June 15th, 2015 by AmSJ Staff

Story and Photographs by Tom Claycomb III

If you research Benjamin Franklin, he had a lot of good quotes. The one that I really like is

“Don’t be the first to embrace the new nor the last to discard the old.”

I’m an outdoor writer so I test a lot of new gear. Every year the manufacturers bombard us with things that we cannot live without. I’m a willing victim! But, hey, what’s wrong with the bow, gun, tent and backpack that I bought last year and which was supposed to be the latest and greatest?

When I think back to 50 years ago I’m reminded of the above. My father told me his Remington Model 742 was a great deer rifle. In case you didn’t know, the 742 is a semiautomatic. He dropped two bucks within seconds of each other numerous times. His theory was that with one shot, the deer can’t pinpoint where the sound came from, but if you’re shooting a bolt-action rifle, the second buck will pinpoint you when you rack in the second bullet. He will be long gone before you get that shot in.

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The Remington 742, also known as the Woodmaster, is a semiautomatic rifle that was produced by Remington Arms from 1960 until 1980. It featured a rotary breech block and side-ejection port, as well as a free-floating barrel.

So of course, my first rifle was a Remington 742 BDL Custom Deluxe that I bought with the earnings from my newspaper route. Years later, everyone made fun of me for having a semiauto since they don’t group as well as a bolt-action. I was ridiculed for years, despite shooting my first five to 10 turkeys in the head with it – and some of those were up to 140 paces away. It couldn’t have been too inaccurate.

Eventually, I was convinced that I needed to upgrade to a Remington 700 bolt-action. I got it and was proud as a peacock. But then a few years later, the AR-15 craze hit and became the new rage. Maybe Dad was right after all. Semiauto long rifles are the ticket. Everyone should have just listened to him 55 years ago.

I guess I’ll just always be out of style. Now I carry a bolt-action like some prehistoric cave-dwelling hunter while everyone else is carrying souped-up, tricked-out AR-15s. Maybe I’m just destined to be a nerd. Maybe I need to re-read the ol’ Ben Franklin quote “ … don’t be the last to discard the old.” Sometimes I’m so far ahead that I’m behind. And sometimes I’m so far behind that I end up being ahead. ASJ

Photo 1 Remington 742 Tom Claycomb III

The author’s first Remington 742 BDL Custom Deluxe.

 

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