A Single Shot Syndrome

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A retro, Garcia Bronco “twist-barrel” single shot .22 was a $25 score for Roy.

I find, as I season a bit, the more complicated gun “systems” are becoming less and less appealing. Not because they aren’t good, or fun or fancy, or more efficient, or more accurate, or more of anything. It’s just, well … it’s like getting a new digital watch — and then seeing that 40-page instruction manual in the box with it. Hence my circa-1919 Elgin pocket watch. It goes tick-tock, I wind it, and when I look at it I can see what time it’s become. Easy.

The problem is my brain is already full and I’m out of random access memory. I need to purge something in the grey matter these days before I can fit in new “how-to” stuff. Know the feeling? A good head shake seems to knock some of that 50-year-old data clear (“… cylinder head bolt torque for a 1930 Packard 8 is 63 ft.-lbs., repeated after 20 minutes of running, then again 100 miles later …”). I’m full of it, as my wife says. Been there?

A natural progression leads us to what often happens here these days. I saw something on a gun-room shelf I had forgotten I had and picked it up. It was the neat little Stevens Junior .22 rifle in the picture, and as I thumbed the tiny falling block down I wondered why I hadn’t fired it in years.

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A BSA (top), Hamilton Rifle No. 51 and a classic Stevens Junior are great Plinking fun.

The Adventure Starts

Which led me to finding other dusty treasures. The elegant Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) single shot .22 fell to hand, followed swiftly by a tiny Hamilton Rifle No. 51 (a bolt action single shot .22). I started digging more as this trend began to make sense suddenly. A memory flitted behind my eyes and yes, there it was, a beautifully made Anschutz single shot in, of all things, 9mm rimfire shotshell (smooth bore and all!). See the trend?

There was my Hopkins & Allen falling block .22, Remington Model 514 .22 LR (my first gun ever!), a Savage “Favorite” .22 falling block and yes, there it was, the odd Garcia Bronco skeleton-stocked survival/trail rifle I had scrounged at Brandon’s Gun Trading Company. “Hey Roy, it’s just like you like ’em, broken, with a crappy bore,” said Brandon. I bought it, of course.

As I stood among all this single-shot fun, I remembered just what my new “favorite” rifle was these days. Perhaps all this wasn’t so strange after all. Of all things, a single shot Uberti copy of a Browning Low Wall rifle — in .32-20 no less — had followed me home not long ago. I’d been lusting after a “Rook” rifle for some time but got priced-out. A rook rifle is a small bore single shot from England from the turn of the century, made for small game, especially black birds, commonly called rooks. They made meat pie out of them. Hence the old song, “Four and twenty black birds, baked into a pie” from our youth. Well, at least from my youth.

It seems this single shot syndrome of mine had been manifesting itself with a slowly increasing collection of medicinal, single cartridge applicators. Toss in my two Savage O/U teasers, technically single shots in my opinion — a very old Model 24 (.22 LR/20 gauge) and a recent addition, their brand-clean-new synthetic-stocked .22 Mag./.410 (both take-down models) — and I clearly saw I had a full-force infestation going on.

“Knocabout” top, Hawes and Stevens (all .22 LR) make for great, affordable shooting fun.

An unusual Anschutz pre-war single shot 9mm rimfire shotshell rifle (top) is great fun. The Savage (modern) .22 Mag/.410 (middle) and vintage 24C (.22 LR/20 gauge) are both working guns around Roy’s property.

But Wait, There’s More

I recalled my Sheridan “Knocabout” (the “c” is how they spelled it), found at a garage sale for $20. It’s a single shot, break open .22 LR made of stamped steel, looking very much like an air pistol, but it’s a real gun, indeed. I had to make a firing pin for it, but it works just fine. I also dug out my Stevens break-open .22 antique (a Model 35 I think), and the Hawes clone of one. I use ’em both with .22 LR CCI shot for wasp hunting. But that’s another story.

All of these fun, extremely affordable guns offer simple function and easy to shoot manners. Being single shots they force you to slow down, relax, enjoy the history you’re holding in your hands (with the oldies), the safety and convenience of simple, stone-dead reliable operation and the fact you can shoot for hours and hours and hardly spend any money on ammo. Even the real old timers are plenty accurate enough to keep targets spinning and small game ducking.

Be smart and use standard velocity ammo in the really old ones. I usually even stay away from .22 LR ammo and shoot shorts or even CB caps, or that wonderful Aguila Colibri .22 ammo (no powder, just the primer). It’s sorta’ like the old fashioned Flobert parlor rounds.

I’ll wager you can walk into any stocking gun store right this minute and walk out with a nice, used single shot .22 for well under $200 — often chasing $100 or so. Off-brands just make it more fun, and if you find yourself saying “What the heck … .?” as you’re handed some interesting .22, all the better.

The scary thing is I know I have more hiding around here. I just need to find them. I predict more on this topic later. Thanks for indulging me. Now if you don’t have one, go find your own. No, really, go do it now.

Happy Trails Foundation

We’re shameless supporters of this great outfit. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lent their hand and name years ago and today, this organization benefiting abused children still relies on the good name of these two sterling Americans to help keep the organization going. This amazing two-gun set of consecutive serial numbered and engraved Colt Single Actions, along with the Legends In Leather rig favored by Roy, is being raffled off, with all proceeds going to the Happy Trails Foundation. Tickets are $10 each or 11 for $100 and can be bought by calling (855) 788-4440, going to their website at www.happytrails.org or writing to Happy Trails Children’s Foundation, SSL XIX, 10755 Apple Valley Rd., Apple Valley, CA 92308. The drawing is December 17 and there’s no need to be present to win. This is the only known children’s charity actively supporting the Second Amendment and shooters rights and is consequently supported by the shooting industry and shooters everywhere. I appreciate you helping them out if you can.