Firearms for a lot of us carry much more than just their price tag, they are steeped with sentimental value. Perhaps it was your first rifle, or your father or grandfathers rifle. Either way these 'heirlooms' as such can really hold a special meaning and are often passed down through the generations.
Rifles back in the day were expensive, I’m talking in the 60’s and 70’s when a reasonable quality rifle would have set you back 150-200 bucks! It doesn’t sound much at all these days but back then this represented a significant investment and would have felt a lot like spending about $3000 in today’s money.
More often than not it was your father that got you hooked on hunting at a young age, although now the sport seems to be seeing real growth in people taking up the sport later in life. I’ve lost count of how many mates I’ve seen get started into hunting over the last 5+ years. Which is great for the sport and I guess PointsSouth wouldn’t exist if this wasn’t the case.
For me it was 100% my father’s passion for hunting that gave me the bug, and the special thing with this is that we still have his first rifle and also a couple of my grandfather’s rifles.
I shot my first big game animals with his classic old Parker Hale Safari and so did he. The Parker Hale was far from being the most expensive rifle in its day, but it’s stood the test of time and is still a great shooter to this day.
Back then the mostly English manufactured BSA’s and Parker Hale's were kind of the start of the true sporting rifles, as prior most rifles were converted ex-military rifles, the most common being the Lee Enfield. As it sits I could sell the old girl for maybe $500, but even with another zero on the end it wouldn’t be considered. The battle scars and imperfections from use and time tell the story.
While you could say that rifles have changed a lot over the last 50 years, you could also say that they have changed very little. Fundamentally they are the same and the majority of actions these days are based on old and proven designs. Modern materials have seen some big changes but mostly to the weight, maintenance and cost of production. Synthetics, stainless and carbon seem to be where we are at in 2016, and not only is a new rifle now a pretty achievable price but we now have a huge choice in caliber and projectile.
Optics have certainly come a long way from open sights and the first generation scopes to the light gathering beasts we have today. On the old Parker Hale is one of the earlier scopes produced, a 4 x 32 Bentley. Which although far from today’s level of performance, still does a fantastic job.
Will that stainless/synthetic Tikka T3 become the family heirloom of tomorrow? The jury is still out. At the end of the day it all comes down to what that particular rifle means to you. Or will it only be the more premium rifles of today such as the Blaser’s and Strasser’s that will make their way through multiple family member’s gun cabinets?
If you’re lucky enough to have a rifle with some history and sentimental value then get it out of the safe, give it a clean and make sure you learn its history. Even take it out for hunt or just put a few rounds through it on a target. Appreciate its true value.
The mission for me this spring is to get out and roll another deer with the old girl, perhaps even add a few battle scars and keep the story going.