Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

OUTDOORS: Let the Gun Buyer Beware

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

OUTDOORS: Let the Gun Buyer Beware

Article excerpt

The more I watch "Pawn Stars," the more I realize that it isn't "reality" TV.

I started watching the show because I'm a big fan of pawn shops. Over the years, I've gotten some really good gun and fishing tackle deals and seen some really interesting things in pawn shops. But the stuff that keeps coming in the door on the History Channel's hit show is just consistently a bit too interesting.

It makes me wonder if someone isn't finding interesting pieces for folks to bring into the shop. Not that it really matters in the long run because I still enjoy seeing the odd things people want to sell. And I learned a really good lesson from watching how the owners deal with the claims people make about their items.

Before they buy an item, they look for real evidence that Ted Williams really did hit a home run with the bat or the Winchester really did belong to Buffalo Bill Cody.

It served me well last week at the gun show in Birmingham. I've come to really like Winchester Model 12 pump guns. Now the Remington Model 870 is probably a functionally better gun that fits me every bit as well. But a Model 12 has a certain cache. Pump guns are among the least glamorous of all firearms, and one has to be really special to command the high prices that people pay for Model 12s.

Now a real Model 12 aficionado like my friend Jerry Carpenter wants to buy them all in original condition looking like they just came off the shelf at Allen and Jemison Co. in 1953. The thing that interests me most about the old pumps is their place in clay target shooting history.

Model 12s were the gun of choice for skeet shooters and some trap shooters into the 1950s. For the average skeet shooter, four Model 12 Winchesters were pretty standard. And they stayed that way until replaced by sets of Model 1100 Remington guns.

Trap and skeet shooters do all kinds of weird and wonderful things to their shotguns. It's all aimed at creating this perfect shooting machine that never misses a target. Of course, it's an unfulfilled quest because guns don't miss targets; people miss targets. But target shooters tricked out their Model 12s with custom stocks, added vent ribs and Cutts Compensators and put special matte finishes on top of receivers to cut down on glare.

That's not to say that the things they added aren't improvements. Custom fitting a gun to a shooter can make a difference. But nobody can make a gun infallible.

The demand for vent ribs and Cutts Compensators -- the predecessors to today's screw-in chokes -- was so great that Winchester actually got in on the act itself. Shooters could get Model 12s with factory-installed ribs. Some were installed by Simmons Gun Repair in Olathe, Kan., but were considered factory because they were done at Winchester's direction.

I'd come to the gun show in Birmingham last week mainly to get . …

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