News flash: you’re going to die. It’s only a matter of time. While some gun guys dream of dying in a pile of hot brass cursing ISIS jihadis or gang bangers, I hope you shuffle off this mortal coil in your old age, gently, in your sleep. Meanwhile, guns! So many guns, so little time! Use that time wisely. Own these three guns before you go . . .

1. A 1911

You thought I was going to name a specific gun, didn’t you? I’d love to single out a multi-thousand dollar Wilson Combat, Nighthawk, Ed Brown, Christensen, Cabot or STI 1911; firearms of phenomenal quality and astounding accuracy. But you can absolutely tick this one off your ballistic bucket list without spending a fortune.

You can worship quite well at the temple of John Moses Browning with a reasonably priced SIG SAUER or Springfield 1911. In fact, above the $700 price point, most any 1911 offers owners the accuracy-enabling satisfaction of a glass-rod-breaking single action trigger. Not to mention the Keira Knightley-esque joys of holding or holstering a sensually slim semi.

Owning and shooting a 1911 does something that most modern handguns can’t do; directly connect you with the past. JMB’s meisterwerk delivers the kind of tactile mechanical feedback that equally old-fashioned Harley Davidson owners savor (as they’re passed and outmaneuvered by a Kawasaki Ninja). Speaking of historical firearms . . .

2. A lever Gun

Lever guns were among the first practical, hand-held repeating firearms. Well not that practical. Soldiers couldn’t cycle lever guns in the perfectly prone position; a necessity with the increasing “popularity” of trench warfare. Otherwise, you couldn’t ask for a more useful firearm.

Excepting, of course, any modern sporting rifle. But AR’s have about as much soul as K.C. and the Sunshine Band. If you want to stop it now, stop it now, a lever gun is just as effective as an AR at any reasonable hunting or man-stopping distance. (Not to mention the plinking pleasure.) Available in calibers both popular and obscure, beautifully built by modern manufacturers like Henry Repeating Arms, Winchester and Grizzly Custom Guns, lever guns git ‘er done.

More than that, lever guns are endlessly satisfying. Pulling that lever, feeling that round slam home, you feel like a proper, I’d even say mythical rifleman. It’s another firearm that connects you to a bygone era: America’s short-lived Wild West frontier. Lever guns look and shoot like a rifle born to protect and provide in equal measure. Same as it ever was.

3. Expensive Revolver

Dan the Man prevented me from specifying a high-priced 1911 for my number one choice (and for good reason). But I refuse to compromise here. As much as I like and admire and recommend budget wheelguns, a well-made revolver is a world away from its less expensive ballistic brethren.

The difference between a high-end revolver and low-end revolver is the difference between a Porsche 911 and a Subaru WRX. Both do the same thing, but one does it with perfectly linear, silky smooth, completely controllable power. Good news! Smith & Wesson and Ruger make smooth-triggered heirloom quality revolvers that are expensive — but not to the point where your credit card will go off in the corner and sulk.

But if you really go for it — dropping serious coin with KorthManurhin or a Colt snake series revolver — you will own one of the finest firing firearms made by hand of man. A gun that makes you want to go to the range more than you do now. And yes, it’s yet another gun that uses yesteryear technology. Your problem being?

[Note: If you have a problem with all this nostalgia, wait for Part II, where someone other than myself will choose more modern weaponry.]

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140 Responses to Top Three Guns You Need to Own Before You Die

  1. I’ll meet you at #’s 1&2, but I cannot in good conscience buy another revolver. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on them and I always end up selling them 2 weeks after I get them. It’s just not for me. Henry All Weather in .357 is looking good.
    There’s some Nighthawks that I really like, but I can get a couple cars for the same price.

    • Why the All Weather instead of the shiny golden (or silver) brass of the Big Boy?

      (Asks the same person that takes Farago to task for promoting a 911 over an STi)

    • Homie. Go find a Smith and Wesson R8 and shoot it or at least dry fire it. It will leave a smile on your face the rest of the afternoon. I don’t own one as I just had my first kid and can’t justify plopping down a grand on another gun but I will own one before the decade is out.

      • Agreed. A S&W Performance Center R8 is the current favorite handgun in my modest collection. It shoots like a dream in DA or SA. I can’t personally say how well it may stack up to a Korth but some day I hope to find out.

