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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
Gauge: 12ga
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?

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    • I love a 16 gauge, too! And good used guns really are not that hard to come by — at least around here.

      In fact, I just got back from the local gun show where I saw NICE take-down Winchester ’97 in 16 gauge with a modified choke, good wood, and a VERY smooth action — for $285. After I put it back on the rack, I pointed out where somebody had recently drooled all over it and the fellow immediately dropped the price to $250…

      So, 16 gauge shotguns ARE out there…

      I just cannot justify $500+ for a shotgun at this time (especially since DW prefers a full choke)


      • I like the 16 gauge but Norwegian laws screwed it over. 16 gauge is good with lead shot (the best when compared to 12 and 20 gauge IMO) but now that lead shot is banned (only applies to shotguns) your only options are steel (a bit lackluster in 16 gauge) or bismuth and vismuth (good but really expensive).

  1. I’ve hunted grouse with an Ithaca 16 guage double barrel. It’s a nice shotgun that my great grandmother owned and passed down. My dad has it right now. I totally understand the problem finding the right ammo for a 16 guage! You have to also worry about getting the wrong modern loads as they can damage the gun.

  2. Sorry but you can’t win the P320; you’ve already won too much by having a wife that encourages your gun habit. Good to see they exist.

  3. nice to hear of stories like this…i miss going shooting with mine…now we are separated due to no decision of my own….never again will i get married and after this mess i would rather be single.

  4. There is nothing so fine as a woman with an appreciation for fine firearms! Sounds like you got a good lady! Treat her right! But be careful!

    Early on in our marriage, I made a fundamental mistake with my Bride — a mistake for which I am still paying today. I mean, *literally* paying; and, as I prepare to head out to a local gun show, I mean, *literally* today!

    You see, I could go and purchase the exact same shotgun you procured, from someone selling it for the exact same price — and it would cost me exactly twice as much. Since “economics weigh heavily in any [of your] decisions,” pay attention to learn from MY mistake…

    Back when we were still newlyweds, I took my Father-in-Law to a Gun Show. I invited him; I paid his entrance fee; I spent a couple of hours of “quality time” browsing with him; I asked his advice before making (on my then-current salary) a rather significant purchase. I figured my Bride would be ecstatic that I was “bonding” so well with her Dad; on that particular day, she was not…

    Merely by coincidence, our little trip to the local fairgrounds happened to be on Easter Sunday. Her Parents had come over for “Easter Dinner” and her Dad and I apparently departed about five minutes before she was “ready for my help in the kitchen.” Even though we kept track of time, and left the show early enough to return only a wee bit late for the meal, by the time we walked in the door, the broccoli was steamed, the carrots were steamed, and my Bride was steamed.

    Somehow, miracle of miracles, I managed to “divine” that she was upset right as I entered. I suspect it was the “chill in the air” pervading a house where she had been “cooking” all day. Nevertheless, she sent me a sweet smile — that did not reach her eyes — and asked, “Where have you been?”

    I opened the case tucked under my arm and calmly answered, “I took your Dad to the Gun Show. I thought it would get us out from underfoot. See what we found?”

    Inside of the case was a beautiful, nay, pristine Ruger Single Six (three screw). Though tremendously expensive on our limited budget, I’d gotten a heck of a deal (I think the fellow was in a hurry to get home for Easter Dinner). I stood ready to recount my brilliant purchase negotiations, but my Beautiful Bride took one look at it and said, “Oh! Darling! You bought me a gun!”

    I am not the brightest fellow in the world; on the other hand, I am nowhere near as stupid as I look. Hearing the lilt that entered her voice, I instantly altered tactics and replied, “Why, yes Dear, I did! How do you like it?”

    It was a couple of years before I found and bought another Single Six for a similar price. This one was a somewhat battered and “well-used.” Meanwhile, this one incident set a marriage-long (which, for us means “life-long” precedent): I can purchase ANY gun I want — so long as my Bride gets an “equivalent” or better (usually better) gun… First!

    I think of this as the “100% DW Tax.” And, you know what? While it has occasionally been “financially painful” over the years, I really would not have it any other way…

    …Treasure your lady!

  5. My girlfriend is a far better shot than I am. Two deployments and being named Soldier of the Cycle will do that for you. Don’t tell anyone, but she’s getting her own Beretta for her birthday this year. I hate that .32 she has.

  6. Hey guys, glad y’all enjoyed. I am a lucky guy. My wife enjoys shooting with me and is super supportive. She also just bought me a stand for our third anniversary. Yeah, she loves me.

  7. Anytime I buy a gun, a new computer, or anything else that looks expensive, the minute I bring it in the house, the first words out of my wife’s mouth is: HOW MUCH?
    I have learned over the years, that the best thing to do is to sneak the gun in when she’s not around, and not tell your wife anything, until maybe several weeks later. Then when she says, “I haven’t seen that before, did you go out and buy another gun”. I say, “I picked this up several months ago, I traded it for that old gun I never use”
    Then, the other trick I use is “The spouse receipt” You can do this yourself, or get the gun dealer make up a fake receipt with the purchase price far below what you actually pad. Works every time.

      • I am no relationship expert or shrink but I think you might be spending too much on guns if you have to sneak them in the house during the night while faking recepits with lower prices. There is a difference between hobby/constitutional right versus obsession.

        • You guys need to track down a copy of the Patrick F. McManus short story collection called “The Grashopper Trap.” Inside, you will find a story called “Gunrunning.”

          Despite the fact that the procedures outline therein would never work with my Bride (don’t ask how I know that, just take my word for it!), it remains the definitive work on how to get firearms past a wife.

  8. I have the best new gun excuses in the world being a gunsmith. I can always say 1 of 3 things then let the bosslady shoot it and I’m off scott free.
    1. The safe at the shop is full and this one is a customer gun he’ll pick up next Monday.

    2. Oh this?? It’s used I’m just inspecting it and putting it through the wringer before we put it up for sale.

    3. This is just a test model the nice folks at (insert firearms company here) sent us.

    Works like a charm, and yes I do pay myself back for the purchases.

  9. My first gun my father bought for me, Christams 1986, was a BPS 20 gauge. I have added a 12 gauge stalker and 16 gauge upland version. A Damm fine, well built shotgun that will outlive you and most of your heirs. It’s a gun that will hunt and do so for generations.

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