Gratuitous Gun Pic: Last-Ditch Rifles

As the above post recommends, it’s during times of plenty when one lays in stocks of the necessary stuff, in anticipation of Dark Times.  (And having lived through the Urkel Regime quite recently, and the Chinkvirus right now, I think everybody understands what I’m talking about here.)

Let me also be clear about what I’m suggesting in this post.  I think that everyone needs a rifle that could be regarded as ugly / awful / not wanted when one has, say, a couple AR-15s or AK-47s, or even a smart-looking hunting rifle or two.

By “ugly rifle” I mean the gawdawful Mosin M44 carbine or its older and taller brother, the 91/30 rifle, respectively:

Rugged as all get-out, these rifles have survived Russian winters and worse yet, Russian soldiers.  The only problem I have with them is their ammo.  While cheap and plentiful, 7.62x54mmR cartridges are not what one would call “common” ammo — i.e. available at Bubba’s Guns ‘N Bait Store in Bumfuck, Nowhere.

The same is true for just about any of the “ugly” rifles out there — even the not-so-ugly ones (which are still relatively cheap) like the excellent Swiss K.31 rifles in 7.5x55mm Swiss:

Fantastic rifles, usually only a couple-hundred bucks more than the Mosins, but that ammo… highly effective to be sure, but is it on the shelf at Bubba’s?  No?  Aahhhh…

See my point?

Here’s what I think is the rifle which checks all the boxes:  ugly, cheap, reliable, BUT found in a chambering which is so common, it makes Miley Cyrus look classy:  the rebuilt Spanish small-ring Mausers, in 7.62x51mm NATO.  This is the 1916 model, derived from the 1893 model (not  the ’98), which was made from 1916 till after WWII in 7x57mm, and later rechambered into 7.62 NATO:

Best of all, these old warhorses are seldom found at a price higher than $500 — and it’s usually less than $400, with a decent bore and iron sights which will still deliver at minimum a “minute of 6-inch paper plate” at 100 yards, if the shooter knows his stuff.

It’s not pretty, it’s not a rifle to be proud of owning, it has a severe recoil (like the M44), and it’s not even worthy of a place in your safe:  trunk of the car, semi-annual cleanings timed to coincide with range visits, you get the picture.  But it’s the ammo  which sets these battered old ladies apart from their newer, semi-automatic and sexier cousins.

And yes, the 1916 small-ring Mausers can handle modern .308 Win cartridges — those will be the ones that kick like hell, btw — but even that can be avoided by shooting lighter bullet sizes (<150gr).   If you look up the rifles and hear warnings about “soft Spanish steel” and “use only the light 7.62 CETME loads”, you are in the presence of major league bullshit.  I know this because I myself used to own one, and after well over a thousand rounds of commercial .308, I had it checked out and it passed with flying colors.

I’m not saying you should run out and buy one of these right away;  but on one of those occasions when you feel the need for another rifle, but have less than $400 handy, I am saying that one of these rifles deserves some serious consideration.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: High Standard Supermatic Citation (.22 LR)

Here’s a lovely old pistol:

I don’t know anyone who’s had much bad to say about High Standard Citation .22 LR pistols, other than the fact that replacement parts and magazines are ruinously expensive to come by — this, of course, because HS stopped making the line over forty years ago.  It remains the only U.S.-made pistol ever to have won an Olympic gold medal (Rome 1960), and still features in NRA competitions today.

In the 1960s you could have bought one of these beauties for about $40, and today they fetch close to a grand, depending on condition.

Mostly, HS pistols are known for their reliability — provided  that you clean them often (more so than modern pistols), that is, because their tolerances are so tight.  (I was once told by a gunsmith that 100% of the “malfunctioning” High Standards brought to him for “fixing” needed only a thorough cleaning before going back to their original flawless operation.  And we all know that .22 ammo, particularly the El Cheapo practice brands, can be filthy to shoot, right?)

Speaking for myself, the “rake” of the High Standard Citation model is a little too Luger, not enough 1911 for comfort — but that’s just me.  Others love the feel of it, and reckon its point is so natural as to almost compel good marksmanship.  And back before my eyes started to fail, I recall shooting a Reader’s Citation off a rest, and getting sub-1″ groups at 25 yards.

And, of course, he refused to sell it to me (the bastard).

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.

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.