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My small town has had gun shows twice this year, and boy, oh boy, am I a fan. Most of the bigger city gun shows only attract gun stores who add on the gun show “special” price of 20% more and call it a day.

I go to gun shows to find and purchase (or just ogle) old guns. I don’t care about a table full of GLOCKs, but I love a table full of milsurp guns or antiques and my local gun show is all about that. Once more, I scored a great deal on a Stevens Model 235.

A good SxS is still a very capable weapon (Travis Pike for TTAG)

At the last gun show, I purchased my Astra 9mm, and I browsed around the show. I ran into the same gentleman recently who sold me the Astra. This time he had a number of shotguns on his table at a variety of prices. I spotted a ‘rabbit ear’ shotgun with nice long barrels along and good wood furniture. I was hooked. I took a look and saw the price tag of $200 and knew I had to have it.

First Impressions

I handled it. The stock was a little loose, but everything seemed to be in good measure. The firing pins weren’t stuck and the hammers cocked back easily. The action opened and closed without issue. I put $200 dollars in the man’s hand and he put the Model 235 in mine.

The Model 235 was a working man’s gun (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Plenty of double barrels are made these days, but the SxS field is a little sparse. If you want a coach gun, you have options, but to find a side-by-side shotgun with rabbit ears and longer barrels can be tough to find. I’ve always liked the look of these guns and was happy to finally have one without breaking the bank.

A Little History

We don’t talk much about Stevens these days. They were bought and sold by New England Westinghouse in 1915 and again by Savage in 1920. While owned by Westinghouse, they were tasked with building Mosin-Nagants for Czar Nicolas, although the Russians never paid Westinghouse.

Since 1920 they’ve been part of the Savage brand and these days the name Stevens is assigned to budget, imported shotguns. In reality, they have a fairly rich history.

Who doesn’t love some rabbit ears (Travis Pike for TTAG)

J. Stevens and Co. invented the .22LR round we all know and love. They produced a number of top single-shot pistols and gained fame for their shotguns. They were affordable guns that worked and worked well. In 1902 they declared themselves “the largest producers of sporting arms in the world.”

They continued to produce primarily sporting arms, but would occasionally produce guns for the military as well. That included a lesser-known World War 1 trench gun knowns as the M520-30 and M620.

Somewhere in that history sits the simplicity and robust Model 235. Stevens produced the gun in 1909 when it made its first appearance in their catalogs. Production ended in 1931 and there were an estimated 62,000 produced.

Two 12 gauge barrels is a great but outdated way to say wrong house (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Mine is marked J. Stevens Arms Co., which signifies it was made after 1916. Models made between 1909 and 1915 were marked J. Stevens Arms & Tool. They were produced with 26, 28, 30, and 32-inch barrels and in both 16 and 12 gauge. Early guns used a 2 9/16th shell, but mine is one of the old 2¾” chambered models.

The gun itself is in surprisingly nice condition seeing how it’s a century old (or close to it).

At the Range

One important thing to remember is that these were produced for black powder and early smokeless powder, so I would never try to shoot anything other than a mild load through it. In fact, due to its age and slightly loose stock, I put some rather weak sub-1000 FPS trap/skeet loads through it first.

Lights loads only for this antique (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Model 235 fired both blasts with ease. The light rounds resulted in very light recoil. The gun has a 14-inch LOP which is typical of sporting guns of the era. The stock is nice and comfy, and shoulders well. Finding the bead is easy, and the noise of the hammers cocking elicits a tactile satisfaction I can’t quite describe.

The Model 235 feels old and well made. I won’t shoot this gun much, but I’ll enjoy every round it fires. My son was also very curious. He’s a recently qualified Pro-Marksman with the NRA’s Marksmanship Qualification Program and has taken a relatively recent shine to firearms.