        I don’t know why an 8-round cylinder isn’t the new standard for a full-frame revolver.

  2. Bought a used 1911, cleaned it up, shot it for two weeks, said ‘why the hell do I own this gun?’, sold it, and bought a ppq45. Never looked back.

    • yep, 1911s are one of the more over-rated guns in my opinion.
      This is also true of the “Colt Snake” revolvers he mentions in the last paragraph. They only have their reputation because they’re rare and expensive, they are worlds away from the Manhurin type.

      • Actually, the Colt Python, among all the ‘Snakes’, is everything it’s hyped to be. Not so much the ‘other’ Snakes. No, I don’t own any but have the pleasure of handling my B-I-Ls. The action makes my Trooper and Rugers hang their head in shame. I’ve yet to shoot a S&W that even comes close to a .357 Python. Of course, no one else ever will, either.

        As to the other suggestions… Meh… 1911’s are over hyped. Shot more of those in the 60s than I ever care to again. The lever action, use it all the time in cowboy shoots and for just plain old fun.

        • The older Smith’s can be made just as smooth and light as any Python. But one needs to be aware of the differences. Pythons all have a DA stack at the last moment before release. This means slower, but can be more accurate so long as the shooter takes that last moment to check the sight alignment. Also a Python’s a lot more labor intensive to work on than a Smith.
          A good Smith is smooth all the way in DA with not a hint of stack. No way to shoot them DA other than a smooth, full pull and rely on your follow through to hit what you’re aiming at. Either way, the shooter has to do his part. They’re both good guns, but one is apples and the other oranges. Neither is better than the other, just different.

  3. I want a lever action rifle in .50 Alaskan.

    Already have a 45 cal. Kimber TLE ll in matte stainless and a 44 and 50 cal. magnum from Smith & Wesson Performance Center.

  4. After firing an M1 Garand for the first time this past weekend, I can wholeheartedly say every American gun owner should have one. Sadly I was not born early enough to enjoy their once affordable prices. Currently scraping together funds for a decent shooter.

    • I understand there are still tens of thousands of surplus overseas which could be returned and sold by CMP if Republicans will get off their asses. Korean War era.

    • Assuming that wasn’t a joke, your comment makes you less than smart. I hope you don’t choke on your lunch today because you forgot to chew.

      • Which word upset you so much? Was it “fifty” or “some kind”? Or are you Alzheimers and “forgot” is a four letter word?

  5. I’ve already checked these boxes.

    This was called “owning guns” in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

    Sold both Pythons in the 90s. Sold the 1911 in the early 2000s.

    Not selling the lever guns. Some things are timeless. Especially since Marlin is out of business. And yes…Marlin is out of business.

    • You’ve never fired a good 1911, clearly…. (this is coming from a 21 year old with little respect for “traditional” weapons, and who loves the shit out of plastic double stack pistols and current gen, super modular rifles)

    • As I pointed out on TFB a while back, 1911s are not obsolete, in that they are still in common usage and are not functionally outdated. They fire a commonly used cartridge in the standard fashion of any other handgun. If capacity is your issue, then any single stack must be “obsolete.” If hammer fired is your issue then most Sigs and many Ruger and Smith pistols must be “obsolete.” Words have meanings.

    • Now, now. RF created this post to show off his three most expensive guns. I suspect he’s talked some chick into checking out the sight. He wants to signal that he’s a caveman with good taste and bucks. That seems to me like a practical approach.

    • I’m a simple man with simple tastes. Just a lever action 16″ carbine in .454 Casull with a glove loop lever for me.

      • You’d do better with a 20″ barrel, both for velocity and capacity. I have a Winchester in .45 Colt with a 24″ barrel. Lovely to shoot.

        • But the loss in velocity is minor with these rounds, and the loss in capacity is more than made up for by the better handling. Plus carbines set so much nicer on horseback.

  6. Well, I know I’m always oggling your Wilson Combat (or it is Nicks?) so will throw that on the list – but I will never drop 3-5k on a 1911. Not unless I hit the lotto big.

    Korth is awe-some, but I’ll never drop that cash on a revolver. Already luck enough to have a SW 686 4″ pre-lock that’s a gem.

    Already have some awesome levers..

    I don’t know, how about a Blaser R8 with the super-fine wood? i think they’re only about 8500 or so.

