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Range Report: Stevens 334 Bolt-Action Rifle

This reliable, value-priced gun comes with a couple noteworthy surprises.

Range Report: Stevens 334 Bolt-Action Rifle

The Model 334 feeds from a polymer, three-round detachable magazine. It functioned flawlessly during testing. (Photo by Sabastian Mann)


Stevens Arms has been around for a long time. The company was founded in 1864 and was acquired by Savage Arms in 1920. At that time, the merger made Savage the largest firearms manufacturer in America. Though operating in a semi-independent status until 1942, Stevens has remained a part of Savage since the acquisition. However, during a period in the 1990s, there were no Stevens firearms made. In 1999 Savage revived the brand, and last year it introduced the Model 334 bolt-action rifle.

The Stevens Model 334 is available with a wood or synthetic stock and is chambered in .243 Win., .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor. With the Model 334’s suggested retail price of $389 for the synthetic-stock version and $489 for wood-stock version, the new rifle fills a gap in the marketplace. This is especially true for hunters who do not want to sink a fortune into their gear. However, don’t mistake the Model 334’s low price to mean it is a youth rifle or substandard firearm. This is a rugged and reliable rifle that weighs more than 7 pounds and comes with a man-size stock.

  • See Stevens 334 Specifications and Shooting Results below.

The Model 334’s action seems a bit large for the chamberings the rifle is offered in, and no doubt this contributes to the rifle’s weight. Drilled and tapped in the Savage 110 pattern, the receiver comes with a 14-slot Picatinny scope rail already installed. The barrel is directly threaded into the action, and there’s no lock nut common on Savage rifles.

hunting rifle
Stevens Model 334

The silver-finished, cock-on-opening bolt has a short 60-degree throw and measures more than 3/4 inch in diameter. The black cocking piece has a red indicator at the rear that signifies cocked status, and there is a bolt release on the left side of the action. Extraction is handled by a Sako/M16-style extractor, and cartridges or fired cases are forcefully ejected from the action by a plunger in the bolt face.

One of my favorite features of the Model 334 is the three-position safety. In the forward position the rifle can be fired. In the middle position the bolt can be worked to load or unload the rifle, but the trigger is blocked. In the rear position the rifle cannot be fired and the bolt handle is locked to prevent inadvertent opening—something missing from most affordable bolt-action rifles offered today (even some that cost twice as much). This is an often much-overlooked feature that prevents the action from being opened when the bolt handle snags on brush or clothing during carry on a sling.

The rifle’s 20-inch barrel is of moderate weight and minimum taper, measuring 1-inch in diameter just forward of the action and tapering to .70 inch at the muzzle, which has an 11-degree target crown. Chambered in .243 or .308, the barrel is 20 inches long, but the 6.5 Creedmoor version has a 22-inch barrel. A threaded muzzle would be a nice addition and should not add significantly to the rifle’s cost.

Cut from Turkish walnut, the stock has an attractive figure, color and shape. Machined checkering of about 10 lines per inch is present at the wrist and along each side of the fore-end. This is not overly aggressive checkering; in fact, in my hands it felt perfect, with just enough bite to help me comfortably hang on to the rifle with gloved, ungloved, wet or dry hands. The stock is fitted with sling swivel studs, and the butt is capped with a thick but moderately stiff recoil pad.

The bottom metal—if you want to call it that—on this rifle is made from polymer with a molded-in trigger guard. Extending almost 1/2 inch below the bottom of the stock, the three-round polymer magazine is held in place by a catch just to the rear of the forward action screw. The latch is easy to activate with gloved hands, and it solidly holds the detachable magazine in place. It makes a confirming click when the magazine is seated.

The Model 334’s trigger sort of emulates a two-stage trigger; there’s about 1/4 inch of take-up before any meaningful resistance, and then the trigger breaks very crisply with minimal overtravel. I like the way the trigger operates, but I do not like the 5 pounds of force required to make the rifle go bang. Though I’m not a big fan of the way the flanged Savage AccuTrigger feels on my finger, it does work very well and would have been a nice addition to this rifle. Oddly though, the trigger guard on the Model 334 has a hole positioned directly above what looks like a trigger adjustment screw, but the manual indicates the trigger screw is fixed and factory set.




When you purchase a new bolt-action hunting rifle you expect it to function perfectly, and the Stevens Model 334 did just that. I put more than 150 rounds through the test rifle and did not experience a single stoppage or hiccup. The polymer magazine was easy to load, insert and remove. Fired and unfired cartridges fed and ejected smoothly through the action.

For testing, I mounted a Maven CRS.1 3-12x40 mm riflescope on the factory-supplied optics rail with Weaver rings. Overall, from the bench the Model 334 averaged 1.70 inches for three, five-shot groups with three different loads. It performed the best, averaging less than 1.5 MOA, with the Barnes 168-grain TTSX-BT load. Of the nine, five-shot groups fired, the smallest group measured 0.99 inch and was fired with Browning’s 165-grain Sierra load.

Bench results are interesting but can vary due to the loads used, the shooter and from rifle to rifle. How a hunting rifle performs in the field in hunting conditions is more important. Most of the shooting I did with the Model 334 was from the unsupported standing, kneeling and seated positions. I found the operation of the safety to be easy and intuitive, and I liked where it was located. I felt the comb was a bit low for an optimum cheek weld, but lower scope rings could help with this. With the rifle’s 60-degree bolt throw you don’t have to worry about the bolt handle hitting the scope’s ocular housing or magnification throw lever. The bolt was smooth and fast to cycle, but to me it felt like the rifle recoiled a bit more than a 7 1/4-pound .308 Win. bolt gun should. Maybe that was partially due to the somewhat stiff recoil pad.

Recommended


This is not the most refined bolt-action hunting rifle you can buy, and by a long shot it’s also not the most expensive. The fact that the Model 334 is made in Turkey does not bother me at all. Several American firearms manufacturers are taking advantage of the quality and affordable guns and parts coming out of that country. It’s comforting to know that you can be woods-ready with a reliable rifle, new riflescope and enough ammunition to train up with for less than a grand. The rifle should appeal to any hunter who is operating on a tight budget, particularly at a time when you’ll spend more money on a bi-weekly trip to the grocery store than you will to get your own Stevens Model 334.

Stevens Model 334 Specs

  • Type: bolt-action centerfire rifle
  • Caliber: .308 Win.
  • Barrel: 20"; carbon steel
  • Trigger: 5 3/4-lb. pull weight
  • Safety: 3-position toggle
  • Magazine: detachable box; 3-round capacity
  • Sights: none; Picatinny rail included for mounting optics
  • Stock: Turkish walnut
  • Finish: matte blue
  • Overall Length: 41 1/4"
  • Weight: 7 1/4 lbs.
  • MSRP: $489
  • Info: savagearms.com

Shooting Results

Browning Long Range Pro Hunter Sierra Tipped GameKing

  • Bullet Weight: 165 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,715 fps
  • Average Group: 1.54"

Barnes Vor-Tx TTSX BT

  • Bullet Weight: 168 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,693 fps
  • Average Group: 1.42"

Remington Premier Long Range Speer Impact

  • Bullet Weight: 172 grs.
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,661 fps
  • Average Group: 2.16"

Note: Muzzle velocity is the average of 10 consecutive shots fired through a Caldwell G2 chronograph at 10 feet. Accuracy is the average of three consecutive, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag rest at 100 yards.


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