The profile screams American (Travis Pike for TTAG)

He enjoyed the gun, although it’s a bit large for him right now. He had some issues keeping the gun shouldered and cocking the hammers, but handled the recoil just fine. The gun opened smoothly and pushed the shells up with its extractor reliably.

I wasn’t doing double taps or running drills with the Model 235. In fact, I was shooting clay pigeons laid on a berm, and it was a ton of fun. These old guns are often an experience unto themselves, and the Model 235 will be well cared for in my hands.

The feeling of cocking this thing is unbelievable (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Oftentimes I disagree when people say they don’t make ’em like they used to, but they might be right in regards to the Model 235.



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  1. Classic looks. A lot of the old timers in my youth owned double guns. And a lot of those guns were fed paper hulled shells. I had a double 20 as my favorite quail and rabbit gun when I hunted WV and OH so many years ago.

    The term I heard for those exposed hammers was ‘mule ears’.

  2. Nice old gun. Hey, what’s an “oscure”? I note that you used it twice in the headline area so it must be something that I am uninformed about.

    • “Hey, what’s an “oscure”?”

      The M-1, Mk.1 brain you were issued at birth should allow you to figure it out in short order…

  3. Nice article. I always enjoy this genre. Sadly the gun shows here are not what they used to be. It’s all ARs and plastic pistols. Hard to find accessories? No longer imported? Forget it. My son is my scout now. He was at a customer’s house Friday morning. A widow. As he was leaving her garage he noticed an ’03A3 in the corner. “!” The lady said it had been there ten years. $250 and a Saturday afternoon cleaning it up and he’s at Talon Range with it now. His job requires a lot of driving. He can’t pass a LGS and is becoming well known for spending his father’s money. I like to think I raised him well.

      • Haha – “robbing” is such an ugly word. “Relieving her of…’ sounds so much better.
        When I lived in TX, I would go to estate and garage sales, mostly in the outskirts of town. After looking around, I would casually ask if they wanted to get rid of any guns. Picked up some awesome finds! And TX doesn’t require FFL paperwork for private sales.

  4. External hammers on SxS shotguns really isn’t my thing but I do understand the appeal. For $200 I’d buy it though. This piece seems to have character.

  5. I picked up a Stevens sxs maybe 50 years ago – a model 300. It’s nothing special, but I like the old look. Even though it’s picked off quite a few birds, my son still kids me that it’s time for something new.

  6. A nice wall hanger but way to dangerous to hunt with. Its too dangerous to walk around with it cocked because it has no manual safety and trying to cock it when a bird flies up under your feet would result in your only having only one good shot as the other barrel would still be un-cocked. By the time you manually cocked the other barrel the bird would be well out of range.

  7. The very first firearm I bought with my own money was a Stevens 94C 12 ga. Many a dinners were made possible with it.

    There is just something about these old guns that are attractive.



  9. I read your comment and thes Shotguns are crude bits of iron comparev to a ENGLISH gun BOSS or HOLLAND and HOLLAND or even decent BSA, Give me a hammerless every time if only for reasons of safety.

    • do you ever watch doug florent on youtube? he sells middle to high end shotguns . mainly english. while i disagree with your assessment of american guns , your english ones can be showy , pretty and of high handmade quality , i doubt they could stand the rigors of american hunting. english guns were carried here , by big city “sports”, while the locals made do with guns of a stouter persuasion. even in our own ranks , we do have some snobbery. but in my opinion the 235 stevens though slightly heavier, will take anything you choose to shoot . in my opinion , the model 24 winchester is the best double ever made . closing the breech is like shutting the door of a vault.

  10. Franklin Roosevelt’s concentration camp guards were armed with Stevens shotguns. One was used to fufill FDR’s order to murder anyone who protested by Private Clarence A. Burleson, who shot two elderly American in the back for attempting to peacefully and calmly walk away. His tribunal confirmed murdering Americans, which presumably extended to killing as many of the men women and children as he had ammo to, was his explicit, direct order. Aren’t Democrats wonderful?

