I Have This Old Gun: Montgomery Ward's Western Field Model 10

montwardlead.jpg

undefined

During the first part of the 20th century, when the United States was transitioning from an agricultural to a more urban nation, inexpensive shotguns were the first choice for farmers and city dwellers who needed, respectively, a tool for keeping the fox from the henhouse and the means for an affordable and enjoyable weekend afield. Thus, the single-shot, smoothbore shotgun reigned supreme, as it was less expensive than a double, and relatively trouble-free. It became many a boy’s first gun, as well as a working tool on ranches and farms. During the Great Depression, such guns were the means for putting meat in the pot. 

Many companies turned out countless thousands of these no-frills single-shots in 12, 16 and 20 gauges, as well as .410 bore. The gun shown here is a classic example of these ubiquitous break-opens. It is stamped “Ward’s Western Field,” which was a private brand sold by Montgomery Ward through its stores and mail-order catalogs. Although the “Western Field” name was also used by others, including Iver Johnson, the subtle “94B” stamped on the lower-right-hand portion of the receiver tells us this gun is actually a Stevens Model 94B made by Savage Arms after it had purchased the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. in 1920.

The Stevens Model 94B was first produced in 1929 and remained in the line until 1969. Unlike the larger 12-ga. versions, this well-used, full-choke .410 bore (along with the 16 and 20 gauges, which featured modified chokes) was built on a smaller frame. In spite of its economical price (in 1957, for example, it sold for $25.90) these utilitarian guns exhibited a number of desirable features, including a rubber recoil pad, case-hardened frame, automatic ejector, two-way opening lever for both right- or left-handed shooters, and a rebounding hammer, later changed to a half-cock.

This version, made before the Gun Control Act of 1968, bears no serial number and, not surprisingly, came from a Midwestern farm. It shows heavy use, yet still locks up tightly. However, as Steve Fjestad states in the Blue Book of Gun Values, “To date there has been very little interest in collecting Montgomery Ward guns, regardless of rarity … As a result, prices are ascertained by the shooting value of the gun, rather than its collector value.” Nonetheless, it is a good example of the utilitarian firearms that have played important roles throughout our nation’s history. 

Latest

Ruger Marlin 1895 Sbl Lever Action 01
Ruger Marlin 1895 Sbl Lever Action 01

Review: Ruger's Marlin Model 1895 SBL

Ruger is inaugurating its stewardship of the storied Marlin brand with the re-launch of the flashy but functional Model 1895 SBL. What’s changed, what’s stayed the same and how do they shoot?

New For 2022: Browning X-Bolt Target Pro McMillan

Browning Arms announced the X-Bolt Target Pro McMillan for 2022 with an improved receiver and components, optimized for long-range target shooting.

New For 2022: Winchester Xpert 22 LR

Winchester Repeating Arms announced a brand-new bolt-action repeater, the Xpert 22 LR, designed for manually operated rimfire performance in a lightweight handy package.

New For 2022: Howa Super Lite

Howa blended features from its Mini Action and standard short action to create a featherweight hunting rifle in the form of its Super Lite.

New For 2022: Kimber Rapide Dawn 1911

Kimber expanded its Rapide 1911 lineup with the all-new Dawn, an attractive-looking handgun that's actually built for serious duty use.

First Look: Magpul MOE SL-M Carbine Stock

Magpul introduces a new micro version of its popular SL stock line with the Magpul SL-M AR-15 style collapsing buttstock.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.