Tag Archives: pump action

Gunner’s Guide. — George Baekeland

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Here is an item I found this afternoon in a local used bookshop. Gunner’s Guide was published inĀ  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.

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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

 

 

The Shotgun Book. — Jack O’Connor

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I spend most of my time in fields, marshes and the uplands in pursuit of game birds so shotgunning is something with which I am very well acquainted. My first shotgun was a hammerless Savage break action single shot with a 28 inch barrel, and full choke. It belonged to my father. I have a fleeting memory of the day he purchased it in 1965, in Maryland, when I was four years old. We were living in Laurel at the time. My father was serving in the Canadian Army and had been posted to work in Washington, DC. Ten years later he offered it to me and I happily accepted the offer. I shot my first grouse with this gun, on the wing no less. It was a snap shot, just like I read in a booklet published by Canadian Industries Limited (C-I-L) on upland gunning. The bird flushed and I caught sight of it between two cedar trees. I mounted the gun and fired. I walked up to the gap between the cedar trees and there on the ground was my grouse. I sure was excited. I remember calling out “Dad, I got a grouse!”

As it happens, The Shotgun Book was published in 1965 by Alfred A. Knopf. The author, Jack O’Connor (1902-1978) was the arms and ammunition editor for Outdoor Life magazine for 31 years. The book is a comprehensive guide to the varieties of shotgun most commonly in use: double barrelled, pump action, autoloading and the less common bolt-action. O’Connor opens the book with a chapter on a brief history of the shotgun. Shotguns, their forebears at least, were first manufactured in the 18th century. The book is well illustrated, with plates and diagrams, showing the inner workings of shotgun actions, models of shotguns, cartridges, chokes, shot and, interestingly, the earliest models of variable choke in use, the Poly-Choke, shown in the illustration below.

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While some of the information found in The Shotgun Book is dated–it was published before the ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting went into effect–it is still a good read. It brings back memories for me of the old copies of Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream my father had accumulated over the years. I pored over these magazines in the years leading up to my 15th birthday when I would be old enough to get my first hunting license. I searched through the magazines, looking up every article on shotgunning, learning about gauge, shot sizes, choke, patterns, the basics of wing shooting, all the while dreaming of getting into the field in pursuit of upland game birds and waterfowl. The Shotgun Book compiles all this information very masterfully and includes an index which makes for quick reference. For anyone interested in seeing the hunting culture in North America, as it existed in the mid-twentieth century, The Shotgun Book is well worth reading.

Posted by Geoffrey