I bought my first long gun Saturday.
I was looking for something appropriate on which to teach our youngest granddaughter who is nearing the point where she’s mature enough — with supervision — to learn to shoot a firearm.
In case you haven’t thought it through, being “old enough” to handle a firearm isn’t a question of years. I know a couple of 60+ individuals who, if they asked to go shooting, I’d find an excuse to say, “No.”
I don’t trust them.
Trusting someone with a handgun is a complex business.
It is, first, a question of understanding consequences and behaving accordingly, and of giving reasonable assurance that things will stay that way in the future.
With firearms as I’m sure you realize, there are both direct — injury or death — and indirect — you will never get a chance to do this or anything like this again — consequences with firearms. Before I introduce someone to firearms, I have to be confident they comprehend what these consequences truly mean.
It is also a question of listening, remembering and doing as instructed — safety, muzzle direction, trigger finger, and not forgetting.
Gun safety isn’t something where you read, pass a written test and are then handed a firearm. Gun safety is something you do every time you even see a firearm, to say nothing of picking it up.
When I watch a cops and robbers or a cowboys and Indians movie, gun handling is the first thing I notice and, boy, there are a lot of really bad examples. I like NCIS because they do it right.
Whether or not I will introduce someone to firearms is also a question of demonstrating self-control so that I am confident this person will continue to do the safe and proper behavior even when angry. Anyone, child or adult, who acts out, throws things in anger or becomes, in my judgement, too angry too fast — they’re no where near ready. Remember that when I hand you a firearm, if you don’t do it right, *I* could get hurt. You have to convince me that you can be trusted before I will hand you one of my loaded firearms.
Our youngest granddaughter is just about there.
I want something appropriate for her first firearms experience with me.
A rifle, bolt action, single-shot, 22 caliber with iron sights would be just about perfect.
The action of the bolt and loading and unloading will be physically manageable for her. The 22 caliber round in a rifle — more massive than a handgun — will therefore have very little recoil. While long and potentially unwieldy, a sandbag or similar object on which to rest the muzzle will make it easy for her to manipulate and aim. And because it is a single-shot, her attention will be on shooting the one shot that’s ready, not on emptying a magazine of five or ten rounds as quickly as possible.
She will learn to safely load and shoot, and she will learn to hit what she intends to hit.
So I found this Remington 41P rifle with a peep sight that looked pretty good. It’s a used gun with a bad water stain on the stock, but the steel bluing looks very good, it has all the parts — they looked original, by the way — and the rifling inside the barrel isn’t worn flat.
It should be perfect.
“I’ll take it.”
Back home later, I did a little research on the web. This model was manufactured for only four years, from 1936 into 1939 but a great many, more than 300,000, were made and sold. At the time, they were $8-12 new. (I paid about 10x that.)
Stamped in the side of the barrel is a date code: AE. Checking some Remington-knowledgeable websites, that says this one was made in March of 1936. Removing the barrel from the stock, the serial number is in the high 21,000 range so while it is not one of the first dozen off the line, it is not a spring chicken.
On the contrary, it is seventy five years old.
Guns that old can be worn out, have a lot of modifications, gone through years of exposure to the elements, and had hundreds of opportunities to be dropped muzzle first into mud, banged around in the forest and climbing over big boulders, dropped twenty feet and used as hammers and clubs.
So I inspected this one very closely.
Looking at the barrel, I found one small rust area near the muzzle where the bullet exits. Some gentle rubbing with steel wool and gun oil removed the worst and left a light coat of protection for the exposed area but didn’t appear to damage the bluing. And the crown (again, the muzzle end of the barrel) has a few small dings where it was probably put down or dropped on a hard surface a couple of times but not where it will affect the bullet at the instant it departs the barrel and all those high pressure gases behind it mushroom out — that’s the “bang”, all those gases exploding out from behind the bullet. The crown of the barrel is critical to accuracy.
In fact, the bluing is so good I can only think of two possibilities. Either the owner has taken very good care of it all these years albeit with one exception when the stock was apparently standing in water for a couple of days, or the barrel has been re-blued. I’ll have to take it to a gunsmith to get their opinion in this regard.My original intent was to later add a scope. That would mean having a gunsmith drill holes part way through the barrel and tap them for screws. But considering the excellent condition of this rifle, with all apparently original parts, I am abandoning any idea of that modification.
This baby is prime!
But refinishing the stock is a given. It can’t be avoided.
Indeed, one of the butt plate screws was so rusted that, once removed, the threads looked like a tooth pulled from a dead muskrat and, other than cleaning and oiling to stop the advance of rust, the deformities will have to remain.
So, I started in with Formby’s finish remover/restorer yesterday with the intention of liquifying the finish and spreading it out to cover the area where the water denuded and bleached the wood. That was preceded by 150, 200 and 400 grit sandpaper in the damaged area where the water had raised the grain.
The stock is now hanging in a protected area to dry. It looks only a tad lighter than the original and should finish up nicely in a few days with several hand-rubbed coats of Danish oil. I could add some more stain but, frankly, the less I do the better.
The metal parts are 100% functional and, as I’ve said, they all appear to be original. So other than shooting and keeping this rifle in good condition, I will do nothing else.
I looked at some of the websites where long guns are traded and, for this model in excellent condition with all original parts, they are selling for $250-350. The damaged stock on this one coupled with the chore of finding a buyer for this rare item will have a significant effect on the price.
But it’s not for sale.
It is an investment in my granddaughter’s future.