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By Jeff the Griz

The other day while reading TTAG RF asked, “What’s the most important gun you own?” This got me thinking…I know dangerous, right? I thought about what firearms are important to me. I have my first gun, a single shot .410 from my 10th Birthday. I have my first deer rifle. I have others, and I have a lot more on my wish list. But the question got me thinking about something that I have been thinking about off and on for a while – family heirlooms . . .

My father-in-law has a collection he will be passing to my wife’s brother consisting of antique deer rifles, including a 1930’s Savage 99 with a lot of scratches from Great-Grandpa’s hook after he lost his hand in a farming accident. I encouraged my own grandfather to pass his deer rifles to my younger cousin who is new to hunting and has been fortunate to spend more time with him in the woods than I have. My father has had to sell most of his guns after his small business went bust, but I have been happy to help him add to his collection.

What I would really like to do is be able to pass on firearms to future generation that are worth the treasuring. I understand something beautiful does not always hold sentimental value, and sentimental things are not always beautiful. I am wishing for the best of both worlds.

I have been eyeing a Henry Golden Boy in a pistol caliber or something historic like 45-70. I have long been dreaming of a Browning Citori, and for years have been salivating over gorgeous 1911-style stainless beauties like the Kimber Crimson Carry or the Smith & Wesson E series. Logically speaking, these firearms are a little out of budget at this time and although obtainable, I am making no immediate plans to purchase them.

So I am going to break down and admit that I do have one firearm that holds a special place in my heart and I pray it is going to have an impact on my future generations. It’s the first pistol I ever purchased and although I shoot it far less now, I sometimes pull it out of the safe just to remind myself it is there.

It’s a well-used Browning Buck Mark and I am its third owner. The story as I was told is that it had belonged to a gunsmith in Michigan’s upper peninsula and he used it for target competitions before selling it to the retired state police officer whom I purchased it from.

Being a target shooter’s firearm it has definitely had some trigger adjustments, and has been in and out of a holster a lot. The bluing is very faded on the left side of the pistol, it has obnoxious but comfortable worn wood grips, and simple rear adjustable sights. I can not even guess the round count, as the rifling is difficult to see and the bore is almost smooth. Personally, over 1500 rounds myself. It has occasional light firing pin strikes causing failures to fire. Per the Browning website, it was produced in 1989. Not too old, but more than old enough to drink.

Although there are many negatives, it still shoots like a dream. Chambered in .22LR there is almost no recoil. Even with the barrel wear, I have been able to shoot a 6-inch steel spinner 10/10 times at 35 yards on a frequent basis. Since the pistol was not a beauty queen it has accompanied me on numerous rabbit hunts through the snow and the rain.

I have won and lost bets based on my ability to shoot it well, or not in some cases. It has helped me teach shooters new to pistols, or those returning to pistols after some time. While it might not have saved my life, or been handed down to me from a relative, what I can say about it is there were days it felt like an old friend with me at the range. So yes important to me, check. Is it a family heirloom? I can pray that it will be.

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    • Thanks, it really does have a lot of blueing wear. The guy put it in a local paper, I worked nights in the hospital and got the paper at 4AM. I got out of work I called @ 7:30am found out where he lived and hit the ATM on the way. I got there and gave him half down and as soon as I got out of work on Monday morning went right to the local police for a permit (dumb registration laws).

  1. A Buckmark was important to me also because my wife started getting interested in my gun hobby after she saw a sexy matte stainless 6.5″ Buckmark with Cocobolo wood and decided she had to have it. That’s right….she craved the wood.

  2. @Jeff the Griz — good job!

    Unfortunately, I have no emotional attachments to any of my current firearms, but I can still relate.

    • Thanks Ralph, my other firearms are just tools. Hunting, fun, self defense. This pistol is the only one of my own I wouldn’t sell or trade. (Well unless someone gave me enough to buy all the guns on my above dream list)

  3. Mine is a S&W model 422. I bought it because everyone need a .22 auto. My father, then 78, wanted a pistol for protection so I gave it to him.
    My brother took him to the farm to target practice and dad gave him 29 matchbooks and told him to set them up about 20 yards away, Then Dad proceeded to shoot them all. No misses, just knocked them all down. He was laughing all the while. 36 years in the Marine Corps.
    To this day, when I pick up that pistol , My Dad is still there.

