What’s a Classic Gun To You?

April 20, 2012 | By | 14 Replies More

by Jay

Saw this column the other day: What Makes a Shotgun a Classic? I’ll give you my own opinion in a minute, but here’s a little of what the post – by Phil Bourjaily of Field & Stream – said:

> The dictionary definition of “classic” reads: “Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” By that standard, the Remington 1100, which turns 50 next year, was not only revolutionary when it was introduced, it remains a great gun today and is as good an example of “classic” as any.

> It’s also possible for a gun to become an instant classic. Benelli’s 6-pound, 12ga UltraLight semiauto was introduced in 2008. In its narrow niche – semiautos for upland brush hunting – it has already established itself as the best ever. Better than the Winchester 59, the Franchi 48 AL, the Browning Sweet 16 and even my favorite, the Browning Double Automatic.

> That’s not an answer, but I hope just the beginning of a discussion of what is – and isn’t – a classic shotgun.

Before I read all that, I immediately thought of my own guns. My upland hunting guns. Not my turkey gun (Remington 870) or a model of gun (like the 870, Citori, etc.), but my own guns. To me, they are classics.

Part of that is form. I like O/Us – to me those stacked barrels look classic. So does the walnut stock and even the dings all over contribute to the well-worn “classic-ness.”

Guess what I’m saying is, while Phil is right – classics are gun models that have withstood the test of time – my take is more personal: Guns that have withstood the test of time for me.

After all, the Odyssey is a classic book and I’ve read it, but it’s not the first book I’d think of if someone asked me what a good, classic book was. And if someone said “Homer” to me now, my first thought would be…”Simpson.”

Even though I have a classic, o be honest, I’m always on the lookout for a better gun, a new classic for me. Until the gun goes bang (or bang bang) and the bird falls down most of the time – assuming minimal “user error” – guess I’ll always be on the hunt for that better personal classic. Which to me will look good but still take a beating, feel right, and shoot where I’m looking.

What’s a classic gun to you?


Category: Shotguns

Comments (14)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jeff says:

    Winchester 42 is my classic.

  2. Lou says:

    The lever action and the pump guns are the American Classics.
    Lets hear it for the Winchester Model 12, Ithaca Model 37 and Remington 870

  3. Toby Boudreau says:

    The classic american shotgun is the Parker side by side, coined “old reliable” by many, still popular with shooters and collectors.

    • Tara says:

      My father used one of these for 20 years and it never gave him a single bit of trouble (though he also knew how to care for it – kept it immaculately clean).

  4. Mike says:

    Fox Sterlingworth 16 gauge. It was innovative for its time and is still a damned well built shotgun. It might not be the most popular gauge but a lot of people were taught to shoot with a 16 and there seems to be sort of a nostalgia there. The one I shoot is also a classic for me because I’m the 3rd generation in my family to hunt with it. There are lots of other guns I want but probably no others that I actually need. Grandpa Steve’s Fox Sterlingworth does pretty much everything I need a shotgun to do.

  5. Norm Doucet says:

    A Classic to me is not necessarily an expensive one. It would be like an 870 pump. Millions sold over decades and still going strong. A Mossberg 500, Rem 1100, etc. We can all add to the list. In rifles a Winch 70, Savage 99, Marlin 39A, etc, etc. They are ’57 Chevy’s, not $300K sports cars. That’s my opinion. For every cork sniffer $20 grand plus wall hanger there are thousands of 870’s out there banging birds every autumn. Winch 42? yeah, throw that one in there too…

  6. lucas says:

    if the History channel runs a special on it, it’s probably a classic, unless you’re watching Modern Marvels.

    the one’s that stick in my mind are 870’s, 1100’s and 11-87’s, mossberg 500’s, ruger 10/22’s, browning A-5’s(you guys should do an article about the new ones), ithaca’s, browning B-80’s(don’t hear much about them

    i don’t know much about beretta’s, and benelli’s will never be classics in my mind. i feel like my tastes in shotguns do not reflect the generation i was born in!

    • Dennis Williams says:


      Like you, I never thought much of the Benelli’s. My bird guns in the past have been an Ithaca 37 an a Browning Citori skeet gun. I have used these guns over the last 37 years. I am getting older and wanted a light weight bird gun so I could hunt all day and not have a gun feel heavy at the end of the day (prime time). I also wanted wood instead of plastic. After a lot of research, I purchased a 20 ga. Benelli Montefeltro. So far, so good, the last two years. I am thinking it will be a classic some day.


  7. E Dudley says:

    Browning Superposed, +1 – 870 (Wingmaster, please), Browning A-5 (Light 12 or Sweet 16), and AH Fox.

    That being said, my future personal classics are a B Rizzini O/U and Benelli Nova (ugly, but indestructible and I can shoot the lights out with it)

  8. Bill says:

    I, too, shoot an (1927) A.H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 gauge that was handed down to me. I had it refinished by New England Custom Guns and Turnbull, so it should be good for another generation when I’m finished with it. I have yet to run across an upland bird it can’t handle.

  9. Jerry Allen says:

    It’s gotta be a side by side!

  10. Jer says:

    Definitely my Ithaca 37

  11. NIK says:

    The Parker Trojan, Browning BSS, and any of the original LCs.

  12. Jay says:

    Classic in the style it brings to a hunt, classic in the history of the gun, classic in the sense of a gun that is handed down from Gen to Gen, classic in looks, classic in performance

    The Winchester Model 21

Leave a Reply