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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thank you for allowing me to join your Forum! I believe that your forum may be the perfect place for me to consult EXPERTS on vintage Stevens shotguns. I recently purchased an old Stevens 311C double barrel shotgun (12 gauge) from a local pawn shop. It is in pretty bad shape and I got it for a decent price. I intend to refurbish/restore it. I have already consulted Boyd's about getting a new Type 1 Walnut stock and matching Semi-beavertail (round shoe) Walnut forend. I have also consulted a gunsmith to have the barrels reblued (Hot Blue) and another gunsmith who specializes in Case Hardening to have the receiver case hardened. Over the last several weeks, I have spent some time perusing your Forum (prior to joining) for information on how I might determine the date of my shotgun's manufacture. I have located an "A" inside a circle, beside an "E" inside a circle, beside 2 "tick" marks on the flat part of the receiver where the barrels rest. I have found those same Letters/Circles/Tick Marks on the underside of the right barrel where it rests on the receiver. I have attached a photo of those Letters/Circles/Tick Marks on the flat, upper part of the receiver where it meets the barrels. My understanding (from perusing this forum) is that there should be BOTH a Letter and a Number inside a circle in order to determine a date of manufacture. I have only 2 Letters inside 2 circles and 2 Tick Marks. Is there anyone here in this Forum who might be able to help me identify in which year my "new" Stevens 311C was made? I understand that I could have purchased another more expensive and nicer shotgun for what I will be spending in this Stevens 311C but,....I felt it calling to me. Anyway,...Thank you for allowing me to join and I would greatly appreciate any information that any of you might be able to provide to me regarding the year of manufacture of my new Baby!
 

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Welcome to G&G!

I'm sorry I have no info on Stevens Shotguns for you.

Some other Member will!
 
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Welcome to the Forum from the Peoples Democratic Republic of New York. We have experts on shotguns here; I expect one of them will be able to help you out.
 
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Double barrel shotguns were date coded between 1949 & 1970. This code can usually be found behind the hinge pin or ahead of the trigger guard on the bottom of the frame and is a small circle with a letter and a number in it.

The letters indicate the year of manufacture starting with "A" in 1949 and ending with "X" in 1970. The letters "O" & "Q" were not used.

Some say this code worked on their single shot shotguns as well, but this is not verified. It appears to have not been used on any other models.
A 1949
B 1950
C 1951
D 1952
E 1953
F 1954
G 1955
H 1956
I 1957
J 1958
K 1959
L 1960
M 1961
N 1962
P 1963
R 1964
S 1965
T 1966
U 1967
V 1968
W 1969
X. 1970
1. Stevens used plain numbers from their first double in 1878 until 1913.
2. Letter prefixes crept in on the serial numbers used on both hammer and hammerless doubles from 1913 to 1939. They always signified a change in mechanical design or manufacturing process which resulted in an interesting variant.
3. From 1940 to 1948 no serial numbers were used on doubles, only capital letters, usually in groups of three or four, the letter(s) sometimes enclosed in a circle, along with an inspector’s symbol ( a heart , a diamond, a spade or some such ‘shape’, on the bottom of the frame behind the hinge pin.
4. From 1948 to 1968 the letter symbols under the frame were changed to a ‘Capital letter with a one or two digit number’ in a 1/4″ circle. This was a date code which you will find illustrated in the Savage-Stevens-Fox pages of your Standard Catalog of Firearms.
5. From October 1968 to March 1988 Savage/Stevens/Fox B doubles are serial numbered in a completely new serial number range beginning at A000001. The six digit (always) numbers, stamped only on the left side of the frame, not on the barrels or fore end or on the wood, are preceded by capital letters from A to E. The letters do not correlate to production years. The letter prefix accompanied the Savage/Stevens/FoxB/Springfield serial number on every gun they made from 1968 on. Beginning about 1978 numbers 1 to 20 were also stamped on the three major components, frame,barrels and fore end iron, to enable the factory to keep 20 guns of like model together in a group for packing in the standard 20 gun shipping carton.
Yours is one of these. Since I am interested only in double guns I stopped looking for numbers on Savage’Stevens doubles after 1988 because that’s the year they shipped their last ‘Stevens Model 311′.
The highest number I have seen was on 20 gauge Stevens Model 311 Series H serial number E957971. The Savage branded imported doubles, over and unders or side by sides, are numbered differently. Each model is numbered in the range created by its manufacturer. As you probably have heard, Savage/Stevens’ production records on their older models were destroyed in a sprinkler accident about 35 years ago, according to officers of the company.
To calculate an approximate number of ‘Stevens Model 311s’ that were made from 1968 to 1988 you could do this math exercise. Since Savage used 5 letters (A to E), each on 999,999 guns, they must have made about 5 million guns. Perhaps 40% were doubles in the various Savage Brands and Private Brands. That makes 2 million doubles of which I estimate 80% were Stevens 311′s. And that’s not counting production before 1968. No wonder the “311″ in its various variations is the all time favorite American made double.
And think how many Stevens 311s ( and Stevens made doubles that looked like Stevens 311s but carried private brands) had already been produced in the years between 1940 (first year of the ‘true’ Stevens Model 311) and 1968, during which time they weren’t serial numbered at all! There must be at least 4 million Stevens Model 311s
 

