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My List of Favorite Guns
February 04, 2014

People who like the shooting sports -- hunting, targets and the like -- often have lists of their favorite guns.

OYB is no different!

"Best guns of all time" lists are frequent -- and popular -- themes in outdoor magazines. I've seen all sorts of variations on this theme: reader's favorites; most popular; best-selling; best rated; personal lists.

So here's mine!

(Actually, I've noticed that quite a few of my choices appear on lists in the fancy mags.)

I'm surprised I haven't done this before. I love lists.

But, actually, there's really no benefit in such a list. If you have a gun that works and that you take care of and know and can use well, isn't that a great gun? Any gun that you've used for years to take a buncha game or do a lotta great shooting with is a great gun. Who could say otherwise?

Beauty is surely in the eyes of the beholder in this case. Now, a list might help someone get a leg up. You can't go wrong with these guns. ...But what if one just isn't "for you" -- if it's not then it's not a great gun for you. In short, who am I to say? So, I'm not saying. I'm just giving MY list of MY faves. Guns that have worked out for me in various important ways. ...Some of which only include Looking Good! In my eyes. Take it for what it's worth.

Really, the answer to this list is "One of each." : ) And my ideal is to have just that: the right rifle, both large and smallbore; the right shotguns; a pistol or two; a muzzleloader; an airgun. You gotta cover your bases!

I have to say that back when I only used a singleshot shotgun and every shell meant meat in the pot that was probably when I was shooting and hunting my best. Really, two boxes might last a season and mean dozens of pheasants, ducks, rabbits and squirrels. What's not great about such a gun as can do that?

Now, some folks might be "against guns." Eh. I'd google these honeys, if I were you. These are SWEET. Guns aren't just for killin' nice folks. They're for gettin' food. For punching paper. For good looks. For wall-hangin'. I use them for all of the above. ...I note that shooting sports are popular and safe for MILLIONS (literally) of KIDS. It's a HUGE junior sport. See, what it takes is training. And a commitment to safety. MILLIONS of people have this. The result is: safety. The result is: the desired outcome. People can be safe. So, so many of them can be. They can take care of themselves AND they can help other people. Learning how to use potentially dangerous tools is a REAL PART of this developmental process. It's a bit like chainsaws, only more so. A bit less than dynamite, though in the same safety training camp territory. It can be done. And it is done. By MILLIONS ... of kids even. Kids and guns: I'm all about it. They go together. I grew up with guns. I brought guns to school. I shot guns AT school. (We had marksmanship. We had archery. We had judo.) It wasn't a bad thing.

(Nowadays, though, I seem to use the ROAD as my source of wild game as much as my guns. Right in front of the house. Lightly clipped, fresh wild game. No license. No fuss. Yes, some laws apply. We can deal with that.)

Funny and silly how this feels like a minimal list. Of course it's not the minimalist list or a one gun to rule them all list.

(Of course, I'd have to add to this list: target bow, hunting longbow, hunting recurve bow, hunting compound bow, crossbow, slingshot, hatchets, axes, knives... One list connects to so many others. Whew!)


Savage 99 rifle, .300 cal, schnabel fore-end, fold-up tang sight, octagonal barrel

12 ga single shot shotgun, Stevens (a Topper will do for the most sensible among us)

Sheridan pellet gun, pump, .20, "Steroid" mod.

Benjamin Marauder silent airgun ("ffft")

Webley Tempest air pistol

.22 Ruger auto pistol, 6" bull barrel

Savage 24, .22 over 12 ga

.22 autoloading rifle, Springfield, tube-fed

H&R 1871 .38-55 Target rifle

Game Getter .22/.410

sawed-off 20-ga singleshot with sawed-off stock

.45 Pennsylvania rifle, flintlock

Colt .38 Officer's revolver

S&W 19 or 29

a tiny pistol

a .22 revolver with 6" barrel

Colt .45 Walker

Mannlicher-Schoenauer 6mm


.22 biathlon rifle

Rem 1100 12 ga (incl a rifled barrel)

28 ga side-by-side

Marlin .35 lever

LeMat revolver, or Schofield -- for the beauty

A revolver rifle

OK, probably some new plastic autoloading shotgun, too, like a Beretta -- the state of the art today is pretty amazing.

And I wouldn't kick a new plastic and stainless rifle outta bed either.


And, ya know, I'd put some of these on display. Of course, displays depend both on what you display and on where you live.


Minimalist list?

12 ga singleshot
.22 auto rifle
Sheridan airgun
CO2 revolver airgun (great for practice and yard action!)
.22 revolver 6"
Sav 99 .300
.45 Pennsylvania flint rifle
S&W 19
Rem 1100 12 plus a rifled barrel
28 ga double


One gun to rule them all?

