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Lamenting guns that got away over the years

by Bryan Hendricks | January 29, 2017 at 2:16 a.m.

We're taking requests, and this one comes from Don Barksdale, who asked what guns I wish I still owned.

Owning a firearm is a deeply personal relationship, and I am fond of certain guns for many reasons. Some are superbly accurate, and some are gorgeous, but the stories behind them are what make them special.

The most remarkable gun I ever had was a Grade III Browning Auto-5 Light 12. I found it at Gene Sears gun shop in El Reno, Okla., in 1999. It had a solid gold FN (Fabrique Nationale) inlay at the back of the hump, and it was hand engraved with a 26-inch, improved cylinder barrel. It was in the box and had never been assembled.

It was also way beyond my means. I wrote down the serial number and discovered it was manufactured in 1940, before the Wehrmacht overran Belgium.

In 2001, I sold my house in Oklahoma City. After closing, I drove to El Reno, and naturally the gun was gone. Mr. Sears asked whether I wanted to see anything, and I lamented missing out on that Auto-5.

"Aw, hell no!" Sears said. "I can't get anyone to look at the thing."

It was buried under a pile of shirts and jackets. He lowered the price considerably, but he finally held firm when my eyes betrayed that he had me.

It was one of the most beautiful guns I've ever seen, and a true once-in-a-lifetime gem. A gentleman in Wheatley talked me out of it, but I would sure like to see it one more time.

Another is a Browning Hi-Power 9mm with a T-preface serial number. The T series was the top of the line Hi-Powers, with the best finish and the best triggers. Side by side with any other Hi-Power, the differences were obvious.

As often happens, I showed it to a Hi-Power enthusiast, and it became part of his collection.

Then, there was the Winchester 101 that I got in a trade with Richard Hatcher, who recently retired as director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Hatcher was assistant director at that time, and Greg Duffy was director. I was in Duffy's office showing him a remarkable Ruger Red Label 28-gauge when Hatcher walked in.

A few days later, my phone rang. It was Hatcher inviting me to lunch.

We drove around town as he made several offers. I drove a hard bargain, never letting on that I despised that Red Label. Warren Montague once took it away from me during a bird hunt in Kansas when I was on the verge of wrapping it around a tree. He finally offered his prize Winchester 101 and a little boot. Deal!

I loved that 101 and shot it accordingly. We were lethal on doves, quail and pheasants.

I don't have it anymore, and I have no recollection of parting with it. It comes back to me in fond memories.

In 2005, I spied an old Winchester Super X1 12-gauge unassembled in Winchester's old red, white and blue box at the old Fort Thompson store in Rose City. The price was $325, which was phenomenal. It had a 30-inch, full choke barrel, so I went online and bought additional Skeet, Modified and Improved Cylinder barrels.

That X1 was a natural fit for me, and I shot it like I was born to it. Somehow I got it in my mind that I had no practical use for a 12-gauge that chambered only 2¾-inch shells, and I let it and its barrels go.

The same goes for the Remington Model 1100 Classic 16-gauge that I got for a bargain in 2006. I never shot a gun better than that one, but I resented the fact Remington compromised by putting an under-bored 12-gauge barrel on a 12-gauge frame, which made it too heavy for a 16-gauge. Away it went, to my everlasting regret.

The one I miss more than anything is a Remington 870 Express Youth Model 20-gauge that I bought in 2003 for my son, Daniel. It had a short little stock and a 22-inch barrel, and it came with an additional rifled slug barrel.

Dan used it for all of his hunting. He was a wicked wingshot with it, and I still daydream about his performance during our second-to-last duck hunt together at Hampton Reservoir when he was 16.

When Dan joined the Marines, I figured he wouldn't want it anymore, what with all the big-league weaponry he got to play with in the Corps, so I sold it to someone who wanted it for his own young son.

Dan died in May, and I regret parting with his one prized possession.

My daughters want to learn to shoot, and if I had that one back, I would never let it go again.

Sports on 01/29/2017

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