What defines a great vintage pistol?
How about a .22 caliber pistol made in the early 1900’s that still shoots as well as it did back then?
The Stevens Model 35 pistol is still a solid target shooter and small game getter.
This single shot pistol in a variety of rimfire calibers and the more rare .410 shotgun cartridge were the favorite of sportsman and target shooters of yesteryear.
Many were chambered in a variety of now obsolete rimfire calibers. Ammunition in those calibers such as .25 Stevens and .32 Stevens are mostly non-existent. What the avid shooter and collector should be on the watch for is those pistols chambered in the easy to find .22 long rifle cartridge. Stevens Model 35 pistols do occasionally show up on online auctions and at gun shows. The amazingly accurate pistols are single shot tip down barrel to load models. One shot is all you get before you need to reload. This is great for marksmanship practice or hunting.
YouTuber onmilo shares much great information on my favorite variety of the Stevens Model 35 Pistols, the Offhand Model.
Cocking the hammer back puts it ready to fire and there’s no need for bulky safeties on this gem. While actual manufacturing dates are quite murky on these models, many are pushing over a century of service as small game getters and target shooters. They just keep on shooting.
Some Steven Model 35s came with a detachable shoulder stock and termed as “bicycle guns” or “pocket rifles” because they were light and handy and perfect for bringing along on your country bicycle trip for small game and plinking. These models are extremely rare to be found complete with an original stock.
Another interesting but now heavily regulated Model 35 is the “Autoshot” .410 chamber pistol. It was chambered in the 2.5 inch .410 shotgun shell and was mainly used for small game until laws changed, turning it into a registered weapon. It was now considered a sawed off shotgun class of weapons. That is quite a shame as it would have been a dandy little pistol in thick brush for rabbit hunting.
There happens to be a collector following of the Stevens Model 35, and they are quite popular. When shooting the .22 long rifle cartridge models with Aguilla Colibri rounds, they are quiet as BB guns and great for backyard or basement target practice with a good back stop. Step up to standard .22 long rifle ammunition and they will put small game in the pot as long as you do your part. Also .22 short and .22 long ammunition can be used in the .22 long rifle caliber Stevens Pistols.
Next time you see one at a gun show, check them out. They come in many calibers (stick with .22 long rifle), barrel lengths, and variations. The only issue I have ever found with these great pistols is an occasional broken firing pin or a missing rear sight elevation ladder. Both can be purchased online. Check the barrel (easily done because of the tip up loading feature) for internal corrosion.
Your collection deserves at least one of them. They are certainly fun to shoot and collect.
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