Collecting the Smallest of Shotguns: the .410 Bore - By Kris Howell

As an avid hunter and gun collector, I have handled and bought my fair share of guns. But, at the age of 21, I decided what I wanted to base my collection upon; the .410 bore shotgun. Ever since I got my first .410, an old mated-barrel Savage 24 22lr/.410, I have been fascinated with the petite little scattergun. Although I am just beginning my .410 collecting, I have been able to collect some respectable pieces.

The Savage 24 was given to me by my grandfather, who won it in raffle at a gas station in West Lafayette, Ohio in the 1960's. He presented it to me when I was very young and I have taken excellent care of it. Savage's model 24 offers many different variations for me to acquire, which will be a goal for the future, as well as the 311, Fox model SxS's, the 242, and other notables.

I purchased a nice little Remington 870 Express at an auction some years ago. Although not the prettiest .410 around, the Express has accompanied me on many rabbit hunts over the years and still sees some action although they have been discontinued in recent years. The Wingmaster version is another on my "to get list" even though I had one new in the box at one point in time (This was before I had decided that I wanted to collect .410's and it was traded off, regretfully. For the price I paid for it this has become a VERY sore subject).

One of my favorite .410's is an older specimen in the Winchester Model 41. This petite bolt-action single-shot was introduced in 1920 and is one of around 22,000. A short production due to its high cost compared to other .410's on the market at the time. The wood is in excellent shape and the barrel bluing has aged to a solid patina over the entire surface. It is a wonderful little shotgun.

Winchester, undoubtedly, has produced many .410's of my interest; the famous Model 42 (Probably the most desirable .410), the Model 20 (Winchesters first .410), the reliable Model 37 and variants, the 9410, and of course the model 21 of which I can only admire and will never afford with prices equivalent to that of a new truck.

This next gun is a rare piece with a good story. I had vaguely heard of this small company located in Washington, D.C. and the steel single-shot and combination guns they produced. Firearms International produced the Bronco, a .410/.22lr combination gun that was simple and inexpensive.

I had seen these guns a few times on the internet and had a fellow collector tell of his sale of a new in the box model for a price of $405, not bad for a gun that cost him $90 brand new. So, I walked into my local gun shop one Friday on my return from college and immediately spotted a Bronco on the rack, the price, $59.99. I was astonished to say the least, but I bargained and not knowing what they had, the salesman sold me the gun for $40 plus tax. I have seen some sell for around $2-300, but being somewhat rare I will hold onto it. Made of solid steel and powder coated, it is not the prettiest sight, but neat nonetheless.

There are two triggers; one of which fires the gun and the other is a mechanism that opens the gun's chamber, which rotates counter clockwise. The rear sight is also the barrel selector. With the sight in the down position, the front sight is easily acquired and the .410 bore will fire, and with the sight up, the .22 barrel is actuated.

The Ohio Gun Collectors Association is a sacred fellowship of gun enthusiasts that my great grandfather was a member of and I am proud to have been a member since November of 2007. My next .410 has a lot to do with the O.G.C.A.

The new in box Remington 1100 I acquired recently happened to be an O.G.C.A. 60th anniversary commemorative, numbered 28 of 100. I had always wanted an 1100 and this just sweetened the pot. I told a gun collector friend of mine (who knows I have a passion for .410's) what I had bought and he asked if I was going to shoot it. I responded by saying that the barrel will never touch the action and he just had to laugh. This gun was also special because of the circumstances under which I bought it. A large snow storm had just put down about 6 inches of snow the morning I had planned to travel to one of my favorite gun shops. It did not deter me, however. I just had this gut feeling I was going up there for a reason and I was right; that 1100 had just been acquired by the owner that morning!

The last .410 bore I have acquired currently is a sweet little Ithaca Model 66 SuperSingle Youth model. I found this beauty in the heart of Amish country after going to a 90-gun auction that did not produce. I walked in and saw this on the rack and immediately knew I was taking it home. A youth model in mint condition was rare in my eyes and I just couldn't see myself ever seeing one in that shape again.

That concludes my current collection, but does not end my quest for the tiny .410 bore. Everyone has their preferences on what to collect and mine just happened to be the .410; I have my eye on every one that I see so watch out!