Battle of the Budgets: Stevens 555 vs. Tristar Trinity
Finding one affordable, attractive, and durable over-under shotgun is difficult enough, but this time, we’re graced with a pair of 16-gauge doubles. Made in Turkey, albeit in different factories, the Tristar and Stevens O/Us show more similarities than differences. Guns.com goes head-to-head to see who comes out on top.
For this comparison, we’re using the Stevens Model 555E in 16-gauge with 28-inch barrels against the new-for-2020 Tristar Trinity in 16-gauge with the same 28-inch barrel set. We’re not quite comparing apples to apples, as the Stevens is built on an alloy receiver against the Trinity’s solid steel housing. Tristar also builds a Trinity LT model that uses a lighter-weight aluminum alloy frame, but the alloy-framed LT does not come in a 16-gauge model.
The difference in weight is directly proportional to the receiver material -- steel is heavier than alloy. Barrel construction and stocks, however, are nearly identical. Thus, the overall weight comparison reflects the two model builds. Where the alloy Stevens comes in at 6.45-pounds, the Tristar is slightly heavier at 6.7-pounds. Holding one in each hand, it’s difficult to feel the difference in ounces, and both balanced nicely in a similar manner.
Aside from that build difference, the similarities between these two guns are eerie for shotties coming out of different Turkish factories. While the Stevens is marked as being manufactured at KOFS, Turkey, the Tristar Trinity stampings indicate its conception at Kayhan/Khan, Turkey.
Upland hunters love variety. Some hunt with 12-gauges, but many favor the subs with options in 28-, 20-, and 16-gauge. To that end, both Stevens and Tristar aim to please. The Stevens 555 and 555E are available in .410 bore as well as 28-, 20-, 16-, and 12-gauges.
The Tristar Trinity, meanwhile, offers 12-, 16-, and 20-gauges. Getting into the sub-gauges requires moving to the Trinity LT model, which can then be had in .410 bore, 28-, 20-, and 12- gauges.
This section almost writes itself. Both guns are dressed in Turkish Walnut. Both are covered in an oil finish. The Stevens culminates in a solid rubber recoil pad, where the Tristar uses a waffle-style rubber pad. Both show a well-above-average figure for more budget-friendly guns. Even the thickness of the pistol grip and forearm are nearly identical.
The sights, though minor, are one of the only outwardly visual digressions between the two scatterguns. Stevens makes use of a more traditional gold front bead, while the Tristar Trinity is tipped with a red fiber optic front sight. Is one better than the other? Not at all. This comes down to personal preference.
While beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, it is difficult to argue against the beauty of the Tristar Trinity, especially when considering this is marketed as a value-priced hunting-specific shotgun. The Trinity, with its acid-etched engraving, is finished with 24-karat gold inlay for an exceptionally classy look. The Stevens 555E, though not quite as flashy, is still surprisingly attractive for another budget-friendly O/U. Its silver receiver is laser engraved with ample filigree adornments.
Chokes and Barrels
The similarities continue here, with both guns shipping with five flush-mount choke tubes. The Tristar includes SK, IC, M, IM, F, while the Stevens includes Cyl, IC, M, IM, and F. All are Beretta/Benelli Mobil-style tubes, and both guns pack the chokes in a mini-hard case with a wrench.
Both guns use carbon steel construction with chrome lining for their barrels. For this test, we’re using two guns with the same 28-inch length barrels. Each company offers some combination of 26- and 28- inch barrels depending on chambering. They come topped with the standard matted ventilated rib.
The single selective trigger, tang safety, and barrel selector are the same for each. The one major functional difference lies in spent shell removal. Many hunters prefer auto ejectors for ease and speed of rapid field reloads. To that end, the Stevens 555E offers ejectors.
The Tristar Trinity, however, has dual extractors, often favored by clay shooters as spent hulls are not launched willy-nilly if not caught in-hand. Here again, one is not superior to the other, but rather, a personal preference.
The pocketbook is where we find the largest margin between the Stevens and Tristar. Our test model Stevens 555E retails for $829 with real-world prices at $683. The Trinity retails for $685 with online prices at $544.
Taking it one step farther, the Stevens 555 blued model with fewer frills carries an MSRP of $679 while the Trinity LT has an MSRP of $685 to $700. Regardless of individual preference, there are few impressive options in the world of Turkish-made O/Us that compete with these specimens.