Dominic Griffith’s hunter-gather instincts are awakened by a combination rifle / shotgun and a rifle. Read his latest review on the Savage model 42.
Interest in “camp” rifles is surging. Whether it reflects a return to our hunter-gatherer instincts or whether it is simply that they represent a fun alternative to traditional bolt-action, scoped rifles it is difficult to say. Certainly, there is something appealing about a rifle small enough to fit in a backpack but capable enough to provide sustenance when needed. Add to this the concept of a combination rifle/shotgun, which enlarges the range of quarry and flexibility, and you have a practical and entertaining addition to the gun cabinet. Firearms of this nature need to be entered on both your firearm and your shotgun certificate.
SAVAGE MODEL 42
The Savage model 42 is just such a combination, uniting a .22LR 20in upper barrel with a .410 shotgun 20in lower barrel chambered for 3in cartridges, both operated by the same hammer with a simple and instinctive selector switch integral to that hammer. This Savage model 42 weighs just 6lb and has an overall length of a mere 3ft. With a textured pistol grip and a polymer stock, it flies up to the shoulder means that the Savage model 42 is extremely comfortable to shoot. It also features a crossbolt safety slide, acting as a traditional safety catch when the hammer is cocked. The extractor system does not eject but uses a simple thumb-and-forefinger extractor that extends either side of the breech.
The test rifle was not fitted with the optional scope mount, but sported simply a blade front sight with square-notch rear sight, which allows for some adjustment for wind and elevation. In practice, this is a little fiddly and one has to use two tools to perform the task. I tried it out over a number of sessions and found myself warming to it with each outing. The open sight is difficult to zero but soon I was hitting a plate with each.22 shot at 50 metres, perhaps, in my hands anyway, not consistent enough for bunnies. That said, with rear sight replaced with the optional scope mount I have absolutely no doubt that it would perform as well as any scoped rifle. Indeed, it would not be beyond your gunsmith to customise a range of mounts to fit the existing screw holes so that the scope could be fitted and removed with minimum effect on zero.
Attach a low-powered scope to the Savage model 42 and you could even leave it on when using the combination in shotgun mode. The .410 was enough for squirrels and the odd pigeon, the 3in cartridge having just that bit more impact than the standard 21⁄2in. However, being such a small and light rifle, you feel and hear the bang with the 3in. So what is the target market for this combo? The Savage model 42 is by no means a thing of beauty but is designed simply to fulfil a role. This is a good multi-purpose camp or travelling gun that will fill the pot with a variety of game but will also be a serious tool for gamekeepers doing their rounds of the traps. I also think that it can fulfil a significant and specialist role as the most appropriate tool for use in roadside humane animal despatch.
For stalkers involved in such police-led schemes, I can recommend the Savage model 42 in responding to call-outs. And since we are talking miniature .22s, what about Edgar’s Little Squirrel, a tiny, folding, hammer-action rifle with skeleton stock? With an overall length of 33in (19in when folded) and weighing just over 3lb it must be the smallest and most basic rifle on the market. With a simple, plastic, breach grip and easily adjusted open sight it actually shot surprisingly well and I found that I could hit a rabbit-sized target at 30 metres with satisfying regularity. The Savage model 42 will sit unnoticed in your day sack and pack the punch of the .22LR when required.
Little Squirrel: from £14,995 incl VAT
Where to buy the Little Squirrel: Visit www.edgarbrothers.com or call 01625 613177