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 Post subject: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:55 am
Posts: 118
Hello,
I started this ID guide here but for some reason it has dropped all the supporting pictures. I now maintain this guide over on Gun Values Board and keep it updated with photos and video and new research. Feel free to stop by: http://www.gunvaluesboard.com/stevens-5 ... -2617.html

Howdy,
I'd like to offer some information that I have collected over the years on how to ID Stevens 520 and 520A shotguns. This is a work in progress and I will update this post with more pictures of actual shotguns to show changes as I have time to take them. I'd like to give many thanks to Researcher01 who provided the Stevens catalog pages.

First off, Stevens 520 shotguns cannot currently be accurately dated with just a serial number. Stevens had an accidental fire in their records room right after WWI when they were being investigated for war profiteering and there was a great flood of the Connecticut River in 1936 that damaged the factory and records room again. This destroyed much of the information concerning production of these shotguns. It is stated that about 191,000 were made and my list of observed serial numbers supports this (All 520 variations between 1909-1939). Based off my research and collection of serial numbers, I also estimate that approximately 87,000 520As were made between 1940-1948 (including WWII 520-30 production). Without accurate records, I decided to chart an evolution of the 520 design by studying actual guns and available advertising literature. Let’s start at the beginning.

[b][u]1903-1909:[/u][/b] John Browning filed a patent for a “hammerless” shotgun w/ a unique take-down barrel and locking breech block on 10 Jul 1903, it was approved on 7 Feb 1905 and along with a separate 27 Aug 1907 patent, that applies to the connection between the slide arm and the fore end, became the Stevens 520. Browning eventually sold the design to the J Stevens Arms & Tool Co in Chicopee Falls, MA.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/US781765-0_%282%29.png[/img]
[b]JM Browning Patent 7 Feb 1905[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/JM_Browning_Patent_27_Aug_1907.png[/img]
[b]JM Browning Patent 27 Aug 1907[/b]

[b][u]1909-approx 1913/14:[/u][/b] There are claims that production of the Stevens 520 may have begun as early as 1904 but it first appeared in Stevens’ 1909 catalog #52 and was also offered for sale in the Fall 1909 Sears & Roebuck catalog. It is easily recognizable by having a round slide release knob on the left side of the receiver and a rounded pistol grip on the butt stock. The fore grip is ringed and uniform in size. The trigger housing is retained with three screws. The shell stop is a rocker design with a set screw on front right side of the receiver. There are other models going up to the fancy Stevens 535 with heavy engraving and checkered stocks (some English) and fore grips. Internally there is an inertial slide release block that is affixed to the inside of the receiver. A nub grooved safety, vice a larger triangle safety, is found on many early guns pre 1911.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Catalog_No__52_%28Revised_Edition%29_pg_91.jpeg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #52 (1909)[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1909_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1909[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Catalog_No__53_%281911%29_pg_5.jpeg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #53 (1911) Stevens 520 and 522[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Catalog_No__53_%281911%29_pg_6.jpeg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #53 (1911) Stevens 525 and 530[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Catalog_No__53_%281911%29_pg_7.jpeg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #53 (1911) Stevens 535[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Stevens_Pics.jpg[/img]
[b]1909-1913/14 Stevens 520[/b]

[b][u]1913/14-1916:[/u][/b] It is my guess that some time in this period Stevens started to change the design of the inertial slide release. During this period Stevens offered guns retaining the original round slide release button but incorporating the inertial block into the design of the trigger housing and they offered guns with a redesigned angled slide release in the trigger housing but retaining the original inertial slide release style attached to the inside of the receiver. It seems that they were experimenting with both trigger housing styles in a very short period. Unfortunately, the Stevens advertising continued to represent the guns with the original slide release configuration. See below for more on the evolution of the trigger housing.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/pix781849039_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Pre-1915 Stevens 535 with "new" style slide release but with inertial block still attached to receiver (screw above rear trigger housing screw)[/b]

