A few weeks ago by buddy Oliver organized a stellar bachelor weekend which included a day out doing table trap at a sportsman and shooting club outside Philly. A friend of Oliver’s who is a member there shared his side-by-side, his semi-automatic, and his pump-action 12-gauge shotguns with us and we were all smitten!
So, when I got back from Pennsylvania, I wanted to relive the fun. Everyone had their favorite trap guy. David loved the semi-automatic and others loved the double-barrel AKA side-by-side. I loved the old 50s-era pump
Funny fact: the iconic pump-action shotgun was invented by John Boyce and was patented by John Browning and the 1897 model was built by Winchester — which means it has pretty much looked and work the same for 113 years!
When I returned to Arlington, I searched for gun shows. For two reasons, actually. The first reason is that I have lived in the area since 1988 and I have spent a number of years as a Virginia resident off and on and have never been to a proper gun show. Never. I craved that most authentically American of experiences. Secondly, I wanted to score a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun so that I can go shoot trap myself and have the amazing experience of pumping a new round between clay pigeons. It is amazingly satisfying and completely action hero.
So, I drove out to exit 53B on Route 66 and pulled off at The Nation’s Gun Show at Dulles Expo Center (
4368 Chantilly Shopping Center Chantilly, VA 20153) and paid my $12 and oh my god… There were easily a couple football fields full of everything Second Amendment you could ever imagine, including an over-abundance of the most badass assault and anti-terrorist weapons, including Ingram Mac-11s, AR-14s, AK-47th, H&K MP5s, M1-A1s, knives, shotguns, ammo, deployment gear, and the most gorgeous assortment of classic guns from all the way back to the founding of America, including black powder firearms.
Anyway, I couldn’t believe it. What an extreme environment! What an intense place. There are so many handguns, machine guns, submachine guns, rifles, assault rifles, etc, that I couldn’t actually even browse over the entire space. It is a little like that scene in The Matrix wherein Trinity and Neo enter a white room and then racks and racks of modern assault weaponry come crashing forward — right?
I budgeted some dosh for a pump action shotgun, as I said, with no real clue as to what I wanted. After walking around and talking around, I was pretty much convinced that I needed to get a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun because, according to the people I spoke to, there really wasn’t any others.
A couple tables away there was a brand new Remington 870P — police — shotgun on consignment. It was pristine and though a little more then I wanted to spend, it was indeed perfect. So, I filled out my Federal and State paperwork and paid with a card (+3% to cover fees), I am now the proud owner of pretty much the most durable and iconic pump-action shotguns ever built. Pretty much, if you ever see a shotgun in the trunk of a police cruiser, it’s almost guaranteed to be an 870P.
I sent an email to all of my buddies to share an olly, olly, oxen-free to make sure everyone knows we all own one now. I guess I should have gotten an over-under sport shotgun made for trap or skeet but that’s not the one I wanted today. And, as everyone likes to remind me when it comes to tools, be they guns or cameras, or even guitars: you need to get the one you like instead of the one you should have because otherwise, you’ll always be unhappy.
Here’s something pretty cool: when you enter the event with a firearm, they take a large gauge zip-tie — sort of the gauge and strength of a pair of riot cuffs, and wend it through action of whatever firearm you have, rendering it impossible to fire with the chamber open. I think that’s a great idea — a great way to allow such firepower to safely exist in once place over three whole days. (the image to the right is a proper riot cuff and not the ties that kept all those gun visibly inoperable)
So, I have officially had a very authentic and very cool American experience. I am no longer a gun show virgin. Everyone was really very nice but it is pretty odd and pretty unsettling to see so many people walking around with rifles over their shoulders, with shiny pearl-handled revolvers on hips, with menacing M-4 carbines hanging from shoulders. After I bought the Remington, I had to walk around with it for almost an hour, just holding it by my side. It felt very weird. I picked up some cleaning gear, rods, brushes, pads, solvent, and oil and then grabbed a black Codura sleeve, covered the weapon, and decided to bail and head on home.