My favorite gun is my first one, a 20-ga. Remington Model 870 Wingmaster. Purchased by my dad at a local gun store when I was around 9 years of age, the cherished Remington was never meant to be. Without my knowledge, dad had first ordered a .410-bore double-barrel shotgun that he had intended to be my first gun, but when it arrived, he fired it and liked it so much that he kept it for himself.
Memories of purchasing the Wingmaster with my dad remain as vivid in my mind today as they were nearly 50 years ago when it first happened. The gun shop, now long closed, was an independently owned store, and the owner was dad’s friend. Dad handed me the lightly used—but beautiful—shotgun (which the serial number indicates was manufactured by Remington in 1968), and asked, “Do you like it?” Needless to say, I loved it; the gun looked almost brand new then, and still does to this day. The store owner gave me a box of shells to shoot in my new gun, and I can still see him handing me the box—seemingly as proud as my dad and me were.
My father always made sure I knew proper gun safety, maintenance and care. The 870 rested on my shoulder for many squirrel hunts, and with the extra, full-choke barrel, I even carried it duck hunting. I lost possession of it a few years ago when I needed money and had to sell it, but it did not stay gone for long. Every day it was absent from my ownership I regretted selling it, so when I had more money, the buyer agreed to sell it back. I wasn’t sure he would, but I believe the story about it being my first and favorite gun may have changed his mind.
Dad’s decision to keep the .410 for himself ended up being my gain. I’ve shot that double-barrel many times over the years, but, as good as it was, it wasn’t the same as my Wingmaster.