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View Full Version : Can a pump action qualify as a "fine gun"?



AyA Fan
February 3rd, 2012, 05:53 PM
Just as the title implies, I am asking if it is possible for a pump action shotgun to ever qualify as a "fine gun"? This is probably a debate almost as old and heated as the "9mm Parabellum vs 45 Auto", but I just figured that I would see where other members of this forum currently stand. Thanks for your opinions.

Multiflora
February 3rd, 2012, 06:26 PM
Yes.........

Pete Houser
February 3rd, 2012, 06:58 PM
I think not ...

I have a Winchester Model 12 black diamond gun made in 1917. Arguably the pinnacle of pump shotguns, it has great wood, nice factory engraving, and a silky-smooth action. I also have a pair of English best guns: a Purdey island lock and a Westley Richards droplock. When you hold and handle the three it is clear that the Model 12 is not a "best gun". Is it a "fine gun"? Personally, I would call it "a very nice gun". I like it a lot for many reasons but feel it is in an entirely different league. It should be appreciated for what it is rather than being rated on an inappropriate scale.

But then I don't think that a pointing lab is a "bird dog", so perhaps I am simply out of touch.

Don Moody
February 3rd, 2012, 07:24 PM
Compared to the current pumps, autos and several SxSs & O/Us, this Model 12 is pretty damn fine!

Leon670
February 4th, 2012, 10:27 AM
Yes. The model 12 is a fine gun. I'm not talking about the bling version. The basic field grade gun is a mechanical marvel, functionally and aesthetically. one could argue that the notion of London bests being Best guns, is an outdated notion and they'd be right. I like old things, myself but I'd never claim that they are the Best to anyone but me.

Researcher
February 4th, 2012, 10:49 AM
Only if it is a Remington Model 31.

Ryman Gun Dog
February 4th, 2012, 11:26 AM
Pete,
We have a 16 and she is a darn nice gun, but its no SXS double gun that is for sure.
However if given the choice the ladies who bird hunt here pick the M12, 16 Gauge most every time,
its light to carry in the Grouse woods and puts the birds down real well, with an IC Choke.
RGD/Dave

walt lister
February 4th, 2012, 01:16 PM
I vote yes. Winchester had some of the best engravers in the world and some of the best woodworkers in the world working on their custom guns. If these aren't a "best" guns then something is wrong with the description.

http://collectorebooks.com/jamesauction/shotguns/32808.htm

http://smith-wessonforum.com/lounge/170629-special-winchester-model-12-a.html

Dr Duk
February 4th, 2012, 03:53 PM
Yep!
The older model 12s are way cool.

Joseph Plummer
February 4th, 2012, 05:05 PM
I think we might also recall British gun writer Gough Thomas, who described the American developed pump shotgun as being "Eumatic"--My late father had a Winchester Model 1897 in 16 gauge, one of my brothers has it and still uses it afield today. They are a "workhorse" shotgun, as is the Browning A-5, not as attractive in their lines as a fine sidelock side-by-side with a splinter forearm and straight hand grip, in my opinion anyway. I had a serious injury to my left hand in my youth, so I started with a used Browning A-5 "Sweet 16" and later traded it for the 12 A-5 which I still have. Perhaps heavier when put against a Model 12 in comparable gauge, but as it was hard for me to comfortably work the slide handle, the A-5 was my vade mecum. I was given the Powell 12 bore SLE made in 1938 by my first father-in-law, and that got me hooked on sidelock double guns for field shooting, but many members of our group still shoot their Model 12 and Remington Model 31 pumps, and they shoot them very well indeed.

I am reminded, if memory serves me properly here, of some words of advice regarding pumpguns, from the now late writer Charles Waterman: "Never bet your money against the man who is shooting a well-worn pumpgun"! I am sure the late Rudy Etchen would second that thought in a heartbeat!!!

Sneem
February 4th, 2012, 05:06 PM
Yes. Over on 16ga.com there was a post on an Ithaca Model 37T that someone had cut up. It had fabulous wood, should have had a lenghened trap forearm and a 30" barrel and rid. A records check said only something like 28 were ever made in 16 ga back in the 30's. Some idiot had taken a hacksaw to the forearm and barrel to make a slug gun out of it. One poster bought it and sent it back to the new Ithaca factory and they restored it to original condition. That was a fine gun in anyone's book. It is beautiful.

AyA Fan
February 4th, 2012, 06:03 PM
I wish I could go back in time and take away every single hacksaw that was made. I know that most individuals in the mid-20th century viewed these guns as simple tools, but the butchering that was done by these "gunsmiths" is just inexcusable. I shed a tear inside every time I see an AH Fox cut down to a "Woodcock Special" or a Savage 99 that has been drilled and tapped for a scope.