      • Or go to their highest grade Turkish or French Walnut, starting somewhere north of $20K. Without engraving. I think they top out somewhere around $45K, but I haven’t looked in a while.

  7. Yippee, I can die. Well, maybe, it depends on your definition of expensive for the revolver but, if my most costly wheel gun cost enough, I’ve checked all the boxes.

    • Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. Most of my gun-buddies and I had checked-off that list before we were 25 years old. That didn’t mean we KEPT them, but we’d all owned at least one of each before we hit the big 2-5.

      I’d owned several 1911s by then, but kept the Colt Gold Cup for almost a decade before selling it to a friend for a pittance. Had a Marlin and a Winchester both, but they went away quickly; only accurate rifles are interesting, and those weren’t. And the Colt Python that I bought used from another USAF guy who had received short-notice orders to Turkey rounded-out the list. But I had already grown accustomed to the S&W revolver action “feel” by then, and the Python went away, bringing in considerably more than I had paid for it.

      I still keep a few revolvers around for plinking, PPC-style matches, or old-time’s sake, but I don’t think I’ll be missing out on much if another centerfire lever-gun or 1911 never again takes up residence in my safe.

  8. Springfield 1911 loaded. Also a colt model 70
    Smith and wesson model 19-3.
    Winchester level action in 357 magnum.
    Amongst others. I agree that a garand is a necessity.
    I don’t think a pistol a gun that has been in production for over 100 years is over rated or crap. But that’s just my opinion.

  9. Got the last two. Finding a 1911 is just a matter of finding an outrageously awesome deal on one. Can’t see buying one if it’s not a sweet deal. If you’re going to include S&W and S,R&Co. in the revolver box it should be ‘quality revolver’ rather than ‘expensive revolver’. Speaking of revolvers, maybe tomorrow’s bucket list could be calibers to own before you die. I nominate .44 magnum.

    • I’ll add 5.7×28. It’s a really cool little round, but it’s best left in the “I’ve got all my bases covered with other guns, this one is just for toy time” check mark box.

      • The 5.7×28 is an interesting round for sure, but unlike the .44 magnum, possession of it can’t be used in a court of law to prove you’re not a pinko commie.

        • It’s completely OK to be a pinko commie these days, or at least joined-at-the-hip business partners with commies. It as if it was yesterday: There I was, hand grenades hanging from my earlobes, bayonet between my teeth, M60 firmly in my hands, spending my days on a chopper trying to spot and extract recon guys in the hills…..only to read within months that Dick and Henry had taken up with the world’s most tyrannical and populous communist nation. America’s greatest living investor (Buffett) loves doing business with companies HQ’d in a land that has mobile death-penaty buses traveling the circuit to exterminate party rivals. Pinko commie? Now that’s just a fashion statement.

  10. I know it’s not something that a lot of people will be able to or afford to own, but I’d throw in ‘anything with a giggle switch’.

    • I’ve got the list covered, if you count a match champion as an expensive revolver. I have an echo trigger that’s supposed to show up next month. Poor man’s giggle switch. The reviews from MAC look good, buy well see what happens.

  11. Been there, done that, but I am not yet ready to die.

    1. Had a 1911 in the army – didn’t like it – bad ergonomics for my wrist.
    2. My first rifle was a Marlin 30-30. My first deer was taken with a borrowed Winchester.
    3. My current favorite and never to be relinquished pistol is an S&W 686 6″ barrel purchased in 1987.

    What else you got?

  12. Shilling for your now favorite brand isn’t the same as putting a picture of same as the first picture in the article? I have two RIA 1911’S, a 1980 Blackhawk in .357, in stainless so it’s “pretty”, and several plastic guns. Meanwhile I haven’t spent nearly as much on a single handgun. Stripper tattoos are great as long as you can stand the whore they’re attached to. Grow some integrity. Next it’ll be”Why you need to own 3 AR’s”. Done. Next?

  13. I couldn’t agree more with your lever gun recommendation. I love my 30-30 Marlin.

    I would lile to own one of EVERY type of rifle/pistol/shotgun. But that’s after I win the lottery

  14. Damn! And I just bought a Ford Focus ST; almost as good as a Subaru WRX. (Costs less and gets better mileage.) Aside from the cost, I didn’t want to die in a Porsche. You know, James Dean, Paul Walker, and a fundamentally unstable chassis.

