Old Guns Afield, Part I: The Parker Double

We started filming season two of The Gun Nuts last week. To kick it off I got to take a pair of old American doubles on a preserve hunt for two "50 Best Guns Ever Made" segments. The first was the Parker shown here.

Parkers were made in Meriden, CT, from 1866 to 1934, when Remington bought the company out and moved the machinery to Ilion, New York. Besides being excellent shotguns which deserved the Parker nickname "Old Reliable," they had graceful, distinctive lines and were skillfully marketed. "Parker" became the magic name in American doubles.

Parkers came in many grades, gauges and frame sizes. This particular gun is a VH grade, the second from the lowest on a scale that started with "Trojan" moved through several letters and ended with "Invincible" of which only two were ever made. This gun is built on the 2 frame, which is standard for 12 gauge Parkers, making it a moderately heavy but well balanced 7 ½ pounds with 30-inch barrels.

According to the stamping on the frame it was returned to Remington at some point for repair or restoration. It may have been the latter, as this particular gun is fully restored, and while completely unadorned with engraving or fancy wood, it is gorgeous.

The best part of taking this gun out in the field is that it was made in 1910,* making it - depending on its birthday - either 100 or 101 years old. I used to hunt turkeys with a Model 12 and a Model 97 that are 100 years old by now, but they hadn't reached the century mark when I had them, so hunting with a genuine century-old gun was a first for me, and a real treat. Although the gun has fluid steel barrels and 2 3/4 inch chambers, I babied it with RST's low-pressure 2 -1/2 inch 7/8 ounce field loads.

Hunting with a gun this old, you realize you are only one in a long line of people who have shot this gun in the field. When you take an old gun out you always wonder who the others were who came before you and how many places they took the gun, and how many birds of what kinds it has killed.

*It would have sold for about $35 new.