Recently on my forum we were discussing the merits of having a lot of guns.
We mentioned how things were back in 1965, and for you young guys, yes we
had guns back in 1965, not as many as today, but we had them. One fellow
recently mentioned that a friend of his actually had 2 deer rifles, count
Ďem folks, two. He couldnít understand why anyone would have 2 rifles and
they were the same caliber even. Things were different back then, and not
just the prices of guns nor the prices of ammunition nor the wages we were
paid back then. Things have pretty much stayed even thru the years. In 1965
I was into my second year in radio as a disc jockey. I was making about $75
a week and my Dad couldnít understand why I made so much money sitting on my
butt playing records and yapping all day. Yep, back then $75 was a decent
weeks pay, especially for a 20 year old rock & roll super stud....well, he
thought he was.
You donít believe it? Well, letís look at some of the prices of guns back
The Remington Model 700 ADL, which was the plain jane rifle of the line up,
came in all the standard calibers and back then there werenít many standard
calibers. They were 222, 223, 22-250, 243 and 308. It also came in 2 magnum
calibers, 264 Win. Mag and 7mm Rem. mag. Thatís it. The 6mm had been
introduced, then dropped. It was to be renamed and put back out again but
for reasons unknown to me it never was really popular. If they had called it
the 243 Magnum, it probably would have done better, but who knows. Anyway
those were the calibers. The gun retailed for $129. 95 but could be had for
$99 just about anywhere. I bought a 22-250 for $99 that year for groundhogs.
I had to do a lot of paperwork too. They handed me a form, I signed it to
attest that I was over 18 and that was it. The big gun control bill was
still 3 years away. Now the Remington 700 BDL was the deluxe model and it
sold for $20 more. You could also get the African model which came in 375
H&H or 458 Win. Mag for $325 but a rock & roll super stud had no use for
those calibers plus they were over a months pay.
Savage was around in 1965 and had their Model 110 out, again in all the
popular calibers (all 5 of them) at $102.50. Weatherby had their Mark 5
rifle out in 5 of the Weatherby calibers at $295, again a rich manís gun.
Winchester had their Model 70 out in the standard grade and the Magnum
grade. For some reason the Winchester was considered by many to be the white
collar workerís rifle while Remington was the blue collar workerís rifle.
The Winchester was $20 more than the Remington (so obviously it was the rich
manís gun). The Magnum Model 70 was sky high at $165.
And that was about it. There were a couple of Colt rifles but they were made
on Sako actions and not readily available and Sears sold several rifles that
were made by High Standard and a couple of other companies, but for the most
part, those were the choices we had back in 1965.
In rimfire rifles we had our choice of names like Browning, Colt, High
Standard, Ithaca, Marlin, Mossberg, Remington, Ruger (yes Ruger had their
10-22 back in 1965), Savage, Stevens, Weatherby, H&R, and Winchester, and
most of these companies had 6 or 8 models out. I was working at a radio
station in downtown Nashville on Church street and a Woolworth was nearby. I
would hang out there sometimes in the mornings. My air shift started at 2PM
and went to 8PM. I would stop by there to see if they had anything new. Real
gun shops were few and far between back then. There were a couple in
Nashville but on opposite ends of town and nowhere near where I worked. I
bought my first 22 rifle at Woolworths, a Marlin 99M1. It was $39.95 if I
remember right. I had been drooling over a Savage Anschutz 22 rifle, but it
was almost $70, nearly a weeks pay, so I went with the Marlin. I was to try
to wear the little Marlin carbine out over the next 10 or so years but when
it left my hands (probably on a trade) it was still as accurate as the day
it was shipped from Marlin.
I guess I should mention there were other rifles back then, other than the
ones I mentioned but most were foreign guns of unknown quality and not
always available, so the average hunter didnít really pay them much mind.
