Old Gun Love

65

A Ruger Super Blackhawk from the early ’70s counts as an oldie, but goody.

Interesting things start happening after completing our 50th ride around the sun, especially among hardcore gunmen and women. Rather than pursuing the newer, latest greatest releases, we tend to gravitate toward the used gun racks of our local shops, where the older guns reside. Golden treasures of times past, freed from the confines of safes, closets, attics, or under the beds of their previous owners, are here for the taking.

Everywhere across America long-forgotten relics are stumbled upon by surviving family members, while cleaning up the possessions of a departed family member. “Wow, I never knew dad had so many guns,” are words commonly heard in these situations.

An S&W model 28 made the year Tank was born certainly counts as old.

Why?

Why are these older guns more enticing to us, as we get older ourselves? I can’t speak for everyone, but I do have my own reasons why I appreciate these older relics. Older guns from a certain time provide the perfect median for time travel. Holding, feeling, aiming, and in some instances, shooting these guns let us experience what our heroes, or beloved family members experienced long ago.

How cool is it to be able to hunt with great grandpa’s old deer rifle, or beloved side-by-side shotgun with Damascus barrels? How about shooting an elk, or wildebeest with a Winchester 1895 like Teddy Roosevelt did over a hundred years ago? These are the magical moments we strive to repeat when we are seasoned enough to appreciate these special experiences. Not to be wasted on youth, these fine moments are for those wise enough to savor each instance spent afield with such arms.

A Ruger flat top Blackhawk in .44 magnum from the ’60s is a cherished shooter.

Hand Fitting and Finishing

Pick up an early 19th Century firearm and it’s obvious. The fit and finish are perfect! During the time these guns were made, skill and elbow grease were the recipe for the quality of these guns — and it showed! When perfectly polished, bluing is deeper, darker and more beautiful than someone using a buffing wheel to “good enough” status. Workers took pride in their trade back then, and it showed. Compare the factory finishes of today, to yesteryear, there’s no comparison.

A gun once belonging to the late Terry Murbach, a ’50s era
model 14, is extremely special to Tank.

Garbage Free

These older relics are free from warning labels and silly safeties. People were responsible for their actions during the good ol’ days. There were no frivolous lawsuits. The only markings on firearms were the brand name, model and caliber. There was no billboard warning stating the obvious. Oh, how I cherish those days and these fine old guns remind us of the times when things were more right with the world.

Cool Counts

Owning vintage guns has a coolness factor that doesn’t need explaining. Whenever unzipping that vintage shooter, you see the envy in the eyes of your friends. By explaining pertinent historical events and finishing it with, “and he did it with a gun just like this one….” is mesmerizing to your audience. Hearing history is one thing, but seeing, feeling, holding, or perhaps shooting a part of history is unforgettable.

Here’s a gun Bobby Tyler worked over that belonged to a friend of Tank’s.
While not necessarily that old, it is a special gun indeed.

Memorial Guns

This last category is perhaps the most bittersweet of reasons we have for owning a cool, old gun. The gun is either passed down to you, or you’ve bought it from the estate, or it was simply given to you, because someone close has died. You’d do anything to bring the loved one back, but we can’t. When we end up with a gun in this situation, it obviously means more to us.

We feel a real connection to the person through the gun. It’s the last real thing of theirs we can hold, something that still has their DNA ingrained in it. It may sound silly, but gun people know this feeling all too well. Like a double-edged sword, it cuts both ways.

Lastly …

Owning an old gun lets us partake in history. We get to experience what common men felt by shooting, hunting, or just holding the arms they used. The older we get, the wiser we become, hopefully. We’re mature enough to understand just how special these older guns really are. While I’ll never turn my nose up at a new gun, the older ones sure are a lot more interesting to me …

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