[b][u]1916-1919:[/u][/b] Stevens was sold to New England Westinghouse (NEW) in May 1915 and on 1 July 1916 and the company name was changed from “J Stevens Arms & Tool Co” to “J Stevens Arms Company”. Production of civilian firearms was either halted or severely curtailed at this time. NEW had a contract to make 1.8 million Mosin-Nagant rifles for the Russian Czar during WWI and they need a weapons manufacturing plant. When the communists deposed the Czar, they didn’t pay the bill and NEW and Stevens went fell into financial trouble. An interesting note, around 1918 Stevens provided a 520 trench gun prototype to the US military. Supposedly several examples were made but no known examples survive. It had a unique two piece heat shield/bayonet lug. Stevens announced a return to full civilian production of firearms in the spring of 1919 was sold to Savage Arms on 1 April, 1920.

[b][u]1920-1924:[/u][/b] Production of the base Stevens 520 and the 522 Trap gun continued. These guns incorporated the design changes that were emerging in 1915 with regards to inertial block and slide release design. However, Stevens advertising continued to use pictures from the 1909-1913 period above that do not show the slide release and inertial block changes that happened pre-1916 as evidenced by guns with both company name styles incorporating the changes. These guns have the angled slide release button in the trigger housing and an inertial slide release block incorporated into the trigger plate. Butt stocks remain the same and fore grips retain the rings.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1924_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1924[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Stevens_Pics_2-001.jpg[/img]
[b]1920-24 Stevens 520[/b]

[b][u]1925:[/u][/b] The butt stock was redesigned with a flat ended pistol grip and checkering. This year marked the first appearance of the Stevens 520 as a store branded gun (Sears Ranger, Ward’s Western Field). By the end of 1925 the trigger housing was redesigned in the 520 and the sliding inertial blocks were dropped. In guns prior to this time, the action is unlocked by the recoil of a fired round or by pushing the slide release, not by dry firing and applying forward pressure on the slide like modern shotguns. At the end of this period the inertial sliding blocks were replaced with a spring that keeps forward pressure on the slide release. That means that guns from this period on can unlock the action with forward pressure on the slide after a dry fire vice having to operate the slide release or fire a round.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Catalog_No__56_pg_29.jpeg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #56 (1925)[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1925_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1925[/b]

[b][u]1926-1927:[/u][/b] During this period the fore grip got a diamond checkered pattern and in 1927 the 620 was introduced. It was a streamlined and redesigned 520. From this point on 520 development was closely tied to improvements made on the flagship 620. For cost saving purposes Stevens seems to have incorporated 620 changes, with the exception of the safety, into the 520 either at the same time or shortly after.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1927_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1927[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide3.JPG[/img]
[b]1926-27 Stevens 520[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide4.JPG[/img]
[b]1926-27 Stevens 520[/b]

[b][u]1928-1932:[/u][/b] In 1928 (Stevens catalog #57) the streamlined Stevens 620 was introduced in a Stevens publication and the 520 was advertised under Stevens’ budget line, Riverside Arms. The 520 appeared again in a revised #57 catalog in 1929 this time labeled as a Springfield, another budget line owned by Savage/Stevens. It was marked “Discontinued” in this catalog. This is the last time I can find the 520 represented in a Stevens sales publication (not parts catalogs). Sometime early in this period (1928-29) the front two screws that held in the trigger housing were swapped out for a pin. A 16 gauge version was introduced in 1928 Sears’ catalogs and the 20 gauge came out in 1930. People seem to think that Stevens 520 production ended here or that only a small number of guns were made from remaining parts. This is absolutely not the case. The 520 went through several design changes and continued in full production as store branded guns. I have found a Stevens marked 520 from 1938-38 but I have yet to find a post 1932 Riverside Arms 520, or any 520 marked Springfield, but it is quite possible they’re out there as the later Stevens 520A was marketed under the Riverside Arms name and one would expect Stevens to continue to fill the gap while the 520 was in production.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/No620andNo5201927CatalogueNo57.jpg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #57[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1928_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1928[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Catalog_No__57_pg_23.jpeg[/img]
[b]Stevens Catalog #57 Revised (1929) notice that both guns are branded "Springfield" instead of "Riverside" and then stamped discontinued[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1932_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1932, notice the set screw under the front corner of the ejection port[/b]

