When I was fifteen, I had a shooting buddy who owned a Smith and Wesson K-22. His dad would take us to 'camp', where there was a great range, and we would shoot all day long. That K-22 was kept smoking for hours on end.... and I learned to love that pistol. It was accurate, smooth, and seemed to want to shoot straight.
Now, I am no longer fifteen. Decades have passed.... yet I didn't forget that pistol, and I have held a place in the safe for where my own K-22 would one day live. I have come close many times, but something always seemed to get in the way. Money would fade away, the deal would fall through, or someone else would get there first. Life just worked out that way.
That is..... until this week. This week the planets aligned in just the right pattern, and something done right in a former life came back to haunt me. Out of the blue, an E-mail pops up; "I have inherited a Smith and Wesson K-22, and read on your blog that you wanted one.... and......". It took me a day to decide just how big a hammer to use while smashing my piggy bank, and what seemed forever to count the change. A trip to the bank, three hours of driving, some time spent talking with a decent guy, and suddenly all those years of waiting are over. I am now the owner of a Smith and Wesson K-22.
Meet the newest member of my family, born in 1956 and owned by one man all that time.... a Marine trained and dedicated shooter.... who kept this treasure in pristine condition.
There are many kinds of gun owners, just like many kinds of car owners. Some people own a rifle and a shotgun simply so they can hunt, and think little about the firearm itself. Others use weapons as tools of their trade, and instill no love in them, just respect. Then, there are those who see their firearms as something special in their life. A window into the past, a stable rock in the maelstrom of life, or perhaps the key to their liberty and duty. Some people, dare I say it, love their guns... at least some of them.
I know a man who has a special place in his heart for his 1970 GTO. It's been his since he was a boy, and that car carries much of his life history with it. He wouldn't part with it for the world, for it is a part of him.
Some gun owners are like that, with some of their guns. That .22 rifle, nothing special to anyone else's eyes, but to the man who owns it... priceless because it was given to him by his Grandfather. The old service revolver, holster worn but serviceable, more valuable than gold because a father carried it through a war and came home to pass it on.
Perhaps, something less dramatic makes a special gun what it is.... special. The way it fits, the seemingly inherent desire to shoot straight, or maybe the quality of it's crafting shining through the generations.
I have several firearms that fall into these categories... guns I'll never trade nor sell, but which will stay with me till the end, then to be passed to my sons. A Colt 1911, an old Topper 30.30, a Mauser from the 30's..... and now a Smith and Wesson K-22.
It was not even a day after this piece of the gunmakers art came into my hands that it was on the range. A few shots to set the sights to my eyes, and then a few hundred more while memories flooded the mind. This venerable old pistol could have been the same one I fired as a boy, for it has the same qualities. Easy to shoot well, to the point where it becomes a natural event. Of course the bullets will land where the shooter wills them to go.... how could it be any different? Firing from fifty feet, the holes magically appear so close to one another, although with frank honesty. Each errant breath, even the uncounted heart beats... all appear as part of the magic. The more the shooter invests of himself, the more the old Smith responds, revealing every layer of ability, concentration, and skill earned through the years. The pistol, so finely crafted, so perfectly tuned, that only the will of it's wielder shapes the bullets flight.
Smith & Wesson made many, many thousands of these pistols and still carries the basic model to this day, although none will judge the newly made revolvers to be the equal of their ancestors. No.... the era of this kind of quality has passed, now left solely to the custom shops and gunsmiths bench.
That empty spot in my gun safe is now filled, and a tiny little niche in my soul has been filled too. A piece of deeply blued steel, hand fitted by craftsmen long gone, and reminder of many, many good times of my youth.... has come to take it's place there.
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