These classic American guns make us wish we could step back in time.
American classic guns, classic firearms from the U.S., or even antique guns, the fact is that whatever you call them, they've made their mark on our country's gun owning history. We may be familiar with them already, have one in our possession, or know someone who does.
Between handguns, rifles, and shotguns, this is not so much a gun review as it is a walk down memory lane. We have plenty of time to talk about new products, but this time around we'll take a look at three simple firearms of distinction that got us started.
We can talk about single shot firearms, side-by-side and over/under shotguns, or the venerable lever action rifles that we know and love until the cows come home. Mostly we just want to jog your memory banks, and maybe cause you to put aside that brand new Remington, Tokarev, or Smith & Wesson for a minute and pick up a collectable just to remind yourself of the good old days.
This is not to say that you can't find some version of these today, but only that the originals are what put them on the map. They may be military surplus guns, hand-me-downs, or purchased from the used gun market. Our fathers and grandfathers may have owned them, leaving us seriously wanting one of our own to hunt or shoot targets.
Trying to choose just three might be the toughest problem, but you can add to this list at your leisure!
The Colt 1911 Handgun
With the sheer number of possibilities that a firearm owner can own in the handgun department, there's always some level of argument that you can start. But we're not trying to stir anything up, or say that this one is better or more functional than some of the offerings from other stand outs like SIG SAUER, Glock, Luger, or Ruger. We only want to point out that this particular model is one hell of a classic American gun for sticking in your holster.
John Browning Model 1911 pistols are over a century old and still going strong, but Colt has been making 1911s longer than just about anyone else, so they also know how to give the 1911 just the right modern upgrades as technology advances.
Even at that, other quality manufacturers from around the globe have taken to this amazing model that has been used by the U.S. military and law enforcement groups for many years and put their own stamp on it. In some cases, their designs make it even better than the original.
The Colt 1911 in .45 ACP was the standard of military issue from 1911 to the mid-80s and used in every World War in between. The 1911 was formally replaced by the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol as the standard U.S. sidearm in October 1986, but many other changes have been made across the different branches of the service since then as well.
But make no mistake, modernized variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. military and their members because it is still such a viable and trusted firearm.
Winchester Model 120 Pump
Winchester Model 120 FAC Pump action shotgun used but in excellent condition. Wooden furniture 28" multichoke vented tube.
Some of you may roll your eyes, but here is my reasoning for choosing the Winchester 120: there were a lot of us who were just starting out in life 30-40 years ago. We had our first real jobs, apartments, vehicles, and not much money left for fishing and hunting, let alone to buy a new firearm.
We watched friends or co-workers show off their Remington 1100 autoloaders or worse, a brand new Browning A5, and we became quite jealous because we just couldn't afford such a luxury. I would get nervous just looking at a Benelli ad, thinking I couldn't contain myself.
Then, along came the 120.
Considered by some to be a youth hunting system, the Winchester 120 12-gauge that I owned came with a vented rib bird barrel, the three piece Win choke system (Imp Cyl, Mod Cyl, and a Full Choke), and included a smooth bore, open sighted deer barrel right there in the box. That's like getting two guns for the price of one!
The full price that I paid brand new was $150 plus tax. I could hunt birds and deer with my own gun and not a borrowed one. I felt free to customize it with some camo wrap tape, a sling of my choice, and eventually a scope for the deer barrel.
It may not be the first to come to mind when you think about a collectible long gun, but it was a good firearm that got a lot of us started out in our hunting ways, and that makes it a classic.
Marlin 336 Lever Action
Again, there are so many rifles, rifle brands, and rifle owners out there to keep the debate going from now until the end of time, but that's not what this is about. It's not so much an opinion as it is facts about duration and longevity. It's about what our fathers and grandfathers had hanging on the mantle over the fireplace, and why.
And if it was a lever action, it could only be the Marlin 336.
We read stories about elk and even moose hunts with the 336 and were absolutely transfixed. We listened to our elders talk about that time when they were deer hunting, shot a big buck, and then a black bear walked into range. Guess what? They took that too!
This rifle was first introduced in 1948 by Marlin Firearms, and is one of the most popular lever-action rifles ever produced. The Model 336 has such widespread use for very good reasons: it's easy on the wallet, powerful, very accurate, and reliable for the everyday hunter.
Marlin still produces the 336 in at least seven different models. It is mainly available in the current .30-30 chambered model, but has come in other calibers as well.
Classic Guns and Why We Love Them
We can talk about ammo, we can discuss any long gun, or we can touch on concealed carry firearms, and we'll always have things to agree and disagree on. Shotguns in a semi-auto (semi-automatic), double barrel, or single shot version will always excite us, but it's the older guns we remember for leaving such a mark.
If you really want to stir some discussion at the local gun store, then bring up the topic of the classic gun category, because it's just about the best kind of argument you can get into.