Family Heirloom Guns
A story of my family heirloom shotgun.
On many occasions when I am visiting with my grandfather we discuss one of our mutual favorite topics - bird dogs. My grandfather spent the majority of his life hunting bobwhite quail with English Setters and Pointers across the state of North Carolina. He tells great stories of successful bird hunts and some that make for great entertainment, but each of the successful stories share one element in common, a Browning A5.
My grandfather's Browning A5 was given to him by his father-in-law. It has been carried through countless briar patches and farm fields and has cycled an untold number of #8 shot shells in its lifetime. Like an old truck, if that gun could talk, it would have some incredible stories that it would tell. There are several rounds of electrical tape over the grip holding a cracked piece of the stock in place. The rib on the barrel shines like silver where the original bluing has worn off. The stock and forend have their share of scuffs and scratches. Some might say it looks beat up but I think it gives the old gun character.
Each year in September, my dad will take the A5 and go after his limit of doves. The A5 may be old, but it still knocks the birds down just like it has for the last 70+ years. There is something special to me about hunting with that old humpback. I like to think about what it would have been like when my great grandfather took that gun hunting all those many years ago and how different the world was then than it is today. I wonder how many bird dogs have pointed birds under that gun. I love the nostalgic feeling I get from taking the A5 hunting. One of these days, when he is old enough, I'll let my son carry it to the dove field and make his own memories with it.
I often catch myself thinking about which guns from my safe I would choose to pass down as an heirloom to my kids. What makes a gun worthy to be passed down from generation to generation? The fit and finish, overall build quality, and visual appeal are all important and should be considered. Does it need to be a gun they can hunt with or just one to take to the range? The bottom line is that it needs to be one that has meaning and is special to me.
If you don't have an heirloom gun in your family, consider buying your own and starting that tradition. It is a tradition worth keeping alive. Use it as a tool to teach your children or someone in your family how to use a gun safely and effectively. Use it to teach the importance of our Second Amendment rights and keep the American tradition of safe gun ownership alive and well. Use it to teach someone the art of woodsmanship and how to hunt.
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