I think the word “iconic” is much overused in writing about old guns, but even though this is about the new Savage Model 42 Takedown, the word is appropriate here.
That’s because the new Savage Model 42 has its origins in the old Savage Model 24 over/under, a combination rifle/shotgun made for almost 40 years starting in 1950. That gun that introduced a lot of the Baby Boomer generation to hunting.
The most common configuration was a .22 LR over a .410 shotgun. But Savage also chambered it for centerfire cartridges, ranging from .22 Hornet to the .30-30 Winchester, and with 20 and 12 gauge shotgun barrels. One version was offered in the powerful .308 Win, but without a doubt the most common combination was a .22 Long Rifle and a .410 Shotgun. This was the perfect configuration for small-game hunting. Things were a lot less specialized back then, and often “hunting” meant any legal game you came across when you were out and about. Most Baby Boomers who hunted went after small game, and rabbits, upland birds, and squirrels were all part of the potential bag. That made the Savage Model 24 the ultimate gun for this kind of “woods foraging.” It was the first gun for thousands of kids, but adults discovered its merits and took to this gun in droves as well. Many who started out with the small game version in .22 LR/.410 later picked up a big game version with a centerfire rifle cartridge and a larger shotgun bore.
The Model 24 is no longer made, but you might find some on the used gun market. Just be prepared to pay a high price because there is a robust demand. The gun even has its own fan driven website: http://www.savage24.com.
Savage now makes a modern version called the Model 42. You can get a .22 LR or a .22 Magnum on top and a .410 shotgun underneath. This is a break-action single shot (a single shot in each barrel for two shots total). It’s short, handy and only weighs 4 pounds 12 ounces.
New in 2016 is a takedown version. This comes with an Uncle Mike’s nylon go-bag that is only 25.5 inches long. The gun easily breaks into two parts and fits in the bag. There is a front pocket for ammo. The gun is extremely handy to keep in a bug-out bag or simply to carry in your truck or boat.
To take the Model 42 Takedown apart, you simply open the gun, push the button on the bottom of the barrel section, slide that section forward, and separate the two sections.
The gun is short at 35 3/4 inches. The length of pull is 13 1/2 inches. The 20-inch blued carbon steel barrels are joined with a polymer support in front that is integral with the front sight, and with a breech block in the rear. The polymer rear sight is screwed to the breech block and is adjustable for elevation. The rear sight can be removed and replaced with a rail for mounting optics. The polymer forend is tightly fitted with the barrels inserted through holes in the forend.
The gun is opened by pulling on a lever in front of the trigger guard, which allows the barrels to open and pivot on a pin.
There are contrasting red highlights on the forend tip, grip cap and recoil pad. The forend has insets on both sides with “Savage Arms” spelled out in red.
The buttstock is injection molded and has gripping grooves in the pistol grip. There is a thick rubber recoil pad. The gun is fitted with swivel studs front and rear to attach a sling. The trigger pull is three pounds, 12 ounces on my Lyman digital scale.
The rebounding hammer has a selector built in for picking the barrel you want to fire. Forward puts the striker down to fire the .410 barrel; while back rolls the striker up to fire the top rifle barrel. The hammer must be manually cocked each time the gun is to be fired. There is a redundant, hammer blocking, crossbolt safety that must be in the fire position for the gun to fire.
The extractors are sheet metal set in a polymer yoke. The yoke has gripping ridges on the side so that you can grasp it with a finger and thumb and pull it back to extract the shells.
I tested the gun using Estate 3-inch ammo with 11/16 ounce of No. 7-1/2 shot. The maker says the shotgun choke is cylinder bore, and patterns were very even and were acceptable for hunting to 20 yards or a bit farther. Predictably, the patterns are a bit small—it is a .410, after all—so this makes wing shooting more difficult than it would be with a larger bore shotgun. I finished the session by shooting at a bunch of hand-thrown clay targets and was able to break them with regularity. That proved, at least to my mind, that wing shooting is easy enough with this gun.
The .22 LR barrel was stacking shots on top of each other at 25 yards. The limiting factor in this test was old eyes with iron sights. The groups were averaging about one inch at 25 yards. While the sights on the gun are well designed, no open sight works well with eyes past 45 years old. Of course a small, reflex, red dot sight would solve the problem.
The 42 is an excellent gun for a new hunter. It’s small enough for a youngster to manage, but still quite useful for anyone who’s chasing small game. It’s a great truck gun for those of us who live in rural areas. Preppers will love it, and it’s the perfect gun to keep by the back door to shoot targets of opportunity such as a garden-raiding woodchuck. It’s even offered in a smaller youth model.
This gun carries on the tradition set out with the Savage Model 24, and does so with modern styling and materials