[b][u]1933-1935:[/u][/b] The shell stop was redesigned from a rocker style to a spring loaded style and the forward set screw was removed. This allowed them to share these components with the 620s from this period. Some time during this period the ejector was redesigned and the screw mounting point was moved forward. I’m not sure when this occurs so I refer to them as early and late examples. There was a short period during the early phase of 1933-35 when Stevens dropped the breech block stop screw from the left side of the receiver so it is possible to find early guns from this period with and without them. In 1935 fancier wood stocks were offered as an option on 520s.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1933_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1933, notice there is [u]no[/u] set screw under the front corner of the ejection port[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide7.JPG[/img]
[b]1933-35 Stevens 520 Right Side[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide6.JPG[/img]
[b]1933-35 Stevens 520 Left Side (Early)[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide8~0.JPG[/img]
[b]1933-35 Stevens 520 Left Side (Later)[/b]

[b][u]1936-37:[b][u] During this period Stevens again redesigned the shell (cartridge) stop, increasing it in length, this moved the mounting point further back on the right side of the receiver.

[b][u]1938-39:[/u][/b] This was when the trigger safety was dropped and replaced with the push button “cross-bolt” safety located behind the trigger. These guns also have a breech block rear stop screw on the upper right side of the receiver and a redesigned ejector that attaches via a round tab inside the receiver (no external screw, just a hole). These mirror design changes for the 620. A factory installed poly-choke was offered in 1939.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1939_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1939, notice the shell stop screw and safety location[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide1-001.JPG[/img]
[b]1938-39 Stevens 520 Right Side[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide2-001.JPG[/img]
[b]1938-39 Stevens 520 Left Side[/b]

[b][u]1940-1941:[/u][/b] The Stevens 520 ended production and was replaced by the flat topped Stevens 520A in store brands and internal Riverside Arms markings (still as a 520) in 12, 16 and 20 gauges with a factory poly-choke option. The 520A utilizes a slide button safety located on the receiver tang. As a side note, I haven’t found a gun marked 520A. This nomenclature seems to be internal to Stevens in their parts catalogs. The 520A is only pictured in Stevens’ parts catalogs and in Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs under their trade names. Stevens sold this gun under the Riverside Arms name but never put it in any factory gun catalog. The naming convention does make sense when you look at the evolution of the 620 into the 620A that happened during this time frame.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1941_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1941[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide11.JPG[/img]
[b]1940-41 Stevens 520A[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide12.JPG[/img]
[b]1940-47 Stevens Barrel Roll Stamp Style[/b]

[b][u]1942-1945:[/u][/b] Stevens once again halted civilian production to make guns for WWII. The 520As were produced for the war effort as 520-30s in trench, riot and long-barreled training setup. This is a whole other topic in itself. Bruce Canfield provides excellent descriptions of these guns in his “Complete Guide to US Military Combat Shotguns”. Anyone looking at these guns should be aware that the 520-30 is one of the most faked military shotguns. The martial stamps to make the correct military markings have been available for decades and professional gunsmiths have produced some very good fakes along with many home built jobs. This challenge is compounded by variations in early Stevens marking of these guns and the civilian purchase program that bought shotguns off the shelves of vendors and out of Stevens’ inventory in order to meet wartime needs. Buyer beware.

[b][u]1946-1948:[/u][/b] The 520A ended its production run. Sears sold them as the JC Higgins Model 102.25 and Wards sold them as Model 30 SB562As during this period. Stevens stopped serializing shotguns in 1948 and there are a few 520As made in the last year of production without serial numbers. The highest serial number I have observed on a 520A is 86646.
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Fall_1947_%282%29.jpg[/img]
[b]Sears Catalog Fall 1947[/b]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Slide13.JPG[/img]
[b]1946-47 Stevens 520A[/b]

Throughout 520 production there were times when they were offered with raised matted rib barrels. Barrel lengths range from 26″-32″, however Stevens did advertise 620 riot guns w/ 20″ barrels in the 30s so it’s not out of the question that a 520 came like this. Deluxe model 620s came out in about 1936 and 520s are also seen advertised with the same upgraded stocks.