    I had to laugh at the “expensive revolver” item. That specific? Though I have to admit; this nubee was a little surprised at the flopping and tilting of the barrel in my Springfield XD. And yes, I am waayyy more accurate shooting either of my .22LR pistols than the XD. Maybe I should get a revolver?

    Was hoping to see a Browning Hi-Power on the list of three, but I’m too cheap to buy one. I’d like a Canik L120 or a Ruger LC9s but neither are legal in my state. I’d like a CZ 75B and it is legal, but I’ve never seen one in stock. So I’m waiting and dreaming.

    • The Porche is a track queen, really only able to reach her potential in a limited set of circumstances. Otherwise, she’s a rough-riding finicky girl.

      The STi can take you anywhere and knock your socks off. Equally at home on the track or in the dirt, she may not be a beauty queen, but she’s strong and capable. All that running around means you might spend a bit keeping her in top shape, but she isn’t as high maintenance as that Porche.

      Farago made a bad choice in drawing that analogy. I mean, I guess some people think the BBQ gun that you’ll never actually shoot is a need, but I’d rather have something that I can use and push the limits on.

    • Is that utility roster, or fun roster, un?

      1. Pre-64 70 in some obscure caliber. Reloading shop included 🙂
      2. Freaking Kentucky gun.
      3. A replica of Sheptarsky’s MC3 rapid-fire, as I’ll never be bring myself to shoot the original. Even if I had owned one.

  15. Got a Manurhin MR-73 last year, a well used police surplus gun. Beat to heck, but the bore shines like a mirror. Cold hammer forged tool steel really is tough stuff.

  16. 1911? Got three – my M45A1 is the best shooting of the lot, but I like my Colt Compact and my Springfield 1911A1, too.
    Lever gun? Got replicas of 1876 Win carbine (.45-75), 1886 rifle (.45-70) and 1892 carbine (.45 Colt) – like them all.
    Expensive revolver? No got, but I think my S&W 638 (.38 Spl +P), S&W 22 (.45 ACP) and my Charter Arms .44 Spl and .45 ACP revolvers are perfectly adequate.
    I agree with the comment about the M1, and would add the M1903 Springfield to that.
    I also think everybody should own a nice flintlock rifle and get acquainted with real marksmanship.

    • An M1911A1 has been on my must have list for a long time, preferably one roll stamped Colt. Not because it is a better gun that the others from the same period, just because it is a Colt.

  17. As someone who considers myself a utilitarian and self defense focused gun owner, I am nowhere near ready to purchase any of these. To each his own I guess but aside from being range toys I dont see the benefit or utility to them, especially when compared to more modern designs.

    • As a lefty, I’d rather use a lever-action than a bolt action. The pickings for left-handed bolt-action rifles are pretty slim.

      • I’m a lefty, and I’ve always thought that “normal” bolt action guns were secretly designed to give left-handers an unfair advantage. Think about it… your trigger hand gets to stay near the trigger, and your bolt is conveniently located on your non-dominant side. For prone or table shooting, it’s a vastly superior configuration for a lefty. Running and gunning with a bolt gun may be a different story, I suppose.

        The same holds true for an AK or SIG 556 rifle. I even change over the charging handle to the right side on my SCARs.

        • I can see your point, but I find it too situational. My only bolt gun is a Mosin-Nagant M44 I got back when they were $80 just because I could. I don’t shoot it very much, but I can pretty much only operate it supported as you say — a benchrest rest or monopod rest or something — without bringing the rifle entirely out of line.

          I’ll sit out and shoot groundhogs from a body-supported kneeling or cross-legged position and I can’t cycle the bolt quickly that way, but I can work a lever fine.

          I’ve never really had a dedicated “left-handed” gun. I’ve become so used to coping with right-handed guns that it would probably feel strange.

          The only gun I have that I’d really love to have in a left-handed model is my Kel-Tec Sub2000, because man that thing spits powder residue in your face from the ejection port like nobody’s business! That’s one carbine you do not want to fire as a left-hander without eye protection. 🙂

    • I’m utility-minded and self-defense focused too, but it seems we have different ideas of what that entails.

