There’s a great deal of nostalgia among gun owners. We continue to witness a return to guns of the past. Ruger recognized this many years ago with its line of single-action revolvers, and who would have thought hunters would continue to buy the beautiful Ruger No. 1, a classic single-shot rifle. The current resurgence of lever-action rifles is another example of romanticism among hunters. About a dozen new Marlin lever action rifles are on the market today.
That brings me to the reason for this article. It is with much regret that I no longer own and shoot some great rifles and handguns. Ron Spomer and I agree that we have owned beautiful guns, and sad that somehow we have sold or swapped in a moment of weakness. Many decades ago, I had a Stevens .22 single-shot bolt-action rifle. You cocked by pulling a plunger back. I grew up pretending it was my buffalo gun. Many tin cans and bottles met their maker with that Stevens. I swapped it for another gun. Stupid me!
I loved grouse hunting with my 20-gauge Ithaca, but I didn’t have dead birds in my game pocket. I had an old Colt .22 Frontier Scout single-action revolver in my game pocket. It went with me on all bird hunts. I couldn’t hit a tin can at 10 feet with those fixed sights, but it didn’t matter. I just liked having that little Colt with me. Regrettably, I lost that Colt in another gun swapping deal. I wish I had it back.
Speaking of bird hunting, I started out with an Ithaca Model 37 Featherweight, a 20-gauge pump. It had a red neon-looking sight and a corn-cob-looking fore-end. I can’t recall the weight, but I could hunt the thick grouse woods of New York all day with that Ithaca and never get tired of carrying it. The Ithaca must have weighed about five pounds. I recall trading it for a heavy 12-gauge clunker because I wanted to hunt deer—another bad gun deal.
My next bad gun deal was my Savage Model 99 lever action in .358 Winchester, a great caliber that never had a chance when some gun writers didn’t like it, which I could never understand. I rigged my Savage 99 with a removable Griffin & Howe side mount. I could slide off my scope and use my Lyman aperture sight. Aperture sights have always been my choice for a fast iron sight and are perfect for thick timber hunting. To this day, I cannot understand why I lost that great deer rifle in a swapping deal. I wish that Savage was back in my gun rack.
Maybe it’s time to realize that I don’t need all those guns, but I wish I had them back, along with that deadly .22 Hornet I used on woodchucks or that Winchester 94 that I always carried when building my tree stands. These days, I now carry my old Marlin Mountie 39A, a .22 lever action, which I will never sell or swap for another gun. I like walking in the woods with a rifle or maybe with a little .22 Colt Scout single-action, even if it doesn’t shoot straight.
I get a lot of gun magazines, and I see a trend back to some of these old rifles and handguns. The ads in these magazines are full of ugly rattle-trap military-looking rifles and handguns. Not a piece of wood on them! I agree that they are more accurate and durable in the field, but they don’t bring me back to the days of beautiful rifles and shotguns. I confess that I have always harbored a desire to hunt deer with a double-barrel rifle .30/06. If I find one, I probably couldn’t afford to buy it. But I’m no longer swapping any of my guns. Maybe.
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The Guns I’ve Loved and Lost — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Vin T. Sparano for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com