Work Guns I've Known...

Ardent

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Work Guns I’ve Known…


I have owned and have used a diverse range of guns in my professions in the outdoors as a bush pilot and guide outfitter who specialized in coastal Grizzlies, Brown bears to our American friends. The guns range from a .375 H&H double rifle to a Glock. Those two actually mark the beginning and ends of the progression to date, without saying the Glock is the best yet by any means. Each excelled and was limited in different ways, and for fun, I wanted to detail them and reminisce a bit, in chronological order. I’ve owned and carried for work occasionally many, many guns not listed here, but these are the few that saw months of service at minimum, and the ones I liked years.

Merkel .375 H&H 140AE Double Rifle
The gun that pulls my heartstrings the most in memory. My Merkel double flew with me for scores of flight hours in the day job as a helicopter pilot in the north and outfitting being a handy takedown, as doubles naturally are. It pointed like a ten pound Red Rider BB gun, that is to say like lighting, and shot where I was looking even if I ignored the sights and fired both eyes open. I did some speed shooting with it knocking pairs of wood blocks about to practice target transitions, and it was the fastest gun I’ve owned, even over far lighter chamberings and semi automatics. Doubles rule the world of speed… for two rounds. They point like shotguns, and are extremely compact owing to zero action length. They’re also sealed to the elements; IF you trust the safety. The closest scrapes I’ve had with the big bears all happened with the Merkel for whatever reason too, and it was a great comfort on several occasions when an underhand tossed pebble would of landed behind the bear.

Pros:
-Very good stopping power and penetration
-Very quick handling and instinctive shooting
-No sharp edges or protrusions to snag gear
-Excellent iron sights

Cons:
-Weather sensitive, blued carbon steel
-Heavy enough to be a reliable boat anchor in an emergency
-Too expensive to leave unattended in boats or river camps that may flash flood etc
-I often carried it open with two in it, to have it safe yet ready, as I don’t trust tang safeties

The Merkel doing what it does best with an adversary, that at closest was eight yards from its muzzles; and that likely overestimates the range.



In its natural environment at the cabin.



Stoked for work.




Mossberg 12ga 590A1 14”
This gun was the first step towards carrying a Glock. I needed something cheap I could beat up, not worry about, and lighter. The compactness and weight were wonderful on a handy single point hands free sling, but I hated this gun. It was also far less reliable than others I’ve carried in that despite being mil spec and supposedly built for extreme use, it gummed up with wet sand and salt spray and jammed quicker than any other. Internals rusted sooner owing to the gaping ports, and were fragile, with semi exposed critical parts like the shell lifter. It wasn’t the workhorse I expected and I have little good to say about it honestly, I also found 12 gauge slug ballistics and stopping power to be lacking compared to a .375 H&H which has no more recoil than the slugs. Less in fact, due to the heavier guns the .375 H&Hs are. Sound like I hated this gun? I did.

Pros:
-Compact
-Cost effective
-Ammo versatility (flares, bangers, bird shot to fill the pot, etc)

Cons:
-Susceptible to the elements
-Weak internals (compared to Model 70s and Doubles)
-Inaccurate in comparison to rifles
-Inferior stopping power as compared to higher velocity rifles

590A1 with the track of a bear that left thirty seconds before. I was coming up river with Greg (member Hoytcanon), and we found these tracks on the the bar and sand crumbles on a log where he’d stood to listen to our approach.



The gun I loved to hate. While skinning a Grizzling in the water at dark, the Mossberg took a bath. The source of some of my problems with it were not the gun’s fault, to be sure.


Boat rides and salt spray. Yea I wasn’t exactly fair to it.




Winchester Model 70 Classic Stainless .375 H&H
A rifle that compromised between most factors I asked. Weatherproof, lighter, powerful, decent handling and pointing, and cheaper. I really like the Model 70, and still own one of this exact model, I gave my second to one of my former guides and shouldn’t have. I’ve owned this same somewhat rare Model 70 three times now, probably a good indication I should hang onto this last one. They aren’t perfect at anything, but in heavy Grizzly / Brown bear country in the salmon run are good enough at everything to be a dependable and trustworthy main gun and friend. They’re exactly what the Model 70 legend purports it to be; dependable, reliable, affordable. They’re a legend for a reason. Damn shame Winchester has killed this model.

Pros:
-Stopping power and penetration
-Weatherproof
-Cost effective
-Intuitive, solid safety and controls

Cons:
-Still heavy although lighter than the double
-Long overall length
-Poorer handling and speed than the double
-Mediocre factory iron sights

On the job with the Model 70 Stainless Classic .375 H&H.



Model 70 friend.



Made to work.







Glock 40 (Longslide 10mm)
Glockasaurus as I call it affectionately, is my soulless companion. It weighs nothing, is slim, and is always there. I needed a hands free, lightweight solution as I’m flying bushplanes, running river jet boats, and packing mountain goats down and need to shed pounds. The Glock offers the lightest and most compact, and most hands free solution, and begrudgingly I’ve come to love it. Utterly weatherproof, light enough to forget it is there, and safe to carry ready it has become an unexpected friend. There isn’t much to say here as there’s nothing to wax eloquently on about with it, it’s just a damn fine tool.

