Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Arguments over Guns

Other than duck blind laws, duck hunters have little to argue over. Some argue over decoy spread set-up, others argue over the best outboards. Some argue over the best ducks. In all honesty, most decoy spread don't matter as long as you're not using mallards in my presence. The best duck is a dead one in the bag. The best outboard is one that leaves and returns to the ramp, under it's own power. But one argument, especially lately, has been brought to my attention and living room recently. It's over guns. Not gun control or chokes or loads. It's the brand names. What I'm about to share is clearly my own personal opinion. If I offend you, I half-heartedly apologize, fellow North Carolina Duck Hunters.

Recently, I've had several hunting partners decide to invest in their very own full-time gun. When hunters first become duck hunters, they start out with a loaner gun. Generally it's a relic from papa's closet. Rarely is it an A-5 Humpback, but an old 870 by Remington. I have friends in my party that swear by their own gun's brand name. One believes Mossberg's are the best. Others say Remington. One says Browning is the best. To me, the argument is easily settled. I've always shot a Remington 1100 or 11-87. I've killed more birds than anyone and every bird they kill is a result of my hard work and intelligence, so I absolutely must be right. I'm not going to try to rank the guns, but instead try to describe the people that use certain brands and what brands are generally shot by certain types of people.

Remington - Remington is the standard in America's duck blinds. Whether it's the 870 pump, the 1100 semi-auto, or the 11-87 semi-auto, Americans shoot Remington. It's a lot like the Ford or Chevy. If I were to wager a bet, it would be that the 870 has killed more ducks than any other gun around. It's also the gun that probably has received the most abuse from it's owners. In fact, other manufacturer's like to insist that their guns, too, can be used as a boat paddle, but it's the 870 that has been used as a paddle, battering ram, wading stick, and an effective weapon in the war against waterfowl. It's tough and ugly, a lot like you're first love. Remington's are shot by people who want reliable performance and could careless about stylish lines. These are the people that wear wool socks and hardware store-brand camouflage hats. They drive American trucks. They also use their Remington for more than ducks. These people are utilitarians.

Winchester - Winchester is the more sophisticated big brother of the Remington. People appreciate it's nostalgia and it's ease of use. In the first part of the 20th century, Winchester occupied as many duck blinds as the Remington. The Model 12 pump gun is as reliable as any out there. If Remington is the Chevrolet, Winchester is the GMC of the firearm world. The people that shoot Winchesters are generally proud of their gun, but not enough to brag. They will announce the brand name each time they remove it from the gun sleeve, though. Winchester-ers are shot by people who like to eat while they duck hunt. They pack sandwiches and chips for their duck hunts...not prepackaged stuff like Deviled Ham or Jerky. Sometimes standoff-ish, these people are proud of their gun, but not enough to brag. They'll talk about how long they have had it and not what all they have put it through.

Brownings - These guns are purchased by those, in my opinion, who want a strong brand name. Brownings perform well, but Brownings are also built a little differently. Classic Belgium Brownings are beautiful and functional. Today, Brownings, in my opinion, are almost gimmicky. Ejecting shells from the bottom, hammer positioned safeties, and blah, blah, blah. The people that buy these are also the people who might be caught driving a Prius and buying their decoy spreads from Ducks Unlimited Banquets. Browning's are those who do things against the grain - but not for practicality. They buy a Browning for the sole purpose of not wanting to buy anything else. A Browning, to me, isn't a good alternative to anything. I'd love to have one - don't get me wrong! It just wouldn't replace my Remington 11-87. Maybe people buy it for the complimentary "Buckmark" sticker...but those are sold at any sporting goods store on the impulse aisle. Nevertheless, Brownings are good guns but the people that buy them are usually passive-aggressive and likely to not leave a tip at restaurants.

Beretta's - The alternative to a Benelli, a Beretta is a fine gun that is carried by those who either got one as a gift or by those who don't have a duck boat. It seems to me that people who can afford these guns do so at the expense of something else. The money they saved by not buying a boat was shifted to the Beretta. I know one gentleman with a Beretta AND a boat. And the boat is bad-to-the-bone. He's an exception. Beretta's generally appeal to those older gentlemen who have a good paying job or are self-employed. Older folks do tote these guns. Whether it's a classic twin bore or a smooth shooting semi, these guns are made for people who want to rely on the gun to do it's job. Not the other way around. I'd have one, but I have a duck boat.

Benelli - Benelli's are most likely to be found by those who can't shoot worth a flip. Used by virtually every famous professional duck hunter, these guns are advertised as the ultimate tool in the duck hunter's arsenal. They can even cycle 3.5 inch shells. Everytime. But I shoot a twenty gauge 2.75" shell, so I need not to own such a manly-man's gun. Today's Generation X goose hunters and duck hunters have been led to believe that the gun is the most important part of the hunt. Sorry kids, it's the aim. Filling the sky with twice the amount of steel than produced by a twenty gauge load doesn't make you a good shot, it makes you an inefficient killer. Generally, Benelli's are shot by braggarts or twenty-somethings. I'm both, but I don't shoot a Benelli. Benelli's are most often bought by people who actually don't hunt that often, yet want to ensure that they have a big gun with a reliable action when they do go afield. These guys also think that the Benelli is an automatic upgrade on the man card.

Mossberg's - Mossberg's are traditionally bought by people who want a bargain gun at a bargain price. Yep, the Marine's use them. They're tough. They're uglier than your first love. They rarely malfunction, but never function comfortably. They kick horrendously. They don't shoulder well. Did I mention they were ugly? They are the ultimate utilitarian gun. People who buy Mossberg's like to brag on how hard and tough there guns are, but people who shoot Mossbergs always, ALWAYS, wear white brief underwear - and usually generic. It's practical, right? They also don't use a brush - they use combs. There cars and trucks have cloth seats - or vinyl. And they are never heated. Personally, I never liked them. I'm not discerning, but I am appreicative of a nice looking gun that is soft on my shoulder.

I'm sure I left some out. If you shoot a Charles Daly, it's because you have nothing else. If you shoot a Parker, it's because you can. Same for a Merkel. Bertuzzi's and the like are shot by those who prefer to shoot their ducks from the comfort of a heated blind surrounded by escargot and Argentinian Bird Boys. you can tell a lot about people based on their guns. Some people say that lazy people shoot an 870. You don't HAVE to clean can just shuck the rust right off. Either way, guns are a personal item. Often times, they are the only thing that will constantly occupy you on a duck hunt. Get one you like and disregard what I mentioned's just how I see things.

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