Shotguns: Ford or Ferrari?

By V. Paul Reynolds

Truth be told, the Reynolds small gun vault holds a half dozen guns, hunting rifles and shotguns – not a Parker or a Purdey among ‘em.

To admire a classic collector’s gun, or bring it to shoulder, is always pleasurable. But I don’t turn green with envy, or look back with regret that I didn’t take out a second mortgage to acquire an expensive high end firearm like those polished and prized by the upper set.


No sir, my guns are just “tools of the trade,” instruments for the hunt, not unlike a garden rake or crescent wrench. Does this make me a plodding plebeian of the hunt fraternity, particularly among dedicated upland hunters?

Having recently frittered away a most enjoyable four days hunting grouse and being fed and lodged at an elegant Maine sporting camp, the dinner table and the grouse woods were shared with some seasoned and accomplished upland hunters, who write for national hunting publications.

Well before the hunt date, my host asked me two questions: 1) What was my favorite adult beverage and 2) What would I be using for a shotgun? ( He was providing the drink and the ammo.) My response “An old beat up Remington 20 gauge pump and Ole Stumpblower.”

The grouse were not plentiful. In fact, my guide, Mark Kingsbury, said it was the leanest year grouse wise that he had seen in more than 20 years! Still, long walks amid the October foliage that is the North Woods and the company of a convivial guide and his well- trained gun dogs is always pleasurable, no matter the grouse numbers.

Grouse and Shotguns

During Happy Hour, two subjects monopolized the cocktail chatter: grouse and shotguns. A knowledgeable, quick witted and highly respected gunsmith, Charlie, from northern New York anchored the discussions. The man is an encyclopedia when it comes to shotgun knowledge. For me, and even the more well-versed shotgun aficionados from the national sporting magazines, Charlie’s shotgun “seminars” were engaging and educational, in a most fascinating way.

Beretta, Perazzi, Fabbri, Franchi, Charlie covered them all, not to mention Holland & Holland and Griffin & Howe. A non hunter, dropping in on the conversation, might surmise that we were discussing Italian cuisine or big law firms.

In the spirit of disclosure, this love and appreciation of fine shotguns, not unlike art appreciation, can be infectious. For Christmas I plan to ask Santa for either a Beretta Silver Pigeon or a Hemingway DeLuxe 20 gauge by Bernadelli, retail price about $9,299.00.

Seriously, having learned a few things about fine shotguns from Charlie the gunsmith and others more knowledgeable than I, this is what I will buy should I decide to take out a second mortgage. It will be a Parker side-by-side in 16 gauge.


If you are in the market for a Parker, Jacqua’s Fine Guns, Inc. is offering a Parker 28 gauge, 26 inch barrel, custom engraved by Winston Churchill.

Price? Well, a steal at a cool $85,000.00!

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books. Online purchase information is available at

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