• Savage Model 42 Combination Gun Review

    I have to start off this review with a confession of sorts. When I first learned of the new Model 42 from Savage Arms that was announced at the 2013 SHOT Show I was elated, but then when I saw the first pictures of it I'm pretty sure I used every foul word in the English language to communicate my disdain for it. When I finally saw one in person a few months later at the local gun shop and I was even further disgusted by what I perceived as an extremely poor excuse for a replacement to the Model 24.

    I should note that I have long been a big fan of the original Model 24 combination guns and have owned several over the years in various configurations. Introduced in 1950, the Model 24 became an iconic staple of Savage's line-up until it was finally discontinued at the end of 2007 due to it no longer being economical to manufacture and market. At that time the MSRP had risen to a lofty $661, which was within $100 of their premium Model 14 Classic Series bolt-action rifle models.

    Where I do have to commend Savage Arms however is in the fact that they did not simply give up on the combination gun. While combo guns are widely popular in Europe, they never really caught on here in North America until Savage offered an affordable option with their Model 24. Savage could have easily discontinued the Model 24 and abandoned the combination gun market, but instead they had the tenacity to seek out ways to re-enter the market with a new model that could be produced much more efficiently and offered at a much more consumer friendly price point - which was the original premise of the Model 24 back in 1950. In that regard Savage Arms has succeeded, though not everyone is enthusiastic about the final product that came to be.

    Bench Top Evaluation:
    The Model 42 is a standard break-action firearm with an over/under configuration featuring a rimfire rifle barrel on top and a .410 shotgun barrel below. Unlike your typical over/under shotgun, the barrels of the Model 42 are not joined together but instead are left separated by a quarter-inch or so. The breech of the barrels are connected by a steel breech block, while the muzzle ends are joined together by the front sight assembly.

    Mechanically the Model 42 is a simplified version of it's predecessor, the Model 24. The Model 42 features a manual extractor that is made of a plastic polymer and allows you to extract the shells approximately 1/4-inch from the chambers. In contrast, most every Model 24 I have ever seen featured an automatic extractor which consisted of a metal plate that served as half of the breech face that would be pushed out when the action was broken open.

    The Model 42 uses a new break-action lever design that is located just forward of the trigger guard. While rather unsightly and over simplistic compared to the various methods that were used on the previous Model 24, it's functional and I have to admit it's a little handier than some of the previous Model 24 designs as it allows the action to be held and opened with one hand.

    Like the Model 24 it replaces, the trigger on the Model 42 leaves something to be desired. The pull is extremely heavy and there is a substancial amount of over-travel. About the only good thing about the trigger is that once you are able to exert enough force to break it, it breaks cleanly.

    For the safety conscious, Savage also included a cross bolt safety that prevents the hammer from being able to make contact with the firing pins when engaged. I have always though such safeties were unnecessary and overkill on firearms with an exposed hammer, but in today's litigious society a cross-bolt safety is a necessity.

    The sights on the Model 42 are far from ideal and I found them to be all but useless in my testing. The rear sight has a very narrow notch, and being made of plastic offers a somewhat "fuzzy" picture. It features a Hex screw for elevation adjustment, and a flat head screw that will allow for windage adjustment. The front sight post/bead is an oddity unlike anything I've ever seen before. The bead is teardrop shaped with the large end (0.147" diameter) toward the shooter. It's large size combined with the extremely narrow and fuzzy rear sight slot make it impossible to get a consistent point of aim when shooting 22LR with a standard 6 o'clock hold, and it's massive size totally blocks out an 8" target at 25 yards if you put the front bead dead-on. Whomever came up with such an abomination?

    Fit, finish and overall build quality of the rest of the firearm are quite good. Unlike most of Savage's synthetic offerings, the mold separation lines on the Model 42 are hardly noticeable and the fit of the synthetic furniture is very precise with minimal and consistent gaps to the metal. The matte blued finish is very consistent and has proven to be very durable. The synthetic furniture has a fine, somewhat grippy texture to it which is nice, but also features the very oddly shaped open-radius and small diameter pistol grip that plague all of Savage's newer synthetic stock designs. Why Savage insists on perpetuating this dainty grip design baffles me as it's neither comfortable to shoot with or aesthetically pleasing.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Handloader's Avatar
      Handloader -
      I have had a few .410 restrictions bored out of my .410s for use with slugs. Ohio WAS a shotgun only state, and my young sons started deer hunting at age eight (not getting into the debate of the use of a .410 on deer, but the .410 cleanly harvested every deer that the shotgun was fired at [and we never took shots over thirty yards]). Although a full cylinder bore is a bad choice for shotgun patterns with shot, it does not malform the slug and leads to MUCH greater precision when shooting slugs. Albeit I agree with your assessment on this firearm, this firearm may make a great single shot slug gun for youth hunting in shotgun only states.
    1. J.Baker's Avatar
      J.Baker -
      Even Ohio had banned .410's for slug hunting for a great many years. If memory serves me correctly it was until sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's that they started allowing them again as I had to leave my NEF single-shot .410 at home and carry a 20-gauge when I first started deer hunting as a wee pup in the mid 1980's. I don't see the Model 42 as being a suitable slug gun at all though. To me it's a rabbit and squirrel gun geared toward a younger shooter that will give them both options to choose from to match the conditions or situation.
    1. john800's Avatar
      john800 -
      I should be a good pest/truck gun as well, you have the choice of a 22 rimfire, 410 shotshells, and I would imagine 410 slugs or maybee buckshot should work for coons, coytes ect.

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