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The Savage 42: One Ugly Gun

Look to the Savage 42 for utility, not beauty.

In the current gun market, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the glitz and shine that is out there right now.

This is not to say that I haven’t had my head turned by a few pretty guns over the years. Every now and then a real looker has to go in the gun safe for the simple reason that it is a beautiful gun, but that’s not the best way to grade real hunting equipment.

Whether we like to admit it or not, a real hunter gets more use out of a real ugly gun — or at least one that’s geared more towards durability and utility than aesthetics. This brings us to the Savage Model 42.

It might be a little hard for the nice folks at Savage to hear, but in my opinion the 42 is one ugly gun. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be pretty to be a great gun.

A lot of small game hunters probably remember the predecessor to the Model 42, which was dubbed the Model 24. This gun was basically the original American Drilling. The 24 had a rifle barrel on top, usually chambered for .22 Long Rifle, and a shotgun barrel underneath, usually chambered for 20 gauge.

These two barrels were mounted on a simple break-open action, with the barrel selector built cleverly into the gun’s exposed hammer. The 24 wasn’t exactly a prom queen, but was quickly embraced by bird, varmint and small game hunters all over America.

The Model 42 is essentially a modernized version of the old Model 24. Savage’s new combo gun sports a synthetic stock, upgraded sights and a significantly more user-friendly lever for opening the breech.

While the 42’s enhancements haven’t made the gun any prettier, they have built even more utility into what was always a highly useful design.

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The 42 allows the small game hunter to switch back and forth between carrying a shotgun and carrying a rifle. This means that with a flick of the 42’s selector you can take either running shots at rabbits with a 410, or longer shots at standing critters with the rifle barrel, which is offered in either 22 Long Rifle or 22 Magnum.

The ability to switch barrels quickly makes the 42 a great choice for the small game hunter interested in conserving the amount of usable meat they bring home while still being able to make quicker, more difficult shots with the shotgun.

The combination of a near-indestructible action with the added utility of switching barrels in an instant made the Model 24 a hit, and the Model 42 is even better.

For the amount of utility that’s built into the Model 42, its MSRP of $485 is actually pretty low. It should, if anything, prove to have even more longevity than its predecessor.

As my grandfather used to say: “It ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.”


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The Savage 42: One Ugly Gun