As for pump guns, I feel that certain models can qualify as "fine". Those include the Winchester Models 12 and 42, early Remington 870 Wingmasters, and Ithaca M37s. This is a much more debatable choice, but I have also become a fan of the Browning BPS. It is mass produced in Japan, but I like how they look and handle. They are certainly higher quality than any modern Remington or Mossberg pump.

bill murphy
February 4th, 2012, 06:28 PM
The early 37S and 37T with the wide rib as installed on the Knickerbocker single barrel are wonderful guns with wonderful wood. Apparently they were discontinued in the early fifties. Both of my Knick rib 37S guns were made in 1953. An original example is a rare find. Early Model 12 Trap Grades with obviously hand finished wood are also great guns. Even later Pigeon Grade Model 12s and Deluxe Grade Model 42s can be considered wonderful, or great. Fine guns? For me maybe, because I collect and appreciate such guns, but I am willing to admit there are better examples of "fine guns" to examine and own.

Samuel_Hoggson
February 4th, 2012, 07:59 PM
The silliness of attempts to objectify something so clearly subjective aside, most here know what "best" means to those who care and promote such rankings. You know: tier 1, 2, etc.

In that artificial context even M-12s aren't "bests".

Then, if hitting stuff was a primary criterion they would be near the top. If durability and ease of field repair were in the mix 870s would be up there, too. Have not seen a Purdey SLE trench gun. But then, I haven't seen everything.

Sam

Don Moody
February 5th, 2012, 12:33 AM
This is a much more debatable choice, but I have also become a fan of the Browning BPS. It is mass produced in Japan, but I like how they look and handle. They are certainly higher quality than any modern Remington or Mossberg pump.

They certainly don't qualify as "fine", even in terms of a pump gun.

Schuey
February 5th, 2012, 10:06 AM
They certainly don't qualify as "fine", even in terms of a pump gun.

Comparatively speaking, I think they are a lot "finer" than anything currently offered by Remington or Mossberg. The Ithaca's are nice but then you get what you pay for.

Multiflora
February 5th, 2012, 10:53 AM
For a bit of perspective, Stormy Kromer makes a fine cap....I label it a Best, Tier 1....as I have never, ever needed a field repair on a Stormy nor have I ever seen a hacksaw taken to one.
Not sure if Gough Thomas ever wore a cap.
Anyroad, I expect that many, even the ladies, believe they have a fine cap, well chosen and they all do work, after a fashion.
Can't ask much more of a cap.

3 Shots are Better
February 5th, 2012, 12:22 PM
I have also become a fan of the Browning BPS. It is mass produced in Japan, but I like how they look and handle. They are certainly higher quality than any modern Remington or Mossberg pump.

"Modern" maybe the key word in that statement. When looking at the big picture over time, the BPS isn't even close to a Remington 870.

gunut
February 5th, 2012, 01:04 PM
pumps guns in general may not ever be awarded BEST in SHOW ... but the model 12 Winchester would surely take best in class....

Pete Houser
February 5th, 2012, 01:05 PM
When I hold a pump gun it always feels to me that I am holding a machine. It may be very well designed, constructed, and ornamented, but it still feels like a machine. I'm not saying that is bad, but that is how it feels.

When I hold certain side-by-sides, that "machine" feeling is replaced by something else. I don't have a word for that different feeling, but it contains elements of "elegant" and "art". Like the sun coming up on the eastern Sierras. It is just a sunrise, and just a vista, but it is also ...

AyA Fan
February 5th, 2012, 01:07 PM
"Modern" maybe the key word in that statement. When looking at the big picture over time, the BPS isn't even close to a Remington 870.

You would be correct sir. You would notice that immediately preceding my statement about the BPS that I mentioned early Remington 870 Wingmasters as a fine gun, in my opinion. With over 10 million 870s produced since 1950, there is no disputing their place in the firearms world. However, I think it is safe to say that most modern 870s do not hold up to their predecessors in quality.

Also, I will add that I am perhaps a little bit biased towards the BPS (and Ithaca M37) in that I am a southpaw. The BPS is easily the most lefty-friendly pump gun out there. The BPS does not stand at the same level as the revered Model 12/42, but it is a firearm that has impressed me so far, and may one day be seen as a classic. That being said, I would not be surprised if I am in the minority in my thoughts on the BPS. As the old cliche goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder".