[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Stevens_Triggers-001.jpg[/img]
[img]https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/cpg1410/albums/userpics/114356/Stevens_38-040.jpg[/img]

Above is the evolution of the Stevens 520 trigger housing group(I didn't include the 520A because there is only one and it has a short tang and coil mainspring so it's easy to ID).
#1 1909-1913/14: The housing doesn't have a cut out for a slide release button. The slide release button is round and screws through the receiver into the slide release. The inertial release block is above the group. It clamps into the side of the receiver.

#2 1913/14-1915: The group retains the round slide release button but incorporates a new inertial release block into the side of the housing

#3 1913/14-1915: I don't have an example of this one but it can be seen in the picture of the engraved 535 above. The housing would have a cut out for an angled slide release button but doesn't have the inertial release block incorporated into the group. It is separate and clamped into the side of the receiver like #1.

#4 1920-1925: This housing has a cut out for an angled slide release button and in integral inertial release block.

#5 1925-1927: This housing replaces the inertial release block with a coil spring that maintains pressure on the slide release. This allows the slide to be unlocked with forward pressure after a dry fire. The slide release button, and cut in the housing, are modified to be straight. This housing, like all previous, uses two small screws to secure it to the receiver.

#6 1928-1937: This housing is the same as those above but replaces the front screws with a pin to secure the front to the receiver. Internally, as with all previous groups, there is a two leaf spring under the main spring that applies pressure to the slide release and the one-piece trigger/sear.

#7 1938-1939: This housing has the safety moved behind the trigger. Internally, the one piece trigger/sear is replaced by separate trigger and sear components that have pressure applied to them by coil springs.

I'll eventually add more pictures (specific model change examples and more catalog pages if required) when I get some more time. There are a whole bunch of internal changes to springs, triggers, breech bolts etc that I'll try to include as well in some detailed break down pics.

Enjoy and please let me know what I've gotten wrong or if you have examples of guns that don't fit these parameters. I'm certain they are out there.

James




Last edited by OkiMarine on Sat Nov 28, 2015 12:30 am, edited 14 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:44 pm 
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Thank you James. You might ask the Site Moderator to make this thread a 'Sticky'
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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:56 pm
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Location: Denver, Colorado
James:

Stunning effort! Thank you so much. Where to begin......these guns were made far-later than I had been led to believe. I had read and understood 1930 to be the end of regular production of the double hump guns, with the 520-30 coming out at that time. Appreciate that correction. Also, I had presumed that the store-branded guns were produced earlier. 1925 is an eye-opener. Do you have any idea how long the "Western Field Browning" stamp was used? Most of the Western Field guns I have seen do not have it, so I assume it was short-lived. Also, the sub-gauge guns seem to have appeared fairly late. I had assumed far-earlier production.

Lots of questions, I know. I'll eagerly await your answers.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:55 am
Posts: 118
Post updated with some more pictures that show and describe the design changes. I'll add more later.

Drew Hause,
Thanks for adding those I have not seen them before. The one in the middle is not a 520 but still an interesting gun. That's for the model 200 a Stevens designed 20 gauge take-down that came out between 1912-1915. I like the English stock 522 trap gun.

Lloyd,
Thank you very much. I've been meaning to record this info somewhere and decided this was as good a time as any. I'm actually procrastinating from laying bricks in the driveway.
The 520 and 520A are hard to pin down because Stevens doesn't advertise them much once the 620 comes out in 1927. I had to track down all the old Sears catalogs between 1909-47. Next part of the project is getting the Ward's catalogs for study. Unfortunately I can only find complete sets in the archives of the Chicago History museum (home of Wards) and the University of Wyoming, Laramie American Heritage Center. Neither of which are anywhere close to me. I'll have to plan a trip unless some 520 lover finds this post and is willing to go get copies of all the pages with Stevens 520 and 620 shotguns. Sears only sold the 620 the first year they came out, but Wards carried the 620 until 1954.