      I love lever-action rifles more than anything, and I also think they’re close to the ultimate in utility. They’re handy home-defense carbines, they’re the quintessential American hunting rifle, and they come in big-bore calibers suitable for Africa’s most dangerous big game. They do have their limits — true long-rang shooting isn’t their forte and you can’t dump ammo as fast as a semi-auto — but those don’t have much to do with everyday utility in my mind.

      Revolvers…I like the idea of them and would love to own one, but for my utilitarian purposes and limited money, an unremarkable modern double-stack 9mm semi-auto does the trick. We might agree on that one.

    • No offence Dm, but you will never see the benefits or utility of anything until you try it out. One cannot explain the trigger of a good 1911, or the handiness of a lever gun in words. It must be experienced.
      If not ready to plunk down cash, there’s always places to rent various firearms and try them out. Can also borrow them from friends, or if you show interest in someone’s gun at the range, I find they will usually let you try it out if you offer to pay for the ammo.

      • Wait – what? A Colt Python a range toy? A 1911 a range toy? Are you kidding? A Winchester Model 94 a RANGE TOY? Maybe as in home, home on the range – but not ever, ever a toy for any of these. These are working machines that have saved many a life under duress.

        Wow. Range toy. Yeeikes.

  18. 1, 1911: I had a couple of Springfield Armory 1911s in the shop back in the ’80s. I transferred one to myself. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it!

    2. Lever gun: Winchester 94 in 30-30 circa 1978. I liked it a lot. But my mag fed 30-06 Win 70 was better for deer. A whole lot better!

    3. Expensive revolver: S&W M27 Nickel, 8 3/8. Three Ts. Wood presentation box, papers and tools. I bought it new in 1976, and I still have it. I’m gonna keep it until hell freezes over. lol

    There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since I started buying firearms. Some worked, and some didn’t. Those that didn’t fell by the wayside. I never make the same mistake twice.

    Charlie

    • Unless you’ve got one, or more, of those too; get a high quality double rifle. While I’m sure one can die, having lived a full and happy life without one, all else being equal one will have lived a fuller and happier one with.

  19. I actually agree with the list, although I would probably add 1 or 2. Shot a couple 1911s, but still waiting to own one. Wanted to save for a quality specimen. Have both lever guns and quality revolvers and they are some of my favorites. I feel a connection to firearms history when I take them out and shoot them.

  20. One of the few guns I regret selling is a Dan Wesson 15-2. Had Pistol pac with 2.5, 4, and 6″ barrels. I purchased it as a present for myself on my 21st birthday.

  21. Top 3 before you die???? (1) A Luger. A Artillery model would be nice. (2) A FAMAS rifle. (3) and the S&W Schofield from the show, “Deadman’s Gun.”

  22. “the difference between a Porsche 911 and a Subaru WRX. Both do the same thing, but one does it with perfectly linear, silky smooth, completely controllable power and the other one is German.

    FIFY

  23. Here I was thinking these would be big $$$ guns that would never see the inside of my safe, and turns out I’ve already got one. Every American should own a lever-action rifle — for a combination of history, pure fun, and utility, they can’t be beat.

    Next listicle from TTAG: 3 guns you should die before owning?

    • (Planting tongue firmly in cheek.)

      Three guns to definitely die before owning:
      1) 1911 model anything
      2) Any Garand or M model derivative
      3) Anything made by Remington whose model number begins with a ‘7’ or an ‘8’

  24. And about that line “Not to mention the Keira Knightley-esque joys of holding or holstering a sensually slim semi.”

    You DO know that a 1911A1 with stock grips is thicker through the gripping part of the frame (the part where you would hold a “sensually slim semi”) than a Glock 17/22, right?

    I’ve read enough “fake news” lately, thanks; I don’t need to be hearing it here, too.

  25. I think I have this one covered. 1911? Hand-made with mostly Foster and Caspian parts. Shoots much better than I can. Lever-gun? 1873 Winchester .44-40 w/full octagon barrel made in 1890. Revolver? Smith & Wesson 686. Maybe not “high end” but it has the best trigger of any handgun I’ve ever owned. Can’t wait for the next list.

  26. Top break revolver? I have a .455 Webley that is awesome. It even has a tactical lanyard! I use 17,000 – 18,000 PSI lead .45acp. in full moon clips. Ultra fast reloads.

