by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Fred put me up to this report. When he suggested it, I knew I wanted to do it because there have been several guns, both firearms and airguns, that I shouldn’t have sold over the years. And I bet some of them will surprise you. Since this is Friday, this should start a good weekend’s worth of discussion and lamenting for all of us.
I did a report like this a couple years ago. It was titled, I wish I hadn’t …. I purposely did not read that one again until almost finished with today’s report — just to see how many things made it onto both lists.
Let me begin with the gun that I always remember first — a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 Magnum. Ruger stopped making Blackhawks for many years, but they recently reintroduced it. Mine was a very early gun, and it had one special thing: The barrel was 10 inches long!
Ruger today makes a Super Blackhawk with a 10.5-inch barrel, but the gun I’m referring to was balanced better and felt good. It was accurate and recoiled very little for a .44 Magnum. When I got rid of it, I told myself that I could always get another one, but that would cost over $2,500 today. The truth is that I can’t really get another one, and I’ve tried several times to get something similar to take its place. But, no joy. I shouldn’t have gotten rid of that one.
I had a .22-250 bolt-action rifle that was built on a Springfield action. It had a Douglas bull barrel; and before I got the AR, it was the most accurate rifle I’d ever owned. One time when I was shooting at 100 yards, I hit a hovering bumblebee that was just in front of the target. I don’t remember why I got rid of that one, but I probably wanted something else and needed the money to get it.
This was one of the first rifle cartridges that I reloaded, and I remember being concerned about the cost of bullets. Since I couldn’t make them by casting, I must have freaked out at the cost, or the potential cost, of something that was beyond my control.
VB Bernadelli .25 auto
This little pistol is one of the ones I don’t expect many people would imagine was ever a favorite. But this one was because it was so incredibly accurate. I could put 3 shots through the bottom of a Coke can at 10 yards — offhand! But what made me sell it was the tiny cartridge was too darned hard to reload. That and I had to buy the bullets again. However, I think about it a lot, so a couple weeks ago I bought another one off Gun Broker. The price was right and the gun works fine; but at 45 feet, it puts 5 shots into 6 inches — not what I remember. This new one will go away, and I’ll always remember that super-accurate .25 autoloader I once had!
Sako Vixen 461 Mannlicher rifle
It was my hunting rifle in Germany. I killed more roe deer with it than with any other rifle I had, and one of them was a one-shot kill at 225 yards. It was also an uncommon Sako because it had a 24-inch barrel, while most Sako Mannlichers had 20-inch barrels. But it was worth a lot of money; so when I returned from Germany and wasn’t going to hunt roe deer anymore, I sold it. Got a pretty penny but couldn’t buy one like it for 3 times as much today.
Okay, enough firearms. What about airguns I regret selling? What about airguns I regretted selling so much that I bought them back? That’s a twist you don’t read about much these days.
JW 75 and Beeman R1
I sold my Whiscombe JW 75 because we needed the money and a lot of nice things went away at the same time. But the Whiscombe was special, and I knew it even then. Fortunately for me, something happened that almost never happens in real life. A couple years later the guy I sold it to honored my right of first refusal to buy it back. I had an M1 Carbine that he wanted back, so we worked out a cash and trade deal that left both of us satisfied.
He only charged me a little more than it had cost him and the market was already starting to rise on Whiscombes. I had also sold him my Beeman R1 — the one I wrote the book about — I had to sell that one, as well. So I bought them both back; and, unless things change in a bad way, I won’t sell either one of them again.
The Sharp Ace is a multi-pump pneumatic that was originally made in Japan. It was made to the same level of quality as a Benjamin Marauder and was considered quite the airgun to own. I actually had two Aces — and one was restricted to 12 foot-pounds for the UK. It had a blowoff valve that would open suddenly as you were pumping it. The pump lever would suddenly crash down against the gun as the excess air was exhausted.
Although the Ace was a simple rifle by modern PCP standards, the woodwork was impeccable and the object of admiration. The bluing was only fair — not smooth but very matte. The fit of the parts was quite good. Construction was more like that of a PCP than that of a Benjamin 392.
The full-power Ace I had was good for up to 25 foot-pounds, although that was just a trick and not very practical. At about 20 foot-pounds, the rifle was very calm and accurate. The valve in this rifle was/is one of those that can be pumped an indefinite number of times. The trigger could always open the valve, no matter how much pressure was in the reservoir, but the trigger was a sore point. It became heavier as the reservoir pressure increased and there was nothing that could be done to fix it. As the resistance in the reservoir went up, so did the trigger-pull because it had to force the valve seat open against that pressure. And that’s what made me decide to get rid of the gun.
I can tolerate a lot, but a 10-pound trigger isn’t something I like very much. So, the Ace went away. The UK-spec Ace never got to high enough pressure that it mattered, but it was just under 12 foot-pounds; and in a multi-pump, that’s too much work (the pumping) for too little performance. Selling it was a no-brainer for me.
This one is another firearm, and also a bitter life lesson. The first thing you need to know about me is that I don’t like silver guns. I dislike nickelplated arms, and stainless steel leaves me cold.
But my shooting buddy, Otho, traded me a Smith & Wesson model 25 in .45 Colt caliber that was both stainless and also very accurate. The trigger was superb, and the recoil with stiff loads was quite low. In all, there was nothing to complain about.
But I got greedy when I saw someone was offering a Remington Beals revolver for trade, so I offered up this revolver. After all, it isn’t every day that you can get a $1,500 antique for a $750 gun that can still be purchased new.
Short story is that I made the trade and the revolver I got was a counterfeit, made from a 1960s-era Italian import. Back then, the Italians didn’t mark their guns well, and the fakers found it easy to age them and apply false stampings. And it goes without saying that the guy who traded it to me went missing.
I felt (still feel) like a fool for losing a fine shooting firearm for something a guy cooked up in his garage, just to con an unsuspecting fool like me. I was so embarrassed that I knew I could never tell anyone except for my wife, Edith. But several months ago I told Otho, and he, in turn, told me of an equally embarrassing deal he’d made. He said he’d never told another person about it because he felt so bad. Well, I write about guns and sometimes give advice…how bad is that?
I always said to myself that I would tell you guys about this incident, and today it just popped out. I guess it was time.
How about that? This blog is so much fun to write, but it’s also my therapy.
Okay — take it away!