Gunfight Friday: Marlin Model 81 vs. Stevens Double

This week’s gunfight is an asymmetrical rimfire vs. shotgun matchup. Think of it like those gladiatorial matchups where one guy had a trident and a net, and the other had full armor and a sword. Neither of these is an expensive gun, and both have been used on squirrels, and so I’m saying those two have enough in common to be put up against one another. Also, the Stevens 311, like the Marlin 81, was sold under the J.C. Higgins name at Sears Roebuck stores.

Jhjimbo’s Model 81

This is my J.C. Higgins .22LR (Marlin Model 81) purchased by my Father in 1956. He would take us to the dump to shoot rats until we ran out of shells. I started hunting squirrels with this rifle and can't begin to count how many I have gotten. At one time my mother, who loved squirrel and pheasant, asked me if I could shoot them a little closer to the head so I added a tip-off Weaver scope, then went to a 4X Tasco World Class 1-inch scope. It has an 8X Weaver on it now but it is too much power for me, so I am going to put the Tasco back on. In 58 years, this gun has easily shot 30,000 rounds and never had a failure. I did drop it one time and broke the butt plate, which I had to have replaced. You ask what is that finish it has? O.K., don't laugh: It’s 20W Quaker State motor oil. I used to rub it down after each use and sometimes when I was just admiring it.

Rocky Squirrel’s Stevens

This one's for you, Phil: While visiting relatives in Michigan thus year, I stopped in at a local sporting goods store to look at the used gun rack. The most interesting guns can be found on the used-gun rack. I discovered this used J. P. Stevens 16 gauge double. Its choke is Modified and Full and has what looks like a walnut stock. There are no cracks in the wood and it appears tight and well taken care of. I respectfully call it a “farmer’s gun.” Since farmers in the backcountry had to depend on their tools, it’s really a high complement. I have taken this gun squirrel hunting for two afternoons but have yet this year to see a target.

There are your choices, and they’re both pretty old school: an almost 60-year old .22 vs. a 16-gauge farmer’s gun. Vote and comment below, and keep the gun pictures coming to fsgunnuts@gmail.com.

Which squirrel gun do you like more?

Jhjimbo’s Model 81

Rocky Squirrel’s Stevens