Second tries are for when you’ve already screwed up your first opportunity. Some think that having opportunities for second chances enlarge your opportunities to succeed. To me, relying on them only encourages failure.

Regardless, given a choice, people being people, probably very few would bet their stake on one roll of the dice, hardcore gamblers excepted. It’s why since the 1920s, the trend in hunting rifles was formerly all about magazine-fed, bolt-action rifles. Now it’s all about the semi-automatic modern sporting rifle. It’s all about having the ability, (we’re talking about hunting now) to blow a stalk and a shot, and have an instant reserve to follow up a lousy shot. It’s a second chance, if you will.

Which may be why, dis-counting modern muzzle-loaders, one seldom encounters single shot rifles out in the field these days. Their use is usually reserved for target competition. But single shot rifles are far from being dead as hunting tools. There are the occasional traditionalists, like me, who rather enjoy the challenge of hunting with only one shot. Besides, life is too short for inaccurate or ugly rifles, yes?

So accuracy is one reason. Symmetry and elegance of form are another. After all, how beautiful can a tool be (the actions of the modern bolt-action and semi-automatic rifle) whose inspiration was a simple door latch? There are, of course, bolt action rifles built by masters of the trade and exhibiting fantastically figured woods that are to die for. But those are uncommon and expensive, more especially in the present time period of synthetic stocked, utilitarian, one-size-fits-all firearms.

Granted, most of my arguably obsessive compulsion regarding obsolete, single shot field rifles is mostly about tradition and history. These rifles span time from the arrival of the self-contained cartridge to now, and, in actual use, have killed every form of dangerous and not-so-dangerous game on Earth, some to the point of extinction or near-extinction.

I’m no expert, but I’ve read that accuracy-wise, magazines and feed mechanisms common to bolt actions and semi-autos not only compromise rigidity (hence accuracy), but the more moving parts any firearm has, the easier it is to compromise trigger design and sear engagement. The fewer moving parts a rifle has and the more rigidity in the breech area, the more consistency it should have, given a good barrel and ammunition it likes. Consistency usually equals accuracy. Quality single shots are, as a general rule, much more rigid than repeaters.

Granted, it’s a self-imposed hurdle to make the hunting activity more of a challenge and thus more sporting. It’s an attitude that tells the single-shot-armed hunter that they’re good enough to do this with just the one shot. And just maybe it’s a form of homage to the single shot rifle and the skills of our ancestors who lived and hunted generations before us with nothing more than single shot muzzle loading rifles, flintlocks even. Hunting to me, at its heart, is much more about tradition than simply filling a grocery list or hanging an outsize set of antlers on the wall.

That said, a few days back, I picked up my Uberti High Wall from Randy Selby who expertly converted it from .40-65 caliber to a .38-55, shortened the barrel to 24 inches and turned the full octagon barrel to the octagon/round style I prefer. The first shot from the new barrel nailed a broken piece of clay pigeon lying on the target bank, offhand at 100 yards.

As did the next five shots. This with semi-buckhorn open barrel sights. Then I decided to work on some rocks out at 300 yards or so. I’ve had Randy reconfigure a couple of rifles for me over the years and all of his work has been top-drawer – none better. Verdict being this rifle, like the others he’s worked on, will shoot center. If I miss it’s on me, not the rifle.

Firearms impart so much enjoyment to those of us who shoot them, and most of us want to make them as special as we can afford to. It’s hard to understand why some people in the Democratic party demonize them and insist on taking them all away either by dint of registration/confiscation or by taxing possession of same until only the rich or politically connected can afford to own them. Firearms are the tools of freedom, so why should that scare them?

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