OL reader Raymond Matthews from Laramie, Wyo., sent us this account of his favorite gun. To share your own, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to know the story of your favorite gun, and what makes it special to you. And, of course, we want to see a nice picture of it.
My Favorite Gun isn’t even mine anymore. I passed down my grampa’s old Stevens .22/410 over/under to my oldest daughter many years back. My grampa, Clyde Edgar, had very little in the way of luxuries in his life, but this O/U was one of them.
I remember him taking me out in the cornfields around Marshalltown, Iowa, when I was 5 years old to hunt pheasants. Even though it was only a .410, he always shot at least a couple. Later he would take me to the river bottoms in Southern Missouri to hunt the big red squirrels. Man, oh man. Just about the only thing I miss about the State of Misery is tough, old fried squirrel.
I took it back to Grampa even though I knew it would crush him, and I told him to let me take it and I would repair it as best I could.
He once loaned it to my father, and when he asked for it back, I had to search every bar in town, finally tracking it to a car trunk. It had rusted and the stock was dinged. I offered to repair it. I sanded the stocks over and over—today they are quite thinner than any other Stevens 24E. Did the same with the barrels and action. I got all the rust off and blued it back to a nice sheen. It took me months, but it was worth it to see the sparkle in Grampa’s eyes when I returned it. A few months later he handed me the Stevens and said, “This is yours now.”
A few months later, I got a call that he was comatose and would not last long. When I arrived at the hospital, he was curled into a fetal position and I could see that his spirit was already gone. I said goodbye, and we buried him next week.
I could not bring myself to fire the gun for the next 15 years, and finally gave it to my daughter. The forestock bears a plaque with his name, mine, and hers, and our birthdays. She never met her great-grandfather, but she knows his story, and she knows that when I disappear up into the mountains, I’ll be hunting the big country with him.