  27. So a ridiculously overpriced and overhyped 1911, a poorly-made lever gun that had to be reworked at a cost of more than the original base gun, and a .357 that no normal person can afford or care to save up to buy (unless you’re German and you’re only allowed to have one (1) handgun per the law, in which case you may as well save up all your money for years to buy that one handgun)? Honestly I only come on these clickbait articles to gloss over them then complain about them.

  28. Uncle let me fire MaDuece and M1911. Well before by day but would really like to own a BAR (of the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle type) if the GCA were to die.

    I met LtC Matt Urban in 1986 talked him into donating a bunch of his bring backs to my Inf Bn (dumbass Bn Cdr had all demiled, contrary to specific Army Regs, so the could be displayed @ Bn Hq). One was a mint RADOM. Have wanted to own/fire one since. Urban was a real American hero and a great man.

    Saving for ROK M1 Garand when they are allowed in.

  29. 1911s- Five, if you count the Coonan.

    Levergun- owned several, currently only my grandpa’s 1920s 32 special octagonal barrel.

    Revolver – does a pre lock performance center count? I sure think so, love my Model 60 F Comp.

    I also agree on the M1 Garand being added, mines Korean War vintage.

      • Well, she shoots straight, has the best trigger of the lot, and runs flawlessly with a load she likes, but I have to emphasize “a load she likes.” She’s a range queen and a BBQ gun only, because she is the pickiest eater I have ever met. I do love her, though. I’m debating whether to save up for the Commander size.

  30. Let’s see, have or more likely “had”, double rifles, both modern and black powder.
    Shotguns, pumps, SXS, OUs, autos, (numerous Benellis), and one tri barrel.
    Muzzle loaders as well.

    One Colts snake, (Anaconda), regular and super blackhawks.
    DW and Taurus .357 mags, SW. 22s, .32 mag and .44 mag, Dirty Harry.
    Colt, Sig, Walther, EAA, Khar, Boberg and numerous other auto loading hand Guns in everything from .22 rim fire to the big bores.
    Singles in up to .444 Marlin and .358 by .44 Norma wildcat.
    Muzzle loading rifles in up to .69, (rifled 12 guage), running from 80 to 300 grain loads behind up to 820 grain bullets.

    And at over 80 years now, (and having went deaf), one hearing aid, one Cochlear Implant, I guess I am ready to go!

  31. If & when the Korean Garands are allowed in, I will jump at the chance to get one from the CMP. My dad was a Korean War vet infantryman, and there’s a lot of sentiment involved.

  32. 1. 1911 full custom made with Caspian, Heine, Karte, etc. Check.
    2. S&W performance center 627. Got it 2 weeks ago. Check.
    3. Lever gun….hmm. never used to have any interest whatsoever but the gun store I worked in is getting quite a few of them lately and I am thinking of a Henry in .357 Magnum.

  33. Got ’em all – Colt Model 70, Winchester 94, and Python. So on to the next step. Some military classics – just got a Garand, had my dad’s M1 Carbine, bought an AR a year ago, an old 8mm Mauser becuz ‘murica, and one of my favorites – a .303 “Jungle Carbine” – is just fun to carry around and shoot, ‘cuz it’s little and good.

    I love my Whitney .22 – it’s just a space gun, and my Nylon 66 for the same reason. Had to get a Dirty Harry, and I LOVE shooting it – it’s no way the nuclear recoil everyone makes it out to be; neither is my Super Blackhawk, and I’m no Sumo.

    A Ruger 77 in .220 Swift just because 4,400 fps with handloaded hollow points blows watermelons and water jugs to bits like nothing short of a cruise missile, and a Ruger Model 1 in .25-06 because it is a work of art that I could go to the range and not even shoot – just look at it.

    There are lots of others, but I had – many years ago – Herter’s make up a custom .458 Magnum bolt action when I thought I’d be going up to the great woods north of Lake Ontario and buying a bigass wilderness full of big bears. It is MagnaPorted, with a Mannlicher stock, heavy, ventilated recoil pad, and shoots like a .20 gauge, but can knock over a barn. My .30-06’s are more punishing.

    The point is that the guns you need to buy before you die are the ones you lust over and enjoy holding. Life is short, and it’s about toys that make you smile. Live!

