Gratuitous Gun Pic: Browning Gold Hunter 20ga

I hardly ever talk about the coronavirus, and I’m heartily sick of the topic.  So here’s a pic of a gun that the idiots at Browning decided not to continue producing, the semi-automatic Browning Gold Hunter:

Connie had one of these until her health problems curtailed her shooting activities, and so I sold the thing (because I’m a bigger idiot than Browning).  I’ve regretted doing that ever since.

I loved this gun.  It had almost no recoil — certainly much less than my own Browning Sweet 16 — and many’s the day we spent shooting at clays, golf balls and hippies actual watermelons with it.  Randy Wakeman feels the same as I do:

The [Gold Hunter] 20 gauge, in particular, is just an amazingly soft shooter. Not a flyweight in standard configuration, with 7/8 oz. dove loads the recoil is exceedingly mild; you can barely feel the gun working.

He has a gripe about the Gold Hunter’s trigger, but ours was light and smooth as silk.

I have to say that if ever I stumble across one at a gun show in good condition and at a reasonable price, it’s going to come home with me faster than Carol Vorderman, seen here in RealTree camo.

(That’s called a “twofer” — Gold Hunter + Carol — by the way.  Anything  to forget about the Wuhan Virus.)

Gratuitous Gun Pic – CZ Upland 20ga

Oh man… just saw this beauty at Collectors:

Last time I looked, CZ doesn’t make their shotguns, still outsourcing their manufacture to Huglu in Turkey.  That’s not a knock, by the way:  I’ve fired many actual Huglu-branded shotguns, and they’re excellent.

Just so everyone’s on the same page as I am, note Kim’s Must-Haves list:

  • side-by-side barrels no less than 28″ in length
  • double trigger
  • straight “English” stock (no revolver grip)
  • splinter forend
  • pretty wood

And all the above for quite a bit less than a grand… ooooh mommy, I hate being poor.


Afterthought:  compare the above to the Italian-made Weatherby for sale at the same shop.  The Weatherby may be a better shotgun than the CZ… but in no way is it nearly three times  better.

Carry Revolver Followup

Following my meandering post last weekend about carrying a revolver rather than a 1911, I was wandering about the Internets when I saw this little beauty:

I know, I know… “beauty” and “Ruger” are not often sentence-mates, but I think that this particular GP100 model qualifies.  And as for Ruger’s ruggedness and reliability… we’re all on the same page there, I think.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve actually owned a GP100 before, and I loved the gun, except for the trigger.  Oh man, that trigger was awful:  sticky, stiff (it felt like a 50-lb break), and it only sorta-smoothed out after over a thousand dry-fires.  (Don’t laugh;  in those days I was a lot more serious about testing guns, so I kept a fairly close count.)  In the end, I got sick of the finger-cramp, decided it wasn’t worth the hassle, and traded it for a Ruger Blackhawk in .30 Carbine (a story for another time).

However, in reading the various comments from people who’ve recently bought this model, only a very few complained about the trigger.  So maybe Ruger has fixed that problem.  What I do know is that before I would actually drop the $900-odd on the gun, I’d bring along some dummy .357 snap caps, test it right there in the store, and let its trigger make the final purchase decision.

I do know, however, that I would have absolutely no qualms about strapping this puppy onto my hip every time I left the house.

Letters, I Get Letters

People who have trouble logging in through WordPress’s byzantine process, or people who just couldn’t be bothered with that, or people who don’t want to post publicly:  all these send me letters.  What follows is a reply to some of them, grouped more or less  by topic.

1) “Oh Kim, why do you post pictures of insanely-expensive guns, when you know that none of us could ever afford them / no gun is worth that much anyway?” 
— for the same reason I post pictures of, say, Salma Hayek.  Both objects of desire are way too expensive for ordinary men, would cost far too much to maintain, and are ripe targets for thieves.  Nevertheless, we have Ms. Hayek and a matched pair of Holland shotguns below — the guns, in this case, are likely far cheaper than Salma would be.  (Both pics may be right-clicked to embiggen.)

