Guns I Should Never Have Bought
Dr. John Woods 08.05.19
When you get into gun collecting for hobby or sport, or just buy the odd firearm you thought was neat at the time, you are going to make mistakes. And boy have I made my share. It is not that any particular gun is bad, worthless, or bought for no real good purpose, but after dusting one off so many times, you may wonder why it was acquired to start with. But that is part of the fun of gun ownership. It is a fun hobby and can be a lifelong quest — good, bad, or ugly.
At the ripe old age of eight years old I started gun collecting whether I knew it at the time or not. Poring over the pages of gun magazines and hunting journals at the town barber shop, I eyed one particular ad in a Boy’s Life magazine. It was from Century Arms in Vermont if I remember correctly. It was for an 1891 Mauser rifle in 7mm Mauser. Somehow I mustered the $40 cash, got a postal money order, and sent off for the rifle. You could do that easily back in 1958.
The rifle came in a box by railroad, if you can believe that. When a postcard arrived giving notice of a package at the rail station, my mom’s eyebrows raised higher than usual. Indulging me, she carried me to the station to pick up the box. Actually I think both my mom and dad were shocked at my enterprising effort. Dad even got me an old green-and-red box of Remington ammo. We fired the rifle on New Year’s Eve. That’s how it all got started.
Sixty years later after much buying, selling, trading, and tough negotiating, there is no telling how many guns I have had pass through my “collection.” As I look at what is left now, I often wonder why I even bought some of them. Here are a few I should have passed on.
A well-worn 1886 Winchester spoke to me from a dealer’s table at a gun show. It was far from perfect, but serviceable. It was chambered for the 38-56, which I mistook for the 38-55. Without time to research it at the show, I bit. Upon later discovery, I found out there was no ammo available for the 38-56. At another show I was able to swap it to break even. Point being, be darn sure of what you’re buying before you lay down the green.
The Smith & Wesson 645 was perhaps the first 45 ACP semi-auto that Smith produced in stainless steel. It is a sort of handsome pistol, though bulky by today’s standards. It is a well-made functional pistol, but heavy and clunky. I’ll keep it, but its purpose has passed by ever since I fell in love with 1911s.
Then I had a love period with Winchester 1885s especially when Browning brought out a number of them years ago. I had one in 38-55 for a while for which ammo was available. I killed two deer with it, then somebody else wanted it more. The one I still have is in a quizzical cartridge, the 454 Casull. I was collecting 1885s, so the caliber was of less importance. Now I wonder what Browning/Winchester was thinking anyway.
When I first read an article on hunting bear or boar with the new 450 Marlin, it was like seeing Nicole Kidman for the first time on screen. I had to have one. The Marlin Model 1895 lever action is a beautiful beast of a rifle. I scoped it with a low-powered Leupold. The 450 Marlin turns out to be somewhat limited in use where neither bears nor boars wander the woods. Still, I should ply it in the swamp one season for a big buck. For sure it thumps on both ends.
And the gargantuan of all gargantuan revolvers, the Smith and Wesson 460 has mayhem written all over it. This huge handgun is beauty and beast. Built of stainless steel carrying a satin matte finish, this X-Frame Smith draws attention at the shooting range and deer camp like a magnet. It is topped in a special mount with a Bushnell 2×6 handgun scope.
It even has its own sling mount points at the muzzle and butt. With a Vero Vellini neoprene sling, it shoulders like an African elephant gun. In fact this handgun was built for African and Alaska hunting. The 460 ammo carries 260-300 grain bullets to 2250 fps out the muzzle with more than 2200 ft. lbs. of whack. The chamber will also handle 454 Casull and 45 Colt ammunition just as well. At my age it’s just too much gun for an old man… or is it?
22 LR H&K SMG?
Another impulse buy I made years ago was a 22 LR “war machine” called the AT-GSG. It looks forever like an HK sub gun, but it is semi-auto. With its black military-type design and finish complete with a fake screw-on muzzle suppressor, it has all the look of a James Bond custom shop job.
It came with several accessories like extended magazines, a collapsible stock, a fixed stock, a sling, a case, etc. It’s actually a great little fun plinker without much other practical value. These little rifles were obviously an HK knockoff. In fact HK sued AT-GSG for infringement. Never heard what happened. Today, it would likely be mistaken for a machine gun.
Should I Thin the Herd?
As gun collecting goes, many come and go. Maybe some of these should go — although some I have let go I wish I had back. That is the subject for another installment down the road. Regardless, gun collecting is a highly interesting hobby, one I highly recommend before we can’t any longer.