12 ga singleshot

These are H&R Handi-Rifles. I'm pretty sure they can be swapped around easily to any caliber, maybe also blackpowder or shotgun. Based on an old outlawed Handigun, one of the sweet little guns that didn't make the cut to silly modern law and so a great tool was lost.

.22 Ruger with 6" bull barrel -- darn handy, a classic

Marlin 336 .35 -- a thing of beauty (the top gun) -- a better lever than a Winchester

Crosman 2240 pistol is fun to change into a carbine rifle. Cheap, accurate litle snipers that have been around a long time. People mod them all over the place.

Webley Tempest is a classic British pellet pistol.

The S&W 29 is a satisfying pistol to shoot for about any purpose. -- .44 mag. Yeah, it was the first. Dirty Harry's. (You can't go wrong with a M19, either -- .357.)

Benjamin Marauder -- first in a famous new breed of silenced airguns. Sounds like a pencil falling into carpet. No need to make the neighbors flinch with your target practice. The new breed of silent airguns has come over from the UK where, indeed, they are considered good-neighbor devices. (People don't kill more people when guns are quiet. Quiet guns are good neighbors, really.)

The Remington 1100 auto shotgun is a fine one, with classy 1970's disco-era styling that just won't stop. Slap a rifled barrel on for deer season.

The Savage 24 is an amazing classic: a rifle over a shotgun. Useful. I could see having several of these. .22/20-ga sounds good. Saw one down in barrels and stock for take-down camping use.

A tiny little pistol can come in handy. This one is well made.

The NAA "Earl" cyclist's pistol. At least that's what I call it. That was a type of pistol. And this one has vintage styling and is small and light, suitable for a bike.

A .22 autoloading rifle is a must-have. My Springfield is a dandy, with a beechnut stock. This photo of a similar gun doesn't do it justice. It's well made of quality machined metal in the old way. Mine gets good groups offhand rapidfire at 100 yards. A very satisfying way to target-shoot.

Probably my favorite shotgun. My grampa's old 12 ga Stevens. It shoots good.

My favorite shotgun. It has to be. I've shot it the most.

A long, thin .45 cal flintlock is a joy to behold and to shoot and they bring home the bacon. Mine does. Heavenly.

One of the best all-time gun concepts. The Marbles Game-Getter. Marbles was a huge employer in the UP of MI. I believe the banning of such useful firearms as the Game-Getter in a mis-guided attempt to fight crime (fail) resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and increased awkwardness for thousands of camping outdoorsmen. A little shotgun rifle that fits in a holster is a must-have. It might even be that cool heads will prevail and such firearms will be made again. Indeed, under some sort of loophole the GG has been being produced again in small runs at high price. Perhaps the recent ability to get certain ATF permits for shorter firearms is part of this, and an added expense. I've heard that if you have the money you can buy silencers and machine-guns now. Licensing does the trick. They know who you are.

I'm going to get a biathlon rifle someday. Airgun would be fine. I want to ski along wearing a harnessed rifle then stop and shoot. That's all.

The M1 Garand won the war. It also is really fun to shoot. It also is good for shooting out to 1000 yards. I want to shoot a 1000-yard standard service rifle (peep sights) event with my M1. Like US shooters have been doing for over 100 years. The same event. Ideally, I'll go to Camp Perry, OH, to do it. That's the place to do it. I better start practicing.

Savage 99 -- the sexiest deer rifle. In .300 Sav. A very handy and accurate gun. Get the take-down model in its carrying case, why not. James Oliver Curwood of Owosso liked his.

Remington Model 8 and 9 in .35 cal. A stylish autoloader in the Browning vein. This is too high up on my list, but I thought of it at the wrong time so here it is. One of the first guns I used for deer hunting. Good Steampunk vibe. Was useful to the cop who ambushed Bonnie and Clyde as well.

Pinnacle of shotgun design. The Browning A5. Yeah, it has issues, but it's so satisfying. The *action* of the thing is amazing to experience. It moves a LOT when you shoot it, in a good way.

Probably the all-time sexiest firearm. The LeMat. A French designed revolver used during our Civil War. It shot pistol bullets but also a shotgun from the center tube. So Steampunk it hurts.

A massively cool pistol. Mauser C96. They could be set on machinegun-fire mode. A kind of crazy gun to hold and use, but gorgeous (and out of its proper ranking in this list but I had to include it). I'll skip the Remington Schofield revolver under duress but you couldn't go wrong with one.

The wood grain of my Sheridan. A rare gun.

My favorite gun. A Sheridan Blue Streak pellet gun. Given the "Steroid" mod by Tim of Mac Airguns so that it's about twice as powerful. 4 pumps is all you need for squirrels. It's accurate, oh yes. With either peep sight or scope but a scope lets me sort out the foliage and twigs better to get to the heart of the matter. I just love target shooting with this, too. 2" groups at 50 yds from our back porch. I've had this airgun for 35 years. It was Gus's before I got it and it still is also his, too. Your first pellet gun is always yours.

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