Never intended to do this, it just happened

I didn’t start out with the idea of assembling a collection of Savage model 24 combination rifle/shotgun firearms, but over the years, I did. I became fascinated with the idea of having either a rifle, if such a shot presented itself, or a shotgun available with the flip of a switch while out hunting.

This whole thing began back when I was working for the state at a remote salmon hatchery on Afognak Island.

My wife and I had gone into Kodiak for a shopping trip and I decided to stop at a pawn shop to look around.

They had a used Savage 24 in the traditional 22 long rifle/410 shotgun configuration at a reasonable price sitting in the rack.

The gun was in pretty good shape. I bought it and took it back home. I carried that gun on the small trapline I ran in the winters and, after moving to the Valley, used it to hunt grouse and snowshoe hares.

After using the gun, I decided I needed another one with a larger shotgun gauge for the occasional duck I would encounter.

I ordered a 22lr/20-gauge model that was designed to easily break down in its case for carrying. I mounted a receiver sight on it and ordered an insert barrel for the 20-gauge barrel which was chambered in 44 Magnum, just to add some versatility to its use. When my wife decided she wanted to try deer hunting, I sighted the 20-gauge barrel in with rifled slugs and she took her first deer with that gun.

During the fall and early winter hunting seasons on Afognak, both deer and ducks were available and often would be encountered during the same day I was hunting.

Savage had started marketing a 30-30/12-gauge model with interchangeable choke tubes which I thought was even better suited for my purposes when hunting.

By this time, my wife had her own single-shot 30-30 caliber rifle. One day while we were hunting together, she took a shot at a deer. When I asked, she said she thought she had hit it, but the animal was starting to move out of sight. I took a back-up shot to put the animal down and, on inspection of the carcass, discovered she had missed. My shot had harvested the deer. I had a red-dot sight mounted on the barrel and learned how fast that type of sight can be.

After we moved to the Valley, I started doing some predator hunting and soon learned that shots could range anywhere from under 50 yards to a few hundred yards, depending on terrain and the animal’s chosen approach line to the calling.

I didn’t want to carry two long guns, so I purchased another Savage 24, this time chambered in 223/12-gauge. I mounted a scope, added a sling and I was off.

The only negative thing about this gun was that it was heavy for carrying on days when I did a lot of walking.

Down the road, I had an opportunity to purchase another model 24 in 222/20-gauge which proved to be a little lighter to carry.

Something I’ve noticed about all these firearms is that, while the rifle barrels weren’t target grade, they all shot good, tight, hunting-grade groups.

In fact, the 223 and 222 barrels were quite accurate. The 22lr barrels had “minute of hare” accuracy and the 30-30 barrel would group within a couple of inches at 100 yards – more than enough accuracy for deer on Afognak or even moose in this area.

Almost every time I go moose hunting, I seem to find grouse. Having the ability to shoot either a single rifle bullet or a shot pattern from the same gun opens a lot of opportunity when out and about.

At this last Houston gun show, a friend was selling a Savage 24 in 357/20-gauge which was in great shape. He was asking a very reasonable price, so I bought it even before the show opened to the public.

I’ve been setting it up with a sling and a shotgun scope I already had and am looking forward to shooting it. With the right ammunition, this firearm would make a fun small game gun and, within close-range limits, could be used on black bears or even a moose with the right bullet.

I didn’t start out to build a collection, but I seem to be there now. I’m not a collector as such. I buy guns to shoot and use, but sometimes things just happen!

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