A friend of my son brought over a badly rusted .22 rifle and asked if I could fix it. The rifle belonged to his father and had been left in a flooded basement and was inoperable. The action was frozen shut and I said I didn’t know if I could get it running again. It was put away and frankly I forgot all about it.
At some point I field stripped it and took some photos of it, probably so I could remember how it went back together when I took it apart to fix it.
That was several years ago and I recently uncovered the rifle which at some point I had taken apart and cleaned up. It took me awhile but I finally got it back together. Looking at the model number on the barrel I learned that the rifle, a tube fed semi auto .22 is a Stevens Model 87M.
I was able to find a diagram of it and then found some history. The Stevens Firearms company which was then recently bought by Savage Arms started making the model 87 in 1938. Savage made well over a million under various names and other model numbers including the Savage model 6 and Springfield name. They also made them for Sears, Wards and other private label companies. As the design was updated a letter designation was added starting with A. The one I worked on was a letter M which was made in 1966 and near the end of production in 1968.
An interesting aspect of the 87 and variations is the vents on the side of the receiver. The 87M had two vents on the left side and one on the right. Other variations had as many as 6 vents on either side. I’m not sure of the reason for them but flames shoot out the side when the rifle is fired. Another interesting feature of the 87 is that when fired, the bolt stays open if you hold the trigger back. It slams forward when you release/reset the trigger. Apparently this gave them the nick name of “old clickity clack” back in the day. The 87M is marked to shoot longs, long rifles and high speed shorts. The bolt can be locked closed for shooting shorts and operated like a bolt action. The bolt can also be locked in the open position. Many variations of the 87 had a small safety lever on the right side of the receiver, the M version has a tang mounted sliding button as a safety. Another feature of the M not found on some of the others is a shell deflector just behind the ejection port.
While I was able to get this one up and running again, the metal surfaces are badly pitted. I did not refinish the metal but options include rebluing it, cold blueing it or perhaps using a spray on/bake on finish like Duracoat. It will be up to the owner to decide.
What’s it worth?
Like everything else something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. This rifle is functional and frankly kind of fun to shoot but not in very good condition. It has sentimental value to it’s owner but no collector value. As a functional semi auto .22 rifle in this day and age, it’s probably worth $75.
Overall I was kind of pleased that I got an old rifle up and running again and learned some new firearm history along the way.