The 12 gauge shotgun has been a mainstay for law enforcement and home defense for nearly 100 years. A simple and reliable 12 gauge is enough to harvest a deer or drop any would be home invader, of that there is no doubt. It use to be that if you were on a limited budget and wanted a 12 gauge shotgun you either had to buy a used one or a some no name knock off brand. That’s not the case anymore, when you stop to consider that for what you would have paid for an old Remington 870 or Mossberg 500, that has been used and abused, you can get your hands on a brand new Stevens Model 320 Shotgun.
The Stevens Model 320 is made by well known Westfield, Massachusetts based firearms manufacturer Savage Arms, but unlike Savage firearms, the Stevens shotguns are made in the People’s Republic of China. The reports we have read were that the facility in China was built in a few years ago and that there were some initial quality control issues when shipments first began, but those bugs have been worked out and production of the Stevens 320 was running along without any issues since those early days.
The market for affordable pump action shotguns is a crowded one dominated largely by what I refer to as the “Big Two”, Remingtion with the 870 series and Mossberg with the 500 line. Savage Arms has been busy trying to market the Stevens 320 as an shotgun that would appeal to people who don’t want to spend $400 on a shotgun but still want a reliable and durable scattergun for hunting and home defense. Lets take a look at the models, options and pricing of the various incarnations of the Stevens 320 shotgun.
Manufacturer: Stevens (Savage Arms)
Country of Origin: China
Caliber: 12 Gauge (20 gauge also available)
Barrel Length: 18.5″
Overall Length: 38.25″
Weight: 7 lbs
Stock Configurations: Traditional & Pistol Grip Stocks
Stock Material: Polymer
Capacity: 5 rounds
There are some people in the gun world that will scream out against anything made in the People’s Republic of China, but will conveniently forget that most of the electronic devices they own are made there. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the fact the shotgun is made in China, it is what it is. In a global market economy many manufacturers have farmed out their production to places with cheaper labor and less restrictive government oversight, but that’s not where this article is going to end up.
There are some features on the Stevens 320 shotgun that might strike some people as a little odd or familiar. The first feature is the gigantic fore grip that the shotgun has. This obscenely large polymer fore grip does however allow the user to manipulate the twin action bars and cycle the shotgun with ease. One feature that will strike users as familiar is the shotguns slide release button that is located on the left side of the receiver just behind the trigger guard. This is almost identical to the position of the slide release on any model of Winchester Model 1300 shotguns that you may have handled in the past.
The design team at Stevens/Savage arms also added a rather large and easy to acquire ghost ring style rear sight for some versions of the Model 320. This configuration allows for shooters to quickly acquire larger targets, especially when using the shotgun at close range. This is most advantageous to the demographic who I think Savage Arms marketed the Stevens Model 320 towards, the home defense market. This shotgun appears to be a solid deal for the money spent, that being said there are some issues that potential owners might have to come to grips with if they intend to buy one of these shotguns.
This shotgun’s action might be a little rougher than you are use to if you are an owner of a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500. I fully expect the fit, finish and feel of the shotgun to be less than it’s competition. That being said the Stevens Model 320 is not designed to compete on a level playing field with those big brand shotguns, it’s designed to under cut the price but offer reliability and affordability. It appears on the surface to do that rather well, with a MSRP starting at $245 for the basic model. Does the Stevens Model 320 live up to the hype and marketing plan or are you better off just paying a little more for a base model Remingtion or Mossberg? What are your thoughts on this debate ? Drop us a line in the comments section.
(Feature Image Courtesy:mygunculture.com)