Now when it came to handguns, there were 3 or 4 categories. There were
handguns under $60 and handguns over $60. There were target and service
handguns and there were single action handguns. You will notice none were
listed as hunting handguns. Al Goerg was doing a lot of hunting with his
handguns then but it was pretty much considered a novelty, nothing any sane
man would try. I had bought his book Pioneering Handgun Hunting a year
before and was beginning to think strongly about hunting with handguns, but
the bug hadnít bit me yet.
Al would die in a plane crash in Alaska later that year but his book and a
few magazine articles would start many a bon fire in a young manís gut to
try that handgun hunting thing. In the next 12 months the bug was to bite me
and my whole hunting and shooting life would change.
In the revolvers under $60, High Standard and H&R ruled the roost with about
a dozen models each, most in the upper $40 range to the mid $50s. In the
revolvers over $60 most would have never even been considered for handgun
hunting. Guns like the Colt Detective Special at $70, the other Colt small
frame revolvers in the same price range, the S&W model 10s and model 12s,
both more police guns than anything else with their fixed sights. These ran
again in the $70 to $75 range. Where were the hunting handguns you say?
Well, not in a hunting handguns category. They were listed in the target
category. This included the Colt Python at $125, most of the large frame
S&Ws, including the Model 29 in 44 Magnum and at $140 as was the brand new
Model 57 in the new 41 Magnum caliber, and the Model 27 in 357 Magnum at
$120. The rimfire S&Ws were in this same target category also. High Standard
had the most guns in the target category with almost a dozen 22 rimfire
pistols. Most ran from $70 up to a bit over $100 for the real high priced
pistols. One must also remember target shooting, with handgun and rifle was
extremely popular back then. Every weekend men would put their best suit and
hat on and the women would dress like they were going to church and hit the
target ranges. A real target shooter wouldnít be caught dead without a tie
on and one of the Indiana Jones type fedoras. You just werenít cool if you
came to a target match not dresses properly. That just wasnít cool at all.
It was not at all unusual to see hunting articles in Outdoor Life, or Field
& Stream where the hunter was duck hunting in a duck blind and was wearing a
tie and dress shirt under his hunting coat.
In the single action category were the Colt SAAs at around $125 and the
Rugers, from the Bearcat at $40, to the Single Six at $65, to the Blackhawks
at about $85 to the Super Blackhawk at $115. Rugerís Hawkeye in 256
Winchester was priced at about $85 and listed way in the back of the
magazines as miscellaneous guns, along with the Remington XP-100 at $95,
and the Universal Enforcer at $115. But nowhere did they mention these guns
as hunting revolvers, just miscellaneous handguns..
In the service and sport category, we had the Browning Hi Power at $90,
several Browning rimfire pistols, the Colt Government Model at $90 and the
Commander at $10 less. We also had a couple of Colt rimfire pistols back
then but only a couple at a bit over $50 each. Al;so in that same category
we had several Hi Standard 22 rimfires all priced well under $60 and the
Ruger standard model 22 pistol at $40.
Also as in the rifles above there were plenty of foreign handguns around,
but most were in the military styles, such as the P-38s, lots of Lugers,
lots of Star pistols, along with Llamas, and war issue Walthers. Also we
didnít have the specialty gun magazines back then that premiered a new gun
every month in living color on the front cover. When the gun magazines did
an article, for the most part, it was a target handgun or maybe a police
revolver. In the field of guns back then there was still an extremely large
amount of old military guns being sold thru the NRA and thru magazines.
Remember back in 1965, we could order handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammo
all thru the mail, no FFL or dealer required. Just sign the paper saying you
were over 18 and send in your money. Personal checks were fine too. U.S.
military issue 1911s were going for $17.50 thru the NRA. Military issue M-1
Garands were about $30, M-1 carbines about $25 and so on. But again remember
back then the average man who had worked for 15 years made about $200 a
week, most well under that. So a 1911 at $17.50 was a lot of money just for
a handgun. I bought a 4 year old 1961 Chevy Impala in 1965 and my car
payment was about $20 a month, my insurance was another $5 a month, so there
went almost half my weeks pay. I simply couldnít afford to blow almost half
a weeks pay on some old military gun.
