The Stevens .22/410. Raymond Matthews

OL reader Raymond Matthews from Laramie, Wyo.,​ sent us this account of his favorite gun. To share your own, email us at We want to know the story of your favorite gun, and what makes it special to you. And, of course, we want to see a nice picture of it.

My Favorite Gun isn’t even mine anymore. I passed down my grampa’s old Stevens .22/410 over/under to my oldest daughter many years back. My grampa, Clyde Edgar, had very little in the way of luxuries in his life, but this O/U was one of them.

I remember him taking me out in the cornfields around Marshalltown, Iowa, when I was 5 years old to hunt pheasants. Even though it was only a .410, he always shot at least a couple. Later he would take me to the river bottoms in Southern Missouri to hunt the big red squirrels. Man, oh man. Just about the only thing I miss about the State of Misery is tough, old fried squirrel.

I took it back to Grampa even though I knew it would crush him, and I told him to let me take it and I would repair it as best I could.

He once loaned it to my father, and when he asked for it back, I had to search every bar in town, finally tracking it to a car trunk. It had rusted and the stock was dinged. I offered to repair it. I sanded the stocks over and over—today they are quite thinner than any other Stevens 24E. Did the same with the barrels and action. I got all the rust off and blued it back to a nice sheen. It took me months, but it was worth it to see the sparkle in Grampa’s eyes when I returned it. A few months later he handed me the Stevens and said, “This is yours now.”

A few months later, I got a call that he was comatose and would not last long. When I arrived at the hospital, he was curled into a fetal position and I could see that his spirit was already gone. I said goodbye, and we buried him next week.

I could not bring myself to fire the gun for the next 15 years, and finally gave it to my daughter. The forestock bears a plaque with his name, mine, and hers, and our birthdays. She never met her great-­grandfather, but she knows his story, and she knows that when I disappear up into the mountains, I’ll be hunting the big country with him.