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JamesJM's picture
Joined: 01/12/2012
Posts: 49
What makes a good gun?

When my Dad passed away in 2005 he left me a list of who gets his guns.  None of it was based on the guns 'value'.  He had his reasons; he didn't spell his reasons out in a written list but did exactly that in many conversations I had with him in which I was made aware of why he made his choices.  When my Dad died I presented each of his guns to my Dad's chosen recpient, it was an honorable assignment.  As his only son, and the only hunter (at that time, 2005), most came to me.  I'll be making my own list in the not so distant future... and I hope I'm as wise in my reasoning as my Dad was in his when he passed down his prized possessions.

None of my Dad's guns were of high value, not even the older ones.  That fact, however, did not lessen in the least their sentimental value nor their value as a reliable and efficient hunter's choice. I doubt, for example, that many, if any, can match the number of game taken by my Dad's 30-30, and that wasn't even his favorite gun... and therein lies the reason I'm writing this... My Dad's favorite gun:

It's not particularly good looking, (I didn't really like it when I was a kid - though I envied nearly ALL the others).  As I understand it... it was notorious for 'jamming'.  It weighs a blessed ton. It is the Remington Model 11 Semi-Auto Shotgun.  According to the serial number a late 30's model.  

It was my Dad's favorite but I'm sorry to say... I'm not sure why, or perhaps... I do know... today.. more on that in a moment.

When I inherited the shotgun I simply put it away, sentimental value knowing it was my Dad's favorite.  And I never intended to fire it ever again... it was fine as it was.  But then... my grandson's came of age, and the old 'light' that hunting, shooting, and bonding with my Dad through this magnificent sport began to glow brightly once again and so... I thought I'd start my oldest grandson, for a few shots anyway, off with some trap shooting through the Model 11.  My hopes were dashed quickly, however, when I discovered that the action did not work; and I thought, "no way for my Dad's favorite gun to go out, even IF it was a museum piece"... and so, I took it to a gunsmith.  "Fix it, please, not sure I'll ever fire it but I want it working".

Months.. I waited months... and got it back just a short time ago... about 5 months at the Gunsmith's, (backloaded workload, too few gunsmith's these days).  Now I HAD fired the Rem. Model 11... but always, due to the gummed up action, only a single shot,  through a semi-auto... so in truth, you'll agree, I had NEVER fired it.  Never had experienced it as it should be experienced.

There is a 'sound', and a 'feel', that is unique to every gun.  Anyone with experience in guns that is reading this will know what I'm talking about here.  I took the 'repaired' Model 11 to my backyard, (country boy, I can shoot there), showed one of my younger grandson's how to load and pull my Trap Shooter... loaded some doubles, and then, and then, and then...

I don't know how to explain it.... other than to say, my Dad knew what he was talking about.  It's not always the most efficient, certainly not the 'newest', and still mostly likely not the most 'reliable'.... perhaps the Model 11 DOES have some problems in all those regards... but, big BUT.. when it's working... it's, well, pure joy.

Now I'm not trying to sell the Model 11 to you as a great shotgun... that's not even remotely my motive for this post.  What I'm trying to sell is:  11 years after my Dad passed away I spoke with him once again, by way of shooting his favorite gun, basically for the first time... and MOST importantly, learning why, even if I cannot put it into words, it WAS his favorite gun... I felt the reason, I heard it.

And then there is this:  My Dad didn't buy this Model 11... it was given to him.  It was his first shotgun.  It was given to him by his oldest brother.  His oldest brother went on to become an alcoholic, an abusive one, even to my Dad.. doing terrible things.. then apoligizing the next day, then doing it all again a month later.  My Dad's brother died of cancer, early 90's, and my Dad spent every last second of his brother's life at his side... something I don't know if I'll ever understand.  But I do know this... one of my Dad's brother's last words, to my Dad.. were, "That was my favorite gun, (The Rem Model 11), I gave it to the right person". 

Come next Quail season I'm taking my 3 oldest grandsons on our first, "as a family", quail hunt.  I bought my grandson's 870's... I think GREAT starting, AND CONTINUING, shotguns.  But me?  I'm going to take my Dad's Model 11.  Problem is:  My oldest grandson also shot my Dad's 'repaired' Model 11... and he is already making his case: "Pops, LOVE my 870, and you have your Ithaca O/U, you should probably let me shoot the Model 11."  Ah but not so, counters my 2nd oldest grandson, "Pops, Mason shot grandpa's .270 first, got a deer, I want the Model 11, it's only fair".  2nd grandson makes a good point.  3rd Grandson says, "I can shoot a 12 gauge Pops, (he's 9), "let me shoot it".  I'm not even sure the 9yr old can lift it BUT... I know for a fact he'd give it his best, and odds are, succeed.  You see, we all understand the importance, the significance, of getting the first quail by the muzzle of the Model 11 in what?  Maybe 30 years?  

The Remington Model 11:  Some say it's 'ugly', I won't argue the point even though I don't agree.  Some say it 'jams' way to often.. I think that is probably true.  Some will say.. "That's a frikkin' antique, they have em' in neon today and with flashing lights and WIFI so get with it old man"... also probably true.  And some will say, "No value?  You own the most valuable gun anyone CAN own".  To the latter, "yes, I know, thanks".  And also to the Latter... *I* am taking the next quail with the Model 11... "Pops", as I'm now known.  And in doing so I want to thank my Dad... for honoring me with... quite simply, the greatest gun EVER.  . - JamesJM



Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4413
I have to agree with you, it

I have to agree with you, it sounds like the Remington model 11 is one of the greatest shotguns out there. 

I happen to have a couple of other rifles and shotguns in my safe that I consider a couple of the greatest guns out there also.

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