  34. Let’s see, I’ve got the 1911 box checked (kinda, anyway: Kimber Pro Carry 4″ with the captured recoil spring), and the lever gun also (1892 Winchester, .45 Colt, Japanese production from the US Arms era with, unfortunately, the rebounding hammer and safety on the wrist). But I have never had a high end revolver. I have six now, 1851 Navy (.36), 1860 Army(.44), 1861 Navy (.36), 1862 Pocket Navy (.36), an 1873 in 38/.357 with a 7.5″ barrel, and an 1873 in .45 Colt with a 4.75″ barrel, all clones, all hand tuned. The black powder revolvers all cost $300 or less, and the .45 cost me a touch over $400 as I recall. The .45 is probably the slickest of the lot, very smooth action with no grit, solid lock up, and shoots to point of aim. I recently added a set of faux ivory grips from Tombstone Grips (these are a kit–you make the grips). And since all six are single action, they all have crisp triggers. Am I missing something by not having a high end revolver? Or in this list, are the only invitees double actions?

  35. Is that utility roster, or fun roster, un?

    1. Pre-64 70 in some obscure caliber. Reloading shop included 🙂
    2. Freaking Kentucky gun.
    3. A replica of Sheptarsky’s MC3 rapid-fire, as I’ll never be bring myself to shoot the original. Even if I had owned one.

  36. I agree with that list but would add one more, at least once in your life own a real rifle, a pre64 M70 Winchester. There’s nothing like owning the best!!!

  37. I have a Dan Wesson 715 that shoots like a dream. I’m currently saving for a .357 lever action and the pair will make my “camping” guns. My father has a Model 70 Colt Gold Cup and a ’63 nickel plated Colt Python that I’ll get to inherit one day.

    There’s something really fun about the classics. The technology explosion in the late 1800s and early 1900s advanced guns in a way we haven’t seen in the 100 years since. These might not have the capacity or firing rate of modern semi autos, but they’re every bit as accurate and in some ways even more reliable. Plus they are beautiful in a way your current Glocks and ARs just can’t compete.

  38. 1911: Got that covered, thrice over but only two in possession now.

    Lever gun: Yes and no… borrowed my dad’s Marlin & Winchesters plenty of times. Would definitely like a nice, 44 Mag Henry Big Boy though.

    Expensive revolver: How about just a nice revolver? Isn’t that what you’re getting at, really? If I find a Manurhin MR 73 wouldn’t that qualify? Or a worked over Ruger or S&W? Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a Python or a Korth too.

  39. My revolver is a 4″ Smith 28-2. The trigger is slightly worked with a file and stone, so the trigger is crisp, and just this side of what could be called a hair-trigger. Did it myself.
    Instead of an M1 Garand, I’d much rather have an M1A. Personal preference.
    I’d like to have a lever gun, but as information, the M-14 gives the lie to the idea that the lever wasn’t adopted because it couldn’t be worked in the prone position; the M-14’s mag projects more than the operating lever.
    In the Army, I had to carry a 1911-A1. Even in good condition, they were dinosaurs. Clunky, so-so trigger at best, heavy, limited ammo capacity. And please, don’t try to tell me a $3000+ .45 is a 1911. It just isn’t. It may look like one, even have parts that look like they belong on a 1911, but the comparison between a Porsche and a KIA is apt. They both perform the intended function, but with a different cost, and a very different feel. To say they are the same just isn’t so.
    My opinion, of course.

  40. Suppose I’m all set to die young at 24 with my Ruger Lightweight Commander, Smith & Wesson 686, and a Rossi M92 that, despite its price tag, I wouldn’t be easily pressed to sell for anything. I also recommend some good leather. Even if you rarely wear it, good quality leather holsters are just cool; be cowboy style single action, or an old style duty holster, or a shoulder holster.

  41. -M82A1 (preferably with a Schmidt and Bender scope)

    -Smith Performance Center revolver

    -Wilson / Dan Wesson / Les Baer / Ed Brown 1911

    But I’d add M2, Mk 19, AT-4, M240G, Sako Trg, Sako 85, and a bunch more.

  42. I owned one of the most beautiful and smoothest guns in the world, and sold it! God, what I’d give to have it back.
    Too late, dumb ass me!
    The gun? what else!
    A 1903 Mannlicher Schoenauer carbine.

