Thursday, May 3, 2007

this is my rifle.

This is my rifle.

Note the choice of words--not "one of my rifles" (which is also true), but "my rifle"--the one that was made for my shoulder, even though it left the factory the year before my father was born.

It's nothing rare, or valuable. It's a No.4 Mk.I* Enfield, made in Canada at the Long Branch arsenal in 1943, when my grandfather was driving a train in the employment of the Wehrmacht somewhere on the Russian front. They made hundreds of thousands of them, and this one doesn't even have any collector's value, because at some point in its life it was shortened by four inches and sold as a "Tanker Enfield".

The finish is sub-par; they used up whatever black spray-on paint they had rolling around over at Navy Arms after they did the chop-job conversion.

I bought this rifle for a hundred and change in Lawrenceville, Georgia, at a place called Bullseye Sports. It has seen much ammo through the barrel since I brought it home, and most of it has been corrosively-primed Canadian surplus. It's not much to look at, worthless to a collector, and completely devoid of flash and glitz and tacticality. It has no optics, just aperture iron sights. It has no accessory rails, vertical foregrip, fancy sling swivels, laser, or flashlight. Its only accessory is an eight-dollar leather sling.


I can put ten rounds into a target the size of a shoebox at a hundred yards as fast as I can work the bolt, and perforate the same target at two hundred with more deliberate aim all day long. It puts the bullets exactly where I want them to go, and the bolt works so smoothly that it almost loads itself when you work that bolt handle. It has the short stock on it, and by all rights should be kicking like a mule, but it has the lowest recoil of any .30-caliber battle rifle I've ever shot. Something about this rifle makes it work exceptionally well with my shoulder, and hands, and arms, and eyes, to the point where putting bullets on target feels as natural as breathing and walking.

This is the rifle I'll grab if I ever have need of a longarm in a place other than a rifle range. This is the rifle that stands by to defend me and mine if necessary. This is the rifle that marks my personal line in the sand, the line that none who come looking for trouble shall pass with impunity. This is the rifle that will never be traded, or sold, or surrendered, to anyone, at any price, for any reason.

This is my rifle.

And the only way it will ever leave my possession is when I pass it down to my children.

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