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Another clue to approximate age of Savage built shotguns is the mfg location on top of the barrels at the breech, or on the right hand side of the receiver. It won't narrow it to the year, but gets you into a ballpark. If the location is Utica, NY, it was manufactured prior to 1945-46; if the location states Chicopee Falls, Mass, it is between 1946-1961, and if it says Westfield, Mass, it's after 1961. Both Stevens 311 and Fox Model B were built in the same facility, and serials, proof marks and date codes use the same scheme.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Welcome to G&G!

I'm sorry I have no info on Stevens Shotguns for you.

Some other Member will!
Double barrel shotguns were date coded between 1949 & 1970. This code can usually be found behind the hinge pin or ahead of the trigger guard on the bottom of the frame and is a small circle with a letter and a number in it.

The letters indicate the year of manufacture starting with "A" in 1949 and ending with "X" in 1970. The letters "O" & "Q" were not used.

Some say this code worked on their single shot shotguns as well, but this is not verified. It appears to have not been used on any other models.
A 1949
B 1950
C 1951
D 1952
E 1953
F 1954
G 1955
H 1956
I 1957
J 1958
K 1959
L 1960
M 1961
N 1962
P 1963
R 1964
S 1965
T 1966
U 1967
V 1968
W 1969
X. 1970
1. Stevens used plain numbers from their first double in 1878 until 1913.
2. Letter prefixes crept in on the serial numbers used on both hammer and hammerless doubles from 1913 to 1939. They always signified a change in mechanical design or manufacturing process which resulted in an interesting variant.
3. From 1940 to 1948 no serial numbers were used on doubles, only capital letters, usually in groups of three or four, the letter(s) sometimes enclosed in a circle, along with an inspector’s symbol ( a heart , a diamond, a spade or some such ‘shape’, on the bottom of the frame behind the hinge pin.
4. From 1948 to 1968 the letter symbols under the frame were changed to a ‘Capital letter with a one or two digit number’ in a 1/4″ circle. This was a date code which you will find illustrated in the Savage-Stevens-Fox pages of your Standard Catalog of Firearms.
5. From October 1968 to March 1988 Savage/Stevens/Fox B doubles are serial numbered in a completely new serial number range beginning at A000001. The six digit (always) numbers, stamped only on the left side of the frame, not on the barrels or fore end or on the wood, are preceded by capital letters from A to E. The letters do not correlate to production years. The letter prefix accompanied the Savage/Stevens/FoxB/Springfield serial number on every gun they made from 1968 on. Beginning about 1978 numbers 1 to 20 were also stamped on the three major components, frame,barrels and fore end iron, to enable the factory to keep 20 guns of like model together in a group for packing in the standard 20 gun shipping carton.
Yours is one of these. Since I am interested only in double guns I stopped looking for numbers on Savage’Stevens doubles after 1988 because that’s the year they shipped their last ‘Stevens Model 311′.
The highest number I have seen was on 20 gauge Stevens Model 311 Series H serial number E957971. The Savage branded imported doubles, over and unders or side by sides, are numbered differently. Each model is numbered in the range created by its manufacturer. As you probably have heard, Savage/Stevens’ production records on their older models were destroyed in a sprinkler accident about 35 years ago, according to officers of the company.
To calculate an approximate number of ‘Stevens Model 311s’ that were made from 1968 to 1988 you could do this math exercise. Since Savage used 5 letters (A to E), each on 999,999 guns, they must have made about 5 million guns. Perhaps 40% were doubles in the various Savage Brands and Private Brands. That makes 2 million doubles of which I estimate 80% were Stevens 311′s. And that’s not counting production before 1968. No wonder the “311″ in its various variations is the all time favorite American made double.
And think how many Stevens 311s ( and Stevens made doubles that looked like Stevens 311s but carried private brands) had already been produced in the years between 1940 (first year of the ‘true’ Stevens Model 311) and 1968, during which time they weren’t serial numbered at all! There must be at least 4 million Stevens Model 311s

So,....since my Stevens 311C has a capitol A in a circle AND a capitol E in a circle,....it must be from 1940-1948?
 

