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Category Archives: Manly Arts
Goodbye, Blue Monday
Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkage!
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?