Firearms are tools and often represent technological trends, if you think about it. Today’s firearms are lighter, more durable and sometimes more accurate than they were even a generation ago.
That does not, however, mean that older guns like the ones your grandfather owned should be mothballed or turned into scrap. As a matter of fact, some of Grandpa’s guns are almost essential to own today.
Let’s take a look at five:
1. Winchester 1894 Lever-Action Rifle
You do not see too many-lever action rifles in today’s gun market, unless they are specifically designed for Old West reenactors. But these rifles literally tamed the West and have brought meat to the table for over a century and a half. The 1894 represented the ultimate refinement of the design. Purists prefer their Winchesters made prior to 1964 due to manufacturing changes, but even a post-1964 rifle is still a keeper.
A Winchester ’94 chambered in 30-30 Winchester represents a fine hunting and brush rifle, even for today’s shooters.
2. Smith & Wesson Model 19
One of the finest double-action revolvers made this side of the Colt Python is the Smith & Wesson Model 19. Built on the classic K-Frame, this mid-sized revolver served as a police sidearm and is still in use today by hunters and outdoorsman. They can be a bit hard to find and were eclipsed by the slightly larger models 586/686 built on the L-Frame.
Chances are that if your grandfather owned a 357 Magnum wheel gun, it was most likely a model 19.
3. Colt 1911
If your grandfather served in the US military, it’s more than likely he carried a Colt 1911. This 45 semi-automatic from Colt is an iconic handgun made by numerous manufacturers today and has been popular with those who participate in shooting sports.
I’m not talking about an accurized modern handgun made from CNC, MIM or stainless steel. I’m talking about the original, slab-sided Colt version. These were hand-fitted pistols assembled by master craftsmen and saw service from the World War I through Vietnam.
A great addition to any collection, US Property-marked Colts are going through the roof in price now. Runner-ups include those made by Remington Rand, Savage, Union Smith, and Signal and Ithaca. Barring that, a commercial Colt as late as a Series 70 will suffice.
4. Springfield 1903
The 1903 Springfield is a classic bolt-action rifle based on the 98 Mauser action that saw service as late as the Vietnam War. Chambered in 30-06 Springfield, this rifle became popular as a hunting rifle between wars.
In its original configuration, it is a fine example of a classic military rifle. But even a sporterized version makes for a perfect deer camp candidate.
5. Winchester Model 12
This pump-action shotgun has probably dropped more ducks and taken more deer than just about any other model in existence. Originally offered in 20 gauge only, the model 12 was soon offered in the more popular 12 and 16 gauges and later in the 28 gauge.
More than 2 million were made between 1912 and 1954 and included riot and trench gun variants and deluxe pigeon-grade variants with better wood and finishes. Winchester’s first internal hammer-pump shotgun set the standard by which every other pump shotgun produced since then is judged.
Even if your grandfather didn’t own any of these firearms, these five examples represent what I think are the true classics of days gone by.
What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below: