I dropped in to our local gun show this morning, hoping to find some reasonably priced .22LR ammunition. No such luck – all of it on display was ridiculously overpriced, even brands I’d never heard of before, imported from who knows where. I walked the tables, didn’t find anything, and decided to cut my losses and return to my truck.
As I headed for the door, I met a man with an old pump-action shotgun over his shoulder. As he turned and I saw it, my heart skipped a beat. It was a Winchester Model 12, often called ‘the perfect repeater’. I asked him if he was selling it and he nodded, offering it for inspection. I looked it over, noting a silvery patina over all the metal (but not a speck of rust) and a low-six-digit serial number. It was clearly a relatively early-production gun that had been well used, but lovingly cared for.
I was sure it would be outside my price range, but I couldn’t resist. I asked, “How much?”
“I need to get $400 for it.”
I think my fingers left scorch-marks on my trousers as my hand dived into my pocket to retrieve my wallet. I wasn’t about to let this one get away! I’d guess it’s worth quite a bit more than he was asking – Model 12’s aren’t cheap these days.
I got home with it, only to have to fend off our housemate as he tried to persuade me to sell it to him. (I don’t think he’s forgiven me yet for my refusal). Checking the serial number online, it looks like this one was made in 1920, so it’s 94 years old. The action is buttery-smooth and the barrel and magazine tube lock solidly to the frame – it’s probably seldom if ever been taken down into its two halves. I’ll have to look for a second 12ga. barrel for it, to cut down into a more defensive configuration (the original is serial-numbered to the frame, so I’d rather not alter it).
I may not have found the .22LR ammo I was looking for, but there sure were compensations today!