Curve Ball

Earlier in the week, I had a long lunch with the Son&Heir, during which we discussed our usual breadth of topics — we have long lunches together — and among the common topics of career advice, lifestyle updates and so on, we spent considerable time talking about guns.

He admitted that he wants / needs a 1911, and despairing of my good health and (for the moment) unlikely demise, realized that his chances of inheriting mine anytime soon were not good.  So he’s going to get one soon on his own account, and being his father’s son, most likely a no-frills version like the Springfield Mil-Surp:

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about here.  This is.

We discussed the impetus behind yesterday’s post, on the kind of rifle that I would want to own, given my failing eyesight and disenchantment with hunting, and he summed up my situation thus:

“Exactly what shooting are you planning to do from now on?”

It’s a good question.  Obviously, there’s the self-defense issue (quite adequately addressed by the current selection between my Springfield 1911, High Power and S&W 637 Airweight), and the extension thereof, delicately labeled “street occasions” (AK-47 and M1 Carbine).  All that’s a settled situation, with maybe a .357 revolver as the final addition, at some point.

As far as plinking is concerned, my needs are few — the Taurus pump .22 for fun, and the Marlin 880SQ and its .22 WMR counterpart for targets.

Then came the crunch question:

“If you’re not going to go hunting again, why get a new bolt-action rifle at all?”

I have to admit that it stumped me.  For starters, the very thought of my life not including a hunting rifle is like contemplating a life without, say, books.  That kind of gun has been part of my persona for so long that being without one quite literally makes me feel nervous.

But there it is.  I’m unlikely ever to go out into the field again or, more likely, go to the rooftops for one of those “social” occasions, because I’m too old for both activities.  I do have a few older bolt-action rifles that could be pressed into service, in a pinch, for an emergencies of either kind.  And the followup question:

“Other than plinking and handguns, what kind  of shooting would you be likely to do?”

And the answer is:  clay pigeons, e.g. as I have done on a number of occasions Over There:


Which of course begs the question:

“If you love it so much, why don’t you do that Over Here?”

I have no answer for that.  I regularly visit more than a few indoor ranges scattered around Dallas and the Plano area, but there are far from that many opportunities for shotgunning.

But there is Elm Fork Shooting Sports a few miles southwest of where I live, which caters for just such a pastime:

It’s an expensive place to shoot, but so what.

Which leads me, at long last, to the question of equipment.

While I yield to no man in terms of the quality of my other guns, I will admit that my shotgun (note: singular) is, to put it mildly, not fit for purpose.

It’s a Spanish-made no-name brand side-by-side of dubious quality, and I think I last fired it in the single-digit 2000s.  Maybe 2004.  Worse yet, it’s in 16ga [okay, you can quit that derisive laughter]  but all is not yet lost.  Because when tidying up Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer prior to leaving the flooded apartment, I happened to come across a couple hundred rounds of 20ga (don’t ask, I don’t know either).

So:  instead of replacing the stolen CZ 550 6.5 Swede with a rifle, might I… get a decent shotgun instead?  (I will give you all a few minutes for the smelling salts to take effect.)

Now I know that in no other part of the Gun Thing can one’s bank account be emptied more quickly than in the world of shotguns: That’s an A.H. Fox FE, and I put it up here not to consider buying it ($28,500 second-hand, uh huh), but to show the essentials any prospective purchase would have to have:  20ga chambering, side-by-side barrels at least 28″ long, double triggers, splinter fore-end and a straight (a.k.a. “English”) grip stock.

And I want it new.  The problem with sporting shotguns like the above is that they’ve generally been used hard — not that this is a Bad Thing, of course — but I don’t want to buy the thing and have the action fall apart because after 200,000 rounds, well, that could happen.  (Mr. Free Market, for example, has “shot out” not one but two Berettas in his time.)  And a shotgun rebuild / repair is expensive, bubba.

So after some fairly extensive research, there are really only two shotguns which satisfy all my criteria.

