No Love for the Single Shot?
[H&R Topper, my personal favorite]
These days it seems that everything is “Tactical.” “Tactical” rifles, shotguns, handguns, magazines, rails, flashlights… the list is nearly endless. To quote a friend of mine “If it ain’t tactical it ain’t tacti-cool.” So much as mention a single shot shotgun in these circles and the ensuing laughter can be heard for miles. After all, why in the name of Gaston G. Glock would any sane person buy a single shot shotgun!? It’s not...not...not TACTICOOL!
[Bunnies Beware! Tacticool has arrived!]
Being a self-confessed old fart, I happen to love the single shots, especially the old H&R’s with the lever style barrel release. No, the aren’t the latest cool kid iteration of tactical shotguns, don’t hold umpteen rounds in dozens of underbarrel tubes and don’t have more rails than the New York subway. They do, however, have what I believe are some real advantages in the real world (not that inhabited by the Keyboard Kommando or Marvin the Mall Ninja). Don’t get me wrong - the 870 or 500 has its place, as does the 1100 or the SA 12, I’m just saying that the Topper isn’t ready for the scrap heap just yet.
First, the single shots are dirt cheap. Brand new Hatfields in any gauge can be had on the net for as low as $125.00. Toppers, Taurus, and Savage are often available for under $100 used in the LGS (Local Gun Store) in my AO (Area of Operations). True, they might be a bit battered and in need of some TLC, but they still work fine. As an aside, Hatfield lists their 12 gauge as having a 3.5” chamber, so there’s no problem with finding ammo.
Along with cheap, they are also quite versatile. As both a student and teacher of history, I was fascinated to learn over the years that the most popular gun with early settlers and pioneers was a smooth bore. Why? Most here already know. Load a 12 gauge with slugs and its good for any big game animal on this continent.
It may not be the best choice for grizzlies, but stop them it will. Switch to buckshot and it becomes a legendary defense tool. Number 4 shot works for turkey, number 7 for bunnies… The shotgun is a Jack of all Trades. And the single shot is so easy to switch loads in, especially with an auto eject.
For me, the most endearing thing about a single shot is the weight, or, to be precise, the lack thereof. This is important when you’re hunting bunnies, ringnecks or pheasants over several miles of creek bottoms and briar patches on a Saturday. Having hunted with an 870, I know how heavy they get after 2 or 3 hours. Yes, my Topper has more felt recoil , but I can hunt with it long after the 870 has kicked my tail. Besides, I’m not shooting a 100 round skeet match. How many shots am I going to take during a day’s hunt?
Speaking of number of shots, PA has a 3 shot limit for small game. Some who have never used a single shot my opine that the hunter using this archaic weapon is at a disadvantage. I say “Not So.” First, knowing there is only one shot in the gun, the people I’ve hunted with over the years tend to slow down and make that one count. Pretty often I’ve seen … people … fire three shots as fast as they can work the action. Peter then stops, smiles, and gives them “the paw” while hoping leisurely away. Not so often with a single. Besides, anyone who hunts with a single has learned the trick of keeping one shell between the pinky and ring finger, another between the ring and middle fingers. With a little practice, one can reload nearly as fast as a trombone action.
[Simplicity, versatility and elegance. True Perfection.]
Yup, tactical has a place (I guess), so do modern actions. For you younger guys who have extra money to spend and excess energy to burn, have at ‘em. I’ll stick to my light weight, cheap, old fashion Topper. I don’t feel under gunned.
No Love for the Single Shot?
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