August 23, 2013
Gun Fight Friday: Browning Sweet 16 vs. Remington 870 Special Field
By Phil Bourjaily
Finally, a shotgun Gun Fight—and it’s not just between any two shotguns, either. We have the most popular shotgun in history against a classic bird gun. Remington made the short-barreled Special Field version of the 870 from 1984 to 1995, and I wish I had bought one then. Browning made the scaled down Sweet 16 version of its Auto 5 from 1937 to 1975 with a break for World War II and, come to think of it, I should have one of those, too.
Both the Auto 5 and the 870 are hugely important, influential shotguns. The Special Field 870 is the more versatile of the two (although remind me not to sit next to Tom Govin in the duck blind when he’s shooting that short barrel) while the Sweet 16 is simply the coolest version of one of the greatest firearms inventor’s greatest inventions.
Anyway, here they are:
Ron Kolodziej’s Browning Sweet 16
Here's a photo of my Browning Sweet 16, purchased new in 1957, and I still use it. The 16 gauge has a modified choke, and I use it primarily for rabbits and snowshoe hare, though it's also a great ruffed grouse (partridge) gun. The gun has never failed me nor has it suffered any major malfunctions. I have other scatterguns so I use this one only six or seven times a year. The finish you see on the stock and metallic parts is all original. It's thoroughly cleaned at least twice a year and stored in a metal gun safe with desiccants.
Tom Govin’s 870 Special Field
This Remington 870 Special Field with a 21-inch barrel has accounted for everything from doves to deer. It's obviously an upland bird gun and that's where it is at its best, but it will do a lot more. With a scope it will cloverleaf Federal Tru Ball slugs at 50 yards, although shooting it off a bench to find that out is not fun. The 3-inch chamber and the right choke makes it a turkey gun. A different choke and it's a waterfowl gun. Originally it was a fixed Modified choke and it would do all of the above even then. I guess I put the choke tubes in just because I could but it was a minor improvement.
Keep sending photos and stories of your guns to FSgunnuts@gmail.com, and we’ll feature then in an upcoming Gun Fight Friday.