MODERATELY PRICED GUNS OF EXCEPTIONAL VALUE
By Maurice H. Decker.
IT is by no means absolutely necessary to pay a high price if one wishes to obtain a gun or rifle capable of giving long, continuous satisfactory service. I am sure there are many hunters and trappers who will be interested in hearing of a few moderately priced weapons which through personal use I have found to be of remarkable value for the prices at which they are sold. A number of shooters do not care to put more money in a gun than is necessary to obtain an arm which will do the work they demand, which is a very sensible attitude indeed, and to accomplish this it is essential to he posted on those weapons which fill this demand, especially when the fact is taken into consideration that firearms have advanced substantially in the past few years and are liable to go up still higher, as many of our American factories are working overtime on military rifles exclusively. Hence the reason of this article.
To begin with, one will have to look far and wide before he finds as serviceable and effective a high power rifle selling under $15 as the Winchester Model 1894 carbine. This model, the one that made the .30-30 famous, is one of the most popular manufactured by the Winchester company and is adapted to a series of very desirable and effective cartridges. This carbine is made for business from muzzle to butt plate and will stand more continuous hard usage than any other gun of its power I know of. Its square, flat top steel plated butt stock fits and sticks to the shoulder when firing rapid repeat shots better than either the regular rifle or shotgun butts and is as nearly unbreakable a stock as it is possible to produce. Two steel bands or rings join the barrel and magazine securely together and form effective prevention against damage resulting to either.
The front sight is set with a pin in a slotted square block brazed to the barrel, an arrangement which serves a double purpose. First it is impossible for the front sight to be knocked out of line to one side or the other, a thing that happens occasionally when handling a rifle in dense woods or in a boat and which might go unnoticed for some time, during which the shooter might make a number of unfortunate and deplorable misses. Second, the pin may be removed and a new sight which might suit the user better can be easily substituted and no additional targeting of the gun to see that the proper adjustment is obtained will be necessary. The rear sight upon this carbine is the Winchester Express type, with one notch and two leaves which may be raised or lowered at will. The notch is sighted for 50 yards and the leaves for 100 and 200 yards respectively. With the popular .30-30 and .32 Special calibers, which I would earnestly recommend, little adjustment of the sights will be necessary for the bulk of the shooting they will be used for. The trapper who is going into country containing game animals ranging in size up to and including deer will find this carbine a mighty useful little weapon and its size and six and a half pounds weight will be found very easy to pack over the trail. It is remarkable what the difference of even one and one-quarter pounds less in the weight of a rifle will make to the already overburdened trapper going a 10 or 12-mile rounds of traps. This carbine has a sling ring screwed to the left side of the receiver which will be found useful for a number of things, although it may be ordered left off entirely if you so desire when purchasing your gun. The ring can be snapped into a spring harness snap secured to one's belt or pack, where the gun may be conveniently carried in rough country which demands that both hands be left free, or may be used to fasten it to boat, canoe or saddle, safe from falling overboard or being lost.
The action of the Model i8g4 embodies two safety devices, either of which is sufficiently effective to prevent accidental or premature discharges. First the firing pin is in two pieces, one being in the breech bolt and the other in the locking lug and the primer cannot receive the blow from the hammer until both are in direct alignment, which happens only when the breech is completely closed and locked. Second, there is a small safety lock which secures both hammer and trigger and is only released when the hand lever is brought up against the under tang. A brief study of the cuts of this carbine in the factory catalogue will readily convince you that it possesses a light, strong action of positive manipulation of both the fired and loaded shells and that in its entire personnel the one idea of building a business gun has been paramount with the makers. The 20-inch barrel is just long enough to furnish sufficient power and accuracy for average hunting conditions and to make this carbine a very fast handling weapon for canoe, horseback or rough country shooting. When the action has became smooth from use an 1 the tension of the mainspring eased to the point when hammer hits a blow just hard enough to prevent misfires, this gun can be fired from the shoulder with a very fair speed, in fact as fast as the shooter can recover from the moderate recoil and take fresh aim at his target.
