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?
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?
Halfway to Friday!
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.