Fox Model B 16 Gauge Side-by-Side Shotgun
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Savage Arms had owned both the Stevens Arms Co. and A.H. Fox for over a decade when, in 1940, they introduced a gun of Stevens design bearing the prestigious Fox name. Back in the 1940's the Fox name had considerable market recognition and that was what Savage was capitalizing on. The new model was an upgraded version of the Stevens Model 311 side-by-side shotgun, which had been introduced in 1931.
The gun, named the Fox Model B, was introduced at a MSRP of $25.75. It was very successful, remaining in the Savage line until rising manufacturing costs and the coming sale and reorganization of Savage Industries, Inc. (which two years later became today's Savage Arms Company) caused it to be discontinued in 1986. By that time the MSRP for the Fox Model B was $250. Today, according to the 25th Edition of Fjestad's Blue Book of Gun Values, a used 16 gauge Model B in 98% condition sells for around $350.
Fox Model B shotguns are box locks built on a simplified Anson & Deely type action with a single underbolt and a Scott spindle top lever to open the action. Coil springs are used throughout and power the hammers and sears. The result is a somewhat bulky but very durable action. The sides and bottom of the frame are decorated by a roll-stamped or etched "engraving" pattern.
Model B barrels were struck full length and built on the through lump system. This is a satisfactory method of joining the barrels, but it produces a gun wider across the breech than the more expensive methods used for joining side-by-side shotgun barrels. The barrel finish was blued steel.
In 16 gauge, barrel lengths of 26" (bored IC/Mod.) and 28" (bored Full/Mod) were offered. The gun reviewed here has 28" F/M barrels. Other standard choke combinations were furnished by special order at no extra charge, at least in the early years. 16 gauge chambers were always 2-3/4" in length.
All Fox Model B guns came with "select" American black walnut stocks and forends. The wood that I have seen on these guns varied from plain to semi-fancy. A glossy lacquer wood finish was standard. The stock is retained by a through bolt, while the forend is held in place by spring tension and will not loosen with use.
Stocks are of the pistol grip type with a fluted comb and a corrugated black plastic butt plate. Most guns produced from the mid-1950's on came with a better defined and more graceful pistol grip than the early guns, and were fitted with a black plastic grip cap. Our test gun is of that vintage. Forend style was for many years a rather large version of the splinter type, and that is what our test gun carries. It is retained simply by spring tenstion, there is no manual latch. Hand cut checkering in a simple pattern graces the stock and forend.
The standard Model B came with a forged steel frame, double triggers, and plain extractors. Model B frames were initially given a black gunmetal finish, but before long changed to a color case finish that remained standard until the guns were discontinued. For the first couple of decades that they were produced Model B guns had raised, solid ribs, but in the middle 1960's this was changed to a ventilated rib. Our test gun came with a solid rib and case colored receiver.
Following are some specifications for the Fox Model B circa 1956 as provided by the Shooter's Bible and taken from our Model B test gun of that era.
Guns and Shooting Online staff members Bob Fleck, Jim Fleck, Nathan Rauzon, Gordon Landers and me took our sample 16 gauge Fox Model B and our portable trap out into the hills for a little informal clays shooting. For comparison we brought along a 12 gauge Fox Model B-DL.
This particular Model B has lost almost all of its receiver case colors to wear and exposure. The bluing on the barrels also shows considerable wear, as does the stock checkering. Clearly, this is a gun that has been used extensively over many years. But it's a sound gun that still locks-up tight and is completely safe. It is not ready to be retired just yet.
As with most 16 gauge guns that we have tested, using 1 ounce loads there is very little difference in performance on clays or in the field compared to the larger 12 gauge. Either handles 1 ounce of shot very well. A 16 gauge double gun of similar design is a little lighter than a 12 because the smaller diameter barrels weigh less. This makes the 16 gauge gun a little faster and handier.
The Model B is a double trigger gun, while the Model B-DL boasts a single non-selective trigger. The principle advantage of double triggers is immediate choice of chokes and the fact that if for some reason one lock malfunctions the other is unaffected. Merely switch triggers and you have a second, completely independent, lock and barrel that is still in service. On the other hand, some shooters find a single trigger simpler to use.
Gordon, Jim, and I are in the double trigger camp, while Bob and Nate preferred the single trigger gun. It is mostly a matter of what you are accustomed to. Nate, for example, mostly shoots a single trigger Belgian Browning Superposed, while Jim mostly shoots a double trigger Charles Daly 500 SxS shotgun.
This Model B, being older than the Model B-DL, has a solid raised rib instead of the newer gun's ventilated rib. This made absolutely no difference to any of us. You should be looking at the target, not the rib, when you shoot a shotgun. The Model B also has the older style, slimmer forend--which we prefer--rather than the full beavertail found on the later Savage/Fox doubles.
Our comments about the Fox Model B-DL that we reviewed previously generally apply to the standard Model B. (You will find the Fox Model B-DL review on the Product Review Page.) It is a durable double gun, not fancy, but a friend that you can rely on to get the job done year after year.
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