Gratuitous Gun Pic: Browning Sweet Sixteen (16ga)

As something of an old-fashioned man with eccentric tastes, I have to confess that sometimes my innate sense of logic runs away and hides, leaving me with a fondness for something totally unfashionable.

Probably the most egregious of these is a love of the 16ga shotgun chambering.  [pause to allow the mocking laughter to subside]

I can probably blame John Moses Browning.  Why?  Because of this:

Yes, it’s the venerable Auto-5 (“A5”, as it’s now known), and in 16ga it is known as the “Sweet Sixteen”.  It was the first shotgun I ever owned, and countless rounds went down its barrel before I was finally forced to sell it during the Foul Time Of Poverty, some ten-odd years ago.

I am not the only one thus afflicted — I always found the 12ga shotguns, even the semi-auto ones, a little too much to handle, especially given the quantities of rounds I would fire at a single setting.  I also enjoy shooting the 20ga nowadays (e.g. the gun I keep at Free Market Towers, thankee Squire):

…but were it not for the ridicule and merciless teasing I would have to endure from Mr. Free Market (“not much less recoil, much less effective than the 12” etc. etc.), I would have held out for a 16ga side-by-side for my Britishland Shooting Adventures, such as they were.  Something like this gorgeous Arrieta:

Indeed, before the Tragic Canoeing Accident In The Brazos River, I used to keep a cheap Spanish 16ga side-by-side as a bedside gun.

But getting back to the Browning Sweet Sixteen:  I have to admit that the Auto-5 was not John Browning’s best design.  Even in the “weaker” 16ga chambering, it kicked the hell out of me, and as for the “Light” 12 variant — boy, talk about a misnomer.

Still, whenever I see one of the new Sweet Sixteens, I get a twitching in a familiar place:

…and it’s not in my shoulder, either.

All that said, the 16ga is not an optimal choice nowadays, practically speaking.

  • There aren’t a lot of them around — that Arietta is the only 16ga shotgun in four pages of shotguns at Collectors — and that means that there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to ammo.
  • The 16ga also fails Mr. Free Market’s “Availability” test — where if one’s gun is separated from its ammo, will there be a box or two lying around?  For 12ga, that would be a resounding “yes”, for 20ga, also a yes  albeit perhaps not so resounding.  For 16ga?  You’ll be lucky to find any  of it at Ye Localle Gunne Emporium in Nowhere, Idaho, let alone in the outfitter’s glove box.
  • While the 16ga cartridge does have less recoil than the 12ga, it’s not that  much less — and it’s lots  more than the 20ga.

Like I said, it’s an impractical choice for someone perhaps just beginning to shoot shotguns.

Just don’t shoot a Sweet Sixteen as your first, and you’ll probably be okay.

Gratuitous Gun Pic – Champlin Sport (.416 Rigby)

Browsing through Collectors with nothing but gun lust on the brain, I come across this vision of loveliness:

An octagonal barrel in a dangerous-game rifle?  Have mercy.

People often talk about horse-racing as “the sport of kings”.  With all due respect, I think the appellation more correctly applies to big game hunting.  Why so?  Because rifles as fine as this Champlin Sport cost a king’s ransom, that’s why.

Granted, this is a handmade number — and a quick scrutiny of, say, James Purdey’s wares will show you how kingly a sport that  is — and I should also mention that I can never venture up I-35 to Enid, Oklahoma because that’s where danger lurks, in the shape of the Champlin Firearms establishmentTheir  wares are positively Purdeyesque, and the $7,500 asked by Collectors for the above rifle barely comes close to the average gun in  Champlin’s inventory.

Lemme check those lottery numbers quickly… ah, shit.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: S&W Mod 48 (.22 WMR)

We are all familiar with Kim’s #1 Principle of Guns:  a .22 gun is not in fact a gun;  it is a household appliance (and every home should have one, be it a rifle or a handgun).  The corollary thereto is that .22 ammo is likewise not actually ammunition, but a household commodity like salt or sugar.

