I n my early years as a confirmed gun lover my normal financial life was one of being flat busted. Because of this, if I wanted a new gun I generally had to sell or trade one to get another.
Having an insatiable curiosity about such things I sold or traded a lot of guns that I would give several sets of eye teeth to get back. Sad to say, there has been no recent developments in the realm of time machines, so I must console myself with misty memories and occasional bouts of melancholia.
Since I know that I am only one of many thousands of like souls, I will share a few of my dumbest acts in the world of gun trades.
One of the first such gun trades involved a very sweet 1903 Springfield. It had one of the early laminated stocks that looked like it was cut from a butcher’s block, a K10 Weaver scope, and a Jaeger custom trigger. I don’t remember what I traded for it, and I do not remember what I traded it for, but I do know that the latter was a really boneheaded deal.
It is the first gun I owned that I wish desperately I could get back. I probably would replace the laminated stock, and I might have it rebarreled to some other caliber, but that Springfield was a true classic that is hard to find these days and would look wonderful in my modest collection of guns.
The mid-1970s found me working as the Assistant Manager and Sporting Goods Manager of a Gibson’s Discount Center in Uvalde, Texas. I was in hog heaven, selling guns and sporting goods, always with my eye cocked for a good deal. The store did not do trades, but didn’t care if I did, as long as the store made a profit on the deal.
Sometime in this period a buddy of mine got hard up for money and wanted to trade a diamond ring for a Model 19 S&W. He had been hired as the police chief in a small town, with the understanding that he was to furnish his own sidearm.
I made the trade, bought him his gun, and then turned around and traded the ring for a sweet little .410 Remington Model 1100 SA Skeet. The wood on the little gun was of fine grade. I shot it a bit for skeet, then decided I wanted something else and traded it off. I have regretted that trade for decades.
Also in the mid-70s I bought a Winchester Model 101 over/under 20-gauge. It was a skeet model and was bored skeet and skeet—this being the days before screw-in chokes became commonplace. I shot the 101 a lot, both for skeet and for doves and quail. It was probably one of the two most deadly quail quail guns I ever owned; the other is an SKB-made Ithaca side-by-side in 12-gauge, bored skeet and modified.
I still have the Ithaca, but somehow I let go of the Winchester. For the life of me, I cannot remember what I did with it, just that it left the way of so many guns I loved and let escape. It was many years before I again had a shotgun of that quality.
I once bought or traded for—I don’t remember which—a custom-built Sako Vixen in .17/222 caliber. It was a wildcat, but one that was super easy to make brass for. All one had to do was run a .222 Remington shell through the full-length sizer die, trim it to length, and you had a .17/222 shell.
This little gun had a nice stock that was Suigi finished, which turned it a very pale green color. I shot it a good bit, but as soon as the factory .17 Remington came out I sold it and bought a Model 700 Remington in the new factory caliber.
The reasons I used were that it was a factory cartridge and was a faster caliber than the wildcat .17/222. Over the years I have several times started to build another .17/222 but just never got around to it. Maybe next year. Anyone have a Sako Vixen action they want to part with for a reasonable price?
My first centerfire rifle was a .303 British Enfield. I bought it for, if memory serves, $30.
At that time my father was doing a bit of amateur gunsmithing and was friends with a real gunsmith. He took the old battle rifle, put a new Bishop stock on it, refinished the metal parts, cut the 10-round magazine down to five, put a jeweled floorplate on the magazine, and a set of Lyman sights on the rifle. In the end it was a truly pretty gun.
Then Dad joined the Border Patrol, went to the Academy for several months, and Mom, my brothers and sister, and I, spent the summer living with my maternal grandmother in Oklahoma City. Sad to say we had no money, at all. Finally, in a fit of desperation I sold the Enfield and a .22 rifle to a pawnshop for spending money. Obviously, in retrospect, I would love to have both of those guns back.
There were many more such boneheaded sales and trades, but these are the ones that hurt the most. So here is my advice to those of you who have not yet been down this road. When you buy a gun, keep it!
Unless there is a mechanical problem you can’t get fixed, keep it! If you want another gun, either save up the money or go without food, but don’t trade or sell anything. Either that or someday you will wake up and remember all those guns you wish you could get back.
Merry Christmas everyone and God bless.
Email Steve LaMascus at [email protected]