For the past few weeks, Phil Bourjaily and I have been doing a series of talk-radio interviews extolling the virtues of “The Total Gun Manual,” which is rapidly being recognized as not only the greatest firearms book ever published, but possibly the greatest book ever published, period–greater even than “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “Leatherstocking Tales,” or “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.”

Recently I did a crude and boorish interview, the kind I enjoy, but in the course of it I was asked how many guns I own. I was asked this because the talk-show guys were not shooters, and this is not a question one shooter asks another, at least in the circles in which I travel. You would sooner ask how much money someone makes, or if their livestock is afraid of them at night, or if everything below the belt is working OK.

But I digress.

“Pitifully few,” I answered, and that was the truth. In recent years, I’ve trimmed my already modest assembly of guns down to a startlingly low number, and I find that I have not succumbed to night sweats, weeping fits, or the leaping fantods. The following are among the rifles that I still have. There are a few others, but not many.

– A .22. A man without a .22 is hardly a man at all.
– A .25/06 beanfield rifle. This is a collection of parts that shoots much better than it’s entitled to, and I doubt I could replace it.
– A real good .270.
– Two .30/06s. I use these for ammo testing.
– A heavy-barrel .223, which is my prairie dog gun and an ammo tester both.
– Three .338s. I’m strange for .338s, and find that I can’t part with any of them.
– A .375 H&H. Like the .270, tell me what you can’t hunt with it.
– A .416 Remington, as I am planning one last buffalo hunt.

I expect I will still have all of these when the Great Range Officer in the Sky calls me for that Last Relay, and don’t anticipate getting any more. However, if any of you would like to send me some of your better left-hand rifles, I would not refuse delivery.