Some people don't like guns, and that is OK. I think it is very interesting that gun sales have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many folks out there who may never have considered buying a firearm are going to the gun store.
I say all this to bring up the point that for sportsmen — hunters, fishermen and those who engage in shooting sports — a firearm is a beloved tool that allows us to do what we love. We like to shoot, and we like to hunt. Now when I say a gun is a tool, it is, but to me it is not exactly like a shovel or a hammer. A reliable firearm that has been used for many years and possibly handed down to sons and daughters and grandchildren is often carried for more than its primary purpose.
As hunters, sometimes we take a certain gun to the field to remember those who came before us.
A young man holds a trail-worn .30-30 rifle in a deer stand and remembers the day his granddad gave it to him. A veteran duck hunter muses over the battered pump shotgun handed down from his father and wonders if it is time to bestow it to his son. These scenarios play out all over the hunting and shooting world.
In such instances, the gun becomes much more than a tool: It becomes a way for the hunter and shooter to keep those who are dear to them close by. When we take that cherished shotgun or rifle to the field, we are taking Dad, Granddad or maybe a favorite uncle with us.
The hunting world has dozens of what we would think of as classic firearms. These are shotguns and rifles that have stood the test of time and will be with us as long as hunters go afield in the pursuit of game. Some of these firearms are still in production, some are not and many have followings that can be fiercely loyal.
In the shotgun realm, maybe the most revered version ever produced has been the Remington Model 870.
Remington, which was founded in 1816, introduced this gun in 1950 — and it was an instant success. The 870 rose from the ashes of the Model 31, which also was a wonderful firearm and is still considered a classic. What killed the 31? We entered into an age when guns and other goods needed to be produced faster and at less cost. Remington had to produce a reliable, rugged shotgun at less cost that was still aesthetically pleasing to the American sportsman, and this is exactly what the company did.
The original Remington 870, the Wingmaster, was and is a thing of beauty with high-gloss wood and deeply blued metal. Remington later introduced the Express, a model with matte finish and less fancy wood. The hunting public ate all of this up, and in 2009 Remington sold its 10 millionth 870; now sales are more than 11 million and still going strong.
The 870 is here to stay. It does not seem that long ago when I had one shotgun, a Remington 870, and carried it on many, many turkey hunts. There are thousands — no, millions — of Americans who have stored up hunting memories that involve an 870 shotgun.
Now Remington has introduced a new 870, and in the world of hunting shotguns this is, as they say, a big deal. The Remington 870 .410 TSS Turkey is the new kid on the block. Developments in recent years in shotgun ammunition have brought the .410 shotgun round out of mothballs for many hunters.
The use of Tungsten Super Shot — hence, TSS — has changed the landscape in the turkey shotgun shell world. Because of the density and terminal performance of TSS, shells can be loaded with smaller shot, which gives the hunter a much greater number of shot per shell and some incredible shooting patterns. Some hunters are turning to the smaller gauges, including the .410, so Remington introduced the 870 .410 TSS Turkey to meet the demand.
(One of the positive side effects: The use of smaller gauges has allowed young hunters to engage in turkey hunting sooner without the worry of using bigger guns with more recoil.)
This new gun is decked out in Realtree Timberland camouflage, has a really cool new TruGlo sight system with a ghost ring-type rear sight and high visibility front sight. Remington put screw-in choke capability on this gun and furnished it with a full choke made to fire TSS loads.
Will the new 870 join its ancestors as a cherished firearm to be passed down to friends and family? Time will tell, but I vote yes. The young hunters who bag their first gobbler with the new 870 will never let that shotgun go, and they will want to hand it down to their children.
It's just part of what makes our hunting tradition so great.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.