A group of friends recently met with another friend who was just getting into shooting. Our friend had just purchased a ranch home in a semi-rural area of New Mexico and was looking for guidance in appropriate firearm selection, befitting his new environment. Everyone, except the new person, was in the gun business in some way. The following question arose, as a result of our discussion: If you were new to shooting, wanted to acquire a well-rounded, yet thoughtful, set of shooting appliances, what would be good choices? This friend was interested in shooting for practical reasons, but was not really a “gun guy” per se. This is what emerged from our discussion:
We all felt that for a variety of purposes, the acquisition of three long guns and three handguns would be adequate for a variety of shooting interests, especially if one lived in an area somewhat distant from relevant civilization. This list comprised of a shotgun that could be used for both hunting and defensive purposes; a rifle that could also be used for both hunting and defense, and a .22 rifle for hunting, plinking and practice. The handgun inventory included a full size center-fire handgun, a compact center fire handgun, and a .22 handgun.
After much consideration and trying out some of our hardware, our friend settled on a Remington 870, a Marlin 336 in 30-30 caliber, and a Browning Bl-22, for the long guns. For the handguns he decided on a S&W 686+ with a 6” barrel, a used S&W 66 with a 2 1/2” barrel, and Ruger Single Six with both .22 and .22 mag cylinders. You may have noticed that none of these firearms utilized detachable magazines. Our good friend is a CPA by profession and seems to analyze all considerations carefully. He concluded that, though he liked some of our autos that he tried, a firearm that requires a detached magazine is only as good as the magazine itself. Aging eyesight also necessitated alternative sight considerations, other than the factory sights appending his new purchases.
The Remington was an older, used one with a 30” full-choke barrel. He ordered an 18” barrel from the Vang Comp people. They offer barrels with reworked forcing cones that allow buck shot patterns to remain tight at greater distances. He decided against porting the 18” 870 barrel, so that we could attach our ATS shotgun sight system, without needing to relieve the mount over the ports. He then bought two four-power Weaver scopes for his 30-30 and .22. I found two of the few remaining S&W revolver sight sets that we once made (and we’ll make them again someday) and installed those on his S&W revolvers. He’s a good friend and my former CPA, and I wanted him to be happy with his choices. Lastly, he actually put a mount on his Single Six and attached an Adco red dot. The plan now is to get much practice and experience with his cuddly little arsenal (that’s what he called it). Oh yeah, he did add a Limbsaver pad to his 870, for full load buckshot and slugs.