I've seen the Western Field Browning stamped guns but don't have one for study. I would assume that by checking the design details against what is above you should be able to get a rough estimate.

Stevens didn't develop a sub gauge 520 because they designed their own model 200 to fill that gap. Not sure why Savage didn't do it earlier, probably trying to get Stevens to turn a profit before they invested any more capital in the business

James


Last edited by OkiMarine on Thu Nov 26, 2015 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:07 pm 
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Lloyd,
I found pictures of several Western Field Browning guns online and they all appear fall into the 1933-37 range (pin instead of screws for the forward trigger housing and no forward set screw for a rocker shell stop. I saw both early and late guns (per ejector screw placement on left of receiver) marked as such so probably used throughout that time frame.

What I did find that is interesting is a Western Field Browning without a breech block forward stop screw on the left side. All 520s and 620s before and after that I've seen have one, I haven't see that before...something new every time I get into these guns.


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:48 pm 
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Location: Denver, Colorado
Jim;

Not sure I'm following, if the trigger-plate pin showed up in 1927 and small-bores showed up in 1930
wouldn't the use of the "Browning" stamp possibly start then?

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 8:43 pm 
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Lloyd,
I'm also confused, I don't see the connection between small bores and the Browning markings.

I saw several pictures of Western Field Brownings online, I think they were 12 gauges but I don't see why they couldn't be 16s (1928) or 20s (1930) for that matter. All the guns I saw had pins in the forward trigger plate (post 1927) which I really didn't need to mention because the real decider is the shell stops not having a forward set screw (post 1932), but all had a safety in the trigger housing (pre 1938). I saw both early and late guns from this period based on the location of the ejector mounting screw on the left of the receiver.

Does that make sense? I agree that the additional "Browning" wording is rarer than plain "Western Field" and probably only occurs for a few years in the mid 30s. On a separate note, this is the same time frame that Stevens started marking the barrels "Browning Patent" or "Browning Design" on Sears guns.


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:51 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:56 pm
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I'm sorry, my 20 is the only 520 (Western Field Model 30) I've ever seen that has the "Browning" stamp as part of the name. When you speak of the shell stop not having a forward set screw after 1932, it that the screw (the British would call it a "pin") on the left side of the receiver that also stops the bolt carrier from travelling forward when the action is broken down from the barrel?

Also, I can see where some additional photography has been added to your previous post, but the pictures aren't visible, at least to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:52 pm 
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I found pics of your Western Field Browning 20 gauge on the other post. It falls in the later part of 1933-1937. You can tell this because the screw that holds the ejector on the left side of the receiver is midway between the second hump and the front of the receiver. The guns from the early part of this period have the ejector screw under the second hump (middle of the left side of the gun). These come in all three gauges in this period.

As per the shell stop set screw, Numrich calls it the carriage stop screw, front. I should probably use that name. See this diagram:
Image

In the lower right corner are the three styles of shell (cartridge) stop. The screw in question is #13, it pushes the end of #69 away from the receiver as it acts like a see-saw and keeps shells in the magazine. This type is used on all 520s from 1909-32 and screw #13 is on the right front edge of the receiver.

Your gun uses shell stop #81 as do all guns 1933-37, they are spring steel and don't have that forward screw. The carriage compresses them as it moves forward.
The 1938-39 guns use shell stop #90, as you can see it is longer so the mounting screw is further back on the right side.


Last edited by OkiMarine on Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:22 am 
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As for the different ejectors, in the diagram above they are #61, #74 and #85.