    • most Japanese in america would not renounce their loyalty , to their emperor god . as required when you swear on oath to become an american citizen . your emperor god , was responsible for the murder of 30 plus million unarmed chinese. feel lucky , vast amounts of germans and italians , were not imprisoned , they were deported .

  11. I bought a 235 at a gun show in 1989. Wood had been refinished and it had been bead blasted. paid $100 for it. I had it parkerized (I was young and poor. Bluing was a lot more expensive) and now have an absolutely wonderful shotgun. Its not an everyday shooter but sure s a treat when I take it out. I named it Granny Clampett.

  12. I’ve got 2 doubles both from grandfathers. I shoot them occasionally but the meaning of them is where the value lies.
    I bought an RG 22 pistol. Why? It reminded me of what my grandfather used to carry and what fun it was to shoot.
    Often the memories are the real value of the wood and steel. We get caught up in tacticool, BBQ guns and the latest craze but it’s nice just to have fun and reflect

  13. Really dumb question here …….If you’re walking around hunting pheasant I assume the hammers are down and you have to cock when the bird comes up? Or is there a separate manual safety?

    • Your right. The easiest way to use a sxs is to carry it hammers down with your right thumb and palm resting on the hammers or atleast that is what i do. That way i can cock both hammers in a sweeping motion while getting on target. That being said, i have seen old timers walk around with the hammers cocked and their finger in the trigger guard. Thats why i hunt alone.

      • When I lived in the Dakotas, the geezer on the next property over had a missing foot… his son told me about pa shooting himself through the top of his boot with a scattergun, and ” weren’t serious enuff to see the Doc about”
        I guess pouring Listerine over a clean sock for a week or so wasn’t as effective of a remedy as he thought.

  14. my homes previous owners left behind a welded up barreled 10ga black powder sxs. thought i had something when i saw “w. richards” on the receiver. turned out to be a common piece of crap trying to pass its’ self off as a westley richards. gave it to deadwood dave for wall hanging in his saloon. gave him a nice horse collar too. that i wish i had kept.

  15. I think that shotgunm would look and work better if it had mlok rails and flashlights and lazer dots and flash suppersoakers also needs a pump action automatic hand thing that goes back and forth with a clip hole in the butthandle with a fieldnote holder.
    I’ll give you $300 for it.

  16. I was in my 60’s when I got my first double barrel shotgun. My hammerless gun is not nearly as nice as yours, but it still has a classic look. I bought it at auction for just over $100 about 5 years ago. It’s roughly 50 or more years old and imported, chambered for 2 3/4″ long 12 ga shells. I had originally bid on it to use as a wall hanger, but once I got it home and took a closer look, I realized it was a solid usable firearm that I could use hunting.

  17. Just finished restoration of an early model 235 which was given to me. It’s my understanding that they were originally made with cyanide case hardening – such a cool look! I opted to have my reciever color case hardened and the end result was beyond my expectations. I had to opt for a reproduction stock as the original was terribly damaged. I distressed the new stock after hand fitting to the reciever snd and mixed stains to get the right color match to the original forend.

    These are wonderfully made firearms and my gunsmith encourages me to shoot it – it is a working mans gun, beautiful, useful, dependable and effective! If you’d like to see pics of my restored 235, drop me a line.

  18. i carried the 235 in a 16 guage since i was a teen. i loved that gun then when everything switched to steel shot . i had the chokes cut to full . could never seem to hit the same but i was still better than average with it. then about 10 yrs ago i had a vehicle fire and it didnt take that to well. been looking for one ever since. its a well balanced gun and fun to shoot.

  19. Great article. I was left a Steven’s model 235 when a friend had passed. Thanks to your read I now know that it’s an earlier version since it is stamped Steven’s Arms & Tool co. Chicopee, Mass. Everything is still sturdy and weathered well. Not sure how much it’ll get fired but nice conversation piece.

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