So back 50 years ago probably not that many shooters or hunters had
duplicate rifles, shotguns or handguns. If something happened to it, we
could get it fixed for little or nothing and replacement guns were readily
available also. No reason to buy 2 or more of the same gun.
Things sure have changed in the last 50 years. Now we all probably make
close to the same amount, in 2014 dollars as we did in 1965 dollars, but
somehow our mind set is totally different. If we see a rifle for $2500, we
sell the guns we have or do whatever we need to to be able to buy that gun.
Credit cards have spoiled us big time. The average person doesnít think
twice about putting a $2000 rifle or shotgun on his credit card. It just
comes natural. I have a friend in Phoenix who owns a fairly large business.
He builds big expensive houses for the wealthy. His gofer who runs errands
for him runs up to Flag once or twice a month to see what we have new in the
showcase. If there is something new he pays for it with the bossís credit
card and we ship the gun down to a dealer in Phoenix. The gofer told me his
boss had waited almost a year for a new Lamborghini 4 wheel drive vehicle to
arrive in the states. When it arrived there were 4 of them. The rich dude
sent the gofer to the dealer to look at them and pick out the nicest. He
paid for it with a credit card.
This is just an example of where our minds are these days. I have been to
the Safari Club Shows in Las Vegas in a booth with our custom guns. I have
bought guns that I just had to have right then. I didnít need them. Two of
them were double rifles that I never took to Africa with me. I hunt with
handguns, so I needed those 2 double rifle like I need a third testicle.
So I am as guilty of the ďgots to have itĒ illness as any other, but to be
honest with you, if it werenít for that illness, we would probably not be in
business today. So, all in all, I am thankful; for the changing times. And
yes, I have duplicates of many of my guns. I got on a 28 gauge over/under
kick a while back and bought 5 of them and I havenít yet figured out how to
shoot but one at a time. I really love the CZ 22 rimfire rifles and bought
several of those in 22 LR and 22 Magnum, but like the shotguns, I havenít
figured how to shoot but one at a time. So if you suffer from the same
illness as I do, donít criticize yourself too much. We only live once and if
it doesnít take money out of the family budget or food out of your
childrenís mouths, live a little. Guns are like money in the bank these
days. Maybe even better.
Things these days are still in a rut with the shortages still here, some are
easing up, but most are still here. We got a batch of powder this past week
and I thought things were getting better until I looked at the invoice. It
was dated November 2013, it took 8 months for us to get that powder and
there were well over 140 lbs of it still back ordered. The situation with
the 22 rimfire ammo is still stagnant, with a brick or two coming in every
10 days or so. Even parceling it out a box or 2 at a time, it is gone within
3 or 4 hours. We havenít had 22 magnum ammo in 5 or 6 months. Many brands of
bullets are back ordered. On that invoice of powder were about 60 boxes of
Nosler bullets, all back ordered. I will tell you what I tell all the folks
that come into the gun shop (and I am not over there much at all, maybe 3 or
4 times a day, for 10 to 15 minutes each time) but if you really need ammo,
powder, bullets or primers and you see them but at a higher price than you
expect, if you really need them, buy them. We have no idea how long this
shortage will last. The people in the know say by the end of the year things
will start to ease up, but who knows. We have hunting season coming up in a
month or two, so if you need it and you really enjoy hunting or shooting,
buy it. As John Taffin always says, 6 months from now you wonít miss that
extra buck or two. Life is too short, donít waste it waiting for prices to
go down. They may not.
Our next Handgun Hunting Challenge is now 2 months away, with Oct 2-5 being
the dates. I already have 37 people signed up and room for about 15 more. if
you want to join us, consider this my personal invitation to you to join us
at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee in 2 months. you wonít
regret it. Call 931-839-2091 today to sign up and join us.
Til next month, take a youngster or lady shooting or hunting, or both. They
are our future.