#61, the short one, is used between 1909 and the early part of the 1933-37.
#74 is longer, the ejector stays in the same place but the mounting point is moved forward, it's used in the later part of 1933-37.
#85 is spring loaded and held in place by a round tab that fits in a hole (it doesn't use a screw). It is used on 520s between 1938-39.

These are also all used on corresponding 620s from the same time periods.


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 2:27 pm 
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Spectacular information! Thank you so much. I've often wondered where this information could be found and you have brought it to light for anybody who's interested. How did you come to be so knowledgeable about these guns?

Also....I still can't see your new photography. I'm on my phone now, maybe my laptop will be better. The pictures from the original post are crystal clear.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:56 pm
Posts: 166
Location: Denver, Colorado
Jim:

"See this diagram:
Image"

This is all I get from your new postings, even on my primary computer. I hope you can re-post this information. It simply doesn't exist anywhere else. (I know this because I've looked for it for a very long time). Instead of going back and modifying your earlier posts. Could you add the additional data in a new post? That might work better.

Lloyd

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:20 pm 
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It's fun to finally have a sense of the history of this gun. It's even better when you get to use it as it was intended. September 28th, 2015.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:12 pm 
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Nice bird, is that a grouse?

I re-sized all the pictures and adjusted the resolution. Can you see them? I want to try and keep everything together and update the first post as I go. That way someone doesn't have to go through the entire chain to find out any changes or new information.


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:26 pm 
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A while back a I was looking at guns in a local pawn shop and ran across a WWII 520-30 riot gun. I bought it and that started an obsession with these guns in all their forms. I found out early that repairing/replacing broken or missing parts was infuriatingly difficult. Even if I knew the part I needed, Stevens changed things every few years. All across the gun auction sites sellers would describe their guns or spare parts and the info they provided varied wildly. There isn't a published ID guide anywhere like there are for other classic firearms. Look at all the other John Browning designs, they all have detailed collectors guides. I think the Savage/Stevens manufacture and the association with Sears/Wards has made collectors turn their noses up at these tank-like, workhorse guns.

So I started collecting every gun I could find that had visible differences and trying to put together an evolution of the design. That allowed me to break down a bunch of guns side by side and study them. The Sears catalogs really helped with dates, they describe available options and if you look at the pictures closely you can see the changes (screws, stocks, safeties etc) and actually put a date to them.


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:57 pm 
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Location: Denver, Colorado
You are correct. That is a Northern Minnesota mixed phase (both grey and red) young male ruffed grouse.

I understand the need to keep things chronological, but that photography still isn't visible. Not sure what the problem is. All I can see is a small box with a dark "X" in it, next to the word "image".

As far as making determinations as to production dates, what you have done is likely the only way to do it. Steven's corporate officers clearly burned their production records in 1919 (to avoid jail time for contract fraud during WWI), and after 1920, Savage seems to have been deliberately vague in order to minimize their royalty payments (on patented Model 520 and Model 620 production) to the Browning Estate. I suppose the next step (other than going through all the Montgomery Wards records) would be to extrapolate known production changes to specific serial number ranges, but I suspect that such a project would be a huge (and not-necessarily productive) undertaking. No matter, what you have discovered so-far really extends the documentable information available on these guns. Before your work, there was mostly a huge and confusing void. You are to be commended, and.....your work may act to bring these guns out of their ongoing bastard-stepchild status. They are clearly a product of John Browning's remarkable genius for gun design and most seem to have been surprisingly well made.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:01 pm 
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Location: Denver, Colorado
In the absence of a photographic record, a data table would be invaluable that outlines critical production dates and model revisions. From the information you have provided so-far, original production of the double-humped Stevens 520 guns was in 12-gauge only, from 1905 until 1928. After 1928, sub-gauge guns were produced, but seemingly only in store-branded models? Production of the double-humped guns continued (with some evolving modifications), but only as Riverside, Western Field and Ranger Model 30s until 1940-41. Production of the 520a single-humped guns (520-30s) began in 1940-41 (replacing the double-humped guns) and is finally discontinued in 1946-47 (any idea when sub-gauge 520a production began/ended?). Model 620 guns were produced by Stevens from 1927 until about 1954 (also, any idea when sub-gauge production began/ended?).

