Sorta back in the saddle

We’re home from Camp Freehold, but it’s going to be a (sort of) quiet week. While Mrs. Freeholder is out of town, The Freeholder is going to…

Hang out with his kids, and back permitting, do a few things around the homestead. What an exciting life I lead, eh?

For a change, it didn’t rain on us at Camp Freehold over the weekend. We made the requisite trip to the range, concentrating on long guns this time. Contestants for our attention were a Remington Sportsmaster 512 .22 rifle, a Ruger 10/22 with a 4x scope and a Marlin Camp Carbine in .45 ACP. In attendance were myself, Daughter, Son and Old Friend.

Our first contestant was the Remington. Let me give you a little history on this particular gun. Purchased in 1941 by my father, shortly before he joined the US Army, I learned to shoot on this gun. With a barrel about as long as your arm (I really ought to measure it some day), this gun is one of the most accurate .22 rifles I’ve ever shot. From a bag rest, with iron sights, using CCI Blazer ammo, we were all able to shoot groups of 15 at 100 yards that could be covered with a hand. A small hand, such as a child’s. This won’t impress the benchrest guys, but I think it’s pretty good.

The craftsmanship evidenced in this gun is really impressive. Outside of the fit and finish, I think the best indicator is the ejection of spent cartridges. They all land in a nice, neat little pile on the bench, where one can easily pick them up and toss them in the trash.

I came into possession of this gun as a gift from my father while he was in the hospital earlier this year. A lot of strangers were in and out of the house at that time, and he wanted to make sure all of his remaining firearms (most were lost in a breaking in the 70s) stayed in the family.

Our next contestant was the scoped Ruger 10/22. The scope is a moderately priced Simmons mounted with moderately priced Simmons rings. (You know–cheap.) After more or less zeroing it to 100 yards (I was in a hurry, so it was fire a shot, adjust, fire a shot, adjust) we put this little carbine through its paces, hitting pretty much whatever we desired at 100 yards using CCI Stingers. Fun for a few shots, but we needed a bit more challenge. So we tried 200 yards.

I think that if we had larger targets, so we could have found our holes, or it had been drier so that the dust puffs could have been used for spotting, we could have hit an 8″ bull. I was able to get 5 of 15 on a 16″ target, but that was about as good as any of us could manage.

The final contestant was the Marlin Camp Carbine. I acquired this little jewel about a year and a half ago at the Winston Salem, NC gun show. Best thing is that it was a serious buy ($315. Geek With a .45 got one a while back for the same price. I told him at the time that he’d beaten me, then when I looked it up I found out we had tied.) and in excellent condition. I replaced the incorrectly sized stock recoil spring with a Wolff Springs 16.5# and added a BlackJack Buffers recoil buffer. Since then, I’ve been shooting it from time to time. It’s quite easy to shoot a palm-sized 7 round group at 50 yards, and hitting a 10″ target at 100 yards isn’t too difficult–just use about 6-8″ of holdover.

At the end of the day, we decided we had a three-way tie on our hands, so we decided to have a shot-off next weekend.

On returning to The Freehold, I had a visit from a coworker who had asked me to help her value some guns from her brother’s estate. He had a small but decent group of guns, which were at some point neglected as his health declined. I was able to handle my first Winchester Model 100 (in .308 Winchester), which is a really nice gun. It’s well balanced and points well. It won’t win a beauty contest as far as I’m concerned, but it does have a certain something about it.

There was also a very nice Remington 1100 12 ga shotgun that will make someone an excellent hunting gun.

The real item of interest to me was an M1 Carbine. While this example was definitely not a collector’s gun, it was still in good condition and will make an excellent shooter. She made me a very attractive price on it for helping her out.

The sad part was the guns that had been neglected during her brother’s decline. While these guns aren’t so bad that they’re unsalvagable, it’s just so sad to see nice guns (nothing special, but still nice guns) with gummed up bores and rust on the outer surfaces. For me, this rates right up there with wasting food.

One particular gun in this group may yet find a home in my safe. It’s a Remington Model 17 shotgun. It’s obvious that this old guy has seen a lot of cool October mornings. Nearly all of the finish is gone and the stock is cracked. It isn’t worth much–you’ll see dozens of similar guns at a show for $75-100 in better shape.

But this gun speaks to me on some level that I don’t understand. Perhaps it’s the story that the gun tells, a story of a working man who plunked down his hard-earned and used this tool to put meat on the family table. Or maybe it was a well-off fellow who wanted to do a bit of wing shooting without spending too much money. Who knows what it is–the whisper in my ear is indistinct, but insistent. That gun wants to come live in my safe.

The last item of interest is a muzzle-loader of unknown manufacture and heritage. I have feelers out to see it I can find out anything about it–if I do, I’ll post about it. It’s apparently a .58 caliber, hand made and in bad shape. It’s whispering, too. I’m trying really hard not to hear it.

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