Perfect, all-around gun, maybe?
Is there a perfect all-around gun? Maybe. It certainly has drawn lots of ink and more breath than most other topics. So, let’s give it a shot.
First, let’s kick out some guns that certainly fill a niche but do not do what most everyone requires. In the last few years many magazines have sprung up and expanded on black guns, the AR’s and their look-alikes. Entire magazines are dedicated to them; however, they definitely are not all-around guns. They fill a niche, but unless you have the "federales" breathing down your neck they don’t fill the bill. If you think they are the all-around gun, then you need more than I can give you, especially in an article of this size.
Let’s see what requirement should be met. First, it should be able to be used to hunt small game. Second, it could be used to hunt big game. Third, it could be used for home protection. Next, it should be able to be used for competition or games.
There are truckloads of guns that fill some of the requirements, but not as many that will do all of them. After talking this over with Rob Houghton and others, we came to a sort of agreement.
Many of my favorite guns are deer rifles, but they are not used for small game hunting. I think that one of the 6.5 millimeters makes the near-ideal deer rifle, as do many .30 calibers, .25 calibers, and others. However, they are not all-around guns, so let’s move on.
The discussion of .22’s and shotguns narrowed down the argument a lot. In fact, either can fill the bill quite nicely. Let’s focus on shotguns.
The good old American pump gun is one of the best choices. I have owned Model 12’s, Model 37’s, Model 500’s, and, of course, the Model 870. All of these are great choices. By now, I have traded or sold all of them except for the Winchester Model 12. I have to say it is the slickest of them all and has one feature the others don’t: if you hold the trigger and keep pumping, it keeps shooting. So it really is as fast as an automatic.
In the pump shotgun world, my vote goes to the Model 12. In fact, if I find a good, used 20 gauge Model 12 I just might buy it.
In the world of .22’s Ruger makes one or two of the very best. The 10/22 is not only a classic, it is the standard by which all others are judged. Ruger also makes a bolt-action .22 that has no flies on it. It is very accurate and is good practice for using bolt-action big-game rifles. To be safe, shoot both, then buy one of each.