Grab This Gun First

What are your “grab” guns?

Late summer can mean wildfires in the arid west, and so far this year there have been close to 200 homeowners who had to run for their lives, often with very little warning. It got me to thinking, what would I grab? After a lifetime of collecting guns, I just couldn’t leave them all to burn. I came up with a priority list, and it surprised me. Maybe it would be helpful to the reader to think through this exercise—what would you grab if you had time for no more than 2 quick trips out to the car?


After securing any humans I loved, or pets for that matter, I’d take the guns that meant so much to me in my life—either they had awesome memories attached or would be very difficult or impossible to replace, and are used often enough to be needed in the immediate future.
My first trip would grab by Winchester Trapper 30-30 and my Garand M1, with a medium duffel bag full of trusted Smith & Wessons  slung over my shoulder, and my daily carry gun, a Kahr PM.40 in my teeth if necessary. My next trip would be to grab the two fine old black powder rifles off the walls. Some of my beautiful shotguns and fine hunting rifles are closeted away and would take too much time to retrieve. My mad dash could be accomplished in a total of 3 minutes from “go” to last out.

Now here’s why I chose as I did:

My daily carry gun I want with me always, not a replacement, but the same one I’ve put so many field rounds through that I know inside and out. A sweet little compact with plenty of power and Tritium night sights, it is my first choice for personal defense.

My Winchester (yes, a REAL Winchester) Trapper 30-30 is a lifelong companion with a Williams 52D peep sight, blade front  and  shortened buttstock, has killed elk for me just fine and I’ve put so many miles in the woods with it that I feel off balance without it. It has enough power for any game in North America at close range. A great lightweight gun that can get its empty chamber charged in a fraction of a second, a natural pointer and with a full magazine of 5 that can probably overcome any two or three household invaders that may show up, it is my bedside companion , too.


My bag of Smiths are the revolvers I cut my shooting teeth on:  a K22 6” target pistol, great for game or tin cans, accurate as a rifle, a K 38 2” I once killed a running rabbit with, a nickeled  4” K .357, the darling of my collection, a handy 2.5” stainless .357 with perfect balance, a 3” N frame .44 mag for my Alaska trip someday, and my  5” stainless .357 L frame with rifle v notch rear sights and luminous front sight that I bought the day I first shook hands with it.

My Garand needs no explanation to anyone who is my age or older, and lives in an America once defended by this “finest battle implement ever devised”. A shooter to this day out to 300 yards.

My two black powder rifles are very personal things. One, a ‘blond’ full stock .45 percussion,  was made especially for me by a now deceased old Arkansas gunmaker transplanted in 1935 to Sheephorn Creek near Radium,  Colorado. Hank Hinton showed me how to hunt elk and how to brown barrels and make locks and triggers and look at life. The other fine little rifle is an absolute artistic masterpiece .32 half stock percussion target built by a friend of Hank’s named
Bill who visited us from Ohio when I worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife in 1975. I won the Hot Sulphur Springs Mountain Man Rendezvous long distance rifle shoot with it, dressed in a felt shirt, old worn out hat and dirty jeans, with Hank coaching me through the long shots required. I’d sooner burn up myself than let this beautiful piece of American gunmakers’ art go.


I hope you find this exercise helpful, and hope further that you never have to execute it, but like the Boy Scout motto says: Be prepared.

Evergreen, Colorado

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