  43. Every real man should own an ak type rifle. A real deal ak with a comm blocc receiver, not american made bullshit. Ur not a man unless u have tha choppa…

  44. This is exactly what I was thinking now that I have my prerequisite 3 gun collection intact.
    I have a U.S.M.C flap holster just waiting for a basic GI series 70 1911. It shall be done.
    The next gun I buy will have to wait another year. Had to get a new truck, I owe the Democrats $5,500, and I just forked out $1,100 to buy a Sig P229 Elite for my son’s 21st birthday.
    It will be the Ruger Match Champion or a PC 686 or 627.
    The lever gun is my father’s Winchester 30 30. As long as I out live him, it’s mine. I could ask him for it now and he would probably give it to me. I’ll wait until I get the other two guns first.

  45. I am not sure if a Ruger falls under an “Expensive Revolver”, but with a little work you can make Ruger revolvers glass smooth, i.e. “A Python Beater”. Too, it does NOT take a large or detailed knowledge of gun smithing except knowing how to disassemble the revolver and the small investment of polishing media. ( and perhaps a minor spring change out).

    The 1911 I completely agree with. Once you go into the world of fully custom ( like Les Baer for me) or semi-custom like a Kimber,…… you never want to go back.. Once you find the proper holster for YOU , you quickly come to overlook the weight regarding everyday carry

    As for the lever action, I completely agree. Being older I grew up with the classic westerns. Even today many dream of being a cowboy. And, as much as I love ARs, in many ways the lever action has less problems and a lesser knowledge of the gun is required for smooth and continued operation. A .22 lever action gives you the joy of plinking and a bit of history in your hands. The only drawback is working the lever action in a properly supported prone position.

    • I have a Henry 22 lever gun. A really nice little rifle. I doubt that I would ever sell it. As far a the lever being a problem, in the prone position, just dig a hole under the lever………………..or not?

  46. Three guns only ;
    Colt or quality Colt knockoff ( Uberti . Taylor and Sons ) 1873 , several big bore calibers to choose ……… I prefer .357 Magnum .
    Any good 22 Rim fire rifle , most people would probably say a 10/22 , I prefer a 22 WMR and would go with my Magnum Lite Graphite .
    and finally I will go with a shotgun , I will have to go with a 20 gauge and my favorite is my Tri-Star semi-auto , Raptor , it is under $700.00 and medium light , very accurate and has been extremely dependable , functionally flawless . I wouldn’t recommend it for competitive shooting where it is going to have to run 15,000 – 25,000 rounds a year but for family occasional use where teenagers , mom and dad my need to put food on the table , it’s plenty ample to get the job done and quick follow up may be needed .
    I wish I had four to choose , because I don’t think any family should try and off grid without a decent higher power firearm that can close the distance so I’m going to cheat and go with #4 …………. DRUM ROLL ……………. any quality rifle chambered in 30.06 . I’ll go with my Winchester 70 , with a shout out to Savage for their fantastic out of the box triggers .

  47. To each his own, I guess. I feel no need for a lever action, though I have enjoyed playing with them from time to time. What I *DO* feel a need for before I croak is a good quality cap and ball SAA. I know where to find one, I can afford it, but I am so amazingly ignorant about where to start that it scares me. You know, here I am out in the woods/at the range with the gun, a can of powder, box of lead balls and some caps, NOW what do I do?

    • Dump some powder down the cylinder holes, place a ball over the hole, and seat it home with the rammer. Repeat four more times, put caps on the nipples, and fire.
      There is a bit more to it than that, but that’s all you really need to know. Using some type of powder measure(like an old cartridge casing of the proper size for your pistol. a .38 special case full works well for most .44s) would be an improvement, but you cannot really overcharge a cap and ball revolver. Black powder is much more forgiving than smokeless.
      Some grease of some kind over the ball is also a good idea, to reduce leading and the odds of a chainfire.
      One huge caveat: make certain your can of powder is black powder and NOT smokeless. One other thing, black powder residue is salty and attracts moisture, so we are back to the old civil war rule; “The sun must never set on a dirty gun”! Immediate cleaning is in order, and solvent will NOT do. The black powder residue needs a water base cleaner. I just use a sink full of hot water with dish soap. Take the wood off first, leave it soak for awhile, and a brush and patches will have it gleaming. Don’t forget to rinse and oil it after, as the soap and water will leave the metal completely dry and exposed.

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