First, there’s the Iside (by I.F.G. — Italian Firearms Group, more on them here), and for well over $2,000 it looks like the business:

But that’s right at the top of what I want to spend — actually, quite a bit over the top — so is there anything else of similar features and quality?

Ho yuss there is and, surprise surprise, it’s made by CZ — okay, actually made by Huglu in Turkey but distributed by CZ-USA.

It’s the second-generation (G2) Bobwhite, and it retails for about $650 (where you can get it — I might have to wait awhile…).

Now granted, the Bobwhite’s finish is not exactly ornate, but that’s fine by me:  fancy engraving and carving is what really drives up a shotgun’s price, and as those who know me can attest, I’m not the kind of guy who cares for ornamentation.  But I have to tell you, the G2 model with the case-hardened finish has me fondling Ye Olde Credytte Carde:

Even though it’s brand new, it looks old… it could have been made for me.  Hell, I might just consider getting two, because at that price ($1,300 ) it’s about the same as I’d spend getting a decent rifle plus scope.  Because it’s going to get well used, so to speak.  And the ammo cost doesn’t look too bad, either.

Don’t blame me;  blame the Son&Heir.


  1. At 66 I try to not let the “age” thing influence me too much. But it does cross my mind quite a bit every dam day. As far as guns and guitars go, I still want what I want, and as long as I am able to create money out of thin air, and quite a bit of effort, I will have what I want. I have plenty of guns, ammo, accessories but I still want more, more, MORE! Why not? Also, I have never done trap shooting but I believe this summer I will venture into it. Not by going somewhere and spending a boatload of money. But by buying the basic equipment and supplies, and using them at a friends acreage. I have 2 shotguns – maybe not the normal kind for this sort of thing, but I’m very comfortable shooting both. While age and health is a thing, I choose not to allow them to be overtly major things. Don’t get me started on handguns for there are at least a half dozen I want right now.

    1. Only a half dozen? You need to think a little bigger there, GS. I can think of a dozen, just off the top of my head…

      1. For a handgun, I totally want a Colt Anaconda revolver. I really like the look of the vented rib, and the barrel with the full underlug. I don’t care much for partial underlugs on revolvers, it must be a full underlug for my liking.

        The Anaconda was recently re-released. Only problem is I live in a nanny state, and they are not on the “approved list” to purchase yet. While I COULD get an older one, I just don’t have an extra spare $ 3,000 or more laying around to drop on one… so I will have to wait to see if the new model is ever added to the commie approved list. I can come up with $ 1,500 for a new one.

  2. This is great news! Son said exactly what I was trying to say in a reply to your original post–find some shooting you ENJOY and do that. Not what you used to enjoy but do not enjoy any longer because reasons. And that’s a fine looking gun, too. I’m not a big shotgunner, but I understand that Turkey does some quite nice shotgun manufacturing, and though it’s at the lower end of the price spectrum, vis a vis, say the Italian makers, they are reputed to be quite reliable. And CZ would not put their brand on crap, no matter who makes it. I bet you can buy with confidence.

    Sounds like Son put you on the right track. Same thing happens with my boy once in a while. He’s 28 now and I find myself surprised at how insightful he is, and how often he gets me off a stupid path. It’s a fine reward for having raised him right, makes me proud.

  3. Funny that this gets posted today… I’m on my way out the door to pick up my first serious shotgun purchase of my adult life, a Beretta 1301 Tactical.

  4. I also kind of like the shotgun better than a rifle. Sort of.

    My favorite rifle is the Ruger 10 22. Cheap to operate, easy to maintain. But there is just something about a shotgun. They are simple, powerful, and a great all around tool for many uses. In a way shotguns are like the swiss army knife of firearms.

    While I like the Mossberg pump shotguns, one thing I have always wanted is a Ruger Red Label in 12 gauge. However, the prices on them are sky high and finding one that someone wants to part with is also hard to find as well. Maybe some day I can get one…

  5. Every man needs a 1911. It is the ne plus ultra of handguns. Congrats to you and your Son&Heir; it took him a lot less time to realize that elemental fact of life than me.

