Stevens 200 Review
Had you asked me what the Stevens 200 was good for a few years ago, I would have replied that it was the most accurate rifle one could buy for the ~$300 mark and a fantastic choice for new hunters on a tight budget. With the release of more budget minded rifles, Savage, Remington, and even Weatherby and Mossberg have crowded the segment. The Savage Axis XP is now a better choice for the budget minded starter, as it comes with a basic scope for $339. Strictly for hunting, I much prefer the detachable magazine of the Axis to the blind magazine of the Stevens 200 or Mossberg ATR100, and I much prefer the quality of the Savage Axis to the Remington 770. So what is the Stevens 200 good for? I consider it to be a great option for the DIYer.
Unlike the Savage Axis, which is a new action, new recoil lug, etc, the Stevens 200 is a plain 110/10 action. The parts work, AND all the DIY materials that apply to the 110 apply to the Stevens 200. Want to see a video on how to glass bed it? No problem. Want to take off the barrel and put a different one on? Easy! Need a different bolt head? No problem! Put in a different way, the Stevens 200 is the cheapest way to get a Savage 110 action, an action that’s been around since the 50’s and is usually very accurate. It’s a somewhat popular choice to inexpensively get into wildcat chamberings, 1000 yard platforms, or other custom rigs. Premium stocks and target barrels are out there and are easy to fit. The plastic stock and skinny barrel that come with the Stevens are just nice to haves.
I bought my Stevens before the Axis was out as a dedicated coyote rifle in 223 Remington. If I were faced with the decision today, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the Axis instead. I just really dislike the inconvenience of a blind magazine. Supposedly, you can get a standard Savage stock, bottom metal, and the bottom piece to the magazine and make your Stevens a DM, but I really can’t be bothered. I did immediately glass bed my Stevens 200 as well as glass in 2 carbon fiber arrow shafts to add stiffness to the stock forend. Finally, I capped it off with an inexpensive BSA Sweet 223 scope and loaded up some cartridges with Varget to take out shooting.
Stevens 200 Usability
As a factory bolt rifle, there’s a lot to like on the Stevens, and a few things to dislike. I prefer the tang mounted safety, but the teardrop style on newer Savages is easier to use. I dislike the blind magazine because it’s such a pain in the ass to unload at the end of a hunt, but it’s never jammed on me. Mine uses the newer center feed style instead of the older stacked feed magazine. To load the center feed mag, you need to snap the rounds in past the feed lips. It’s a bit more difficult than loading the stagger feed because it can be awkward positioning the tiny 223 rounds to perch on the feed lips before you press the cartridge down. And unlike the Axis, you can’t take the mag out of the rifle where it’d be much more convenient to load/unload. The bolt release mechanism on Savages is a bit of a pain too. You need to pull on the bolt, pull the trigger, and press down on the bolt release lever on the right. Not the end of the world, just a little more tricky than other designs.
Stevens 200 Accuracy
Here’s the beautiful thing that many Stevens 200 owners out there already know: most shoot like a hot damn. My 223 averages groups around 0.5″-0.7″ at 100 yards, which is fantastic for a plain plastic stocked, skinny barrel factory rifle and deadly on coyotes at all the distances I hunt them at. Really, all I’ve done is bed the rifle and load up some rounds. I haven’t even done any load testing or used a nice target scope, and why would I for the results I’ve seen? It’s one of my most boring, reliable rifles, one I can count on to make the kill if I do my part. While some of my other rifles look better, or have cooler features, this is the most accurate rifle I own. If I get bored, I could always rebarrel or cut a wildcat chamber. But why mess with a good thing? Sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone, and that’s certainly the case with my Stevens 200.
E-Z Pull Trigger Assist
As the Stevens 200 doesn’t come with an Accutrigger, there’s a limit to how good you can get the trigger before it’s unsafe. A cheap and easy add-on that anyone can add is a trigger device. These use simple leverage to reduce the perceived trigger pull weight. I’ve got one on this rifle and it’s awesome how light it makes the trigger, while still keeping it safe from going off accidentally. While it’s not as good as adding an aftermarket trigger like a SSS, it’s cheap and quick.