Case: Reminiscing about the rifles we'll never forget

Photo contributed by Larry Case / Remington produced the Model 34 from 1932-35, manufacturing more than 161,000 of the rifles that sold for $13.50 when first introduced.
Photo contributed by Larry Case / Remington produced the Model 34 from 1932-35, manufacturing more than 161,000 of the rifles that sold for $13.50 when first introduced.

As I have shared with you here many times before, I don't really think of myself as older, at least not yet.

Sometimes I have to remind someone of this, like maybe a young man at the checkout counter with a slight attitude and really cute hair. I know I have boots and shotgun shells older than this person, so I try to take it easy on them, I really do. They haven't lived anyway near as long as I have, I am plenty old enough to be their grandfather, and I don't like being the one to tell them an old axiom about respecting their elders.

Oh well. If somebody has to do it, I will.

About now you are halfway through your Cheerios or coffee and are wondering, as usual, where I am going with this.

Thinking about age and the passing of time, I of course relate it to the outdoors world, hunting, fishing and firearms. Like we have said here before, maybe no other group is as nostalgic and romantic about the guns and gear we outdoorsmen take to the woods. A favorite knife or firearm passed down from our dad, uncle, granddad or cherished mentor is something we treasure but maybe find it hard to put into words why it is so special to us.

Taking that special shotgun or rifle to the woods brings us back to being as close to that person as we can manage, now that they are gone. All they taught us, the wonderful places they took us and those amazing days we had with them afield can come flooding back to us. All from carrying an old gun to the woods.

Much of the firearms and outdoors industry revolves around what is new on the scene; that is the way of things. Sometimes, though, I want to think about days gone by and an older shotgun or rifle that we can reminisce about. Here are a couple.

I am sure we have talked about the Remington Model 34 .22 rifle here before. Remington made this rifle from 1932 to 1935 - more than 161,000 of them along the way. When first introduced, this rifle sold for the princely sum of $13.50. Sometime, probably in the early 1950s, my dad acquired a Model 34 and it was his squirrel rifle for 50 years. This rifle was neither fancy nor expensive, but it has always been known as a shooter - and he certainly proved that in the time he carried it.

I would love to know exactly how many squirrels that rifle has taken in its time, but I'm here to tell you it's a lot. I can see him slipping through the woods on his way back to the truck, with the old Model 34 with the ancient Weaver 3/4-inch scope on top. I'm sure that scope was mounted in the garage he worked in at the time, probably by a method not aesthetically pleasing for some, but it has worked all these years.

He once told me he and a buddy sighted that .22 rifle in, inside the garage, after work one evening. It was a simpler time; you could do things like that back then.

photo Photo contributed by Larry Case / Outdoors columnist Larry Case takes aim with the Remington Model 34 rifle that belonged to his father and was the end of the line for many squirrels.

In thinking about .22 rifles, I must bring up the Marlin Model 39A. I used one of these fine rifles for a long stretch back in the day when my dad was still toting the Remington Model 34. It always amazed me that the Marlin, a lever-action rifle, was and is considered to be very accurate. To top if off, the 39A is made in a take-down configuration where it easily comes apart in two pieces for easy carry and storage. Rifles made in such a way are not usually considered particularly accurate, but the Marlin 39A is.

This .22 rifle, up until the Remington/Marlin bankruptcy and sale debacle, was considered the oldest and longest continuously made shoulder firearm in history (more than a hundred years). Like a lot of guns, the 39A evolved from several lever-action .22 rifles that came before it, starting with the Marlin Model 1891, the first lever-action rifle to be chambered in the .22 rimfire, and went down in history as a rifle once used by Annie Oakley.

No doubt there are thousands of 39A rifles out there in closets and gun cabinets, as well as behind the kitchen door. The gun company Ruger bought the Marlin portion of the Remington empire and is back to making guns, particularly the Model 1895 rifle in .45/70 caliber. It is unclear at this time if Marlin will bring back the production of the 39A .22 rifle, but I sure hope so. It would be nice to know that others can go to the gun store, purchase a new 39A and start their own legacies with it.

Well, like always, we are out of time and space. I know some of you gun gurus out there are gripping the paper and wondering how in the world this guy could bring up this old gun subject and not mention your favorite shootin' iron. How could he not talk about the Winchester Model 12 shotgun, the Remington 700 rifle, the Winchester Model 70, an Ithaca 37 shotgun or even the Colt 1911 pistol?

(Spoiler alert: Sometime soon you will hear something from me about the new Remington 870 shotgun.)

Thanks for going on this little ramble with me. Maybe take one of your old guns out of the cabinet this week and reminisce with it a little bit. I will try to not dwell on getting older and to go easy on the younger set when they think they know everything, even when their spiky hair is really cute.

photo Contributed photo / Larry Case

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at

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