Honoring Older Model Firearms
Kevin Felts 08.24.17
A few days ago I walked into a local gun store with the hopes putting a rifle on layaway. The place had all kinds of new and used firearms; everything from an AK-47 to a single shot shotgun were on display.
There was a certain rifle I was looking for, and that was an older lever action 30-30. I wanted something with some character.
In 2007 Remington bought Marlin. In turn, Freedom Group owns Remington. It seems over the past few years Remington quality has slipped. There have been numerous complaints about current Marlin lever action rifles. Then there are issues with the Remington RP9 handgun and the recall on the Remington model 700 trigger. Even my personal Remington 1911 R1 has some issues. Since there is so much drama with Freedom Group quality, so I decided to avoid them.
While looking through the selection of lever action rifles, there was one that stood out. It was an older Marlin 336 chambered in 30-30 Winchester. The stock had that “old” look to it. After aging for a few decades, wood looses its luster. The wood no longer shines and turns a dull color.
The store owner was called over and permission was asked to see the rifle. Even though there were new rifles on display, there is something about those older model firearms. The person who made it, were they a craftsman who knew every part, or, where they somebody pulled off the street and given five minutes of training? My bet, they were a skilled craftsman.
Every part of the older model 30-30 fit perfectly. The pins were stiff and did not move when pressed. The action was smooth, super smooth, and the trigger was superb. The rifle was not dry fired. It was cocked, the hammer held with my thumb, the trigger pulled and the hammer slowly lowered.
The rifle was put on layaway and I should have it out within a month.
The serial number puts the date of manufacture at 1976. I was eight years old when the rifle was made.
- 1976 was when Jimmy Carter was elected president; January 1977 he was sworn in.
- 1976 was a leap year.
- The Declaration of Independence had been signed 200 years earlier.
It saddens my heart to see those older firearms sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Someone put time and effort into making them. Someone bought the rifle new and probably took it hunting. Imagine the stories the rifle could tell if it could talk. Did a young person use it to take their first deer? Maybe a grandfather took his granddaughter hunting with it?
On a personal note, in my collection is a single shot shotgun that belonged to my great grandmother. The story goes, when my great great grandparents gave it to her, she engraved her name and date in the stock, 2-5-35. This was ten years after the sawmill industry here in southeast Texas collapsed and the Great Depression was just starting. In 1935, my grandfather was seven years old and I would not be born for another 33 years.
I often wonder how many rabbits and squirrels that shotgun put on the table.