Rebuilding a gun collection (decisions, decisions)


November 13, 2010, 10:44 AM
Long story short, both my wife and I spent much of this year unemployed. She was out of work for 7 months, and I was out of work for 9. To avoid starvation and bankruptcy, I had to sell much of my modest gun collection (along with some other cherished items).

We both have jobs again, but they don't pay nearly as much as we were making a year ago. I estimate that if I really scrimp and save, I might be able to afford one quality firearm (or two cheapies).

This presents a dilemma because I have a lot of niches to refill.

In home defense is set in the form of my Nova tactical. I also refused to relinquish my Marlin 1894 in .357 since it's just such a fun gun to shoot.

I have an old 20 ga 870 that has accounted for countless small game, but my wife also hunts and having one upland game gun between us presents a logistical issue.

I don't feel equipped for all deer hunting situations. I now live in eastern Maine where the terrain can be thick, making for close range hunting (in which case the nova loaded up with slugs or my 1894 will be fine) but sometimes there are cuttings that make a 200-300 yard shot a possibility. The possibility of drawing a moose tag also exists.

I desperately miss my GP-100 (it was the older style with the rosewood grips:() but I'm going to put handgun replacement low on the priority list for now.

Complicating matters further is my penchant for what I call the coolness factor. If I was a practical sort of guy, I would just buy some kind of bolt action rifle in 30-06 and put decent glass on it. I admit it's a major personality flaw, but I know I would never be happy with such a meat and potatoes setup. A practical, accurate rifle chambered in a widely available round? Never!!:D

I do feel the allure of an AR of some kind, of course chambered in something unusual. But I also have an undying love for lever action rifles and carbines (I'd love to have something in 44-40, for reasons I cannot explain).

I also tried duck and goose hunting for the first time last fall, so a nice 12 ga auto would be a welcome addition to the safe. That being said, who wants to tote a heavy, 28" bbl auto through the thick grouse and woodcock woods? Several double guns at the local shop are calling to me as we speak.

If only all of life's dilemmas were of this nature:D

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November 13, 2010, 12:29 PM

Obviously, there are many, many, different directions you can go. And, just as obviously, since it's your money you get to spend it however you choose to do so. That being said, here's my take on your situation given that you did not put a budget figure out there.

Keep momma happy, this is always a winning strategy. Therefore a second upland bird gun, probably a 12 gauge, is the first priority. But, considering your monetary constraints, is another barrel an option for the Nova? I'm not terribly familiar with that gun. If not, another good used 870 could easily fill the bill, no?

Then, to address the glaring hole I see. You should have a bolt action .22 rimfire rifle. If it's strictly "on the cheap", the best option is probably a Savage MKII. If I were buying, it'd be used and most assuredly without the accutrigger. But, if the money's there, find a CZ452 and don't look back. That'll be a gun you'll never want to get rid of. I've owned/have both and am speaking from a direct comparison experience. I also have had experience with a whole bunch of different .22 rimfire rifles, over a fair number of decades. Since I've got no horse in this race, IMHO you're getting the benefit of experience with minimum bias.


November 13, 2010, 12:54 PM
Jason - I feel your pain. In the last two years I've been unemployed almost 20 months. Just got hired for a full time job this week.

FWIW, I'd bite the bullet (yes, pun intended :rolleyes:) and get a moderately priced rifle in a "common" caliber; 308, 30-06, 300 Win come to mind. After you two get on your feet financially, you can look to trade/upgrade your gun. A second barrel for the Nova sounds like a good idea - I've switched barrels on my Mossy 500 (18" HD and 24" multi choke) for quite a while before I had to sell it.

November 13, 2010, 01:06 PM
I feel you pain too, as I've been out of work since April and had to sell the majority of my collection also. When I start back to work, my first purchases are going to be a Marlin model 60 and a .357 revolver. Those are two things I feel that everyone should have.

November 13, 2010, 01:32 PM
Jason - Is CCW or having a handgun for "woods" use, hiking, etc low on your list of needs? I can understand that it could be for some but I'd always want a defensive handgun around. If I had to start with just one gun but had some shooting experience already I'd go with a reliable centerfire in .38/.357 or 9mm first, then a .22 rifle, then a centerfire rifle.
For shotguns, you might look around for a used NEF single barrel. I picked one up for $60 a few years back and it works fine. I really like them for general utility gun use eventhough for my uses a shotgun is not "essential".
Do you like military style rifles? I do. They're proven, durable, and lots of times they're not too expensive. Russian Mosin Nagants in great shape can be had for about $85 to your door if you get a C&R license, maybe a little over a hundred if you buy one at a gun store or show. Mausers and Enfields are a little more expensive but Enfields are very cool, quick shooting rifles and Mausers probably have the most commonly available ammo. I currently don't have any milsurps (let my C&R expire a couple years ago) but want to rectify that shortly - and Mosin ammo is still comparatively cheap.

