Shortly after entering the shotgun trade in 1920, Savage Arms acquired two other legacy American firearm companies, Stevens (in 1920) and Fox (1929), thus embarking on a multi-brand strategy that, by turns, has been successful and useful, but also convoluted and unremarkable. Nonetheless, smoothbores remain a supplemental revenue source to the company’s bread-and-butter rifle business.
Early on, several shotgun types wore Savage’s famed (and now discontinued) war-bonnet marquee. While the first pump and double-barrels didn’t last long, the single-shot Model 220 proved to be a keeper, and autoloaders bearing 700-something model designations, patterned on Browning’s long-recoil principle, remained reliable options for budget-minded hunters and clays shooters for nearly 40 years.
In the gun-rich environment following World War II, Savage focused on two tracks with the modernized Model 30 slide-action (1958-75) joining the Models 750/755/775 autoloaders. Frequently, Savage and Stevens smoothbores were private-labeled for hometown chains such as Western Auto and J.C. Penney.
Simultaneously, the company diversified by putting its name on imports from Italy, Japan, Finland and, most recently, well-received repeaters and over-unders from Turkey and Italy, respectively, under the Stevens badge.
When the 1960s brought conflict to southeast Asia, the Department of Defense contracted with Savage to supply short-barreled Stevens Model 77E pump-actions, with production taking place at the parent company’s new plant in Westfield, Mass. Thousands of them ended up with U.S. Army and Marine Corps combat