Saturday, September 29, 2012


I've posted before about how hard life was when my dad was a kid, growing up in the 30's and 40's in a depression area farm family in deep East Texas. It was not much different than pioneer life that came before them for a hundred years with our previous generations in Texas.

They didn't have electricity until the early 40's. They didn't have running water until the late thirties, and didn't have a bathroom or septic tank until long after my father had moved out and did a hitch in the Air Force and while in college (and working full time) he bought his mom a bathroom added on to her house in the 50's.

So when he was a kid, times were tough. The family double barreled external hammer 12 gauge was used to harvest lots of food for the family table, and shells were not to be wasted. As a kid, they often carried buckshot in one and bird shot in the other, prepared for hog, turkey, deer or various bird like quail, geese or ducks. They sometimes had slugs when it was deer hunting time, although I suspect back then it was always deer season when you're hungry.

In any event, that's a tradition that carried onto me, first using a double barreled .410 then onto a 12 and then later in life, back to a double barreled .20. Usually there's bird shot in both barrels, but sometimes I revert to my youth and load a slug in one and some shot in another.

Great for turkey hunting and lots of folks hunt deer with 12 gauge slug guns here in Texas. I'm not sure if it's legal in Texas, but again, in the days of the depression, it was not unknown for folks to "set up" on watering holes or feed spots with 12 gauge double barreled guns loaded with buckshot for close range deer hunting.

Which gets me around to the Yildiz brand of double barreled shotguns, both side by side and over/under. Both are lightweight, and as I get older, I appreciate lighter weight guns. As far as I know,  they're made in Turkey and imported only by Academy. They are very reasonably priced, and the two models I'd like to one day have are the .410 side by side and the .20 over/under youth model.

Their build quality has increased greatly in the past several years. The versions I handled tonight were well made, tight but not too tight, and seemed very smooth in operation and in terms of the finish and fit of the metal parts. The wood was good and well finished and the sideplates were silver with some sort of very abbreviated engraving on them. Both are hammerless with a tang safety and both are priced at under $500.

I like the youth model 20 gauge over/under because it's just a wee bit shorter stock fits me better than the full size model, which also fits me pretty well. I have long arms but for whatever reason, youth model shotguns often fit me better. The converse is true with rifles, as youth models don't generally fit me, and some Russian and Chinese rifles don't fit me in terms of LOP as they are built with short LOP's for folks in serious winter attire, with several inches of coats, or so I've been told.

I like the Yildiz guns. Although not made in America, the exception I'll make is for the lightness of the guns. My Christmas present last year was a nice Mossberg 20 gauge over/under and it's heavier than the Yildiz.

I liked the light weight of the Yildiz .410 side by side at 4.8 lbs with a 28" barrel. Likewise, the Yildiz Youth Model .20 gauge O/U  comes in a 5 lbs sporting a 26" barrel. Both are nice handling and well balanced lightweight guns.

I do want to buy the .410 SxS and the .20 O/U in the near future, and I've been on the lookout for some used ones around town. As yet, I've seen lots of them used around town going for $250 to $300 but all are the 12 gauge versions, so I know the other gauges will show eventually on the used market.

I like .410's. If you understand their limited range and apply their use accordingly, you'll be greatly satisfied with the results. We've often used .410's for quail and dove hunting. It was also a frequent "rambling round the family place" gun. When my dad bought me my first shotgun, a H and R Topper Jr. in .410, he also bought himself a full sized .410 double barrel of unknown Spanish manufacture. Not only was he tired of 12 gauge recoil, he was weary of 16 and 20 gauge recoil as well, despite being in shape and an avid and lifelong shooter. The .410 was just his preference, and it worked out well for both of us.

I see Marlin has a limited edition of their lever gun but chambered for the .410, and as far as I know, Cabela's was the exclusive dealer for this gun, but I no longer see it on their website. It sells for just under $600 as I recall. It's a dandy gun, very well made like all Marlins I've owned and shot and it's based on the 1895 lever action rifle chambered in .45-70, so it's a heavy duty deal.

A Marlin Model 336 in .30-30 with a scope is almost a rite of passage here in Texas. El Fisho Jr. is about to get the family rifle handed down to him, perhaps after Christmas since the rest of the family has some birthdays in the month after Christmas. Our family rifle is a scoped Marlin Model 336.

So this same basic firearm shooting .410 shells interests me as a great fun gun and predator gun. Here's a review on the lever action Marlin .410 from back in 2009. I remember seeing them advertised in a Cabela's flier that I got sometime earlier this year. The review says it is seven and a quarter pounds and the barrel is 22" long, a good all around length for a brush gun.

The .410 Marlin resembles the larger Model 1895 Marlin lever actions chambered for .45-70 due to the magazine and barrel size. By the way, another gun on the I'd like to have but have no real need for is the 1895 Guide gun with full length magazine, or the Wild West Arms version called the Alaskan Co-pilot, which not only shoots .45-70 but some wildcat caliber developed by Wild West Arms and the .410 shotshell. A great lever action combo.

Rossi has also entered the arena with their version of a 6+1 shot with a 20" barrel lever action .410 shotgun, and Cabela's does have a page for it here, selling for right at $500. Still, I'll wait around until I can find a Marlin for a decent price. I saw one at a gun show a few weeks ago for under $400, and might have should have jumped on that one.

All these guns are reasonably priced and not so onerous to shoot on a regular basis. 

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