November 13, 2010, 04:44 PM
My heart goes out to everyone out of work right now. It's brutal out there and I consider it a miracle that I finally found work.

I forgot to mention that I do still have a .22 rifle.

Another barrel for the Nova would be an option, but they are VERY expensive. Apparently, when it comes to Novas, all the money is in the barrel. You may as well buy a new gun :eek:.

If all goes well (and that's a pretty big if) I estimate that I'll have between $1200 to $1500 to put toward firearms by May. Of course, with Murphy's law and all, that sum could be much lower. I notice that vehicles tend to break just prior to the major purchase of something fun.

November 13, 2010, 06:50 PM
Maine, huh? Okay. I think you need to look at your hunting needs first. You have a 870 20 ga. You may want another pump shotgun so you both can hunt small game.

You can use the Marlin 1894 for deer hunting until you decide on another rifle later. The Marlin should work very well for your application. Then I would look at a traditional deer hunting rifle which you can use for black bear hunting as well. Lots of Black Bears in Maine. You have moose as well. Not so many deer or there didn't use to be. Get a multi-purpose hunting rifle in the caliber of your choice.

Next, I would replace your beloved Ruger GP-100. I'd hit gun shows and local dealers and find one slightly used.

November 13, 2010, 07:25 PM
one thing to remember a gun is an investment that pays off. if you plan on rebuilding your guns then i would go for quality. hopefully you would never have to get into a situation where you needed the money. However if you did you know that you could get some cash for your guns so that you can survive

November 13, 2010, 09:00 PM
I have been unemployed several times for 6 to 9 months or more. I know how it feels. My wife is currently part-time and has been trying for full time jobs for some time now. Whenever I have run into financial problems, the value of guns meant very little. If I could have sold them in a week, it might have made a difference for a month. But selling over a long period of time would do nothing for my finances. I seldom need a few hundred; I need thousands to make any difference. Hence, guns don't count. They are not liquid and seldom an investment unless making the same money back or typically a lot less after trying to sell for weeks or months classifies them as an investment. But it might make my wife feel better. I mean that litterally.

Added: Jason, I hope selling some of your firearms actually made a difference. It is hard for me to just sell something that I really like. My wife has little problem however and to her, a few hundred is more than she had before she sold the item. Yes, that attitude has certainly bugged me from time to time. She once pawned the engagement ring I gave her.... after I found out, it cost me more than I paid for it in the first place to get it back.

November 13, 2010, 10:52 PM
If it were me, I'd get a pump shotgun preferably used with a 3-3.5" chamber. Probably an 870, a BPS, or a 500. You don't really need an auto for geese, they help mitigate the recoil a bit, but aren't absolutely necessary and cycle almost as fast. They are a better compromise for upland game hunting. The pump can be the back up when you get the auto for geese, the double for upland game, etc. I started with an 870 and added a Citori.

For the rifle I'd get a used or value priced bolt gun in .308 or 30-06. Marlin XL or XS-7, Stevens 200, ADL, etc. Put a good fixed 4X or 3-9X on it. This will be the back up for big game once you get your 308 Norma, 44-40, or whatever oddball chambering is turning your crank at the time. I built my big game rifle collection around the 30-06, and added .243, 25-06, .257 Weatherby, 30-30, and .35 Rem. to cover any real or perceived shortcomings of the 30-06. That gives you a solid base to build your collection around. If you don't get the collection built beyond those 2 anytime soon, you're covered as well. (except for a .223 for varmints and such).

November 14, 2010, 10:20 AM
I might go with an H&R slug gun for longer range work. I've read good things about them and I'm pretty heavily invested in slug casting and reloading. I can make up some practice loads for pretty cheap and use the new premium ballistic tip stuff if I ever need to hunt a clear cut. Granted, 200 yards will probably be the absolute maximum, but the more I think about my shooting goes to pot pretty fast beyond 100 yards with any firearm.

I've read a lot of good things about the Ultra slug hunter, and the price is hard to beat. An additional plus is that it could be used to hunt near where my inlaws live in southern Maine. A lot of deer, but it's a shotgun only zone.

November 14, 2010, 11:11 AM
How about a Mosin Nagant for deer/moose/bear? At $125 and cheap ammo (, this would free up the rest of your gun savings to buy a used 870 12 gauge. Or if you can get another barrel for the nova, you might even be able to get a third gun!

November 14, 2010, 11:20 AM
man i feel your pain! i lost my job of 4 years this past feb. i had to sell my whole kimber colection and take a loss. to keep a roof over our heads. im in the prossess as aswell, i wen the direction of well used firearms and refurbishing them myself, and buying few but some lavish guns. i found amature gunsmithing to be very rewarding!

November 14, 2010, 02:15 PM
I have some experience with Mosins and I can't say I'm a huge fan. Don't get me wrong, they're a rugged rifle, but I find them uncomfortable to carry and shoot.

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