Guns: Buy, Rent Or Lease?


Whether shelling out a stack of Benjamins or running your plastic card through the scanner as many of us have done over the years, it begs to ask this question. Are we actually buying, renting or leasing this latest addition to our battery? The question was brought home recently during my latest acquisition.

Sneaky Shooters

Anymore, I have no idea what my next gun will be, or when I’ll be taking possession of it. It just happens. You know how it goes. We’re just minding our own business when out of the blue — BAM! It hits us between the eyes! Our hearts start palpitating while our salivary glands go into overdrive when the very gun we never knew existed a few minutes ago makes us feel like we can’t live another moment without it.

Just one of the racks in Bobby Tyler’s walk-in vault.

Taken In Texas

It happens that fast. Let me tell you about my latest affliction. I was down in Friona, Texas visiting with Bobby Tyler of Tyler Gun Works. I was on assignment, gathering photos and information to share a story with you all about his successful business. Most of you have heard of him, as he’s made quite the name for himself, and rightfully so. My plan was to get the inside scoop on Bobby and his family, showing you how hard work and dedication is the key to their success.

Bobby sweetened the visit by inviting me down during the coinciding antelope opener. He told me not to worry about flying with any guns, as he had plenty there to do the job. I should have taken that statement as a clue. The trip was sounding more interesting by the minute.

Arriving Thursday afternoon, Bobby met me at the Amarillo airport. After a nice Mexican meal with his family, I checked into my room. Friday morning, it was breakfast at the Tyler household and off to his large shop for a tour. He then left me in his walk-in vault to look over his expansive inventory while he worked. I spent hours in the vault, looking, pawing, fingering, holding guns spanning from over a hundred-plus years to recent vintage.

Bobby has it all! Lever guns, single shots, bolt guns, semi-autos, revolvers, pistols, muzzle loaders and any other gun. I photographed several hang tags on the guns piquing my interest, but I would later find out it was all for naught.

Some History

Initially, Bobby had the idea I would use a special gun for the hunt chambered in .45-70. It was from John Purcell’s estate — a man Bobby and I knew well. He was a fellow shootist, retired Arkansas State Trooper, and master storyteller. Most stories started with “These ol’ boys…” leading into a great story as a trooper.

His Wranglers were always ironed with knife-edge creases, as well as his pearl snap western shirts he always wore and telltale cowboy boots. You know the look. Lean, he looked like a model for any western catalog with his ever-present Stetson cowboy hat.

The gun in question was John’s vintage 1905 Model 1886 .45-70, with Williams peep sight mounted on it. Bobby had a sack of handloads from fellow shootist Jeff Quinn’s estate from a few years back. They were loaded by a commercial outfit and consisted of 405 grain soft points over 55.5 grains of 2230 powder ignited by a large Winchester rifle primer. Velocity was just under 2,000 FPS.

At the range, the ammo grouped well and hit point of aim out to 150 yards. I figured they would, knowing my old friend’s rifle would be ready and raring to go, given his excruciating attention to details. The hunt was a splendid success with the old rifle and I’ll write about it in another article. Besides Bobby, Jason Cloessner and his son Evan were there too. We all had the pleasure of watching Evan whack a beautiful goat earlier.

Tank holding “his” rifle, if only temporarily, after the deal has been made.

Confession Time

Already drooling after handling the 1886, now I really wanted it, after “blooding it.” Bobby said he was going to keep it for his collection. Anguishing for a few days, I was trying to figure out how to about approach Bobby about him selling me the gun without offending him. When I finally did ask, Bobby was very gracious when I asked him if he’d consider selling it. What he said was the basis for this article. He said, “Tank, sure I would. I figure I’ll be getting it back in 20-30 years and it will mean even more to me, then.”

Laughing, we both knew this is exactly how it will play out. We’ve both lost several mutual friends of late, and it just reinforced his statement. This leads us to the original question, do we buy, rent or lease our guns when we exchange our hard-earned money for them? None of us are getting out of here alive. We are merely keepers of our treasures until they are passed on to the next.

But this is all well and good. Look at the fun we’ll have when they’re in our possession. And to a lesser degree, knowing part of our spirit will live on as the next caretaker talks about “our old gun” and the stories passed along with it.

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