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Older Single Shots...

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Aug 20, 2003.

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  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    They sit forgotten and forlorn in closets,safes,tack rooms and behind truck seats. Often neglected and patinated from insufficient corrosion protection, they are part of our personal histories and for the most part ignored.

    Most major American makers had one or more models. Single shot economy guns that were used for everything by those unwilling or unable to pay more for a double or a high priced repeater.

    Most had iron, not steel frames, though the Winchester 37(Not to be confused with the Ithaca 37 pump) was the exception. Most had mild steel barrels, stocks with lots of drop, and triggers on the heavy side. Made in all gauges and 410 bore, they helped farmers protect their stock and crops, oft riding on tractors or strapped to the handles of a mule drawn plow.

    And they taught generations of kids to shoot. The inexpensive price meant opportunity to folks with more need than money.The light weight meant punishment until good form was developed. The barrel light balance meant one HAD to keep the swing going instead of relying on momentum. The slow lock time common to the hammer models meant better timing was needed. The single shot meant no second chances. My father wasn't the only Depression kid to feed his family with a 16 gauge H&R.

    These were rugged, dependable, and could go for decades without major surgery.

    Arnold Reigger, an early ATA Hall of Famer, used a Winchester 37 to shoot his way to being one of the first AA27AA trapshooters.

    And while unfashionable compared to our new and shiny repeaters and doubleguns, they still maintain a high Fun Factor. Maybe it's nostalgia, or a yearning for simpler times. In any case, they're still around, to touch the boy or girl in old shotgunners' hearts.

    Some caveats....

    ALL old shotguns should be checked out by a good smith before use. And few of these are suited to non toxic shot. Stick with light lead loads, or superlights.

    With the light weight of the shotgun, light loads are enjoyable, heavy ones are not. Trust me on this.

    Some older guns are chambered for ammo shorter than we use now. If the piece is pre WWII, figure it has a 2 1/2" chamber.

    Chokes run from none to superfull. Patterning is as crucial with these as with any other shotgun. And oft, with those crooked stocks, POI is low. You may have to adjust your form to do this well.

    Don't worry about being caught by your shotgunning friends with one of these. After all, they probably have one too, and periodically yearn for a foray into the past with it, a pocket full of high brass shells, and some brushpiles to kick cottontails out of.

    Now pull that thing out of the closet and go shoot it....
     
  2. Johnpl

    Johnpl Member

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    Mine was a Harrington & Richardson 20 gauge. Learned to hunt with it. I took many squirrels, rabbits, amd grouse with that old shotgun. Every once in a while, I take it into the woods just for old time's sake. The memories come flooding back. I think it makes me a better hunter, due to its lack of a fast follow-up shot...I know I must make that one shot count.
     
  3. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    We've been shooting one recently. You're right Dave, I'd forgotten how much fun they can be. A couple of years ago my dad decided that his 20 ga. Model 12 was beating him up, so his brother dug into his collection of Winchester 37s and gave him an almost new .410 for his 79th birthday. I hadn't shot a .410 in 20 or 30 years, but it all came back to me pretty quickly - there's not much shot to work with, is there?

    John
     
  4. Fastlane

    Fastlane Member

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    Mine is a old model 94, manf. in 1942 that my father-in-law gave me after the wedding. I had to replace the fireing pin, "it would have been nice to know that before the wedding :)". I used it to hunt with for 28 years also used for home defence, great little gun. Don't hunt any more and now use a 870P for protection.
     
  5. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Member

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    I've got an old Western Field 16 ga that a friend gave me in high school for rebuilding his carb. I took a hack saw to it and roughly cut the barrel down to about 19 inches. Used it in the deep briars for cottontails. Ranges were usually around 5-10yrds, and there was never time for a follow up shot. It was so easy to bust those bunnies with a good load of 6's that it was almost sinful. Now it sits in the closet in bad need of some firing pin springs, just another project I haven't gotten around to.
     
  6. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Obviously I've hit on a common bond here. Dunno why these are so much fun, but they sure are.

    Darn if I don't have a hankering to get a full sized stock for Son's little NEF, set it up and nail some squirrels and rabbits. For those liking the hard way, a tight choke and hard 6s do a good job on woodchucks stalked within 20 yards. Great practice for stillhunting deer also.
     
  7. Bowlcut

    Bowlcut Member

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    I started on a Winchester .410 break. Going home in a couple weeks to see if i can get it from dad. He sees how much im enjoying shooting and hes tired of seeing them hang on the walls doing nothing. Yay me. And picking up an old ithica featherweight 20g pump :D i cant wait. But those old break downs of grandpa's were so much fun. Cause at those ages the biggest riffle I was shooting was a .22. So something like the .410 or the 20g was HUGE. Big grin factor
     
  8. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    my favorite is a winchester 37, I've had a 16ga & 20ga.I also had a stevens 16ga and a few old 12's but I miss the 16ga m37 the most.

    If the grouse ever make a comeback around here ,then I''ll get another 16ga m37 open the choke to improved and have a ball :D
     
  9. Darrin

    Darrin Member

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    Thanks, Dave. Do you realize how many times I've talked myself out of the $90 single shot at Wal Mart? Now I need to block this thread and avoid Wal Mart for a month or so. I have other things to spend my money on first!!


    :uhoh: ;)
     
  10. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    My regrets,Darrin,but I'm the last person to talk to about fiscal responsibility. Daughter's car has no AC, the kitchen needs a new floor, and I'm still salivating over the idea of a progressive reloader,a choke tubed 870 barrel and a few more 870s.

