These readers’ vintage firearms have some surprising history—and appraisals

 

Advertisement

I am hoping to find out a little more about a J. Stevens A&T .22 (above) I inherited from my dad, who recently passed. It was the first .22 I shot as a young boy. I can’t seem to figure out which model it is, or its value (I thought it may have been a sub-model of the Crack Shot). I can’t find serial numbers anywhere on the rifle. If you can be of help, I would really appreciate it.

TIMOTHY MCFARLAND

READING, PENNSYLVANIA

Advertisement

This is considered the rarest Stevens single shot ever produced. Known as the Sure Shot, it was only made from 1894 to 1896 (or, some sources say, as late as 1898). There were four variations, Models 23, 24, 25 and 26; yours is a Model 23. The other three variations were similar in appearance and operation, but with different sight options. As far as I can find out, only the Model 23 was ever actually produced. Incidentally, A&T stands for “Arms and Tools,” a designation used on Stevens firearms from 1886 to 1916.

The Model 23 is so rare that most serious collectors of classic single-shot .22s have likely only ever seen photos of them. Yours would be of great interest to collectors of Stevens firearms or classic .22 rifles. The trick is to find just such a buyer, and the best way to do that is at a reputable firearms auction (see www.outdoorcanada.ca/gunauctions).

I can’t provide a solid estimate of your rifle’s value, as so few of these models come up for sale. On U.S. websites, I’ve seen examples in worse condition than yours with asking prices of US$1,500 to US$2,000. Of course, asking a price doesn’t guarantee getting it. And at the time of this writing, the economy is in very bad shape due to the pandemic lockdown; how badly and how long that will impact collectible firearms sales, I cannot say. I would caution against firing your rifle, as this model has a reputation for being a bit fragile, especially when it comes to the extractor.