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Sixguns & Sagebrush

My Worst Gun Trade Ever

by Bart Skelton   |  February 21st, 2012 27

Sometimes you’ve just got to get rid of something to get something else in return. It seems that such transactions rarely work out for the best, at least in my case. Sometime back, I was attending a local auction. For the most part, it contained the typical mish-mash of old goods that someone didn’t want anymore, but didn’t have the heart to take to the dump. Yet, amongst the old lamps, worn out tools, and fake Persian rugs were a few old firearms. In picking through them, I found a little gem – a Winchester Model 1894. The cool part was that it was a deluxe model, takedown, with half-octagon, half-round barrel and a special order front sight.

 

Some brilliant mind had dreamed up the rifle needed sling swivels, and fitted the old gal with a fore end cap with swivel that was made for a round instead of octagon barrel. They had fired the rifle with such fittings, causing the ill-fitting cap to split the deluxe grade fore-end. Further, the would-be gunsmith set the rear swivel into the deluxe-grade stock with sheet metal screws. Finally, the old ’94 must have had a little surface rust on the receiver, prompting its owner to take after the original bluing with steel wool, polishing it to a shiny finish.

 

Even with the blemishes, the rifle was spectacular. After getting the winning bid, I took the old girl home, then set to making things right with it. Some months later, I had a wonderfully restored deluxe Winchester.

 

Not being satisfied with such a fine long-arm, my mind started wandering into the trade mode. An old gun-trader friend passed through town headed to Arizona from a gunshow in Texas. He stopped in just to taunt me with a passel of Colt Single Action revolvers. Catching my eye was a 4 ¾ .38-40 with pearl stocks – case coloring was fabulous, and it had that look that screamed “original”. The more I handled the sixgun, the better I liked it (even though pearl stocks aren’t my favorite). I finally could stand it no more, and inquired about a trade for my deluxe Winchester. After some haggling, a deal was struck.

 

I got home with my Colt and was thrilled with the trade. Not long afterward, I had a conversation about the swap with my old friend, Lance Olson, the noted Iowa wildfowl conservationist and firearms expert. Olson tongue lashed me good for what I’d done.

 

“That was probably one of the rarest Winchester rifles in existence you just traded off, you #$%#,” he said. “You could’ve bought a sack full of single actions with what that thing is worth, even restored!”

 

And he turned out to be right.

 

I still love my .38-40, but I’m still kicking myself over the deal. I sure hope the old cliché “live and learn” applies to me.

 

Have you ever made a gun trade you wish you could take back?

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