View Full Version : Grocery guns....

Dave McC
February 5, 2002, 06:24 AM
I was at the range the other day, chatting with a couple trapshooters while awaiting our turn. We were talking shotguns, when one of us mentioned "Grocery guns".

He expanded on the theme, saying that every long time hunter has a go to gun they use for when it counts.Then, he said something that's been true in my experience. Oft, the Grocery Gun is a utility grade shotgun, a single,double or cheap pump with plenty of wear,maybe generations behind it.

A long time hunting bud preferred his Springfield Pump to an Ithaca or Model 12. He could hit with it better than the others.

Another bud of that era used a Mossberg Bolt action he bought as backup to his A-5, then found it patterned goose loads better.

An upland aficionado I knew owned a couple nice tho not best grade Brit and Euro doubles, but his grocery gun was a Savage Model B 16.

The gun I used growing up had been owned by 4 generations of my family,an H&R single 16 of great kick but greater effect. Still the shotgun that brought the most upland game and waterfowl to the table.Took everything from Geese to Groundhogs with it.Now of course, it's Frankenstein.

And BTW, the guy I was talking to had his grocery gun with him. A Remington 31 pump, it had a Cutts Compensator, nice wood, and a history of taking waterfowl and pheasant since the late 30s. He was the second generation owner, with more white in his hair than even mine.

So what's your grocery gun? When you need to put dinner on the table, what do you reach for?

My gut feeling is we're going to see more entry level and family guns than Model 12s and 21s.


February 5, 2002, 10:01 AM
Is my single shot, 16 guage, Savage/Stevens with the synthetic stock and forearm material that was introduced in the late 50's....pretty heavy recoil since she's so light...but good gravy has she brought home the game in my former life as an active hunter.....she's done turkey with buckshot, more rabbits and squirrels than you can imagine and even a couple of deer with slugs or buckshot..:)

February 5, 2002, 12:20 PM
A Fox/Stevens 12 Ga. double gun... not alot to look at, but it sure has fed my family for alotta years... (was my dad's, and his dad's before that...)

Eaten alotta wild game, from deer to squirrels, and everything in between, that was shot with that gun...

Art Eatman
February 5, 2002, 04:17 PM
I bought an old Model 12 12-gauge, 30" full, from a buddy. Back in 1973; gave him his asking price of $75.

I have a really nice Beretta semi-auto (Whazzat, a 390?) that stays home a lot.

:), Art

February 5, 2002, 07:31 PM
My first "real" shotgun (after the old H&R .410) was a 20g Ithica mod 37 I got at age 14. Shot everything with that until after graduated from college and thought I needed a 12. The first of many 12s and other assorted shotguns.
Some years back I added a deerslayer barrel for the light 20. It's still my favorite if 20 isn't too little. My sister even borrowed it twice and killed a deer each time out.

Captain Bligh
February 5, 2002, 11:21 PM
My grocery gun is a Browning A-5 light 20. I have a 12 gauge 870 Express that I like a lot. But, it's not a natural pointer like the A-5. I took the A-5 for pheasants this year instead of going with the 12 gauge. I'm glad I did. I also shoot clay pigeons better with the A-5 in 20 than the 12 gauge 870.

Of course, it also seems to me that shooters likely have more experience with their "grocery guns" and perhaps that is why they shoot them better. I'm 50 and have been shooting the A-5 since I was 16. I'd have to do a lot of practicing with the 870 to catch up.


Dave McC
February 6, 2002, 05:56 AM
Thanks for the responses,folks. Note the diversity of actions and gauges.No 10s,no 410s,but nearly everything in between.

Randy, another fellow in that discussion had his A-5 Light 20 with him. A very nice Belgian with decent wood and well taken care of. He uses it on pheasants these days, owned it for decades.

And a good point about grocery guns being often used.Frankenstein hasn't been used that much on clay games, but I bet I've shot 500 rounds through it at game since it sat up on the operating table in the early 90s.Best guess,100 dove, 25-40 snows, some ducks, quail, pheasant,woodcock,squirrel, rabbit, woodchuck,ad infinitum. No wild turkey, which was its original mission(G)...

BTW, that H&R accounted for a couple deer for Pop in coal country Pa during the Great Depression. Quite illegal, but Pop was the oldest of 5 kids..

February 6, 2002, 09:20 AM
...for those times when I meant business.
Before that had a 1930 Belgium Browning auto - 12 gage,
but it was stolen.

February 6, 2002, 02:05 PM
When my dad was in The Navy his storage building was cleaned out so when I was about 12 and told him that I expressed an interest in learning to hunt we were both kind of starting from scratch.

I didn't need a smaller youth size so we went to the store and I got a Quality 20g pump dad still keeps it at his house but it will be mine again. My first gun that I bought was an 11-87 light countour 12. It was brand new and the most beautiful thing in the woods. After 8 years of hard use there is one good scratch on the forarm, the rest is pristine for now. Someday my grandson will carry it proud.

February 6, 2002, 02:39 PM
Current "grocery gun" is a Higgens model 20 with no choke. Been carried by car, boat, horse, people and mule. brought home deer, grouse, quail, pig etc etc. Used as a trap trainer and newbie introduction gun. Ugly but functional with any length shell up to 2 3/4"....including Aguilla minishells.

Well over a half century ago my little Parker 20 served the same function. It never knew a mule tho. Hard kickin little monster but I didn't know any better then.

Many many in between but those two were workhorses.


Dave McC
February 7, 2002, 05:42 AM
Autos,pumps,doubles,and singles,it looks like Grocery Guns come sin all flavors and gauges. And that was what I hoped to find when I started this thread. Good, effective shotguns are those used by good, effective shotgunners.