And while this is absolutely true for the venerable .22 Long Rifle, there is a higher level of household commodity, if you will — not salt or sugar, but, shall we say something that could also be classed as a commodity but has a tad more spice to it — something that makes life more enjoyable, like BBQ sauce, or mustard, or Tabasco sauce — which adds to the enjoyment of life, and I don’t think anyone is going to argue too much with me on this point.

Which brings me to my favorite cartridge of the small ones, the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, a.k.a. the.22 WMR or still more simply, the .22 Mag.  I love this tangy little rimfire cartridge with a passion, and it remains a mystery to me why it’s not more popular among shooters (the lack of popularity no doubt being the reason why it is priced as high as it is today).

Basically, the .22 Mag does everything that a .22 LR cartridge can do, only with a 50-yard longer reach and an impact that makes it more deadly without adding in the slightest to felt recoil.  You want numbers?  Using a 40-grain bullet, the.22 LR ammo runs at 1,200 fps, while a .22 mag leaves a rifle barrel traveling at 1,800 fps.  That 50% increase in velocity creates a significant difference in muzzle energy : the .22 LR typically weighs in at around 140 foot-pounds at the muzzle, but the .22 Mag. generates more than double that — around 300 ft-lbs.  Without the huge cost difference, the Mag would leave the LR in the dust — at least, it would in my case.

I have one rifle (Marlin 882) and one handgun (Ruger Single Six) chambered in .22 Mag, but I want more.  Which brings us to day’s GGP, the S&W Model 48:

This particular little beauty is at Collectors Firearms, and the only thing that’s stopped me from getting one is the nosebleed price.  (At Bud’s Gun Shop, the 6″ barreled model is over $100 cheaper… stop me before I do something foolish.)

“So Kim,” you may ask, “why do you want another .22 Mag revolver?”

Because I can, because it’s double- and not single action, and because it’s beautiful.  And in case I didn’t mention it earlier, because I love the .22 Mag cartridge.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Savage Model 99

American Rifleman magazine once put the Savage 99 in its list of “Ten Rifles Everyone Should Own“, and while I disagree somewhat with lots a couple of their choices, the Savage 99 is a slam-dunk listing — with one reservation, which I’ll get to in a while.  But first, let’s look at this rifle and see what all the fuss is about:

I’m going to make my prejudices known up front.  I think the “99” is hands down one of the most beautiful rifles ever made, period.  That swooping stock as it leaves the receiver, the way the lever snuggles into the underside of the stock… ooooh, mommy.  And if you can find one like mine, with the “schnabel” front stock…

…and that’s before we start talking about the brilliant rotary magazine, which, unlike for some lever rifles we could mention (Winchester, Marlin coff coff ), allows one to load this rifle with pointed (and not be limited to flat- or round-nosed-) bullets.

Which brings me to my only quibble with the 99.  While it can handle medium cartridges (.308 Win, .300 Savage, .375 Win etc.), I don’t think the recoil is worth it.  My .308 Win model is, honestly, painful to shoot.  The angle of the thin stock pushes it right into the soft part of the shoulder, and for me anyway, it’s owie  after four or five rounds.  I think the perfect cartridges for the 99 are either the .250 Savage, or if you want something a little cheaper, .243 Win.  Those, I can shoot (and have shot) all day.  (I could have put a soft rubber pad on the rifle but I didn’t because wrong.)  But the Savage is not an all-day shooter, anyway.  That thin, elegant barrel heats up really quickly, and it will start to whip on you after a dozen rounds or so.

What this exquisite gun is, is a hunter.  It’s light, accurate, quick to reload (in my case, about half a second or more quicker than my Mauser 98K), and quite honestly, I can’t think what more one could ask for a deep-woods rifle.

What sets Savage 99 owners apart from the rest is the fact that they love their 99.  In the Rifleman  article linked above, the writer laments:

I once had a lovely mid-50s Model 99 in .308.  It was my favorite Texas whitetail rifle and in a weak moment I traded it for some rifle I can’t even remember.  Lesson:  Never sell or trade a good gun.