T-Bone
February 5th, 2012, 01:45 PM
These look like rather fine guns to me:

http://www.ithacagun.com/ithaca_custom_shop.html

Ryman Gun Dog
February 5th, 2012, 03:55 PM
Gentlemen,
I believe Ithaca and the old M12 are not a best guns, however they are both fine American made weapons that my family has been proud to own for generations. These weapons get handed down in our Collection for a reason, they are fine high quailty weapons built to last for many generations. As the sign asks, Where's your gun made? My favorite guns are all American made.
L.C. Smith, Parker, Winchester M21 & M12, Ithaca 37 Feather Weight
RGD/Dave

3 Shots are Better
February 5th, 2012, 06:52 PM
I've never given much thot to whether a gun is "best" or "worst" or anything in between. All that matters is if it feels good and I can consistently hit what I'm shooting at with it.

bill murphy
February 6th, 2012, 09:45 AM
Rudy Etchen successfully competed with Remington pump guns, but also shot a Purdey.

3 Shots are Better
February 10th, 2012, 11:50 AM
Michael McIntosh did a great deal to boost the awareness of the fine qualities of the SxS shotgun. I think it's fair to say that he fed the passion of many sportsmen, lighting the fire that put SxS shotguns back into the American main stream.

Michael also had a passion for pumpguns. If you notice in his collection, there's a very nice Remington Model 31 and a 20 gauge Model 12. He had started on a book about pumpguns many years ago, that he always wanted to get finished. Some how, it never got done, but he always wanted to talk about pumpguns, and felt they were the ideal shotgun to hunt ducks with. I agree with that, and feel that if Michael (or someone like him) ever got the shooting publics attention like he did with the qualities of SxS guns for upland hunting, they would be held in higher regard.

Personally, there's just something special about a limit of ducks taken with a pumpgun. Or even just a pair of mallards. It's just the way it's supposed to be.

Ryman Gun Dog
February 11th, 2012, 01:29 PM
3 shots,
For once I have to agree, and because the 16 Gauge M12 is so light the girls here in Potter County even love to hunt Grouse with it. A lot of the men here teach their sons and daughters to Grouse hunt with them, because the gun only fires one time without having to rechamber a shell, and the guns are perfect for jump shooting Wood Ducks along a mountain stream. We tease the grown men who still use them for having Duck guns in the Grouse woods, however with the correct choke they are very deadly, serious Grouse guns also. My Grandfather had a Remington 16 Gauge pump that I was allowed to use when I was very young, it was light and had a thumb safe, and was choked IC, many Pheasants, Rabbits and Ducks fell to that pump gun on our Dairy farm. I always thought I was very lucky to be able to take the gun out by myself, I shot my 1st true double Pheasant with it at age 12. It rotated like glass, Satterwhite would have been proud to use her. She was lost in the farm house fire with many other real nice weapons, in the 80's long after my Grandfather passed away. I do wish I had her and my Grandfathers Parker 28 today.
RGD/Dave

John Roberts
February 11th, 2012, 04:25 PM
My Grandfather had a Remington 16 Gauge pump that I was allowed to use when I was very young, it was light and had a thumb safe...RGD/Dave

Which Remington pump had a thumb "safe"?
JR

Don Moody
February 11th, 2012, 05:13 PM
Dave, are you sure in was a Remington?

kgb
February 12th, 2012, 12:40 AM
When I hold a pump gun it always feels to me that I am holding a machine. It may be very well designed, constructed, and ornamented, but it still feels like a machine. I'm not saying that is bad, but that is how it feels.

When I hold certain side-by-sides, that "machine" feeling is replaced by something else. I don't have a word for that different feeling, but it contains elements of "elegant" and "art". Like the sun coming up on the eastern Sierras. It is just a sunrise, and just a vista, but it is also ...

When I hold a M12 it'll usually put me in mind of something like this, brick-like recoil pad included, if you like;

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd256/Gordonpicsrus/Arms/m12sportingclassics.jpg

The apples and old truck put me in mind of birds up north, grouse and/or woodcock, but the dog and guns should fit anywhere in America. An Auto-5 would work fine as well.

A M37 usually makes me think of pheasants. Who knew?

Bruce Buck
February 12th, 2012, 11:45 AM
I get to see a lot of different gun when doing gun reviews. Some of them are definitely of "fine" construction quality. I can't think of any pump gun I would rate as fine as to that. But... if "fine" means making me feel fine when I shoot it, I'd nominate the Winchester Model 42. They make me smile every time I pick one up.

Joseph Plummer
February 12th, 2012, 05:02 PM
Beautiful piece of Americana. And thanks for mentioning the old Browning Auto-5 in the same category with the fine Winchester pumpguns. I would have been a pumpgun man for ducks, except for the boyhood injury to my left hand, the one that operates the slide handle or forearm if you are a right handed gunner, as I am. I noticed that the forearm ringed design is somewhat different on the lower pictured Winchester in the truck bed, than the one above it. Beautiful Setter, reminds me of Maggie, my first Setter, many years ago now.