    My preference is a S&W 1911 Series E, optimized to be one of the best of the best, without going to the bleeding edge. I use mine in SASS Wild Bunch competitions; through 3300 rounds in hot, dry, dusty, desert conditions, it has never failed me. The SW1911 Series E incorporates Performance Center enhancements without the S&W Performance Center prices.

    Now, with those shotguns, I’m thinking that there is another elemental fact of life that I’m late to realize….

  6. Smart son you have there. But rather than purchasing a shotgun, consider hiring them on an as-needed basis. Especially when you’re over here. A quick Google shows you can hire one for £20 / day or so, and Elm Fork will charge you $15-$20 – granted I do not know the quality of the guns. That way you can spread the love.

    1. I already have a 20ga Over There, kept for me by a friend (on his license).

  7. “Hell, I might just consider getting two, because at that price ($1,300 ) it’s about the same as I’d spend getting a decent rifle plus scope. ”

    You’ll be all set to shoot driven clay pigeons.


  8. It has been too many moons since I did regular skeet shooting (I was on the Squadron Skeet team at my base for a while). I started with my Mossberg 500 because 1. It was what I had and 2. I figured the fast targets and immediate action drills of driving a pump gun would help with defensive use. I later moved to a Mossberg 5500 because I got a good deal.

    Question: When I was shooting skeet (and the occasional round of trap and sporting clays) the more serious/experienced folks were using over/unders. (I was contemplating getting one when I qualified for my DCM Garand and my interests went down another path).

    Why are you looking at a side by side? Serious question as I’m not up on the benefits of one vs the other.

    1. I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, Randy, is the only reason. I’ve always said that shotgun barrels should be side by side, like a man and his dog; and not over and under, like a man and his mistress.

      SxS shotguns don’t last as well as O/Us. They are a little more difficult to “point” accurately (although with good aim and good ammo, there’s no difference).

      Also: O/Us have thicker forearm stocks so you don’t burn your hand off the hot barrel, like you do with a SxS. (That also makes them a lot heavier, but there ya go.) If you’re shooting more than a few shots with a SxS, you soon learn to “cup” the forearm stock and not to grip it.

      So with all that, why do I still persist in shooting SxS? Habit, and tradition. (That should be my family’s motto and not “God and the King”, neither of which really applies to me.)

      It’s the same reason I prefer a stick shift, revolvers and older-style cars, furniture, architecture, etc. etc. etc.

  9. If you want to drive a car with a canvas roof that comes down so you can get hot and sweaty in the summertime you get a sports car and if you get a real old style one it will leak a bit when it rains and you can also do the shifty thing with the stick that is in-between the seats. Probably not as practical as most any decent modern car but, tradition, tradition means a lot to some folks like the side by side vs. the over/under.

    My son, who does all sorts of shooting sports, brings both to our annual dove hunt, he will use his Beretta 686 o/u 12 ga. I gave him years ago for the first ten doves he brings down and then he gets the 1920 case hardened bone charcoal, restored side by side 12 ga with straight stock and splinter grip and use that for the his final five birds and instead of doing the regular Texas sitting in the chair he gets out and walks them up because he enjoys doing some things with style. Meanwhile I do manage to max out my limit with my 30 in barrel Beretta over under in 20 ga. and that’s good enough for me because I am past the mid point of my 70’s and still enjoy getting out and hunting birds. Lots to be said for style and tradition when you can.

  10. I never bought a shotgun and I have 3. One was a gift when I was in high school and I inherited the other two. The gift gun was a used Stevens 311 double barrel. It has be the hunting shotgun for over 40 years. Depending on the load dove, pheasant, ducks, hog, deer, and elk. It could probably take an aoudad but you couldn’t get within range as they are very skittish. Moose and bear I would want something with a bit more oomph.

  11. I’m going through a similar thought process. I have $2500 in mad money sitting in my safe and momma is perfectly and sincerely fine with me spending it foolishly on a toy. The problem is that I have about all of the toys a guy could need or want. Bolt action hunting rifles? Check. Military surplus? Check off a Garand, two Lee Enfields, and a K-31. A couple of AR15s and an AR10, pistol caliber level actions. And we’re not even talking handguns here.

