column By: Ernie Foster | October, 21
The interesting visit was well into a couple of hours, and I had to ask, “What did your great-grandpa shoot for guns?”
She replied, “To the best of my knowledge, he only had one, and I still have it.” She left the room to retrieve the gun and, upon her return, handed it to me.
“It is not much to look at, but it gained a great reputation among his colleagues in the uplands and waterfowl hunting arenas, and it also has another longer barrel assembly.”
As she handed me the Marlin Model 43 slide action, it seemed to come with the presence of her great-grandfather’s success in those arenas. Also interesting for a modest shotgun acquired in hard times, Thos. J. Parker’s signature was inlaid in gold on the left side of the frame.
She explained, “I do not know much about the gun; guns and hunting were not my thing. What I do remember – he was obviously a good hunter since whenever he went on a hunt, which was often, he was successful most of the time. He loved to hunt, and that was the gun he always used; and to the best of my knowledge, it was the only gun he had and the only gun he needed. And he often went to the gun club to shoot skeet and trap with the same gun, winning patches and trophies.”
Ashley enjoyed talking about her great-grandfather, relaying the fireside stories he told her. The conversation continued for some time, and when it was time to go, I asked if she would trust me with the gun so that I could offer it in one of my articles that I write for The Upland Almanac.
“Sure, that would be wonderful.”
Now, I left this visit intrigued with the stories that had been offered that this Marlin model 43 was the gun for all of Thomas Parker’s different species hunting days in the field and at the range. So with her permission, I thought it would be interesting to experience some of those outdoor settings with this gun. My first opportunity was at a hunting preserve for pheasant and chukars behind my pointing dogs. Although the gun performed well, I had difficulty getting used to the on/off safety slide located on the underside of the frame in front of the trigger. It seemed hard to cause the trigger finger to push the safety forward to the off position and then move the finger down to make the shot during the move, mount and shoot disciplines. A couple of weeks later, I was off to the skeet field, where the selection of guns often used were to suggest a status symbol among the shooters as they participated with others on the course. Yes, the make, model and grade caused each shooter to glance and inquire, and this inexpensive Marlin 43 pump got everyone’s attention. Let me offer this: I kept Thomas J. Parker’s fine gun reputation intact.
During my research, I learned that at the 1925 Grand American Handicap, a shooter broke 528 consecutive clay targets using a Marlin Model 43 standard grade pump shotgun. These included his 200 out of 200 in the Double A Championship event. There is something to say about a gun in the hands of a skilled shooter that matters more than make, model and glitz.
The well-made 7½-pound pump gun showed signs of service but not abuse. The straight-grain walnut-checkered pistol grip stock that is true to the frame had the Marlin Trademark Bullseye insert on the underside four inches from the toe. The same grain wood used in the sliding forend was also checkered. The steel-machined receiver retained all of its blue, as well as the two barrels, both showing their age in a soft blue-gray patina. The top of the receiver had a matte fine cut concave relief with the same surface continuing along the sight plane of the barrel to the brass bead. The shorter 26-inch barrel was choke cylinder, and the longer 30-inch barrel, full; both were chambered for 2¾-inch shells.
Sadly, this make and model gun does not have a lot of value even though it performs well in the hands of a skilled shooter. The two-barrel set is a good buy at $450-$600.