By Stewart F.
You know you live in Louisiana when your wife offers to go in halvsies on a new shotgun for Valentine’s Day. That or you’re just one lucky dude. Brace yourself, this will be equal parts gun review, musings of a first time duck hunter and range day recollection. I went duck hunting for the first time this year and was hooked instantly. Many of you are nodding your heads and wondering what took me so long. ‘I’m slow’ is all that I can say . . .
I have an old hand-me-down double barrel that still works great and I had a fair amount of success with it, at least for an utter newbie. But it’s an old Stevens 16 gauge. Fun to shoot. Works like a charm. Ammo is a pain to get. To get steel shot around here you have to order it online. Thus the new shotgun. It’s more economical to buy a new 12 gauge than to special order ammo just to shoot waterfowl.
My wife has been stupendously supportive of this even though she didn’t go into a marriage expecting her husband to be a hunter. Luckily she comes from a family of hunters. She even went out and bought me a nice pair of waders to get me started. Believe you me; insulated waders are a life-saver when you are stomping through icy water at 4:00 in the morning in January.
So, post season over a plate of BBQ, she asked me how I liked it and what other equipment I needed. I’m kind of a minimalist guy. If I don’t need it, I’ll usually just pass on it.
Good waders? Check. Nice jacket? Check. Shotgun? Double check. Hey, it’s got two barrels. But I mentioned, just in passing, how my hunting buddies were surprised at how well I did with an Elmer Fudd gun. Hannah didn’t bat an eye.
“Do we need to get you something better?”
Except what guy can just say no to a new shotgun? A sissy guy that’s who. Well, I ain’t no sissy. The more I thought about it the more it seemed like a good idea. The better the idea seemed the more I wanted one.
But what to get? I initially considered a new 16 gauge. Yes, that completely invalidates my initial reasoning but I have a tendency to like obscure things. Still, economics weigh heavily in any decision. I researched different shotguns for weeks before I made my decision to go with a Browning BPS in 12 Gauge.
Receiver: Forged and machined steel
Barrel: Ventilated rib • 28″
Action: Bottom ejection • Dual steel action bars • Top-tang safety
Stock: Maple• Matte black finish
Features Three Invector-Plus choke tubes • Silver colored front bead sight
Capacity: 3 rounds. 2 3/4″ or 3″
Weight: 8lbs 1oz
Best. Valentines. Gift. Ever!
Why did I go with the BPS over less expensive options? There were two motivating factors other than Browning’s reputation. First, the safety is on the top right under the thumb which I’m a big fan of. Second, the ejection is from the bottom. Perfect for a crowded duck blind. I also have a left-handed father and I liked that it was ambidextrous in case I can convince him to go skeet shooting.
Luckily our Academy had one in stock. A few days before Valentine’s Day we picked it up and raced home, where we found that they had left the trigger lock on. Sigh. That wouldn’t be a big deal if the store wasn’t 45 minutes away. After a call to the store, I was told that I could bring it back in or just break it off if I preferred. Out came the pliers!
I paced for days until Saturday rolled around and we could go break it in. Now, my wife is a classy lady. A classy lady with a country background. She’s from a tiny town called Farmerville. Like I said, country. I picked up a few boxes of shells and a box of clay pigeons. My wife looked at me like I was crazy and sent me back for a case of shells and another box of pigeons.
We loaded up the mule and headed for the back forty where I got to witness my wife’s inner country girl come out to play. The twang got twangier and the mule came back with more mud than when we started. As a gentleman should I let my wife fire first.
Holy cow this gun ran like a charm. Straight out of the box it operated flawlessly. We definitely got what we paid for. There was only one incidence of short-stroking. Once we cleared that it was back to flawless uninterrupted shooting. And dang can my wife shoot. I’m a decent shot. My wife schooled me. And I ain’t scared to say it.
The BPS comes with a built-in recoil pad which helps tremendously. However we put close to 200 rounds through it and that will leave a mark no matter how nice the recoil pad.
My poor wife had a massive bruise on her shoulder for close to a week, but she’s a trooper. She looked at me smiling and asked when we could go again. That’s my baby. A great gun and a great opportunity to spend time with my wife makes for a great day every time. Now, when does duck season start again?