Stevens recently released two versions of their 555 budget over/under shotgun, a Turkish-made replacement for the discontinued 512. The new 555 is available in two gauges (12 and 20) with barrel lengths of 28 and 26 inches, respectively. It's a reasonably-priced, lightweight do-all field gun that won't break the bank or your back. MSRP is $692.
1. It's Basic But Functional If you're in the market for high-grade wood, fancy engraving, or other adornments then this isn't the shotgun for you. If, however, you want a basic field gun with extractors, a plain matte finish and a single brass bead then this is your gun. Best of all, you won't have to worry about scratching an expensive over/under dragging it through the brush and briars.
2. The 20-Gauge Version Weighs Just 5½ Pounds An alloy receiver and a slim, trim stock help keep the weight to a minimum on this gun. Recoil with heavy loads isn't particularly unpleasant, but if you're used to shooting a heavier gas-operated semiauto you'll notice a jump in kick, especially with heavy field loads. The recoil pad is thin, too, but it's a fabulous gun for all-day walks in chukar country or grouse coverts or for following a bouncing pack of beagles through heavy brush in search of cottontails.
3. Its Turkish Walnut Stock Is Among The Best In The Class Inexpensive guns get inexpensive stocks, but the wood on the 555 20 gauge I tested was very nice. The straight-grain Turkish walnut has good-looking checkering and a Schnabel fore-end, and the 20 gauge version is particularly thin through the wrist of the stock.
4. It Is A Versatile Hunting and Clays Gun The 555 has a barrel selector on the tang-mounted safety that allows you to instantly choose whether the upper and lower barrel fires first, and the gun comes with five choke tubes to fit just about every imaginable hunting and shooting situation, from skeet to high-flying doves.
5. The Balance Is Excellent Pick the 555 up and swing it and you'll immediately appreciate how smoothly the carbon steel barrels cut through the air and how composed the gun feels. For a light shotgun with a relatively short overall length (42 7/8 inches) it isn't whippy and is very well-balanced, great for passing shots or skeet shooting.