    First game I killed was a dove(Maybe the 20th I tried to hit), and I did it with the 16 gauge H&R that had been Pop's first shotgun as well as mine. A couple of years later I graduated to an 870, but I still used the 16 for squirrels, woods running, and GPs. To this day, I doubt I've put more meat on the table with any other shotgun.

    A couple months after that first dove, I stood up next to Pop and Mr Bob in a goose blind and took my first Canada with that little H&R. 40 or so more followed before that first 870, using either 2s or 3s.

    But there's more than nostalgia at work here. A single appeals to our minimalist streak. It's as much as is needed to do the job, and not a whit more.

    And it serves as a nice counterpoint to our extended mag, heavy, complicated as Sicilian politics main shotguns.
     
  11. blue86buick

    blue86buick Member

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    man...I've been debating over one of those too. i talk myself out of it every time though, figuring "i'll shoot a box or two when I get it, then never shoot it again"....thinking it'll be too much hassle to load and unload each and every shot. and also, that i'd be better suited spending that 100 towards a gun that I WANT, not one that "oh, it'd be neat to have."

    and I too...have bills to pay, other things I want, and really don't need you guys convincing me to get one. :p
     
  12. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Blue, it's your money. A better first shotgun for an adult would be a Big Four pump. More versatility as well as a few more beans in the wheel.

    These work very well for packing into the boonies when shooting is not the main idea but a firearm may be nice to have for protection, a meal, or making noise.

    They also have their uses when compiling your emergency equipment. One shot beats no shot and these are cheap, durable and reliable. Great for arming trustworthy but gunless neighbors in an AS scenario. Simple MOA.
     
  13. blue86buick

    blue86buick Member

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    Big Four? (uuh..Remington, Mossberg, Benelli, Winchester what you mean?) I saw the Maverick 88's for 170 this week, but want a cheaper 20ga, and a better 12ga, not the other way round.

    They seem like they're a decent "stash and forget" shotty, for times when you want to make sure you have something.
     
  14. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    Geez. I was just thinking about the ol' 16 bore hiding........somewhere......int the house.Haveen't shot the thing since the last time it kicked the crap outta me.:) Those highbase loads are tough in a single barrel lightweight gun.!!
    I'll drag her out this weekend and IF it's not rusted shut I'll bust a clay or three with it "for old times sake".......'cuse i'm an old timer.:)
    It's an old Stevens....or maybe Savage.....that came into my posession about fourty years ago,and was used then.
    I"ll let ya know if I hit anything.:)
     
  15. Soap

    Soap Member

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    I learned shotgunning on a 20 Ga Savage single shot. Some of my best childhood memories revolve around that shotgun. It belongs to my uncle so I returned it when I got a Mossberg 500 of my own. But the single shot called me back and I bought an NEF 12Ga. back in April... Now to go get some rabbits and birds with it :D
     
  16. GinSlinger

    GinSlinger Member

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    Mine is an Iver Johnson .410. Still shoots well enough for trap. The gun has always been curious to me because it was manufactured by "Iver Johnson Cyle Works and Guns". My great grandfathers gun. This thread wants me to research the date of production, etc.

    GinSlinger
     
  17. Rat-30

    Rat-30 Member

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    Single-barrel memories

    Many of my kinfolk lived off the main roads when I was growing up. My mom and granny would drag me around for visiting, and mostly I remember the common feature of a single-barrel style shotgun hanging over a door or high on the wall some where... out of the reach of us little ones.

    It stands to reason that I had one hanging over the personnel door of my detached garage at the first house my wife and I lived together in... and now it's still part of my ready fleet, just in a different place in the home.

    I can still remember the day I bought this shotgun at a gunshow, seemingly on a whim while coming home from a business trip. What I realize now is that I was making this connection to my past, bringing my single-barrel to roost at 'my' home, as I was taught on those visits so long before.

    All the best,
     
  18. Horsesense

    Horsesense Member

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    H&R 410 Toper JR, got it when I was six. I bet most of you remember holding your extra shell in your left hand for a "quick reload". Actually you can reload fairly quickly with practice, I eased up on a tree with three squirrels and got all three after hunting with it a couple of seasons…. That's when my dad said, "I think your ready to start using my 20ga pump." :D
     
  19. zahc

    zahc Member

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    My garandpa has an old Sears Single shot with the bueing worn off. The forend started coming off and we duct traped it on for him. Full choke. He's the long-range dude when we rabbit hunt. And I can't imagine how much game he's taken with that shotgun.
     
  20. goon

    goon Member

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    I found that it was easier to reload an old single barrel 12 gauge than a .410. The bigger shell and the bigger chamber make this easier to do when you are in a hurry.
    I set a family record once, firing 12 gauge shells in 9 seconds with an old Single barrel Savage.
    I hit what I was shooting at with all four rounds too.
    Lately, I have felt the need for an NEF.
    Who wouldn't want a good simple gun that almost nothing can go wrong with?
     
  21. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    Blue, the Big Four are the Remington 870, Ithaca 37, Winchester 1300, and the Mossy 500 series. All are US made, have been around for a while,and will last for decades or even generations. They also cost less than a week's pay for a working person.

    The Benelli Nova is a nice piece of out of box thinking, and a decent shotgun. It hasn't the track record or length of service the others do, yet.

    HTH...
     
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