GUN TESTS GRADE:A-
The Model 301 is a modern, Chinese-made incantation of the H&R Topper. The difference between the two is the Model 301 offered slightly better recoil management and more versatility with screw-in choke tube. That’s the up side. On the down side, the Stevens is 6 inches longer, and that adds some liability in cramped environments, making the 301 less maneuverable.
|Action Type||Break action, manual hammer, single-shot, ejector|
|Chamber Size||3.0 in.|
|Overall Length||41.0 in.|
|Disassembled Length||26.0 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||5.8 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded (23⁄4-in. shell)||5.9 lbs.|
|Barrel Length||26.0 in.|
|Receiver||Matte black, steel|
|Choke||1 choke tube, Modified, Winchoke style|
|Buttstock||Textured synthetic, matte black, solid recoil pad|
|Buttstock LOP||13.8 in.|
|Fore End||Textured synthetic, matte black|
|Trigger Pull Weight||5.3 lbs.|
|Safety||Manual, automatic hammer block|
Our sample wore a businesslike matte-blue finish on all the metal. The trigger guard, stock and fore end are polymer. Checkering and serrations in handling areas provide good texture. Sling-swivel studs are included, which we appreciate. The recoil pad is a soft rubber, and it was the best at helping to stifle the sting of recoil.
The barrel sports a brass-bead front sight, and the receiver has a shallow groove machined at the top. With the hammer fully forward, it blocks the bead and indicates to the user the hammer needs to be cocked to fire. Winchoke-style choke tubes are compatible with the 301, and one Modified tube is included. We like this feature, and we’d invest in Full and Improved Cylinder tubes to round out the patterning capability of the 301.
Like the Topper, the Model 301 uses a side lever to crack open the action for loading and unloading. The lever spur is wider and finely checkered for easy opening of the action. The barrel rotates down on it own without any additional effort. The hammer is nicely serrated for confident cocking and no slippage. A manual safety is located on the left side of the receiver and only operates when the hammer is cocked. The trigger is smooth and broke at a clean 5.3 pounds.
Going hot, we found the 301 patterned No. 6 shot at 11 inches, keeping all the pellets inside the 18-inch wide target. With a tighter constriction tube, the pattern would be smaller still. Recoil was stout but slightly more tolerable due to the softer buttstock pad. With the S&B 00 Buck, we averaged 7-inch patterns; with the Hornady patterns averaging 5 inches. The 301 operated and performed well. Empties were ejected quite far, so expect some walking to pick up empties. The bottom edge of the receiver was slightly rounded so it carried comfortably.
Maneuvering inside a house, the 301’s longer barrel took more effort to negotiate doorways and hallways. Although, compared to a pump or semi-auto shotgun with similar barrel length, the 301 is still shorter.
The fore end features a takedown button. Press it and the fore end pivots away from the barrel. Then the barrel can be pivoted off the receiver. It breaks down into three smaller pieces for transport. Disassembly and assembly happens in seconds, and we liked that breakdown did not require tools.
Our Team Said: The Stevens checked all the right boxes: lightweight, easy to use, utterly reliable, easy to disassemble, and built-in safeties plus featured screw-in choke tubes add versatility. Recoil was more tolerable with the Model 301. This is a good choice for an inexpensive go-bag shotgun.
12 Gauge Range DataTo collect pattern data with shotshells, we fired at a distance of 15 yards. All shells were 23⁄4-inch long.
|Stevens Model 301 Single-Shot||Hornady Critical Defense 00 Buckshot||Sellier & Bellot 00 Buckshot||Remington Game Load No. 6 shot|
|Pattern Size||5.0 in.||7.0 in.||11.0 in.|
|H&R Topper Single-Shot||Hornady Critical Defense 00 Buckshot||Sellier & Bellot 00 Buckshot||Remington Game Load No. 6 shot|
|Pattern Size||4.5 in.||7.0 in.||21.0 in.|
|FedArm SS12 Single-Shot||Hornady Critical Defense 00 Buckshot||Sellier & Bellot 00 Buckshot||Remington Game Load No. 6 shot|
|Pattern Size||5.0 in.||4.0 in.||NA|