One of the many reasons I love is that you can find project guns. And one of the reasons I love project guns is that you can justify spending too much for one. With a new gun or a good used one, paying too much eats away at you after the initial-purchase glow wanes and can cause warm feelings to cool. But this rarely happens with a project gun.

You may remember that I got myself a Savage Model 24 .22LR/.410 (one of the best squirrel guns ever made) for Christmas last year. The bores were good, but the wood was ugly white, the receiver had no finish left, and both barrels were riddled with rust spots. I found it on, decided I couldn’t live without it, and paid way too much (around $350) given the condition. But here’s the beauty of it all. I had fun refinishing it. It cost next to nothing in materials. And $350 is not too much for the condition it’s in now (see photo above).

You rarely find project guns in shops because the owner can make a few bucks restoring it himself. But if you look closely, you can find some good ones online. I’m not talking about antiques or truly vintage guns whose value can be destroyed with a restoration (especially an amateur restoration). I’m talking cool, old, otherwise ruined guns, like this one, that are a joy to bring back to life and hunt with. That’s worth $350 all day.