It Isn’t So Bad Being a Southpaw Anymore

I learned a couple of days ago that the Browning X-Bolt Micro is now being made in a left-handed version, which means that if you are both vertically and directionally challenged, you can simply plop your plastic on any gun dealer's counter and walk out with a first-class rifle that will fit you to a T. If you are of average height and left-handed, you can buy all manner of rifles, either factory or custom, that will work off the sinister shoulder. It was not always thus.

Before 1958, left-handers were almost totally ignored. A gunsmith named Barbour did conversions of right-handed rifles, and there was a custom bolt-action called the Mathieu (I've seen two in my life) that was very good, and I believe Mauser turned out a very few left-hand actions, but that was it.

The only prominent left-hand gun writer I can remember from the 1950s was Charley Askins, an Army officer, former Border Patrolman, national pistol champion, and big-game hunter who also liked to shoot people for recreation. (See his book.) Charley was fond of Barbour conversions, as I recall.

In 1958, Savage and Weatherby came out with southpaw versions of the Model 110 and the Mark V, and that was progress. However, the original Model 110 rifle was an inanimate hideosity, and the Mark V cost $250, and who had that kind of money? It wasn't until Remington started making left-hand 700s in 1973 that the dam really broke, and now we are almost full-fledged members of the shooting fraternity.