I’m one of those losers, and what I should have done was sell my .308 and immediately got a replacement in .243.  But I didn’t because I’m an idiot.  I should have just gone without electricity for a couple months…

Because of all this, Savage 99 rifles are relatively scarce, and quite expensive.  Their owners don’t want to relinquish them, and anyone who’s ever fired one, let alone hunted with it, will know exactly why.

Gratuitous Gun Pic — Browning Buck Mark (.22 LR)

I think the Buck Mark .22 pistol is one of the best modern rimfire semi-autos to be had.  It’s certainly one of the prettiest.  Here’s a Buck Mark Plus from Collectors Firearms, for example:

…and no serious shooter is going to argue with me that much.  Perhaps you can get a more accurate .22 pistol than the Buck Mark, but you’d have to spend a whole lot more money, because it’s more accurate than almost anyone who shoots it — and other than the high-end competition .22 guns like Pardini and so on, I certainly don’t think you can get a pistol with a better trigger  than the Buck Mark’s.

Best of all, Browning makes a dizzying number of variants to suit absolutely everyone.  I’ve either owned or at least fired most of the major types — typically, the Campers have a lightweight carbon bull barrel, and the Standards have a slab-sided heavy steel barrel, viz.:

My favorite, though, is the Plus Stainless:

I don’t have one of these brilliant little plinkers anymore — not after handing off various models to friends, my children etc.  But it’s on my shortlist, simply because I miss shooting it so much.

All that said:  field-stripping the Buck Mark should never be done in the field, as such, because unless you love scrabbling on hands and knees looking for the recoil spring and / or recoil buffer, you need to be really familiar with the Buck Mark’s innards.  Ask me how I know this.  Actually, your first attempts at cleaning it should preferably be done in a clean white room with a smooth cement floor just to make retrieval of said parts a little easier.  A Ruger MkIV it ain’t, folks.  (Here’s the back story on all the above.)

Still, I miss shooting the Buck Mark — one of the reasons I traded my MkIV for a Single Six revolver was that the MkIV wasn’t as much fun to shoot as the Browning.  (And oh baby… do I love shooting the revolver.)

And on and on it goes… if I didn’t love shooting guns so much, I’d have beaten myself to death long ago over all the stupid decisions I’ve made in the selling of them.  I need a Buck Mark, badly.

Gratuitous Gun Pic — Smith & Wesson 627 Performance Center (.357 Mag/.38 Spec)

Okay, we need to get some rules straight around this here back porch of mine.  The proper order of things is that I post pics of beautiful guns and engender uncontrollable gun lust amongst you, O my Readers.  You are not repeat NOT supposed to send ME emails of your guns which cause me distress, because as any fule kno, I am completely at the mercy of beautiful guns and have been known to auction off children to be able to buy said visions.  (Not my  children, of course;  children I find wandering in the streets.)

An example of this kind of untoward behavior (the gun-bragging, not the kidnapping) is shown by Reader PC from the Great State of Texas, who writes thusly:

“I carry an S&W 627 Performance Center revolver (.357 eight-shot, N frame). Lobo Gunleather makes an inside waistband holster that, when coupled with Perry Suspenders and no-tuck shirts, carries as easily as a small Glock.”

Here’s a pic:


I do declare that this is quite easily the most beautiful stainless revolver S&W has made in ages, if not forever.  And eight rounds in the cylinder?

“Hand me mah smelling salts, Prissy.”

S&W also makes a 2″ snubby version (which I think is the type Reader PC carries, from his description);  but for me, the 5″ barrel as pictured is the business.

Were it not for the fact that the Performance Center models retail for well north of a grand ($1,200 at our local Academy aaaargh), I’d already have bought one by the time you read this.

As it is… oh, mommy.  I am so weak.

I hope I’ve made myself quite clear about this bad behavior from Readers.