By Marshall Williams.
The little Stevens and later Savage combination guns in .22-410 originated in either 1938 or 1939 (references differ) as the Stevens No. 22-410. The gun resembled the typical break open single barrel gun of the era except that it had a slender second barrel on top of the shotgun barrel. The lower barrel was chambered for the three inch .410 case and was full choke and the slender top barrel fired the .22 short, long, or long rifle cartridge interchangeably. Barrel length was 24 inches and the gun came equipped with the standard open sights found on most .22 rifles of its era. The design is somewhat heavier than a single barrel shotgun and weighed about 6 Ĺ pounds.
The gun opened with a top lever which could be pushed either right or left to open the gun. The original guns had an exposed hammer and the barrel was selected by sliding a button on the right side of the frame up to fire the .22 barrel or down to fire the .410 barrel. The barrels had separate firing pins mounted in the standing breech and the button moved a "connector" which transferred the blow of the hammer to the correct firing pin.
The barrels had separate extractors. The one for the .410 or lower barrel was a conventional cam-operated design, but the .22 barrel was too far away and too small for the same design, so a spring-loaded, plunger-style ejector is used for the top barrel
In addition to the combination gun, an over and under .410 appeared at the same time under the designation Model No. 240. Both barrels were chambered for the three inch shell and choked full. Sights on this version were the same as on the 22-410, rifle sights. This version had double triggers and two separate narrow hammers, each powered by a separate main spring, fitted into the space occupied by the single hammer on the .22-.410 version. Cocking both hammers at once requires twice the pressure that cocking a single hammer. I think I also have seen one of these guns with the original single hammer and trigger set up with the barrel selector, but my aging memory sometimes plays tricks on me. The Model No. 240 was not as useful nor as popular as the combination gun and was discontinued in 1941 at the beginning of World War Two. They are rarely seen today.
The butt stock was attached with a through bolt and the forend was a "snap-on" design attached by a spring clip. Many early guns had tennite stocks and forends. Tennite was an early plastic which had many structural uses and was used on a number of gun designs. However, it was not popular for assorted reasons, among them, traditionalists wanted wood, but, in addition, it also did not hold up as well as wood and broken stocks are common. One of my references says the first Stevens guns had wooden stocks before Tennite was introduced, and this may be so as the wooden stock seems much more common than the plastic one.
I believe that some of these guns may have been used as survival guns for pilots early in World War II, but I can find no reference to support this statement. One of my high school teachers in the late 1950s was a real gun expert who had spent World War II in the US Army Air Force in the China-Burma-India theater, and he told me that the USAAF supplied these little guns for survival gear. The USAF later adopted a little folding over and under .410, but its rifled barrel was a .22 Hornet. The USAF gun had barrels only 14 inches long and thus does not comply with the minimum barrel length requirements of the National Firearms Act of 1934. Nevertheless, this little gun, with legal 18 inch barrels remains alive and in production as the Springfield Armory, Inc. M-6 Scout.
Although Savage and Stevens had originated as separate companies, in about 1920, Savage bought Stevens, and thereafter many designs will under both marquees. In 1950, the Stevens 22-410 became the Savage Model 24, and the Stevens 22-410 disappeared.
It is my recollection that The Savage Model 24 was the first long gun chambered for the .22 Winchester rimfire magnum (WRM). When Winchester introduced its .22 WRM in 1959, it made a big splash in the shooting press, but very little among the shooting public, and the reason was that the cartridge was developed and introduced before there were guns to fire it. According to my rusty recollection, the only two guns chambered for the .22 WRM in 1959 were Rugerís relatively new Single-Six revolver and Smith &Wessonís K-.22 Masterpiece revolver. At first, neither was a convertible, either. No dedicated .22 WMR rifles would be introduced for nearly two years because all existing designs were made for the .22 long rifle and were too short for the .22 WRM. However, that was not a concern with Model 24. In a break-open design, cartridge length is immaterial, and Savage promptly offered the Model 24 buyer the choice of .22 long rifle or .22 WRM for the top barrel and this gun was available at least by 1960.
Perhaps the new .22 WMR got Savageís attention because they set about redesigning the Model 24 in other ways. The barrel selector button on the right side of the Model 24s receiver was not as reliable nor as foolproof as it needed to be. The detent which was supposed to hold the barrel selector in place was weak and many of the guns soon reached a point where they would shoot only one barrel, or, in worst cases, neither. In about 1962, Savage redesigned the hammer of the Model 24 to incorporate a selector on its tip which could be set to fire either barrel by simply tilting it up or down and which was quite positive. In addition, this placement allowed one to select the barrel to be fired while cocking the hammer.
The new hammer is interchangeable with the old one and requires neither fitting nor modification. Simply remove the old hammer and the selector parts and install the new hammer. I have done this on two older guns and the only problem was the hole left in the side of the receiver where the barrel selector had been. To cover this, I filed a little oval out of brass stock and Super Glued it in place.
In addition, Savage reconsidered the gauge of the little gun in light of the bad press that .410s were receiving and redesigned the gun slightly to permit a 20 gauge lower barrel. With a three inch chamber, dull nickle receiver, and Monte Carlo stock with impressed checkering, the gun became the Model 24 DL. It was praised by the shooting press as the ideal fox and turkey gun, varmints in general, and groundhogs in particular. I gave one to my father for his birthday in 1964, and then found out that it was difficult to find both .22 WMR ammunition and three inch 20 gauge shells. But if we could find them, we had a versatile gun indeed.
At about the same time, Savage managed to make a 3/8 inch dovetail by cutting two grooves in the slender .22 barrel. This simplified the attachment of the small 5/8 inch .22 scopes which then were becoming common.
The addition of a scope somewhat interferes with the gunís use as a shotgun, but it allows one to get the full accuracy out of the slender little rifle barrel. And the little rifles proved to be remarkably accurate. The .22 barrel may be slender, but it is solidly attached to the larger shotgun barrel and is extremely stiff. My experience with the .22 magnum is very good. The gun easily puts five shots into 1 Ĺ inches at 100 yards. For those of you who are used to metric measurements, just think the rifle is accurate.
The gunís rifle sights also invite the use of slugs and the 20 gauge barrel of my fatherís Model 24 DL would group standard 20 gauge Foster slugs very satisfactorily at 50 yards. I presume the .410s also did as well.
Also in about 1964, Savage redesigned the gunís opening lever, changing it from a top lever to a side lever on the right side of the frame. This variation did not prove popular and was subsequently dropped.
In the late 60s-early 70s, the Model 24 started to change and take on new character, including mono-bloc breeching, separated barrels, 12 gauge guns, plastic stocks (again), camouflage coats, and center fire cartridges for the rifle barrel. These are beyond the scope of 4-10's interest.
From 1977 until 1981, the .410 over-and-under shotgun concept returned with the Savage Model 242, a .410/.410 over and under with a single trigger and hammer, a barrel selector on the side of the receiver, and a single shotgun bead sight.
In about 1980, the top lever was again moved, this time to the bottom of the receiver in front of the trigger guard. Savage stayed with this design until the end of the Model 24's .410 days. In this form and called the Model 24 D, in .22/.410 remained in Savageís line until about 1987, at least that is the last year a .410 variant is mentioned in the Gun Digest.
The 12 and 20 gauge variations stayed on, but their recent history is a little cloudy. Savage went through two reorganizations in a short period, one in 1989 and another in 1995. The 2003 Savage catalog still lists some Model 24 variations, but the Savage website does not.