Sunday, January 22, 2006

Winchester, and my first GGP

Like Og, I found myself fondly cradling my favorite (ok, only) Winchester after I heard the news.

Now, this isn't my "old Winchester". In fact, this rifle only gained a place in my gunsafe AFTER I had a gunsafe. However, it is AN old Winchester - based on what I was able to research from the serial number, I think it was manufactured somewhere around 1924. Which means, theoretically, I might own a 100-year old rifle before I die, if I can hang around long enough.

Sad story about Dad, good story about good friends to follow:

On June 24th 2005, Dad called me, said he was in a lot of pain and needed help. Unfortunately, when he called me, Lisa (my wife, in case you haven't been paying attention) was in surgery to find out what went wrong when they removed her gall bladder earlier that week.

I said on the phone, "Daddy, Lisa's in surgery right now, I can't leave here. But I'll get you help." I called one of my oldest, bestest friends, Dave, who was about to get off work, and asked him to go check in on Dad. He did, and shortly thereafter, determined that Dad needed to go to the hospital.

Dave called 911, then followed the ambulance, and escorted Dad through the BS hospital crap until I could make sure Lisa was OK post-op, then get to another hospital, and get my head in the game there.

Looking back, the ER docs told me that night that Dad was dying... they just didn't say it hard enough for it to sink in. What I heard was "He's in bad shape, and he's not leaving here anytime soon" or something like that. Anyway, what I came away with, before Dave left, was that nobody would be at Dad's house for a while... and all of his guns were unsecured. No safe, no nothing. So I asked Dave, as I was cutting him loose from hospital duty, to do me one more favor that night (and it was late at this point... shows what kind of GOOOOOOOD friends I have, which I'm eternally thankful for) - I gave him my keys to Dad's, and asked him to take all of Dad's guns home with him and lock them in his safe until further notice.

Dave, being the great good friend that he is, did so. He went significantly out of his way to go back to Dad's, either late at night or in the wee hours of the morning (at this point, I don't remember which), collected all of Dad's guns, and took them home with him and locked them up in his own gunsafe to protect them.

Daddy died the next afternoon.

Dave then kept Dad's guns for me until I got my own gunsafe a month or so later... and that's when the Winchester Model 94, in .32 Winchester Special, among others, actually came into my possession.

Incedentally... I need to go shoot that '94 a bit more. Daddy didn't like it; he was fairly sensitive to recoil, and it does push a bit (I'd hate to see what he had to say about my lightweight .308 Tikka boltie)... but as I remember, that's a pretty damn accurate rifle. Need to do more shooting of it :)

Of course, I have to balance that with the fact that .32 Win Spl is relatively expensive... need to get a set of reloading dies for it and make more :)

Dallas/Fort Worth NOR members, or any NOR members who'll be in DFW in the forseeable future... anybody want to come shoot a bit of history with me?

Just as an historical footnote - the .32 Winchester Special and the .30-30 were developed as sister cartriges. This was during the transition from black powder to smokeless. The .30-30 was developed to be a smokeless-only cartrige; the .32 Win Spl was loaded with smokeless, but designed to be reloaded with black powder. Thus the difference in rifling twists - going from memory here, but I seem to recall that the .30-30 was designed with a 1-in-12 twist, and the .32 Win Spl, designed to be reloaded with commonly-available black powder, had a 1-in-18 twist. Other than the propellant, and the diameter of the bullet, there is no difference in the .30-30 and the .32 Win Spl... which means .32 Win Spl can be reloaded using .30-30 cases, necked up to .32. Something I'll keep in mind, and the rest of my reloading audience should too...


Blogger David said...

My grandfather died about two years ago, and his .30-30 Win 94 got passed on to his sons. Grandpa bought it shortly after he came to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1936-37, from one of the surviving Wells Fargo Pony Express riders. The guy described his route and everything. I've handled it a few times, and you get kind of tingly with the history and all.

There's a lot of history in a rifle from the 1920s. You might want to try to get a factory letter out of Winchester real quick before the factory historian vanishes... you could learn some interesting facts about the first owner of your Winchester.

11:44 PM  
Blogger David said...

D'oh! Grandpa's gun wasn't a '94. It's in .44 caliber, not .30-30. And it's got a yellow (brass?)frame. It's definitely a Winchester, though. My uncle spent $10 on a single cartridge about fifteen years ago in a gun shop in Tahoe, as a birthday present for Grandpa. Now you can buy them online.

11:54 PM  

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