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Thread: Stevens 44 22LR - M.S. Risley

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy

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    Stevens 44 22LR - M.S. Risley

    Some time ago I came across a Stevens 44 chambered in .22 LR. The barrel had been changed and the name MS Risley was on the barrel. I did a little research and it indicated that Mr. Risley worked with Harvey Donaldson making dies and chambering rifles for Hervey Lovell designed cartridges in the infancy of the then new "varmint rifles." MS Risley had a rifle shop in Hubbardsville, NY. There is a picture of Mr. Risley's rifle shop in the Charles Landis book, "Twenty-Two Caliber Varmint Rifles." Because I know this site has some very knowledgeable folks, I am hoping someone may have some information about Mr. Risley and/or his rifles. Thanks for reading.


  2. #2
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Well, he's mainly famous on account of Donaldson's claim that he ground the reamers for what became known as the "2R" version of Hervey Lovell's 22-3000 wildcat. R for Risley. Donaldson also claimed that Risley invented the idea of blowing out the .22 Hornet case to gain a bit more capacity, and that Kilbourne stole the idea. There might be a mention in the "Sincerely Yours" book put out by Wolfe Publishing in 1980. A collection of Donaldson's columns for Wolfe's "Rifle" magazine. In recent years I've learned that Donaldson had a reputation among the locals of telling a few more "stretchers" than was quite right, so take it all with a grain.

    Might be something in Fred Ness' book "Practical Dope on the .22". Ness was a huge advocate for the .22-3000 Lovell cartridge in the late '30s.

    Risley certainly did do chambering work for New York State varmint shooters and benchresters. It's not too uncommon to see his stamp on rebarreled rifles of various makes, if you watch the high-grade auctions like Cowan's. I see C. C. Johnson quite a bit more, though.

    All I can think of at the moment.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy

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    Your reply is very helpful and much appreciated. Thank you very much.

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    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    Might be a little pedantic, but I believe your action is the later Stevens No. 417 “Walnut Hill,” which had a slightly heavier frame with the parts more carefully fitted than a run-of-the-mine 44, and a “Speed-lock” hammer and trigger arrangement.

    I can’t add any more to Uscra’s and Landis’ comments on Risley. I kind of like old Harve, myself. I could sort of see his claim that he came up with everybody else’s ideas before they did. A thoroughgoing gun crank would naturally be thinking along the same lines as all other gun cranks. Still, the one who actually reduces the idea to practice should get the credit.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy

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    Thank you Bent Ramrod for the information, it is very helpful. One of my dream rifles was a Stevens Walnut Hill and maybe I backed into a version of it. How do you tell a 44 from a 417? I really appreciate the help.

  6. #6
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    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    According to Frank deHaas, the frame should be thicker than that of a 44. Also, that purplish bluing job is very characteristic, as the cast frames of the 417 were casehardened without colors and then hot blued. The long lever following the pistol grip with the ball finial is another 417 feature (other lever configurations could also be ordered), as is the slightly different-shaped hammer, which allegedly did not pull back as far as the 44 hammers did to fully cock the rifle.

    I donít have a Walnut Hill myself, but have seen a bunch at Gun Shows. Yours has apparently been restocked as well as rebarreled, to make an offhand Shuetzen rifle, whereas the factory offering was more of a four-position target rifle.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    The Model 44s had the model number stamped on the face of the frame, covered by the forearm wood. Did they continue that for these last few models? Dunno. Pull the forearm and see.

    According to Phil Sharpe, the 417 fired from the half-cock position, and if you pulled all the way back the sear fell into a "safety" notch. Bassackwards if you ask me. He also said that the 417s had a stiff coil hammer spring on a strut, like the 1915 Favorites had. Firing pin strikes at 9 o'clock, not at 6 o'clock. If it's a 417, it will have those features. No matter what, it's a fine looking rifle and probably shoots just as good as it looks.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

  8. #8
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bent Ramrod View Post
    I kind of like old Harve, myself. I could sort of see his claim that he came up with everybody elseís ideas before they did. A thoroughgoing gun crank would naturally be thinking along the same lines as all other gun cranks. Still, the one who actually reduces the idea to practice should get the credit.
    Harry Pope wasn't immune to the disease, nor was Elmer. Nor is AlGore and a host of other modern politicians.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

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