GUNS FOR SUMMER PASTIMES
By Maurice H. Decker
W|HEN THE SEASONS of fur and large game are over the mind of the outdoor man swings naturally around to such warm weather pursuits for profit and pleasure as hunting bees, catching frogs and turtles, fishing, pearling and gathering roots and barks. To be fully prepared for emergencies and to be so equipped to realize the maximum returns from these occupations, a firearm of some nature is indispensable, and it is my intention to mention a few in the following that will prove suitable for these occasions.
First in the line and leading the rest in its wide range of usefulness and for its ability to cover all classes of game the outdoor man is liable to run across during the warm months, I place Marble's Game-Getter Gun, a very ingenious two-barreled combination of shotgun and rifle, with which most hunters and trappers are acquainted, if only by reputation. No other single weapon, to my knowledge, gives such a variety of shooting for its weight and ease of packing. This arm shoots, and shoots well, all of the following cartridges: .22 short, .22 long, .22 long rifle, black or smokeless powder; also hollow point loads: .44 VV. C. F. shot, .44 X. L. shot, sizes 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10, and, lastly, the .44 Game Getter, a shell loaded with 34 grains of black powder and a 115-grain bullet. A countless number of reports of this little gun's performance have been received from outdoor people who have dropped duck with precision and regularity with the shot loads at ranges up to 30 yards and the solid ball charge has been used with perfect success upon animals as large as black bear at ordinary shotgun ranges.
The summer camper and hunter is liable to stumble upon such animals most any day they are in bear country and when one can be prepared for this and all other sorts of emergencies by merely packing along a weapon that weighs but a trifle over two pounds and folds to a length of under 20 inches we can easily understand the popularity of the Game Getter. Of course, one would not employ this weapon to hunt black bear regularly, or for exclusive wild fowl shooting. Such was not the place it was intended to fill by the makers. But as shooting is generally of secondary importance with the summer sportsman, a gun being necessary only for protection or to furnish camp fare occasionally, it will be hard to pick a weapon capable of being equal to as many emergencies as the Game Getter. When not in use the stock of this arm folds up under the barrels and the weapon is carried in a holster swung from one's shoulder, where it is out of the way, yet available for instant use.
A very popular line of weapons for summer pastimes are the Stevens' Tip-up .22 caliber, single-shot pistols. No matter how light the fisherman or hunter figures down the weight of his outfit he can always find room and plenty of uses for one of these pistols, which come in barrel lengths of three and a half to 10 inches, weight from 10 to 22 ounces, and may be purchased for sums ranging from $2.50 up to $9.00. Stevens' .22 caliber barrels have -in enviable reputation for straight, hard shooting, and even the cheapest model with three and a half inch barrel, using the short shell only, is capable of fine, accurate work at close ranges. My personal choice of these pistols is the Target Off Hand Model, with eight-inch barrel and equipped with open rear sporting sight and bead front sight. Such a weapon will prove of value the season round and not only during the summer, for this caliber is probably the most popular for trapline use and a multitude of small and medium size fur-animal seekers depend upon the Stevens' pistol as their principal weapon. With reasonable care these weapons will last and wear a lifetime, the barrel only requiring occasional attention, the action being of unusual simplicity and strength.
A weapon that just recently became popular and which is going to prove of great value to the prospector and hunter is the small bore shotgun. The man who is hunting pearls, ginseng, frogs, bees, etc., usually prefers to get his game with speed and certainty and cares less for the sporting end of the matter and to such the small bore shotgun has special merits. Two popular guns of this class are the Harrington and Richardson and the Steven's, both with single barrel and coming in either .44 caliber or 410 gauge. The .44 caliber shoots the Game Getter round ball load, the .44 W. C. F. and .44 X. L. shot cartridges, a wide range of loads, which, used in the 26-inch barrel, develop considerable range and power. The 410 gauge gun uses paper shells, U. M. C. Nitro Club or Winchester Repeater brands loaded with smokeless powder and Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 shot. These calibers are especially valuable because of the ease with which the shooter may reload them, as he can prepare very cheap ammunition of any size shot, including buckshot and single ball he fancies. The reloading tools for either size are very reasonable in price and a pound of powder and shot will go a long ways. I have used the .44 caliber gun extensively this season in ridding my poultry yards of sparrows and pigeons and for quick, sure work it has the .22 caliber beaten a mile. Rabbits and squirrel are easily dropped by these guns and are in better shape for the table than if killed with a regular 12 gauge. These are very attractive guns, with 26-inch round, tapered barrels, three piece take-down system, walnut pistol grip stock and forearm, hard rubber butt-plate and weigh from four to 4 and a half pounds. The prices are very reasonable, being from $4.75 to $5.25 each, depending upon the style of ejector and the make. A gun of this type and a few dollars worth of powder, shot and primers would furnish more shooting than the average outdoor man would have either time or opportunity to fire in a season and he would have the added advantages of sure aim and light recoil. A light sling strap should be placed upon these weapons if intended for summer prospecting, as it solves effectively the problem of carrying a weapon with one's haw occupied with other things.
In case two people were going out upon 12 expedition together and desired a couple of weapons that would effectively cover ail classes of game of small and medium size I would recommend one of the above mentioned snu3 bore shotguns and a reliable .22 caliber repeater, both fitted with sling straps. The Martin model 1897 lever action rifle would make an ideal arc for this purpose and while it is not an extra light model by any means, it can give points to one of the extra late ones in reliability, durability and popularity among expert shots and old timers who get the game. A special feature that appeals to me is the removable side plate possessed by this model. I prefer to use the Lesmok cartridges with greased bullets as i believe better work can be done with such -2: ammunition and with less wear upon the rifle. This removable side plate enables one to clean the action of the weapon regularly and thoroughly and with little trouble. It does not take many hundred rounds of the greasy bullets to make the action sticky and hard to manipulate.
There are quite a few outdoor people whose occupation during the summer season takes them into localities whose conditions would warrant the presence of the .22 H. P. Savage. : wonderful little weapon which has established its complete mastery over all animals ranging in size up to and including small deer. One has to handle this beautiful little gun in order to appreciate its balance, power, general hang and lack of recoil. It is especially adapted to a canoe or boat trip where small game is war and keeps its distance, a fact of little worry to the .22 H. P., man for he knows his gun shoots hard enough to render unnecessary and raisin; of sights up to ranges of 350 yards. The Ideal Company are now making a fine gas-check bullet for the .22 H. P. which can be easily refolded and with so little expense to the shooter that he is warranted in using this weapon for even very small game. This bullet weighs 6c. grains and is loaded ahead of 17 grains of DuPont's Military No. 21, This does not give the extreme high velocity of the factory cartridges, which is 2800 feet per second, but it develops enough for all ordinary work and is decidedly easy upon the rifle barrel. This light-weigh: model is well adapted for rough work baring front sight base permanently fastened to the barrel, which is beautifully tapered and 20 inches long.
The stock is sturdy and strong, the action hammerless and identical with the regular Savage rifles which have stood the test of years of hard service in many countries. The barrels end at the muzzle is slightly concave, a feature that protects the extreme end of the rifling lands, a rifle's most sensitive spot, and is often marred and damaged by careless or rough handling, which results in an impairment in its accuracy.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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