Like many men, I enjoy the occasional beer or two. And here’s the thing about beer; How many really great stories have you ever heard that began “a bunch of us were sitting around eating some salad, when…”
But many, many great stories have begun with the words “Hold my beer and watch this!”
An interesting weekend here in the upper Midwest, passed in my possibly-futile quest for one of two items: a Browning Sweet Sixteen (the small-frame version of a 16 gauge Auto-Five) or a 1940s vintage solid-rib Model 12 Winchester in 16 gauge.
Why those two guns? And why in 16 gauge, a bore size many American shooters consider all but obsolete?
As for the two guns, I do have 12-gauge versions of both arms. My Auto-Five is a 1943-44 American-made (Remington) version, originally a plain field gun, picked up with little or no bluing left and a badly worn stock. With a polish and reblue, refinished stock, a Simmons ventilated rib and Carlson choke tubes, the 70+ year old Browning is now as modern as an iPad while still retaining it’s 1940s – era craftsmanship. My 1940-made Model 12, bought with slightly worn bluing, a barrel cut for an old Poly-Choke and a rather ugly stock, is now in the process of being polished and deep blued. A new American black walnut stock is in the works, and that gun will also be cut for choke tubes to replace the bulbous Poly-Choke – a touchy proposition, as Model 12s have notoriously thin barrel walls.
And why the 16 gauge? One of my oldest friends is a 16-gauge nut, and Mrs. Animal shoots trap and birds with a 16-gauge Browning White Lightning. The 16 is a great mid-range gun – large enough to pack nearly 12-gauge wallop, but often found in smaller-framed, lighter guns, like the Sweet Sixteen. It’s one of those rare things in the gun world; a compromise that works.
To carry on this search on this weekend just past, I visited several local gun shops and a 300-table gun show up in Elkhart.
Now, mind you, I have no particular sense of urgency in finding either of these two sporting arms. If and when I stumble on the right example of either, I’ll probably buy it. But since I can think of fewer more enjoyable ways to spend a weekend than bumming around gun shops and shows, talking with people who like guns and like to shoot, I took the opportunity.
The 300-table Gunslinger show in Elkhart was a tad disappointing. While Mrs. Animal and I each own an AR-15, we have both resisted the “tactical” craze that seems to be sweeping the country. The gun show circuit, however, has largely been taken over by the proponents of all things “tactical.” That’s fine; the market is at work. But it makes it a bit frustrating for those of us who prefer old shotguns. I’m something of a traditionalist; I like old shotguns, large-bore revolvers and precision bolt guns for big-game work, although I do favor my Glocks as carry guns.
Back to the weekend: While I didn’t in fact find any prizes, I will give a shout to a couple of fine gun shops here in northern Indiana that are well worth patronizing if any True Believers are in the area. The first is Gun Town, on Highway 30 in Grovertown. They have an extensive selection of used and new guns, including a 1942 small-frame 20-gauge Auto-Five that tempted me for a few long moments. The second, right here in Warsaw, is the very fine Eagle Creek Firearms, who also have a decent selection and whose owner is a Model 12 aficianado no less than yr. obdt. – and, again, while there I was briefly tempted by a very nice 1897 Winchester, but I resisted.
It’s always fun, popping around to old gun shops. Who knows what treasures you might find?
I had originally intended to spend today’s bandwidth talking about secular arguments on gay marriage, but something else captured my attention – something breathtakingly stupid. It seems Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein and actress Meryl Streep are planning a movie taking aim (use of metaphor deliberate) at the NRA. Excerpt:
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein announced for the first time on Howard Stern’s radio show that he is making a full feature drama to try to destroy the National Rifle Association.
Mr. Stern asked Mr. Weinstein on Wednesday whether he owned a gun. The Hollywood heavyweight replied that he did not and never would. “I don’t think we need guns in this country. And I hate it,” the producer said. “I think the NRA is a disaster area.”
Mr. Weinstein then revealed his secret project about the gun rights group. “I shouldn’t say this, but I’ll tell it to you, Howard,” he said. “I’m going to make a movie with Meryl Streep, and we’re going to take this head-on. And they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.”
