Here is an item I found this afternoon in a local used bookshop. Gunner’s Guide was published in New York in 1948 by the Macmillan Company. That I found a first edition copy with its dust jacket pleases me no end. Gunner’s Guide is a neat little book that will appeal to the shotgunner who fancies side-by-side double barrelled guns. The book consists of seven chapters in 101 pages. It includes 8 tables and 12 illustrations (line drawings) and a bibliography and index. While the author discusses the different repeating actions in shotguns of the time (semi-automatic and pump action) he makes his preference plain in noting “observation leads me to conclude that double-barrelled guns are more reliable, better proportioned, and better balanced than repeaters of similar bore. They are usually lighter than repeating guns, notwithstanding the added weight of their second barrel. Recently, however, some light pump guns have been produced which compare favorably, weight by weight, with double-barrelled guns. But the finest examples of gun beauty and precision are to be found only in double-barrelled guns.”
While I am inclined to concur with the author on the elegance and some of the features he attributes to the side-by-side double barrelled shotgun, I cannot discount the utility of semi-automatic and pump action shotguns. While I have no semi-automatic shotguns in my collection, as I am a left-handed gunner and semi-autos are typically manufactured with right-handed gunners in mind, I swear by my Browning BPS pump action shotgun for waterfowling. I have used my Lanber Model 95 over and under effectively as a waterfowl gun, but find I prefer the pump action as it has the advantage of a third shot. In the uplands, I swear by my Winchester side-by-side in 20 gauge with 26 inch barrels and choked improved cylinder and modified. It is very light to carry in the thickets where I gun for woodcock and grouse and practically points itself when I walk up my dog Hera’s points and flush a bird.
For those shotgunners who appreciate the look and feel of the side-by-side, Gunner’s Guide is a good read as Baekeland discusses topics familiar to shotgunners, bores, chokes, patterns, shells, fit, form, lead and safety, from the perspective of his preference for the side-by-side double barrelled shotgun.
Posted by Geoffrey