Also in summary: Important production changes are 1917 (when Stevens Arms & Tool Company ceased 520 production), 1920 (when Savage Arms took over and resumed 520 production as the Stevens Arms Co.), 1925 (when store-branded, now-known as Model 30 guns began production), 1927 (when the Model 620 was introduced and essentially replaced the Stevens-branded 520s), 1928 (when a drift pin replaced the front trigger-group screws, & when the 16-gauge Model 30 guns began to be produced). 1930 (when the 20-gauge guns began production), 1938 (when the suicide-safety was replaced by the behind the trigger-guard cross-bolt safety), and 1940-41 (when double-humped Model 30s finally ceased production). Whew! What did I miss?

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Last edited by lloyd3 on Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:10 pm 
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Lloyd,

I've also heard that Stevens had a second mysterious fire in the records room toward the end of WWII when they were again under investigation for war profiteering. The lack of factory records makes it exceedingly difficult to put it all together. I've thought about the S/N route but don't know how useful that will be. Having a lot of guns to look at helps frame the problem. It seems that Sears and Wards guns have different alpha numeric serial number blocks from each other and from Stevens/Riverside guns. I have a post WWII 520A (Sears JC Higgins) w/ a 4 digit S/N when pre war 520As had 5 digit S/Ns.

Adding to the problem, especially in the model 620 range, is that because they are shotguns (pre 1968) they weren't required to even have S/Ns. I have several 620s from the 30s and 620As from the 40s-50s that don't, yet all the WWII 620As in between have S/Ns. I think they just made it up as they went along.

I have heard of a gentlemen who is the keeper of the surviving Stevens records, and for a payment will look up your S/N. I don't think I want to go that route for each gun but I may contact him to see if he can provide an overall method to the madness.

I think the most productive step is getting the Wards catalogs, they will reinforce what I've learned from Sears and allow me to chart the evolution of the 620, which Sears didn't carry after 1927. Cornell Publishing also has reprints of most of the Stevens catalogs, I can see from the summaries which guns are in which catalogs but I haven't bit the bullet and purchased them @ $15-20 per year.

I'll work on the pictures


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:25 pm 
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I started with building a spread sheet, it's also a work in progress.

Not to rehash all the many minor design changes but the big way points are:

1909-1915 Original J Stevens Arms & Tool Co run
1920 Savage/J Stevens Arms Company takes over
1925 Store brand guns
1927 620 production begins
1928 (16 ga) and 1930 (20 ga) Sub caliber 520 guns and I expect 620 guns as well (I mean why not, the guns are interchangeable except for the receivers and stocks).
1939 520 production ends and I think the 620 does as well
1940 520A and I think 620A production begins, all gauges
1947 520A production ends
1954 620A production ends

Within that framework I can add in all the evolutionary design changes.

Also Stevens made sub gauge 620/620A guns under their own name, I have a few, and I would bet Riverside as well for 520/520A


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 Post subject: Re: Stevens 520 Identification Guide
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:57 pm 
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Thank you, OkiMarine, for your effort here. It seems that in the pump world, Winchester Model 12s get all the love, and, yes, they were built and finished to a higher standard, but the Stevens 520s and 620s were stout, no nonsense arms with a superior take down system. While suffering benign neglect in the collector world, it seems that lately their selling prices have begun to rise (alas). Of course, true WWII 520-30 and 620 trench guns are already in the stratosphere, resulting in a lot of fakery.

BTW, I have a 620 with serial number 3568x and no other markings on the receiver. Only the barrel carries the maker's stamp, STEVENS MODEL 620-A. I also have a 520A (single hump and tang safety) with receiver marked WARD'S WESTERN FIELD MODEL 30-SB562A and no serial number. So one receiver with serial number and no maker's stamp, the other with (badge) maker's stamp and no serial number. Yes, it appears that Stevens did make it up as they went along! :lol:




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