I don’t often admit this, but I spent quite a few years in the dead-end purgatory of modern young adulthood known commonly as “graduate school.” Don’t ask me why. There are cheaper ways to be institutionalized, and at least prison would have kept me out of debt.
The worst part? No money = no new guns. I could afford the occasional box of ammo, but that’s about it. Five hundred dollars for a new gun just wasn’t in the cards if I wanted to eat and pay rent.
Someone must have heard my cry for help. The Stevens Series 320 Field Grade hits a ridiculously low price point while delivering the quality we’ve come to expect from Stevens. With an MSRP between $238 and $273, you can likely find one in the sub-$200 range on GunsAmerica.
Don’t expect lots of bells and whistles, but if you’re having to choose between guns and food, the 320 might let you have both.
Reminiscent of the Winchester 1300 series, the Stevens 320 uses a four-lug rotary bolt to engage the barrel extension, which gives the gun a tight, consistent lockup. The dual-bar slide arm assembly also evokes the venerable old 1300 and allows for a short, quick pump before each shot.
I tested the “Field Grade” model, but Savage has developed six variations in the 320 Stevens series, including the Pump, the Compact Field Grade, the Field/Security Combo, the Field Grade Muddy Girl, and the Field Grade MO Obsession Camo. Each is available in a variety of chamberings and barrel lengths, and the “Pump” model includes a pistol grip.
- Chambering: 12 Ga.
- Barrel: Matte Black, Carbon Steel, 28”
- OA Length: 48.5”
- Weight: 7.45lbs
- Stock: Synthetic Camo
- Sights: Single Front Bead
- Action: Pump
- Finish: Camo
- Capacity: 5
- MSRP: $273
The 320 Field Grade was built for functionality and cost, not aesthetics. It isn’t the prettiest shotgun at the range, but I think they did a nice job with the camo pattern on this model. The barrel and receiver would need to be painted to transform it into a true turkey gun, but the stock and handguard give shooters a nice start.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the receiver had been drilled and tapped for a scope mount. I found machine marks around the holes (as well as around the loading port), which didn’t surprise me in light of the gun’s cost. But the holes appear to be functional, and you won’t be able to see the machine marks with a rail installed. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that any mount designed to fit the Winchester 1300 will also fit the 320. Do your homework before you buy, of course, but you shouldn’t have trouble mounting a scope or red dot if that’s the direction you choose to go.
Speaking of sighting systems, the 320 Field Grade also includes a fiber optic front sight. As a relatively green shotgun shooter, I found that the front sight helped me hit clay pigeons more consistently. Even against a background of dark trees, I was able to acquire the sight quickly and line it up with my target.
Before testing the gun on the range, I took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the firearm’s controls.
The safety is located just forward of the trigger, and the action release is located behind the trigger on the left side of the firearm. Savage might improve the action release by increasing its size or including some kind of texturing, but its location allows right-handed shooters to manipulate it easily.
As I mentioned previously, the 320’s action features a remarkably short pump. Hunters and sport shooters have long appreciated the quick cycling of the Winchester 1300 “Speed Pump,” and the 320 provides similar functionality. A short pump allows for quicker follow-up shots, which is great for shooters like me who often need more than one shot to hit a flying target. A short pump is also convenient for young people as it allows them to cycle the gun more comfortably while maintaining proper shouldering.
I’ve used nicer triggers, but I’ve also used worse. The 6.5-pound pull is a little mushy, but I didn’t notice when the clays started flying. If you use top-quality shotguns on a regular basis, you might be tempted to blame your misses on the trigger. But if you’re the occasional or beginner wing shooter, the trigger works just fine.
On the Range
The gun never malfunctioned during the course of my testing. Not even a hiccup. Once I thought the firing pin had failed to ignite the primer, but then I realized I had forgotten to chamber a round. For this price point, that’s good enough for me.
I’ve heard about budget shotguns from other manufacturers that need to be broken in before they’ll run smoothly. Others fail to chamber rounds or don’t feed properly. The 320 arrived disassembled from the factory, I oiled it up, and it ran smoothly all day. I can’t tell you how the gun will hold up over the course of time, but all signs point to its being a solid, reliable shotgun for many years to come.
I started with clays, then moved to paper targets to get a sense of patterning. The gun arrived with a modified choke already installed, which I used throughout the day. Ammunition came courtesy of Federal, who supplied Gold Medal Grand clay target loads as well as Vital-Chock buckshot.
After shooting four or five boxes of target loads, the gun still hadn’t malfunction and I was hitting with solid consistency. I am by no means an accomplished shotgun shooter, but I did respectably well with the 320, due in large part to its natural handling. The gun is well-balanced and swings smoothly, which allowed me to shoulder and find my target quickly and easily.
The patterning was respectable, considering the modified choke. I shot at 15 and 25 yards with both birdshot and buckshot.
The Savage 320 Field Grade is a fantastic option for new shooters, young shooters, or shooters who just want a solid gun at a great deal. If you’d like to try your hand at bird hunting, the gun’s price and reliability allow you to get into the sport without too much initial investment. If you love it, you can consider purchasing a shotgun with more bells and whistles (though you wouldn’t have to). If bird hunting and clay shooting aren’t for you, you’ve spent less than $200 and you have a shotgun that will last for many years to come.
I’ll likely be purchasing one of these for myself, and I already have leads on two great deals through GunsAmerica’s local listings.
To learn more, visit https://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/320FieldGrade.
To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=stevens%20320%20field.