    • When I was a kid, the old timers used to talk about using .22 revolvers to light the match at 10 paces.

  4. My father passed on to me his 6″ Anaconda and I have acquired a 4″ Anaconda along the way. Both of these along with various other pistols and rifles will go to my son.

  5. My Browning Hi-Power, made in Belgium circa 1972, is my trophy piece. It shoots good, and is just plain sexy to me. I also have a Uberti 1873 Navy replica in .45 Long Colt, and .45 ACP (two cylinders). The rib under the barrel always makes me feel real good. Both are pleasures to shoot, and just plain look at.

  6. My second gun I ever purchased is my Buckmark and I don’t shoot any other gun more. It’s a tack driver, I think they are sharp looking guns and it’s just super reliable, I’ve put well over 1,200 rounds through it and am not the first owner, mine was made in 94′ so slightly newer, I always tell people looking for a .22 lr pistol to take a long hard look at a Buckmark before just going with a Ruger, my time at the range with my Browning have been better for my shooting mechanics than anything else lol

  7. Mine would be a seven way toss-up between a Raven Arms MP-25, a Bryco Model 38, a Lorcin L-9mm, a Davis P-380, a Phoenix Arms HP25, an AMT backup, or a Sundance Industries A-25… Who can put a price on such beloved heirlooms though?

    • Did I miss a sarcasm tag? Im not a gun snob, and if your happy great, but your list includes the jam-o-matic “Saturday night specials” that sold for $25 in the 90’s

        • I’ve shot a jennings .22 that ran great too, but I can’t tell if this person is being sincere or is trolling my article?

        • Absolutely no trolling here and 100% sarcastic… What are the chances that someone would wax poetic about the seven principal “Saturday Night Special” vilified “Ring of Fire” guns as treasured heirlooms?… My sarcastic point was that any of the pols who railed against the “Ring of Fire” in the 1990s probably couldn’t cite the principal firearm of the companies they were railing against, let alone write a fond remembrance of it.

        • yeah, that stood out to me as well. a stainless backup is a higher tier piece than the rest of those zamak clubs. my p380 is the only gat i ever sold. hammer, please.

    • I grew up so poor that those ring-of-fire guns were the options we had available to us in our price range. Fed myself and my family on the local wildlife for many years with a Jennings J-22. You could couch surf at a friends house and get enough money for a weeks worth of ammo. Haters gunna hate but some people actually do hold RoF guns in a special place and it might seem stupid to some but it’s still my favorite and those that deride them are just practicing snobbery.

  8. May favorite gun is a Buckmark also. Probably 20,000-25,000 rounds and still going strong. Nice light trigger after playing with the springs. Dollars for dollar, the most fun and the most skills learned by far. Not the most important gun, but my favorite.

    Most important gun is the gun I have on me, but I am sure someone has already said that.

    • I put a thousand rounds through it before completely disassembled and cleaned. When I looked through the barrel it reminded me of a tiny smooth bore shotgun barrel. Still has enough rifling left to send the bullets straight.

    • Write something for ttag, 1st place is a henry .22lr , 2nd place is a big box of shotgun shells in decorated case. Use the search box to find the rulse page

  9. Look up the Heggis Flip. Zero dollar trigger job, my buckmark now has less than a 2.25 lb pull. My favorite pistol as well.

    • I have no idea how many thousand, just that I put 1,500 myself. I have only had the pistol since 2007 or so and I have not shot it (except bunny hunts) since .22 supply dried up.

  10. The Buckmark was my first gun as well, and I absolutely love it. It’s great for target shooting and learning the basics, but it’s so reliable and accurate I would feel comfortable with it as a self defense gun too with the right ammo. I keep mine in my bedroom because it’s still the gun I’m most confident shooting. Browning 1911 22 was my second gun purchase after being so happy with my first Browning gun. Next I’m looking for a Browning shotgun to add to the collection. They are great quality firearms.


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