    I am a little light in the shotgun department. I have a Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 left over from my sheriff days, a Stoeger sxs just because it looks cool, and a Mossberg Shockwave just to piss off Nancy Pelosi. The Shockwave with a green laser and flashlight and loaded with #4 buck lives about three feet from my bed.

    Right now I have one handgun on my list. I’d like to find a Broomhandle Mauser just because but the ones I see within my price range are very rough. I’ve pretty much given up on deer hunting but I’m good for rifles should I ever get out for big game again. If its time to shoot zombies on the front lawn I’m well armed.

    So what’s left for a tired old guy with a few bucks to spend? I’ve thought about a nice over under gun in 12 or 20 gauge. I’m not much of a wing shot but I think that I could get better with practice. I could shoot with the gentlemen (if I knew any) and have an excuse to reload the big 20mm can full of shotgun hulls I’ve got.

  12. Oh, I forgot! I would strongly recommend NOT the Springfield Mil Spec, but the Springfield Loaded, in black (of course!), the lovely PX9109L. It’s much more comfortable to shoot, and has much better sights, while not doing too much damage to the lines of the original JMB design. Very close to your defensive .45. Tritium night sites, too.

    Got my Son & Heir a similar “Marine Corps Operator” model when he graduated from college. They are terrific guns out of the box. They are worth upgrading with premium parts and having a good trigger job, as well, which I did for my son, at less than half the price of something from, say Nighthawk. But they are just fine out of the box.

  13. My wife and I got into skeet during the summer of 2019. we took an intro to clays at LL Bean. I used an unfired Browning Citory 525 that I had bought in 2002 but never used. My wife tried a provided O/U in 20gauge. She liked it so we approached the people at our club who shoot skeet. They were very friendly and helpful. We met up with a few of the more experienced folks who shot skeet regularly and told my wife, don’t buy anything for a while. Between a few people and the club, she was able to try quite a few different shotguns including a Kriegoff in 20gauge and a Remington 1100 or 1187 in 20gauge. She ended up buying a Beretta A400 in 20gauge without the kickoff (recoil reducing mechanism). She likes that a lot. price was just south of $1500 at the time.

    I’ve enjoyed my Browning Citori in 12gauge.

    Buy once, cry once. The only other thing we really bought were pouches to hold a box of shells and empty hulls. I bought a shotgun case ages ago when I bought the Browning. The case was pricey but again, buy once cry once. Oh, the other thing we bought was a Briley choke tube for the missus’ Beretta and bought extra skeet chokes for my Citori.

    Before you buy, try different shotguns if you can. As much as you prefer S/S shotguns, you might be better off with an O/U. You might even be able to find a decent used one. The other thing is that if you buy something of quality and you decide to do something else, it might be easier to sell for less of a loss. Or just buy a very entry level shotgun, shoot the snot out of it then move on to something nicer. Club membership costs can vary. The other cost is shells and clays.

    As Chad said, skeet is like golf but for men.

    Other than skeet, 3d archery is very fun too. You shoot at 3D targets and theyre set up typically like a golf course. The best course I shot was at a relative’s friend of a friend’s camp in the Berkshires and they set up 10 targets I think it was. You went around first and shot from the red pins and you had a clear shot at the 3D foam animal. Then you did the course again but this time from white pins set in the woods so your shots were not from a perfect stance. From the white pins in the woods, your perfect stance shot would put a tree or branch smack dab in between you and your target so you had to bend, lean etc to make the shot. It was lot of fun. The targets ranged from bear, turkey, wild hog, bear, gopher or something small like that.



  14. I own the “GI Model” Springfield 1911, and don’t much care for it. It’s large, heavy, and has edges that bite my hand whenever I shoot it (which because of those shortcomings, is quite rare).

    If I had it to do over again, I would have bought something else, or saved my pennies for a more modern and luxurious model.

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