As far as reliability, durability and popularity go, the .30-30 and .32 Special Model 1894 carbines take a back seat for no gun. A good friend of mine spent a winter several years ago in the States of Colorado and New Mexico and not caring to invest much money in a rifle for the few weeks' shooting he would do, went down to a gun store in Denver and picked out a .30-30 carbine in second-hand condition. When the dealer asked him $12.50 for the weapon, nearly as much as a new gun sells for, he expressed a little surprise at this slight difference in cost. The man told him, however, that he had no trouble at all in getting this sum for these carbines as long as their inside condition appeared good enough to warrant accuracy, as they were the most popular and reliable guns he handled. My friend bought the carbine and after several months' hard service he disposed of it in New Mexico to another dealer who paid him $10 and said he was always in the market for that kind of a firearm.
When I start out hunting I do not want either an expensive or a brand new rifle to carry. Give me a moderately priced, reliable weapon, or one from which the finish is so far gone that I will feel free to throw it down at night un-cleaned after a hard day's tramp after game. The gun that I have ever gotten the most value out ot" in proportion to its cost was a .22 Savage Model 1904. Its low cost encourages a shooter to carry and use it without compunction at times and in places when a higher priced firearm would be guarded jealously at home in its case. This is one of the best little guns for the trap line or general small game shooting that can be purchased for under $5.00 and is one that will keep right on doing its work with most any amount of abuse and neglect. I carried one of these rifles for a number of years on trips when I wanted to do a little shooting now and then and did not care to pack around any more weight than was absolutely necessary. I fitted 1 sling strap to it made of a three-quarter-inch strip of rawhide and when it was slung over my shoulder its three pounds weight was scarcely noticeable.
This model handles the .22 short, long and long rifle cartridges without any change or adjustment and it will be found capable of doing a good variety of light shooting along the trap line, or foruse as a side arm on a fishing or big game trip. Its action, patterned after the bolt action military rifles, is as reliable as any ever placed on a low priced gun and handles the .22 shell with precision and accuracy. It is particularly sure in its ejection of the fired cartridge, something to be desired in a small caliber single shot rifle, and a little practice in reloading will enable one to fire it with surprising rapidity. I used to go out with an old trapper who used one oi these little rifles exclusively and who would always put a small handful of shells into his mouth when a rabbit or squirrel was sighted.
He said he could always get them "handier from his mouth than his pocket" and he could certainly work his gun at a fast clip when he got started.
The light weight and short total length of this little gun will insure its being taken along when any other would be left, and, as you know full well, it is always when you have no weapon that the best chances for good shots are encountered. For all its lightness, this model possesses sufficient metal in its barrel to insure accuracy, and wood in the stock to make it well proportioned and shoulder-fitting. The shotgun butt with its steel plate is wisely adapted to withstanding the many hard knocks a small light rifle receives in rough country, or in careless hands.
A good double barrel shotgun will always be found useful by the hunter and trapper and I believe no greater value can be obtained for the money the world over than that represented by the Ithaca field gun, which may be purchased for $19.50. The makers state in their catalogue that "this is the cheapest high-grade guaranteed gun in the world," a remark as fitting and appropriate as it is possible to formulate. For close, hard shooting and ability to withstand heavy loading and hard knocks this gun will satisfy the most exacting shooter, as well as any costing five to ten times as much. This gun was the first double-barrel I ever owned and in spite of the years of hard usage I gave it and the fact that it was second-hand when acquired, it never showed the slightest indication of shooting loose at the breech.
After trying out a variety of loads in this gun I finally found that it would do the best work when handling a load of three and a half drams of black powder and one and an eighth ounces of No. 4 chilled shot. It is strange but true that individual guns will often be found to give better results with one certain load, shooting farther and killing more cleanly than when others are used and when the shooter discovers this particular one he should stick to it closely. The best shot I ever made with my Ithaca was a clean killing of two ducks at a distance of 71 yards, the credit of which I have always given the gun and not myself. I was trapping on a small stream with a companion and one day while going the rounds in our boat a sudden turn of the river brought us in sight of five ducks paddling down ahead of us. My companion, who sat ahead, caught up his gun, a single with a long range 40-inch barrel, and blazed away at them. The shot from his weapon merely kicked up little splashes of water behind the birds, which left the water an instant later. Yelling to me to cut loose, he dropped over flat for me to shoot over him. I "cut loose" and my first shot dropped two just as they cleared the stream's surface, as clean a couple of kills as I had ever even dreamed of making. To settle the matter of the distance of this shot we both left the boat and after some careful computation, using the boat's length as our guide we agreed that it was a matter of a good 71 yards.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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