks, I’ll change it.

          Everything there so far is the WordPress default. I’ve had only the time to sit down, type a stream of thought, do a little editing and hit “publish.” The SxS entry, I went back and edited today.

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Argh.

          Not being in electronic publishing, I wouldn’t know the names of them. Hopefully, someone who does know could offer suggestions.

          Kinda half-way between the current ‘faint’ looking font, and the ‘heavier’ font you highlight words with. That ‘jumps’ right out at you.

          Any content creators out there who can chime in? This is the page I’m referring to:

          https://dyspepticgunsmith.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/why-do-sxs-and-ou-shotguns-cost-so-much/

    2. avatar Nope. Nada. Non. says:

      Besides handling, weight, balance, long term reliability, long term value, pretty, upgraded wood, balance and possibly made for you, there’s a ton of reasons why you spend a lot on an over and under.

    3. avatar CT says:

      Two barrels is double the price of one barrel. That adds to the cost of the gun.

  3. avatar TP says:

    Made in Turkey.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Made by Kofs, Ltd. in Isparata Turkey.
      Took entirely too much time to research that information – seems to be missing from most articles (glares at Dan).

      1. Maybe you missed the image above that says “Savage Arms-Westfield, MA, KOFS, Turkey”. Or where I wrote:

        “Like so many affordably priced scatterguns, the 555 E is a Turkish import. In my experience, Turks produce two types of shotguns: firearms with impressive aesthetics and excellent reliability or guns with perfunctory finish work and slapdash construction.”

        Or:

        “Stevens (or rather KOFS) managed to equip the 555 E with a more-than-decent trigger.”

        I think I made it pretty clear that this is a Turkish gun. As are a huge percentage of budget-priced shotguns on the market today under brands like Stevens, Mossberg, Weatherby, TriStar, Stoeger, CZ and many more.

        1. avatar BLoving says:

          (scrolls up and sees picture of the barrels label markings)
          Huh.
          Okay. My bad, sorry Dan. Keep up the good work. Going back to my video games now.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      Turkey has been manufacturing arms for centuries, and many of them are of excellent quality. I note that the wood to metal joints on this shotgun and that wood quality are both far better than my Miroku built 1892 Winchester. Plus the walnut for high end long guns comes wither from Turkey or France, so this is the real deal, not “walnut stained hardwood” you often see in budget guns.

    3. avatar Hank says:

      Oh well. People buy Russian, British, German, and Chinese guns and they’ve all killed their share of Americans. Turkey has probably contributed to less deaths than any of those nations. Americans love German guns and the krauts have killed the most Americans out of any foreign country. At the end of the day though, the best killer of Americans, is other Americans.

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Looks great! Might have to retire my silver pigeon and pick up one of these in 20 gauge.

  5. avatar Steve says:

    I have several Turkish shotguns (Huglu CZ’s) and they are very good guns. Browning makes a steel reinforced receiver gun as well called the Feather. I have one in 20 ga and it is a dandy. That said, I would never buy an aluminum receiver gun in 12 ga. Wayyyyyy too much recoil even with 1oz loads.

    Steve

  6. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “Unlike the base models in Stevens’ 555 line, the E (for enhanced) version sports nicely figured laser engraved filigree on its aluminum receiver.”

    Well, CNC laser engraving is the way save some serious scratch since those engravers are annoyingly insistent about being paid for their work.

    There may be another motivation. As someone mentioned a few days back, an engraved gun ‘hides’ the dings and nicks a field gun inevitably gets.

    And face it, aluminum is about the easiest metal to ding up…

  7. avatar Shooter75 says:

    Anyone seen the ejectors on this rifle?
    Would like to know how they are removed. Nothing exists for this gun. Even the manual is for the standard 555.

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