Sears and Roebuck, years before major retailers shied from gun sales, sold a line of firearms that sported the Ted Williams name and signature. His baseball celebrity helped with marketing, as well as the fact he was a renowned sportsman.
The company didn’t own and run a rifle factory, though. It relied on experienced manufacturers to produce the guns. Winchester made the 3T, a duplicate of its then-produced Model 190 with lower-grade wood and Williams labeling replacing the firm’s name.
It’s far from collectible, but it’s destined for a son-in-law and my youngest grandson just starting to shoot. With any luck, it’ll be ready to go by the holiday season.
Were the rifle mine, I’d be content with nine coats of that messy, goopy, stinky and potentially flammable boiled linseed oil I’m applying to the stock. But, it’s going to be passed on, with what I hope will be a hard-wearing finish that lasts for years under the abuse dished out by a youthful shooter.
Here’s where firearm enthusiasts and other passions part ways in regard to heritage. All the work I put into this ailing rifle’s stock will wear, and sooner or later, it will be time take the wood back down to the grain and start from scratch. If taken care of properly, all gun owners know that time will come. He may go with one of the glossier, easier-to-apply products then, but sometime around the second or third coat, the love and attention initially poured into the gun will come into focus.
I may be long gone, but I’ll be remembered—even if only for a few seconds. I know I sure thought about Dad and his oil-finished Stephens while furiously rubbing it in the 3T with my fingertips.
The .22 semi-auto chambers shorts, longs and long-rifle rimfires, which makes it neat for a rifle roughly 40 years old. I still need to reblue part of the barrel and tube magazine, and the barrel nut was loose—apparently a chronic problem with this design. I’ve remedied the latter, scheduled the former for this fall, and am having a blast with what I hope becomes another family heirloom.