2)  “Have you considered the 6.5mm Creedmoor / 6.5mm PRC for the ULD rifle project?”
    — if I wanted to shoot a 6.5mm bullet at Boomershoot, I’d use my Mauser in 6.5x55mm Swede.  However, I’ve seen what a strong wind does to the 6.5 boolet, which is why I wanted something just a little heavier (like the .3x offerings), especially as Joe Huffman says they tend to work better than the lighter ones up there.  Also, I’m starting to get the feeling that the 6.5 Creed is going to end up like other exotica such as the .300 Win Short Mag and others:  a historical curiosity which may prompt future gunnies to ask, “What the hell were they thinking?”  (And yes, I know the .dotmil are looking at the cartridge, but let’s be honest:  historically, the military have not been renowned for their cartridge choices anyway — especially when after WWII they didn’t adopt the eminently sensible .276 / 7mm caliber, as the Brits suggested we do.  So we ended up eventually ditching the manly .30-06 and choosing the 5.56 poodleshooter, when a middle course — such as, now, the 6.5 Creedmoor — would have been a better choice at the time anyway.)

3)  “Can we get access to your earlier articles in the Nation of Riflemen / Other Side Of Kim websites?”
— sadly, no.  As it happens, even I can’t get hold of the posts — the link thereto seems to have disappeared — and other than the ones I’ve already reprinted, consider them gone.  (Frankly, most of that old content — even that of the Gratuitous Gun Pics — is very much dated by now, so it’s not as great a loss as you might think.)

4)  “Why do you link to the horrible Daily Mail so often?”
   —  mostly, it’s my guilty pleasure (I love reading trash), and also because it’s free (unlike most U.S. newspapers, who have decided that their content is more valuable than I think it is and want me to pay to read it).  I mean, where else could one find priceless headlines such as these, literally right next to each other?

Finally, the DM  offers me Train Smash Women on at least a weekly basis, and I am completely helpless in that regard.

Keep on writing, folks.

Oh, and one last thing:  if you wrote and haven’t yet got a reply from me, please resend your letter.  I get close to a hundred Reader emails per day, and in many cases, I put them aside for “I need to research that more before replying” or “I need to think about that a little before replying” reasons.  And of course, some fall through the cracks, for which I apologize profusely.  It’s not rudeness or even carelessness;  it’s just being a little too busy to keep them all in the air, so to speak.

Rebuilding From Scratch

(I wrote about this very topic many years ago, but I can’t find the original article.  So I’m going to start from scratch.)

A Reader once wrote to me, telling me that he was moving out of NYFC and back into the United States.  He’d been a gun owner before, but had sold all his guns prior to moving to Manhattan.  Now, smelling the taste of freedom, he wanted to buy some guns again.  He had $5,000 set aside for the purpose, and wanted my ideas on what I would suggest he look at.

I don’t remember what I recommended, nor can I access the original post;  but it’s a fun mind game to play on a Saturday.  Before I get going, though, let me say that the guns I’d choose would not only be “serious” guns — self-defense and so on — but because I consider shooting to be fun (what a concept), some of the guns I pick would have to cover that part as well.

The categories of firearm, therefore, are:  self-defense (carry), plinking, home defense (however you define it), sporting and all-round utility.

Here, then, is my list of new “starter” guns I’d either buy or consider buying, with a budget of $5,000 (granted, five grand won’t buy you as much as it did back in 2005 or whenever, but that just adds to the challenge).  They’re not necessarily my favored choices, but they are the best choices in terms of utility and price.

And on the latter topic:  I’m mostly going to use Bud’s Gun Shop for pricing and pics, because his prices seem to be reasonable on most guns and I don’t want to spend hours and hours looking around the various gun shop websites just to save $5 on, say, a plinker.  I’m also going to ignore accessories like spare mags and such — this is about guns, and they’re listed in the order that I would buy them.

 1) Carry piece
This the very first gun I’d buy because it’s the one I’d most likely need the soonest, all things being equal:  the Springfield Armory 1911 Defender  Mil-Spec .45 ACP 5″ ($510) — it’s the cheapest Springfield 1911 on the market, and while there are lots of cheaper .45s (and 1911s) out there, the Springfield is the one I’ve used and trusted for twenty-odd years, and for me this is no area to compromise on.

2) Semi-auto rimfire rifle (.22LR)
It’s a commodity item, like a kitchen knife.  I’d choose the Marlin 795 .22 LR 18″  ($170) — I’ve shot one before, and for the money, it’s fantastic value.

3) Do-it-all rifle (.30-30)
What’s the best centerfire rifle you could get that, in a pinch, could do everything, from home defense to hunting?  My choice would be the Marlin 336C .30-30 Win 20″ ($565) —  it’s been doing it all for well over a century, and who am I to argue with tradition and heritage?  With practice, the lever action can be worked almost as fast as a semi-auto.