Pros:
-Lightest option
-Smallest option
-Hands free, I never put it down
-Affordable

Cons:
-Weak stopping power in comparison to rifles

Thanks for reading, each gun has its place and I’m always trying to find the best. The best, would be the Glock complimenting a stainless double rifle I can afford to lose. That doesn’t exist… Butch Searcy offered to make me a stainless .375 double at a very fair price, and I’m sorely tempted. Will be fun to see where that thought goes.






Will add further thoughts on some ultimate work gun builds, one that didn’t satisfy despite no expense spared.
 

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Ardent

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So, the dream that didn’t take, had Stuart Satterlee make me a full Titanium Mauser, boat Ti too, and chambered it in .375 2 1/4”. After all that I hate a double rifle priced Mauser that never fit right, and I couldn’t justify to reduction in power over my Model 70 .375 H&H. The H&H ammo is everywhere in my gear, the Model 70 was affordable enough to use hard and not worry about losing, and more powerful.

The Model 70 Stainless .375 H&H killed my Titanium Mauser project, to summarize. I do really want a stainless double rifle however.

 

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meigsbucks

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Just out of curiosity, what load are you running in the 10mm Glock?
 

Bullthrower338

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Great thread Ardent! I’m with you on the glock ten, when I’m in griz country I have a S&W 329PD or a Glock 20 in Diamond D chest rigs always on me. Spent years and thousands of dollars looking for the perfect set up. Doesn’t matter if you are in a raft, bush plane, horseback, quad or back packing your gun is always easily accessible.
 

Ardent

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Just out of curiosity, what load are you running in the 10mm Glock?

Yea I’m running a handload of a 200gr FMJ, I just pull the PMC one pictured, and reload over a stiff load of Longshot for mid 1,200s FPS out of the G40. Brass is single use and bulged at that point from the Glock feed ramp.
 

Ardent

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Great thread Ardent! I’m with you on the glock ten, when I’m in griz country I have a S&W 329PD or a Glock 20 in Diamond D chest rigs always on me. Spent years and thousands of dollars looking for the perfect set up. Doesn’t matter if you are in a raft, bush plane, horseback, quad or back packing your gun is always easily accessible.

Agreed it’s less than perfect as a stopper by all means but better than the .375 in the plane sixty yards behind you when making lake camp.
 

1dirthawker

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@Ardent,

a great thread. i too wish for a stainless double rifle. i suspect that will never happen. for a relatively disposable bolt gun however, the ruger 375 Alaskan is a pretty great option. good open sights, positive feed, large extractor claw, STAINLESS, integral rings, sticky hogue over molded stock, with a handy 20" barrel, and not a terribly pricey rifle. oh, and not too heavy either.

i have a 450-400 and a 9.3x74 o/u double, but they are blued. alas. i would love to have a 375 or 450-400 in stainless, about 9 lbs. with, a swing off scope mount. for a handgun, i use a 45 long colt anaconda with 300+ gr hard cast or a 460 rowland on a XDM platform.

i don't have much use for a shotgun as a backup gun, its either leaning on a tree or chair or laying on the river bank. the handgun you will have with you all the time regardless of what you are doing, fishing, cooking, gathering wood or even reading a book.
 

Luvthunt

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BT338
Also carry a 329pd and luv it. I use 300 gr cast performance gas checks over win 296. Carry it in a Mernickle cross draw holster. Put my own hammer thong on it.
What bullet Do you prefer?
Thank you
 

Bullthrower338

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BT338
Also carry a 329pd and luv it. I use 300 gr cast performance gas checks over win 296. Carry it in a Mernickle cross draw holster. Put my own hammer thong on it.
What bullet Do you prefer?
Thank you
I load a 240 gas checked Meister over XMR 5744 and XTP 240’s over H110.
 

1dirthawker

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bullthrower338,

Great thread Ardent! I’m with you on the glock ten, when I’m in griz country I have a S&W 329PD or a Glock 20 in Diamond D chest rigs always on me.

great choice on a holster! i think the guides choice (dimond D) is the best way to carry a large handgun. whether you have a pack, or are rafting, or whatever, instant access to it.
i typically carry 300-330 gr wide flat meplat hard cast bullets (with gas checks) in it. i am working on a load now that is 370gr cast for my 45 long colt.
 

Bullthrower338

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bullthrower338,



great choice on a holster! i think the guides choice (dimond D) is the best way to carry a large handgun. whether you have a pack, or are rafting, or whatever, instant access to it.
i typically carry 300-330 gr wide flat meplat hard cast bullets (with gas checks) in it. i am working on a load now that is 370gr cast for my 45 long colt.
I’m needing to order one for my Freedom Arms 475 Linebaugh. Weigh isn’t really an issue with this holster so why not bring more gun to the party!
 

1dirthawker

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nobody ever wanted a SMALLER gun when a bear charges you!!
 

Saul

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Great thread! Love the pics. I am really excited to see if that Searcy ever gets built.
 

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