To the surprise and delight of many, the year 1977 found me preparing to graduate high school. I had been sentenced by the state of Tennessee in 1965 to endure twelve long years of education, of which I was about to complete. The word came down to us parolees that class rings were about to be ordered. The cost was 95 bucks each, and I was not about to waste that much hard-earned cash on a piece of jewelry. For the exact same price, I could buy either a new Winchester Model 94 or Marlin Model 336 lever action .30-30 at the local gun emporium. At that wonderful time in my life, every year before deer season the local gun sellers would offer the leverguns at just under a C-note, and that was the rifle of choice for local hunters, unless one was well-heeled. The folks with plenty of money went for a new bolt-action, usually a Remington BDL from Riley Hardware, and almost always chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. The rest of us chose the levergun, for it was much more affordable, and got the job done just fine. However, we all at that time wanted a bolt-action, for it was the badge of merit for a real hunter, or so it seemed. I lost the argument with my mom, and ended up spending the ninety-five dollars for the ring. I also later lost the ring. I should have bought the Winchester.

Hunting guns cost a lot less back then, but wages were lower too, so I guess that today?s prices are not so bad on most hunting rifles. Having the rifles that one needs is not too difficult for most of us. Having the rifles that one wants can get expensive, however. Sometimes need has nothing to do with it, and I certainly have more than I need. While good bolt-action rifles can be pretty pricey today, there are a few that offer a lot of gun for the money, and the best of these is the subject of this article; the Stevens Model 200.

The Stevens brand has always offered good, solid, no-frills guns at a good price, and the Model 200 follows in that tradition. The rifle is produced by Savage Arms, and is for all intents and purposes a Savage 110 without the AccuTrigger. The suggested retail price is only $316.

Now, besides the AccuTrigger you are giving up in exchange for a much lower price???nothing. The Stevens has everything needed in a good bolt-action hunting rifle. First of all, it has the time-tested Savage 110 action, that is known for reliability and safety. The blind magazine holds four rounds in standard chamberings and three in the magnum chamberings. The trigger is crisp, and the weight of pull on the sample rifle was just over four pounds. While it is not adjustable like the AccuTrigger, it is entirely adequate for a hunting rifle, and by backing out the screw that tensions the trigger spring, I was able to get the pull weight down to three pounds and six ounces. The safety is located on the upper tang, just as it should be. The barrel is of a medium-slim profile, and is twenty-two inches long on the sample .30-06 chambered rifle. The magnums wear a barrel that is two inches longer. The Model 200 wears no open sights, but is drilled and tapped for scope bases. Unlike many hunting rifles costing three times the price, the Model 200 comes equipped with sling swivel studs, as should every hunting rifle. The gray synthetic stock has molded-in checkering for a positive grip, has the Savage Indian head logo on the pistol grip cap, and wears a rubber buttplate. The bolt handle has a section of checkering on top to aid in a better grip. The barrel on the Model 200 is free-floated its entire length, and the barreled action is pillar bedded into the stock. The barreled action is evenly blued to a semi-matte finish, and shows no flaws or tool marks. The combination of the black metal and gray stock makes for a really good-looking rifle.

The Stevens Model 200 that I received weighs just six pounds and seven ounces, and has a wonderful balance, being slightly muzzle heavy. This makes for a rifle that is light and easy to carry, but that points very well, without any hint of unsteadiness. The balance