Don Moody
February 12th, 2012, 08:51 PM
I noticed that the forearm ringed design is somewhat different on the lower pictured Winchester in the truck bed, than the one above it.

The one on top has the second type with 14 rings, 1913 to 1919.
The one on bottom is the third type with 18 rings, 1919 to 1947. (12 gauge guns)

Brent Lacy
February 13th, 2012, 05:31 PM
When someone mentions "fine" in conjunction with any shotgun action type, I'm certainly going to say that yes, there are fine shotguns. Fine in terms of form , function, and reliability. Cosmetically? Well there might be boundaries where no amount of ornamentation would make a gun "fine".:D

Selby Lowndes
February 14th, 2012, 12:44 PM
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the original John Browning designed Remington Model 17 in this discussion of "fine" cornshuckers. Made only in 20ga, the 17 design was co-opted by Ithaca when they began producing their model 37.


Another Browning designed classic pump is the Stevens model 520 with the A-5 hump. Mine has a tang thumb safety and in 16ga is a joy to use. When people see it on a dove shoot I tell them its a rare Browning Sweet 16 Pumpgun. I've considered having it engraved as an A-5 just to further the confusion...SelbyLowndes;)

Small Bore
February 19th, 2012, 03:43 PM
Fine tools perhaps.

Or polished turds.

Depends on you outlook.

Ryman Gun Dog
February 19th, 2012, 04:21 PM
Small Bore,
In our country there is no such thing as a gun, being a polished turd, you see we view them all as the weapons of freedom.
No matter how inexpensive each, has another purpose besides that of the sporting gun. Its really to bad the people of your country have never understood their true value. This is the American outlook. Americans tease each other about their weapons, but here everyone understands every gun is priceless in the right mans hands.
RGD/Dave
Life Member NRA

Leon670
February 19th, 2012, 04:27 PM
small bore, your handle is dead on, judging by your last two posts.

Small Bore
February 19th, 2012, 07:08 PM
We aim to please.

WR Pape
February 20th, 2012, 06:38 PM
Small Bore-These people buy your books.

Gunflint Charlie
February 20th, 2012, 06:51 PM
Or might have. :)

Ryman Gun Dog
February 21st, 2012, 11:04 AM
Small Bore,
It was not my intent to have you personally attacked, your views are valid for where you have been raised, and you have every right to them. Might want to speak up and tell some of these guys to **** off.
RGD/Dave

Small Bore
February 21st, 2012, 04:56 PM
Please don't take my flippancy too seriously - I don't. I suppose what I was trying to say is that pump guns are basically production lime mechanics with various levels of adornment on the outside, whereas a really fine guns is better on he inside and in every other detail than its lower priced companion models. For example, examine the internals of a Daniel Fraser or a Joseph Harkom best quality boxlock, then compare them with a fourth quality guns built on the Webley Proprietary boxlock action. VERY different quality. Examine a high grade Winchester pump gun and internally I'm thinking there would be little or no difference between the most and least expensive of the model in question.

Perhaps I was inelegant in my summary of this in the particular phrase I chose!

If people take offence because I have an opinion different to theirs, it is they who have the problem, not I. But thanks :)

Multiflora
February 21st, 2012, 05:22 PM
Sometimes....a last thought expressed is the worst and would best remain in the mind.

Oddly enough, not everyone values a scattergun based upon mechanical design or storied lineage or cost to the purchaser, for heaven's sake.
Value is often placed from a measure of fine memories of past days or better people or even an association with a special dog.
In that instance, anyone inelegantly labeling a so-prized scattergun or scattergun-type a piece of sh*t, well illustrates a focus a bit too narrow for which crying "opinion" does not permit ignoring.

Not many on this message board are unaware of the numerous differences twixt a pump and a two-row.
Not many on this message board are unaware that the value of a scattergun can exceed the sum of it's parts and provenance.

Small Bore
February 21st, 2012, 06:27 PM
I agree but that has nothing to do with the question asked.

Multiflora
February 21st, 2012, 06:32 PM
I agree...it does not.;)

3 Shots are Better
February 21st, 2012, 11:27 PM
Sometimes....a last thought expressed is the worst and would best remain in the mind.

Oddly enough, not everyone values a scattergun based upon mechanical design or storied lineage or cost to the purchaser, for heaven's sake.
Value is often placed from a measure of fine memories of past days or better people or even an association with a special dog.
In that instance, anyone inelegantly labeling a so-prized scattergun or scattergun-type a piece of sh*t, well illustrates a focus a bit too narrow for which crying "opinion" does not permit ignoring.

Not many on this message board are unaware of the numerous differences twixt a pump and a two-row.
Not many on this message board are unaware that the value of a scattergun can exceed the sum of it's parts and provenance.

Well said.

Good stuff......and an important part of the equation, at least as far as I am concerned.