If you’ll allow me to make a prediction, Mr. Weinstein (and even if you won’t) I will make one, and also an observation:
The NRA will be just fine, in fact they may gain members because of you, and
You’re an idiot.
In the first place, political movies never go down well, whether they are Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth or the right-of-center American Carol. The American movie-going public wants to be entertained, not to be lectured or harangued – yr. obdt. included. These kinds of movies attract pathetically low audiences made up almost exclusively of viewers who already agree with the political statements being made in the film.
In the second place, the NRA is nothing like the silly caricature Mr. Weinstein seems to have in mind. (Full disclosure: Mrs. Animal and myself are both Life Members of the NRA.) The NRA is not a sinister organization run by a cabal of masterminds; it is, honestly and in every sense of the word, a true grass-roots organization boasting more than four million dues-paying members. The NRA’s officers and Board are elected by their members, and the organizations by-laws and organization priorities are likewise decided by the members.
How many other civil-rights organizations can make that claim?
So, the NRA is powerful because its members give it the power. Through memberships starting at $35 a year, they empower the NRA to act on their behalf, not only to provide training, insurance and a host of services but also to protect their Second Amendment rights in Washington and the several state capitols, because they believe it’s the right thing to do.
So, this film, assuming it gets made, will amount to naught. But it’s worth examining Mr. Weinstein’s credits as a producer, which include violent, gun-filled films like Django Unchained and Grindhouse. Weinstein is a hypocrite of the worst sort.
And, incidentally, this won’t be his first act of cinematographic futility. Does anyone remember 2009’s Capitalism – A Love Story?
1981. Yr. obdt. was 20 years old, Ronald Reagan was in the first year of his Presidency, the Soviet Union was still the Evil Empire, and an amazing new technology was in its infancy. (Presumably this was before Al Gore got involved.)
A couple of different things today. First, the recently departed Ariel Sharon.
In 2006, the always-worth-reading Dr. Charles Krauthammer wrote:
We’re now at the dawn of an era in which an extreme and fanatical religious ideology, undeterred by the usual calculations of prudence and self-preservation, is wielding state power and will soon be wielding nuclear power.
Dr. Krauthammer was writing about Iran, and was describing a nightmare scenario that the late Mr. Sharon, as one of Isreal’s most able leaders, dealt with, lived with, contended with throughout his life.
Consider the situation in which Israel finds itself. Israel is a modern, Western democratic state the size of Delaware set in the middle of violent, backward regimes possessed of a Dark Ages religosity and a burning desire to wipe the Jewish state from the face of the earth.
Ariel Sharon dealt with this threat throughout his adult life. He was a military officer in the infant Israel’s military starting in 1948, distinguishing himself in the Yom Kippur War and the Six Days War. Later he served as Prime Minister, steering a course largely down the middle of the road, including being one of the first Israeli leaders to openly advocate a Palestinian state.
Sharon was one of the good guys. We could use a few more like him.
Moving right along, here’s something new from another always-worth-reading scribe, this time Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: The Rural Way. Excerpt:
Hard physical work is still a requisite for a sound outlook on an ever more crazy world. I ride a bike; but such exercise is not quite the same, given that the achievement of doing 35 miles is therapeutic for the body and mind, but does not lead to a sense of accomplishment in the material sense — a 30-foot dead tree cut up, a shed rebuilt, a barn repainted. I never quite understood why all these joggers in Silicon Valley have immigrants from Latin America doing their landscaping. Would not seven hours a week spent raking and pruning be as healthy as jogging in spandex — aside from the idea of autonomy that one receives by taking care of one’s own spread?
As the product of a rural upbringing myself, I can appreciate Dr. Hanson’s concerns for his homeland in central California. The Golden State is collapsing; several of our major cities (Detroit, Chicago) are not far behind. Worse, the Imperial Federal government has spent us into insolvency. As noted in the Animal Manifesto, our elected representatives have spent us into insolvency while ignoring the decay of our vital institutions, and future generations will – rightly – damn us for it.