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those would be an indicator but the stamp your looking for would normally be a letter and a number in the circle. like a D6 in an oval.
your oval is under that engraved sz5 [or whatever it is] in the bottom picture ignore the A and E.
if you have to, wipe it down and scrape a bit of chalk or soap stone over the stamp.

the 2 circled letters could just mean it was built as a frame in one place and finished as a gun after a move and got a second inspectors stamp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Another clue to approximate age of Savage built shotguns is the mfg location on top of the barrels at the breech, or on the right hand side of the receiver. It won't narrow it to the year, but gets you into a ballpark. If the location is Utica, NY, it was manufactured prior to 1945-46; if the location states Chicopee Falls, Mass, it is between 1946-1961, and if it says Westfield, Mass, it's after 1961. Both Stevens 311 and Fox Model B were built in the same facility, and serials, proof marks and date codes use the same scheme.
Another clue to approximate age of Savage built shotguns is the mfg location on top of the barrels at the breech, or on the right hand side of the receiver. It won't narrow it to the year, but gets you into a ballpark. If the location is Utica, NY, it was manufactured prior to 1945-46; if the location states Chicopee Falls, Mass, it is between 1946-1961, and if it says Westfield, Mass, it's after 1961. Both Stevens 311 and Fox Model B were built in the same facility, and serials, proof marks and date codes use the same scheme.

Mine does say,...."Stevens Model 311C"
"---Savage Arms---"
"Westfield, Mass, USA"

so, that must mean sometime between 1961-1968?
Metal Tool Iron Household hardware Steel
Tool Hand tool Antique tool Kitchen utensil Metalworking hand tool

those would be an indicator but the stamp your looking for would normally be a letter and a number in the circle. like a D6 in an oval.
your oval is under that engraved sz5 [or whatever it is] in the bottom picture ignore the A and E.
if you have to, wipe it down and scrape a bit of chalk or soap stone over the stamp.

the 2 circled letters could just mean it was built as a frame in one place and finished as a gun after a move and got a second inspectors stamp.
I took a closer look and there is a tiny circle with an "SP" inside on the bottom of each barrel on either side of the protrusion that attaches the forend to the barrels,....one of those tiny circles with an "SP" inside on each side of that s"lightning bolt"Z that you mentioned (which is on the protrusion at the bottom of the barrels which attaches to the forend). I still cannot find a capital letter/number combination in a circle anywhere.
 

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Welcome to G&G from the high desert of Southwest Idaho :) . One thing I can say is I have several older Firearms both from Stevens Savage and Savage Stevens out of Utica New York and Chicopee MA. & your Stevens is post 61' :) ...
 

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Welcome from the Texas Panhandle.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I found this late last night. It is on the bottom of the receiver (in the middle), very near where the receiver meets the Forend. I originally had thought that it was a Maker's Mark. But, last night, I hit the bottom of the receiver lightly with some steel wool to remove some patina and get a closer look at it. I used chalk on it and then examined it under Jeweler's (magnifying)Glasses. I saw (H3) in a circle. I asked another to person to look at it and tell me what she saw (without telling her what I saw). She told me that she saw H2 or H3 (she couldn't be certain about the number) inside a circle. So, could this (H3, inside a circle on the bottom of the receiver where it meets the forend) be the "code" to determine the year of manufacture? If so, Isn't that conflicting information? According to what I've read,....H should mean....1956. However, the stamp on the right side of the receiver says, "WESTFIELD, MASS U.S.A.",....meaning it was made sometime between 1961 and 1968.....???
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
GS has it right.
63-65 time frame is where I would put it.

Another observation:......the stock (damaged beyond repair,...several cracks and a hunk of wood missing where it joins the receiver) and the forend (also going to be replaced,....1 major crack & 1 minor crack) are both made of American Walnut. I understand that a number of the larger firearm manufacturers (Winchester, Remington, etc.) made the move away from American Walnut to the less expensive "hardwoods" (Beech/Maple/etc.) in 1964/1965. Would the fact that the original stock/forend are made of American Walnut help to narrow down the year of manufacture?.....I'm fairly certain that Stevens also made the move away from Walnut to "hardwoods" because my brother had a Stevens Model 94 16 gauge single barrel when we were kids (the 1970's) and it had a "hardwood" stock/forend.
 

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maybe-ish.
stevens was just cranking guns out for a while there.
not just shotguns but 22's also.
they would have basically been throwing parts out of a bin together and moving things along.
wood was probably more of 'there are 2 brown ones, I'll put them on this gun' than worrying about them being walnut during a changeover period.
if there is a move involved all kinds of parts and pieces come rolling out of the nooks and from under the benches.
 
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