Smith And Wesson Forums banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

· Registered
48,858 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
by Michael Altizer | Jun 17, 2020 | FIREARMS, SHOTGUNS, Slider
Not For Sale: My Faithful Field Companion

She wasn’t the most beautiful shotgun in the world. But from the moment I saw her, I knew she must be mine.
“There’s someone here in the lobby to see you.”
Dang! I have no time for this, I thought.
“Who is it? Do they have an appointment?” I barked.
I could hear the receptionist’s muffled voice on the other end of the line as she asked, “What is your name, please? Do you have an appointment?”
I couldn’t hear the visitor’s muted response.
“Her name is…” but it didn’t register. Didn’t mean a darn thing to me. “No, she doesn’t have an appointment. She says that Mr. McNabb suggested she drop by to see you.”
“Sorry,” I said, rather curtly. “I’m on a deadline right now. Find out what they want and have them make an appointment.”
“Yes sir,” the receptionist responded. And then, as though she had turned her head, she whispered discreetly into the phone, “She’s very pretty.”
Hmmm…I thought. “Okay, give me a couple of minutes.”

As I said, I really didn’t have time to see anyone. But our receptionist was quite the looker herself, and if she said this lady was pretty, it would be downright rude on my part to ignore her opinion. So I finished the paragraph I was working on, set the accompanying photos aside, and eased out of my office and into the lobby where I saw the most stunningly beautiful lady I had ever laid eyes on.

She sat there cross-legged, her head down, casually reading a magazine. Her long dark hair fell in perfect waves around her lovely angular shoulders, and her whole carriage spoke of elegance, grace and character.
She was here to see me about…well, to be honest, I’ve forgotten exactly why she was there, and all I know for certain is that a couple of years later she and I were married and teamed up to make the finest daughter a man could ever wish for.

That’s the way it works sometimes. You’re just going along doing your dailies, minding your own business, when something that turns out to be positively life-altering jumps up and bites you where these sorts of things often bite.
And so it was with the little English 16 gauge.

Eleven years later that very same daughter and I walked into a local gun show. We hadn’t even made our way into the main showroom when the most captivating shotgun I had ever beheld jumped off a table and into my hands. Before I knew it, she was nestled snuggly into my shoulder with her rich, warm walnut stock pressed seductively into my face.
16 gauge with quail
She was a slender little 16-gauge side-by-side with beautifully proportioned 28-inch barrels, straight-gripped with precisely the correct amount of drop and cast that made me ‘n her a dead-on fit. Her balance was immaculate, her form a sensual delight. Her engraving was perfectly imperfect and tastefully executed, her wood God’s own definitive expression of what finely figured walnut should be. And each time I lowered her to my chest and then raised her once more to my shoulder, she whispered sweet nothings in my ear.

This went on for a rather awkward minute or two, until people walking past began to stop and stare and the guy at the table finally felt compelled to speak.
“Like that gun, Mike?” And I looked down, and there sat my old pal Mo, grinning ear to ear like he already knew he had me.
“Sorry, man. I guess I got carried away there. What the heck is this?”
He told me what little he knew about the gun, how he’d picked it up from an old grouse-and-woodcock hunter in Michigan last November, that it was made by A. Hill & Son in England sometime in the early 1920s, and all the incidental stuff that I hadn’t yet discovered for myself.

I knew right then I could never live without her, and we’ve been life partners ever since.
Oh, the attention that gun drew as we walked through the show.
“What’cha got there, buddy?” became the recurring question.
“A. Hill and Son,” became my recurring reply “It’s a Little English 16 gauge.”
“She for sale?”
And nearly as often…”Daddy, ya want me to carry that gun for you?”
“Thanks, little bud, but I got it.”
Then a few minutes later, ”Want me to carry the gun for you, Daddy?”
“Thanks…I’m good.”
Then in another few minutes: “Dad, you sure you don’t want me to carry that gun?”
And suddenly I realized that my darlin’ little daughter actually wanted to carry the gun herself.
”Well, it is getting a little heavy,” I replied as she wrested it from my hands. “You sure you don’t mind?”
I watched discreetly as she carried the little beauty through the show that day, properly broken open with its muzzle always pointed safely to the floor.

“What’cha got there, honey?” became the still-recurring question.
“A. Hill and Son…little English 16 gauge.”
“She for sale?”
I honestly think I lost the gun to my daughter by the time we left the show that day, though in the years since she has graciously allowed me to hunt with it. I have taken more quail and grouse and pheasants and woodcock with that gun than I could ever count.

I first carried it to Georgia a couple of months after we brought it home, where I met up with John Skinner of Orvis fame. John took the gun back to Vermont and thoroughly checked it out and cleaned it and fitted it with a new leather butt-pad. When we returned to Georgia later that fall, John and I, Bruce Bowlen, and Todd Rogers headed out onto the plantation, where I took my very first quail with it.

Old Barney, Todd’s high-spirited English cocker, flushed the bird from in front of the pointers. It was a hard right-to-left crossing shot through the live oaks and longleaf pines. Having never swung on a live bird with the gun, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, especially with the little auburn-colored rocket erratically disappearing and reappearing through the thick autumn foliage. But sure enough, at the shot he folded up pretty as you please, and a moment later Barney was back at Todd’s side with the warm, feathered confirmation that the old gun and I were now officially a pair.
Three singles and a double fell before I missed a shot, and by evening’s end Skinner and Todd were trying to buy her from me.

They might just as well have tried to buy my daughter.

Since that memorable quail hunt, I have carried it for more miles than I can ever hope to recall. A few months ago my friend and gun-finishing wizard, Brian Board of Timberluxe fame, touched up the scarred wood and refreshed the worn, flat-top British checkering, and now she’s good to go for another decade or two.

This past season I took her down to Rio Piedra in southern Georgia for quail with Jim Carmichel and the gang, along with Jim’s Holland & Holland, Mister Marc’s new Merkel, my old 1929 Purdey, Brian’ custom-stocked Winchester Model 21, and Murph’s new Galazan RBL. As always, she fit right in with the more elegant guns and did me proud.

In the end, I’m certain she will outlast me. But no matter where the future might lead, I find great satisfaction in knowing this lovely little gun will always be my most faithful field companion.
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.