Not many people know that the United States’ oldest corporation is a gunmaker, namely the Remington Arms Company. From 1918 to 1927 Remington made the Model 51 pistol, a small pocket piece in .380ACP and .32ACP. The Model 51 was a popular pocket pistol; George Patton owned one, and reportedly used it to fire at German bombers attacking his North African headquarters in 1943.
Incidentally, even though General Patton is one of my personal heroes and was a warrior without peer, shooting at an attacking bomber with a .32 is pretty much the definition of futility – but, knowing Patton’s flair for the dramatic, it’s likely the motive was a bit of inspirational showboating, rather than effective fire.
The R51 is a neat-looking piece of hardware. It’s a 9mm rather than the .32/.380 of the original, which gives it a little more punch. Better still, the R51 is rated for +P ammo, which gives it quite a bit more punch. The layout looks simple and usable, with a 1911-style trigger, a grip safety and a slim grip wrapped around a single-stack magazine.
What’s best about this new Remington? Quite possibly this: The price tag. Suggested retail is $420, which means the gun will probably retail most places for $375-400. Upshot: Remington is going after the mid-priced compact 9mm market in a big way, and the R51 has the Ruger LC9, the Beretta Nano, the Taurus PT709S and the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield squarely in its sights.
Remington went through some bad times in the past, particularly during the phase of importing some truly awful Russian-made P.O.S. shotguns and putting the Remington name on them. The R51 would seem to be an indication that they are on the way back. Let’s hope that trend continues.
I’m not sure why certain pundits insist on discussing the 2016 Presidential race this far out. At this point in the 2008 election cycle, for example, everyone knew the race would be between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Look how that one ended up.
So, with that said, National Journal‘s Ron Fournier is wondering aloud if a Donald Trump Presidential run is in the works, due in no small part to the ongoing Christie TrafficGate flapdoodle.
My thoughts? Trump is no dummy, but he is a buffoon. If the GOP really wants to lose this race, nominating Trump would be the way to go.
Still. 2016 is an eternity away, election-wise.
Were I to pick my own candidate for President, I’d take a long shot and push former Colorado Governor Bill Owens for the job. Bill was, once upon a time, our state representative, before he was Colorado Treasurer and then Governor. Down side: Bill has no intention of getting back into politics.
Still, he’s about as likely as Trump – or Christie – at this point.
Normally on my on-site projects, part of the arrangement involves flying to the site and obtaining a rental car. Since this project is intended to run until late spring/early summer, I’ve decided to take my own estimable Rojito out to Indiana, for two reasons:
My CCW is good in Indiana and Michigan, and it’s easier to take a sidearm or two along while driving. Since the trip involves a transit of the People’s Republik of Illinois, that also means arms have to be stowed out of reach while in that state, but that’s a minor annoyance compared to checking firearms while flying. Also, I can bring a shotgun out and find some trap or sporting clays shooting while out there.
I can smoke in Rojito. Most, if not all, rental companies now prohibit smoking in the rental cars. That’s OK – they are private property and I’m sure the companies are concerned with the resale value. But I like to enjoy the occasional cigar while driving.
I’ll be at my destination this evening. Back to work tomorrow.
So, a short update today since it’s a travel day and I really have to get on the road, but here are some topics to look forward to this coming week:
Secular arguments against gay marriage – is there a compelling argument against gay marriage that doesn’t involve a religious argument? Not being religious, this is a question I’ve given some thought to, and while we’ve discussed it here before, that post has vanished into the ether, so let’s do it again.
The late Ariel Sharon. Reactions to his death are still coming in, so I’ll give it a few days and post some thoughts.
Hemingway country. Last fall, during the involuntary hiatus, Mrs. Animal and I toured in Ernest Hemingway’s childhood stomping grounds in Michigan, including the areas around Petoskey, Hortons Bay and Mancelona. We even got up into the You Pee briefly and saw some of the country around St. Ignace. I hope to do some fishing up there this spring. I’ll post some thoughts.