It's the Injun, not the arrow.....

February 7, 2002, 10:39 PM
Dave ,

Do you suppose that the reason most of us rely on the gun with which we "learned" is because it didn't "fit" us ? We adopted to
ITs LOP ,ITs drop ,-- whatever , 'cause that was what we had .

All those long emotional learning periods are still burried somewhere deep within each and everyone of us .

Granted , in picking up a new "favorite" , having it "fit" is part of the - - - what , - - call it a new love affair . Truth is , we are so blessed , we can have most of what we want .

A while back , a family had "a" gun , you learned to use it .

God Blessed America , let's hope that the blessing is everlasting .


February 8, 2002, 12:34 AM
Yep Hawkaaa
Some, maby many, of us used what was there.
Lefty, righty, too short or long. Get used to it and get good with it.

Run what you brung, just run it well.


Dave McC
February 8, 2002, 06:45 AM
Hawk, yup. Long familiarity can counter somewhat a mismatch in fit, if form and technique are reasonably good.Confidence and committment play parts also...

One can get used to a particular shotgun to the point where it takes a long changeover period when switching to another.A trapshooter I know slightly had used the same Model 12 for at least a decade. He had some windfall cash, and bought a nice O/U that had "Better" stock dimensions for his gangly self. Naturally, last time I saw him he was shooting the 12 again. Why? He shoots better with it, or thinks so.

February 9, 2002, 10:45 AM
My old grocery getter (not needed any more for that task, tofu goes down easy) is the stevens 311 that my grandfather gave me as a young tyke. That gun was the curse of everything from barn rats to geese. Still makes clays tremble in fear, for about 1.2 seconds anyway:cool: .
I also have a western feild single shot 16 that I bought for $10 at a flea market. Some one had cut the barrel back to 19 inches. Thing was murder on rabbit and quail in the thick brush until the firing pin spring gave out on me, still looks cool hanging on the wall tho'

Dave McC
February 9, 2002, 12:11 PM
John, betcha Gun Parts Corp has a spring for that old 16, and it's probably not expensive. Sounds like too much gun to just keep hanging on the wall....

February 9, 2002, 05:14 PM
I've given some thought to getting a new spring, but besides the western feild, I have 8 311's and a mossberg pump. I have a hard enough time deciding what to shoot now. But I might give gun parts a try. Last time I tried to have it fixed the gunsmith told me it was impossible to get the spring and then tried to sell me a new Rem 1100. KInda soured me on the experience.

February 10, 2002, 03:27 PM
I have had pretty good luck with a Rem 870 Wingmaster and lately, a Rem 1100.

I carry a Mossberg 500ATP8 (old 20" 8-shot circa 1981) on duty. It doesn't fit my holster very well but seems to fit OK in the trunk of my squad car.

Dave McC
February 10, 2002, 08:05 PM
Don't let it sour you,John. And do fix that single, there's no such thing as too many shotguns.

BTW, how much do you lead tofu on a crossing shot(G)?...

Tex,you just named two classics and one really nice shotgun.

February 10, 2002, 08:20 PM
BTW, how much do you lead tofu on a crossing shot(G)?...

Usually just seek up on it and hold dead on. Works real well, but scares the hell outta the produce guy.:D

Dave McC
February 11, 2002, 06:32 AM
I wonder what the turnover rate is in that store, John.

And, I bet you don't have to track tofu very far.

February 11, 2002, 09:51 AM
My family and I have eaten MANY meals(and continue to do so) from any one of 5 870's over the span of 25 years. I never had a problem with any of them, and still own 2. Have taken close to 35 deer with 870's, and over a dozen turkeys - I'd say that's a few meals. Geese and ducks are LUCKY I don't like to eat them. Pheasants, grouse, quail, woodcock, etc... haven't been as lucky!!! I can't understand buying a mossburg, when for a few more dollars you could have an 870 - there is no comparison in quality,durability, and function, and often a price difference of less than $50. The 870's I sold were fine guns that never gave me a bit of trouble - I just had to make a deal for something else(.243 700BDL, 870mag w/3" capability,etc...). Cast my vote for the 870 - a real workhorse for a decent price!!!! - JMHO, georgestrings

February 11, 2002, 06:19 PM
Here's another notch for JC Higgins. Mine is a Ted Williams 20g with a polychoke and venti that came from dear OLD stepi-D.

Nice'n'handy for the quail-ish birds out here. Good quality gun, just a :) less than my :D Wingmasters but finer than the Express line.


Dave McC
February 12, 2002, 05:57 AM
Amen, George. It takes the average shotgunner less than 1 minute to find out my preference for the 870. But, this thread is about what everyone uses or used, and even I have used non 870s and liked them.

Brian, a good shotgun is one that keeps on working and does its job. Hence, that hardware gun is a good'un.

Note the variety in this thread. And once again, it's the pianist, not the piano...

February 13, 2002, 04:22 PM
I started shotgunning when I was 12 with a Sears Mod. 200, which was a lic. copy of a Winchester 1200. Yea it was too big but I just dealt with it. Later went to Win. 1200's, Rem 11/87P, and lately am using an older Wingmaster and am real happy with it.

I cant really call em my grocery gun though. I only went duck hunting once and took two with the Wingmaster but The gun thats put the most meat on the table, correction, the most kills, would be my older Ruger Super Bearcat. When we go trail walking its just always there and not alot of rabbits and squirrels have gotton away from it. Who knows how many? Alot.

Dave McC
February 14, 2002, 04:49 AM
Accurate 22 handguns can also be grocery guns, I used a High Standard Military Target to good effect through several squirrel seasons. But, we're talking shotguns here(G)...