Firearms as a Christmas gift

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Giving a firearm as a gift can be a tricky procedure. Usually this type of gift is from one family member to another, such as parents to daughter or son, uncle to nephew or grandpa to granddaughter.

My first firearm was an over and under, with a .22 on top and a .410 on the bottom, a shotgun and rifle combination. This firearm is still one of the firearms used by me to hunt wild birds.

The way we describe shotguns today is by gauge. Basically, it takes 10 round lead balls to fit into the barrel of 10-gauge shotgun to weigh one pound, 12 round lead balls to fit into a 12 gauge to weigh one pound and 20 lead balls weighing one-pound would equal a 20 gauge.

The one exception is a .410 shotgun, which is actually a .410 bore, meaning it is a .410 caliber. If this gun were to be compared to a 12 or 20 gauge, with the number of round lead balls inserted into the bore to equal one pound, it would be a 67 gauge.

Needless to say, the smaller the gauge, the larger the shotshell. The larger the shotshell, the more kick or recoil experienced when the firearm is fired. The 12 gauge has more kick than the 20 gauge. Therefore, many youngsters are given a 20 gauge as a first shotgun.

Howard and David Bellamy, members of the popular western singing group, “The Bellamy Brothers,” indicated the first wild bird they hunted in their native Florida, and were successful, was a wild turkey. They said the shotgun used was a .410, the smallest shotgun used in hunting, today during an interview a few years ago.

“Why did you use a .410?” I asked.

“A .410 was the only shotgun we had,” was their answer.

Most hunters use a 12 gauge to hunt turkey today, but some still use a 10 gauge. The Bellamy Brothers, talking about using a .410 to go after turkey, caused a challenge within me. The next hunting season my first firearm, the .410, was used to tag one of my turkeys. My little shotgun has been used to down doves, pheasant, quail and turkey.

Many hunters consider the .410 to be too small for young and beginning hunters. Thus, the 20 gauge is more often chosen as a first shotgun.

This argument is a good one. The 20 gauge is a good gun to hunt any Washington State game bird. The .410 can be used to challenge a hunters’ skill.

Tomorrow: Picking the appropriate rifle for a first-time hunter.

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