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The handiest gun revisited
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In my book, guns are neither good nor evil; they are simply inanimate tools that do what their owners use them to do. Over a lifetime outdoors I have come across numerous situations in which a gun has been extremely handy. I have killed coiled rattlers that were about to strike, and chased away bears that were raiding our icebox.  A gun can indeed save a life.
 One interesting phenomenon I have observed is that you can’t kill a rattler or scare off a bear or anything else if you havn’t got your gun with you. You also can’t defend your family against a drug crazed maniac if you havn’t got your gun with you.
Numerous times, both men and women have asked my advice about which gun might be best for them. The answer will almost always vary depending upon the circumstances of the person involved. Prospective gun buyers agonize over all sorts of things: from caliber to style from, rifle to handgun, to scattergun. They consider make and model, barrel length, and choke, action and manufacturer. There are a host of variables to consider and they are all relevant. One factor in the choice of a gun that I believe is extremely important is what I call the “Handiness Factor”. I define “the Handiness Factor” as the probability that you’ll have the gun with you when you need it.  A gun will not put food on the table if you havn’t got it with you.
I have seen a lot of great guns over the years, as well as a few lousy ones. A handy gun must meet several criteria. It must be light in weight so that it’s easy to carry. It must be simple to use and it must shoot ammunition that can be readily obtained almost anywhere. The handy gun has to be rugged and reliable in almost all climate extremes, from muddy swamp to frozen blizzard to searing deserts. There are several guns that fit pass the handiest test.  First and foremost is the AR-7 survival rifle designed for the Air Force in the 1950s.  Another extremely handy gun is the Savage Over/Under that has a 223 Rifle barrel over a 12 gauge shotgun barrel. It’s a great gun for a rancher to have in the pickup who might use it on a rattler one day and a coyote the next. For some reason sheep and cattle ranchers don’t seem to appreciate either rattlers or coyotes. While it is very handy, it is also quite heavy to lug around for hours.
Another great combo gun is manufactured by Amadeo Rossi is a break action, single shot gun that has interchangeable barrels so that in about 60 seconds you can switch from a shotgun to almost any caliber rifle ranging from 22 long rifle and 223 clear up to 30-06 and 308 calibers for big game. While it’s only a single shot, its light weight and affordable price make it ideal for someone who is on a limited budget. I just saw an ad last weekend from Big 5 offering the Rossi with a 223 rifle barrel and a 20 gauge shotgun barrel for under $200. Who knows? Maybe for your needs, it’s the world’s handiest gun.

Until Next Week,

Tight Lines