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Savage Model 42 Review

by Payton Miller   |  September 23rd, 2013 12

Savage’s iconic Model 24 combo gun was available in a range of calibers and gauges since it was first introduced in 1950. I had one when I was a kid. It was your basic .22/.410 setup, and it was touted as a kind of do-it-all survival/utility item. The final iterations of the Model 24 were discontinued sometime in the late 1980s. But, despite the fact that combination guns have never been as widely accepted in the U.S. as they have been in Europe, the M24 was popular over here. It’s not hard to figure out why. The concept makes a lot of sense. So much so that Savage decided to reintroduce a polymer-stocked update of the platform recently.

It’s designated as the Model 42 and is currently available with a 20-inch .22LR (or .22 WMR) barrel topside and a three-inch-chambered .410 tube underneath. With its six-pound weight and 131/2-inch length of pull, it’s a lot more kid-friendly — and thinner and trimmer — than I recall my old M24 being. And, just as important from a confidence-building standpoint, that .410 barrel mikes out at Cylinder bore instead of my old M24’s Full choke I remember dealing with as a novice dove/quail hunter. Although quite adequate for aerial targets (more on that later), as a .410, this one’s obvious niche is rabbit hunting or close-range pest-potting in the backyard or garden for when you don’t want to uncork a .22 bullet.

At first I had mixed feelings about the Model 42. I remembered my old M24 with its hardwood stock, case-hardened receiver, heavier weight and more “substantial” characteristics. Does that mean that the Model 42 is a totally different beast? Well, yes and no.

First off, the Model 42’s barrels run through the enclosing, futuristically sculpted synthetic fore-end. Instead of the old, side-mounted barrel selector button I remember, the selector is on the large-spurred external hammer itself (this feature appeared on later iterations of the M24 as well). There are no ejectors on the Model 42. There is a U-shaped, manually operated device situated between the rifle and shotgun chambers. It consists of two steel extractor blades attached to a synthetic, U-shaped, manually operated, harness-like arrangement. You simply grasp the serrated sides of the “U” and pull back briskly to kick out the empties.

I had no problem with the .22 barrel with the Long Rifle loads, but I did have problems kicking out some Russian-made all-brass .410 shells I brought along. This arrangment was not entirely satisfactory, occasionally requiring two or three tries. The sights, consisting of a large blade front and a fully adjustable, breech-mounted, square notch rear, were significantly superior to the barrel-mounted ramp rear and smaller front-blade arrangement I remember on my old M24. The Model 42 also features a crossbolt safety. This, combined with the barrel-selector switch and external hammer, seems overly redundant, so I pretty much left it off and ignored it when I was using the gun.

The other significant departure is the break-open lever, which is situated just in front of the triggerguard. It’s easier and quicker to access than the old, conventionally located topside thumb lever of the M24.

I first tried the Model 42 in shotgun mode at the local skeet range. Since I’m pretty much of an instinctive “low gun” shooter, the short stock of the gun bothered me less than it would if I were a serious competition-type guy. Using 21/2-inch Winchester AA 71/2s, I actually managed to break 11 or 12 in the round. Not scintillating, but considering the bore size, abbreviated dimensions, rifle sights (I tried to ignore them) and the fact that it was pretty windy, I was rather pleased.

Things got even better when I took the Model 42 to the bench at our rifle range. At 30 yards, using Federal Vital-Shok 21/2-inch, 1/4-ounce (109-grain) rifled slugs, I got a couple of three-shot groups at around two inches that were only slightly higher than my point of aim. The velocity numbers I got averaged out to 1,680 fps, which would definitely expand the utility of the Model 42 as regards things out of the “small game” class. I then tried some of the Winchester three-inch PDX1 .410 BB/Defense Disc loads at 10 yards. Practically everything, with the exception of two lone BBs, stayed well centered in a four- to 41/2-inch pattern. Again, another utility-increasing option for the gun.

The trigger, incidentally, broke at 4.3 pounds — considerably lighter than I remember from my M24 days, but fairly creepy. This, plus the easier-to-acquire sights, may explain the results with the rimfire barrel. Using three .22 Long Rifle loads, five-shot groups ranged from .75 to 21/4 inches, the clear winner being Remington’s economical 36-grain HP Small Game Load. For open sights and old eyes at 30 yards, that struck me as pretty darn good.

In comparison with its predecessor, the Model 42 is pretty New Age. There are a few things about it I’m not crazy about (and a few things about it I am), but it’s tough to argue with the results. It’s light, handy, weather-resistant and shoots better than I can remember my old M24 ever doing. Call it a combination gun, garden gun or whatever — its versatility makes it a one-of-a-kind tool.

  • needful

    from what i’ve seen of this gun it is a hunk of cheap plastic junk!!!savage should have put a couple more dollars into this project and put something out with some quality , i for one would have jumped on one.i won’t buy this thing!!!

    • HankBiner

      Good post. It looks like a piece of junk thrown together in a 3′rd world country for 5 or 10 dollars. Gun writers these days are rarely more than telemarketers.

      • needful

        most of their guns are now made in china,so much for american made!!!

        • HankBiner

          Oh swell, a fortune cookie in each box.

  • Richard

    The concept is not new but it’s very interesting indeed. But I agree with needful below, Savage should put out a heavy-duty version with more metal, shorter barrels and shorter stock/extendable, maybe a take-down too to make it a survival type of weapon.

  • bill

    The plastic (do people not know what “polymer” means?) on this gun is inexcusable. Overall it’s cheap junk that wouldn’t last a day with a serious person who would actually try to use it. More of a $20 kid’s toy from Walmart than a serious tool, and that’s being generous.

  • mike

    I checked one out at Gander Mtn. and in a few seconds put it back on the shelf.what a joke! the butt plate snaps in and was loose and sloppy i had cash in hand and was ready to buy i’ll save my money and get something far better at a gun show this winter that has been made with a bit more thought and American pride. Quality control people dropped the ball on this one and they had a $450.00 price tag on it! Savage disappoints on this one

  • Practical Bushcraft

    The plastic sights and plastic extractor totally turned me off. I had bought mine off of Gunbroker at a good ($379 + free S&H) unseen based on various PRO gun writers testimonials, what a crock of BS that is. When I got it home, I cannot tell you how disappointed I was. With a little effort on Savages end, this could have been so much more of a firearm. They could have made the stock open at the butt to hold survival items, could have molded in ammo carriers, could have added Hi-Viz sights, could have made the extractor more substantial. In the end, I wish I would have opted for the Chiappa Double Badger, more gun, and $100 less cash. To mod my Savage 42….I added an EGW scope rail, Magpul rear folding sight, front Hi-Viz sight made for the Henry Lever rifle, paracord sling, Allen cheek pad w/ammo carrier and zipper pouch…..these things all totaled about $100 just to make it safe and usable. Do yourself the favor and look at the Chiappa Double Badger if you need a combo gun and save a couple hundred bucks..

  • owen

    so I want to buy this gun but I was wondering what scopes would work well with this gun.

  • AtomClown

    Make one in .223/.12 -I’d buy one.

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