Wednesday, June 1, 2011


When I was reading Outdoor Life and Sports Afield (RIP) and Field and Stream as a pre-teen and teen, the "old timers" often talked about their "kit gun", a gun carried in their "kit" or backpack or tackle box or gear bag or fishing vest or whatever.

The guns referred to as kit guns were actually all S&W, since that was a copyrighted brand name, but in reality it could be any kind of handgun that one could tote with them. Mostly, the kit gun school of thought involved guns ranging from J frame .22's (I think this is what is called a 22/32, meaning a .22 on a .32 frame). to K frame .22's and .38's.

Many a Ruger .22 graced a kit bag and tackle box, and like wise the various Ruger, Colt et al single action .22's, particularly the smaller framed guns. Our kit gun was a rather decent shooting if not *function over form* H&R 9 shot double action revolver with a 4" barrel.

But let me tell you a story about one such kit gun adventure I had some years ago.

One of the family traditions the wife and I began was going certain places year after year with the kids for mini-vacations. One such place is in the East Texas Piney Woods, nestled in hundreds of acres on a private ranch. The lakeside  cabins come with your choice of a cheap rental canoe or v-hull rowboat to traverse the five joined lakes this place features, and the lakes have different types of structure and even construction that gives a lot of different kinds of fishing opportunities from deep swamp thicket jungle bass fishing to gravel bottom fishing to several other designed lakes.

Knowing the area like I do, which is pretty well from an outdoors sense, I know that there are gonna be snakes and possibly alligators, although the property claimed they kept gators vetted and moved to other locales. Gators are gonna be gators, and they can move into new habitat as I've seen it happen. I've been happy never to have to shoot a gator, but there have been several close calls where it was nearly trigger pulling time before the creature from the deep backed off.

Besides, it's illegal in Texas to shoot gator but I'm willing to risk a fine if it's self defense, mano a' gator.

No, the much more prevalent creature at this property was snakes. Big ole snakes. Copperheads. Water Moccasins. These are two of my least favorite snakes, because they are what I have encountered most of my life.

So when I journeyed around the lake, in the front pocket of my Stearns combo fishing/PFD inflatable was my trusty S&W Model 38 Bodyguard Airweight with three rounds of snake shot and two of solid nose bullets.

I ran into several very large mocs as I was fishing near the banks and under some thick bankside growth, but was able to avoid them and was glad I saw them before I stumbled across the lily pads they occupied, sprawled in the shade with their camo skin making them hard to discern amongst the vegetation. So we both came out as winners on that one, but I was struck with the thought that I was glad I had the .38 Special snakeshot backed up by two solid bullets, rather than a lightweight .22 loaded with .22 snakeshot and cartridges.

You see, at that time S&W had introduced a super lightweight .22 revolver that came in under 10 oz. My M38 I think weights 14 or so unloaded, but at the time I thought the lightweight .22's were sort of cool and certainly when carrying a gun, ounces sometimes do count.

So all my envy for having some .22 caliber gun that weighed a few ounces less than what I was carrying went right out the window. Upon seeing the abnormally large size of the snakes, I was kinda wanting a shotgun and not a pistola, but I was glad I had the extra ommph of hte Model 38 if'n I'd of needed it.

Hence the new offering from Smith and Wesson, the   Governor , might be the ideal outdoorsmans gun for carry afield. It can chamber and shoot a combination of .410 2 1/2" shotshells, .45 LC and .45 ACP in two-shell or full moon or half moon clips. I like to know   if it would chamber (without clips) the .45 ACP auto-rim, but I don't know and you should ask your gunsmith unless the gun's manual says it's ok.

I've never gone for the Taurus Judge series, something which has frankly astonished Billy Ray for years, given my fondness for the Thompson Contender chambered in .45 LC/.410 for a fishing snake gun, or as he calls it, a gator gun. (note: we don't hunt gators, we leave them the hell alone and steer a wide berth and if they are active we go somewhere else. We respect them, and fear them, and go prepared but in over 40 years of fishing we've had a couple of close calls but made it out without problems)

But I've never been a fan of any of the Taurus revolvers made since the early 80's, as it seemed to me the earlier ones more mimicked real Smith and Wesson guns, and were made better. I had one very bad experience with a Taurus revolver and likely won't own one again.

So the Governor does interest me, and it is reasonably priced.

In the article I linked to by Skeeter Skelton in the previous post, he talks about two great guns of yore, the legendary REAL kit guns in .22. Those would be nice, but it would be nicer if Smith would make one of these guns as a classic reissue WITH A REASONABLE PRICE AS A THANK YOU TO LOYAL WORKING MAN CUSTOMERS.

Perhaps the epitome of the trail gun is the beautifully made little Smith & Wesson Model 34 .22/32 Kit Gun (the “32” indicating that the gun is built on the .32 frame). This fine revolver has been around in one form or another since 1935 and is now offered with adjustable lengths, and round or square butts. Its name, .22/32 Kit Gun is copyrighted, else I would have used the term “kit gun” here instead of the less descriptive “trail gun.”

This 24 ½ -ounce beauty is as accurate as any shooter can hold it and manifests all of the Smith & Wesson refinements. For my own use, I prefer the slightly larger square-butt model, with four-inch barrel for steadier holding.

This S&W is also available with a 3 ½ inch barrel on an aluminum-alloy frame, weighing only 14 ½ ounces. In .22 LR it is known as the Model 43 .22/32 Airweight. "

TEXT FROM SKEETER SKELTON's%20The%20Best%20Trail%20Gun%20For%20You.htm

I've seen examples recently of the Model 43, unfortunately with too much cylinder movement. Not a tight gun. But it seems they are around and go for around $300 to $600 on the average going for about $500. If I could find a decent one that was tight, I'd be having to have that. It's a big contender for when you do want a .22 as a sidearm.

Another gun that would be a nice gun if one wanted to occasionally shoot perhaps a hog at closer range or some other type of Texas type predator (we don't see many bears in Texas. I think some live protected in Big Bend although once black bears roamed East Texas) would be the venerable and time tested  Smith and Wesson Model 60  yet with a new barrel design on the 3" barrrel, a danged nice looking gun as well. Weighing in a 23.6 oz., it might have enough bulk to allow the shooter to tolerate shooting full .357 loads yet be light enough to carry enjoyably.

I have a Model 67 Combat Masterpiece in .38 Special +P. My father thought it one of the finest combat revolvers ever, and gave me mine many years ago. It's a fun and easy gun to shoot, and is heavy enough to have little bite from heavy +P loads. I just wish I had one with a 2 1/2" barrel for vertical shoulder holster carry as a trail gun.

Smith and Wesson has a dandy .22 version of the Combat Masterpiece, the Model 18, but unfortunately I could buy two or maybe three very good to excellent condition used guns for the price they want for the new "classic" version of this gun. Like it's big brother, it's a heavy gun, but it's a nice K frame and fits nicely in my hand.

And although the Model 67 in .38 Special +P is a generally much better choice than the Model 18 in .22 for a field and stream gun, it's a heavy gun, and I'm more prone in the July and August Texas summers to go for my Model 38 Bodyguard Airweight with snakeshot and solid flat nosed bullets out of comfort. Still, I'd like to have a reasonably priced Model 18 since I'd already be good to go on holsters and because it's a great shooting gun.

There are other Smith and Wesson .22 revolvers out there, and I'm talking about the pre-1980 guns mostly. I have little interest in a snubnose .22 and like these guns with at least the 3" barrels.

In another post, I'll talk about some other cool guns for the field and stream and trail.

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