Second Quote of the Day

I doubt I will ever buy a Purdey but I have always shot beautiful guns, as good as I could wrangle. I have never hesitated to buy fine guns, good books or for that matter art or even good custom shirts. This thoughtful unsigned post from the excellent Mannlicher Schoenauer rifle site gets to the reasons why a poor man might. Read it all of course.

“So we enter the realm of the intangible, the not clearly defined area where a superbly made tool, or similar utilitarian object, approaches, possibly even becomes, a work of art. And I submit that any sensitive person with a genuine appreciation for materials, for craftsmanship and for beauty of line must admit that a high grade double barreled shotgun is a far more honest “work of art” than is most of the welded junk and smeared canvases regularly displayed with insulting seriousness by Guggenheim! Although they have not seen fit to actually display a Purdey, or the locks of a Westley-Richards, the Museum of Modern Art has shown its appreciation for this high level of functional design and craftsmanship by displaying such sporting items as a Bugatti and a Randall hunting knife. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a permanent display of truly magnificent firearms of all types—including a fine modern double as well as that incredible double-barreled flintlock shotgun made for Napoleon by Nicolas Boutet… it has been my experience that most people, even non-shooters, immediately do react to both the beauty and workmanship of these guns as well as to their balance—but shake their heads in disbelief, or profess to be horrified, that anyone would be willing to pay the price guns of this quality cost… Even enthusiastic and experienced shooters usually feel that there is something verging upon the immoral about shelling out $2,500.00 to $5,000.00 dollars for a gun—something akin to taking up with a fancy lady and leaving the family behind…

(Snip) “It is downright appalling to find men who really do enjoy hunting hesitate to replace a beatup, ugly, badly balanced piece of junk, which was trash when they bought it for a few dollars only 10 years ago, with even a moderately priced, medium grade gun costing $2,500.00-$3,500.00, which they can very well afford. The thought of getting something in the $4,000.00-$5,000.00 range… never enters their minds, even though they never seem to hesitate… when buying a new family station wagon that is going to be resting on a junk heap in 8 to 10 years, even though it did cost anywhere from $25,000.00 to $75,000.00…Why is it perfectly respectable, and even approved by society as well as one’s bank, to go repeatedly into hock for many thousands of dollars for transportation which is subject to fantastically rapid obsolescence and depreciation, but irrational and irresponsible for a man to only once invest an almost similar sum in an object which can be used for a lifetime, without continued and expensive repairs, and be virtually guaranteed to be worth as much, if not more, after 30 or even 50 years!”

What he said. Apropos of which: if anyone has a Mannlicher-Schoenauer 1903 or 1950 carbine in either 6.5 X 54 or .257 Roberts, priced reasonably, for sale, I am looking. My condition these days demands light and smooth and low recoil; my standards demand some esthetics; my imagination thinks: Bell, Baroness Blixen, the Hemingways, Sheldon in the Arctic…

Yes, my common sense says (in Betsy Huntington’s slightly sardonic drawl): “those people had more money than God“, but I can dream, sell, barter…

Gun News

New grips from Herrett’s for my odd (unique?) but useful little S & W .22. I have put Herrett stocks on all my DA revolvers for years– I recommend them without reservation.

The other? Well, I have cut my “collection” radically to what I can really use. But– well, here is what i wrote to my friend Daniel in California who might possibly also be addicted to Good Stuff:

“I did something– not DUMB, but faintly embarrassing– I somewhat impulsively acquired– NOT “bought”, my excuse– another shotgun-!

“What happened: I had a large amount of non- cash credit at Ron’s from getting rid of my “collection”, too much to get back in cash by far. It wasn’t burning a hole in my pocket, but as Lib helpfully reminded me its cash value was shrinking.

“I was reading over a lot of vintage stuff for the project. Deep in Elmer Keith I casually remarked:”You know, if I could find a classic US double in 16/ 28′, say 6 1/2 or almost 7 pounds– a “Keith- Askins” rather than a 26″ “O’Connor”– it would be cool to get it for sit- down dove and the rare duck– at least if we didn’t have to pay– maybe even open it up for steel– barrels would be thick…” Just musing. Dear enabling Lib said, “well, if Ron got one in”. Still fantasizing I said, “Parkers and Foxes are too expensive, LC’s too iffy, Lefevers too old. Now IF he ever got a 16 Ithaca NID…”

“Understand, though I was looking at photos in Elmer’s ’49 (?) book I hadn’t seen one in a decade…

“SO I walk in last Sat on our way to SF and there is, of course, a plain Field Grade NID 16 with 28” barrels.

“It was (not badly) refinished which cut price but not offensive to me. All functional, good trigger pulls, safety built up to use with gloves and NON auto– both pluses. It is a “57 Chevy” (actually made in 1936) to [any car geeks out there?] the Manufrance’s Citroen “Traction Avant” or the Sidley’s– ??– MG TC, but that is OK. It CRIES for a vintage Chevy- esque red rubber recoil “Ithaca sunburst” recoil pad which I have already ordered. It weighs the desired six and a half, has a pistol grip, and is SCARILY tightly choked as it is marked and EK liked– some must come out or I will pulverize anything under 40 yards!

“No excuse at all for more unless I lose one of these– unlikely!”

Daniel kindly reassured me:

“Incredible story about the Ithaca 16 – no mere coincidence that, or addict’s relapse, “someone” was looking out for you (although I did like the description “dear enabling Lib”). Thank goodness I don’t have a place like Ron’s to pass by on my way into the city…”

Any rate, here it is:

On deck: dog pix (mine and relatives); River Monsters; a preview of new Tom Russell stuff, an interview with Lauren, and probably more, bigger, better & worse…