4) Bedside gun / backup carry (.357 Mag)
This is the gun you buy when you absolutely, positively have to depend on it to work, every time.  I’d get the inexpensive but reliable S&W LE Mod 66 .357 Mag 4.25″ ($650) — I’d love it to be a Model 65, but they’re unavailable nowadays, and forget about a Colt Python.  (A close second would be the Ruger GP100 for just a few dollars less, but the Mod 66 just seems to fit my grip better, and has a better trigger withal.)

5) Shotgun (20ga)
Here I’m going to ignore the pump-action type and go for a double-barrel instead, because I prefer to use a shotgun for sport, not home defense (sporting clays being one of my favorite fun sports, of course).  There’s really only one choice in the inexpensive-but-quality category:  the CZ Bobwhite SxS 28″ — ($695).  It has all the things I want in a shotgun:  double trigger, long barrels, “English” (not a pistol) grip and splinter forearm.

6) SHTF rifle
You all know my feelings on this topic.  As the man said, “When civilization falls, the gun you want in your hands is an AK.”  Hence the semi-auto AK-47 7.62x39mm — ($650)

7) Long-range scoped rifle
Everyone should have a “reach out and touch” rifle, capable of consistently hitting a target at 500 yards.  Given the budget constraints, I’m going with the Savage 110 Tactical .308 Win — ($630) Still the best value for money.  The nearest competitor is the CZ 557 Heavy Barrel — and that’s nearly $900, which would leave little money for a scope.  And speaking of which:
Minox 3-15×56 ZX5 30mm — ($680) I love this scope (it’s the one I have mounted on my Mauser M12).  For what is really a “mid-priced” optic, the clarity is outstanding, the light-gathering stupendous, and it’s as rugged as hell.  If the money was there, I’d spend an extra $150 on the illuminated reticle, but such is life under budgetary constraints.

8) .22LR Pistol
Every home should have one (or two, or three) of these… and I’m going with the gun I know, with the best trigger:  Browning Buck Mark Plus Stainless 5″ ($500).

…and that, in covering all my bases, takes it to $4,950.

Note that in working with so small a budget on “must-have” guns, I was not able to indulge my passion for old military surplus rifles… and man, does it hurt.

Feel free to take issue with me on my choices, in Comments.  Obviously, everyone’s going to have different likes / dislikes / preferences, but if you keep my categories in mind as you suggest others, I don’t think you’ll go wrong.

Comparison

Following my post about the Brno ZKM-611, Reader JohnF asks in an email:  “The 611 is a non-starter because it’s so expensive.  If you like CZ’s semi-auto rimfire rifles so much, why not just go for the newer 512 model?”  (I should add, for those who don’t know, that CZ eliminated the “Brno” brand, but the CZ/Brno labels are essentially the same gun, e.g. Brno 602 = CZ 550 Safari.)

Good question.  Here’s a look back at the 611, followed by the 512 (both in .22 WinMag):

 

Fact is, if I were looking to buy a semi-auto .22 WinMag rifle, I’d give the CZ 512 a long, hard look simply because it’s a CZ.  But if I wanted to add a beautiful  rifle to my meager collection, gimme the Brno any day of the week.  Is the 611 hundreds of dollars better  than its successor?  Nope, but that’s not the question.

And the 611 is a takedown rifle, whereas the 512 isn’t.  That feature also points to the ZKM-611 as the better choice.


Digression:

I should also point out that new  semi-auto .22 WinMag rifles other than the CZ 512 are like hen’s teeth, simply because Ruger stopped making their 10/22M line, the idiots.  Apparently they claimed unsolvable feeding issues for the decision, but I never had that problem, not once.  I wish I’d never sold mine.

As far as I can see, the only other manufacturer currently making a .22 WinMag semi-auto rifle is Savage, with their A22 Magnum.  Predictably, being Savage, it’s pig-ugly:

But on the other hand, the A22 features Savage’s excellent Accu-Trigger, so it should be a worthy alternative to the CZ 512.  (I’ve never fired the A22 before, so I can’t say.)  Savage also claims to have fixed the .22 WinMag’s alleged feeding problem by making it a delayed blowback action.  Typically, the A22 sells for just over $400 as I write this, compared to the CZ 512’s $500+ (although it’s discounted by $100 at Cabela’s).

And here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two.  The CZ 512 wins, hands down, in just about every department.  Clearly, the $100 premium is worth it.

Now where did I put that piggy bank?