September 01, 2015
The Stevens brand has always had a reputation for producing high quality at a low cost, and that tradition continues with the Model 555. A no-frills "working gun" with plenty of practical features, the M-555 is made in Turkey by KOFS, Ltd., a well- respected arms company that manufactures the components for their guns in-house.
The M-555 was introduced in 2014 in 12 and 20 gauges. New for '15 is the 28-gauge, which features a lightweight aluminum alloy receiver and unique steel insert centered vertically over the firing pins that reinforces the standing breech (same as the 12 and 20).
Weighing only 5 pounds, 1 ounce, the action is compact, as the barrels hinge on steel trunions instead of a full-length hinge pin. You might think the neat little gun would be "whippy" but it's very well balanced and handles superbly.
The manual safety is on the tang, and holds the barrel selector. The triggers are mechanical, so if one barrel doesn't go off, you don't have to open the gun or put the safety on and then back off to get it to fire the other barrel — just pull the trigger again.
The triggers on the M-555 are crisp, but the pull weights do vary. The lower trigger was a little heavy at 8 pounds, 9 ounces, but the upper was about perfect at 5 pounds, 12.7 ounces. While not too light for the field or a round of clays, having similar pull weights would be nice.
A sturdy one-piece extractor elevates both shells, loaded or empty, high enough for easy removal of empties. Interestingly, the action is scaled down to fit the gauge; it's not just a set of 28-gauge barrels on a 20-gauge frame.
Looks Can Kill
The finish on the alloy receiver is an elegant matte black that looks about a foot deep. It is uniform and complements the matte bluing on the steel barrels. A tasteful U-shaped groove decorates each side of the receiver. Overall, it makes for a very attractive package.
The barrels are 26 inches long, and topped off with a raised .275-inch ventilated rib and a small brass bead front sight. The side ribs are ventilated, a nice touch on such an economical gun, and they facilitate barrel cooling.
The 2¾-inch chambers and bores are chrome-lined. The gun comes with a set of five flush-fitting choke tubes and a tube wrench. The tubes are identified only by notches, no markings, and the constrictions are cylinder through full.
The wood on the M-555 is nice-looking Turkish walnut with more 18-lpi checkering on the forend and buttstock than you'd expect on a gun with such a modest price. The checkering is well executed and affords a good grip when shooting.
The stock has some nice swirls of figure here and there, and the semi-gloss finish is well done. A nice, soft recoil pad is provided on the butt. The petite pistol grip has a circumference of only 4 1/8 inches, and can only be described as delightful. The forend has a modest and attractive schnabel, and has a Deeley-type latch.
The wood-to-metal fit is slightly "proud," and is pretty good, especially for a gun that retails for under $700. The stock dimensions will be just about right for most shooters. When I first threw the lithe 28-gauge to my shoulder, I was sure that I could hit with it. I was right. The gun seems to hit right where I was looking (even if it's not at a target).
I fired a good selection of new factory loads, plus a few of my ancient handloads on my home shooting range. I shot a few representative loads on my steel pattern plate. The patterns were very evenly distributed, and just eyeballing the patterns, the points of impact were pretty much dead center, so this 50%:50% regulation makes them eminently suitable for their intended role as field guns.
All loads functioned perfectly, and there were no malfunctions of any kind. But there still aren't any free lunches. Recoil was not bad from the standard ¾-ounce skeet loads, but I could tell the difference when switching to 7/8-ounce loads. But the 1-ounce loads of No. 6s from Baschieri & Pellagri (Italy) were another story, and kicked a lot — for a 28.
No bird seasons were open while I had the M-555 28-gauge, so instead I whacked some clays from a tire-mounted trap, and the M-555 seemed to be dead-on for me. I can't wait to address a covey of quail behind a good pointer.
The Model 555 is a darn nice field gun, but it had one minor foible in addition to the heavy lower trigger. As I tried to close the action on a pair of shells, the rim of the shell in the lower barrel caught on the head of the screw that holds the steel reinforcing insert to the standing breech. This prevented the action from closing without "slamming" the breech shut — a major no-no on any break-action gun.
After I figured this out, I removed the screw and lightly beveled and polished the top of the screw head. After this five-minute repair job, there were no problems whatsoever.
Overall, this new 28-gauge is just plain delightful. Anyone looking for an economical yet quality stack with which to ply the uplands could do a lot worse than the M-555. With an MSRP of only $692, it's an excellent value.
Lightweight, well balanced, attractive, and 100 percent reliable, the new M-555 from Stevens is just the ticket for fall outings with your favorite bird dog, and one of the most enjoyable field guns you'll own.
Manufacturer: KOFS, Ltd., Isparta, Turkey
Importer: Savage/Stevens Arms Co.
Action type: Box-lock over under
Trigger pull: Lower: 8 pounds, 9 oz; Upper: 5 pounds, 12.7 oz
Barrel length: 26 inches, raised .275-inch vent top rib, with mid ribs
Chokes: Flush-fitting choke tubes: C, IC, M, IM, and F
Overall length: 42½ inches
Weight: 5 pounds, 1 ounces
Safety: Tang-mounted, non-automatic, with barrel selector
Stock: Turkish walnut (checkered)
Length of pull: 14 1/8 inches
Finish: Matte black aluminum-alloy receiver, matte blue barrels
Stock Finish: Semi-gloss oil