A little Christmas Advice and a big Merry Christmas from Colonel Smoothbore
By OutdoorAly

Posted: December 22, 2013

I’ve been away from the keyboard for a couple of weeks; it’s good to be back. Thank you to the Captain and Outdoor Aly for their help while I have been rehabilitating my new knee. Although the rehab is somewhat slow and quite arduous, I am really optimistic about my future ability to enjoy our Montana outdoors.


As we approach Christmas 2013, I thought it might be fun to chat about some dos and don’ts concerning firearms as presents. If you are considering giving a gun as a gift to someone make sure that you are complying with all the applicable federal, state, and local laws. Firearms are the most regulated products we have available to us as consumers and the laws governing them can be a confusing and conflicting maze of contradictions, especially with handguns. Be sure the recipient of your gift can legally own and possess a firearm; and be sure the transfer is in his or her name. A “straw” purchase can land you in prison. Make sure the recipient is mature enough and willing to undertake all the responsibilities and obligations that come with gun ownership.


If you do choose to give a firearm, be certain the gun “fits” the person who will receive this gift. For instance, a nine pound rifle chambered in .338 Winchester Magnum is probably the wrong choice for a child’s or small framed adult’s first gun. Likewise, a Desert Eagle in .50 AE makes a lousy home defense weapon, particularly for novices with little or no firearms experience. These are rather extreme examples, but I have witnessed similar incidents with new shooters that received guns from someone who thought it was “just the right one” for them.

Children are another matter; remember they are kids. They need something they can handle, something that holds their interest, and the child must be mature enough to focus and remain focused on the gun and its safe and proper use. Rarely is a child’s chronological age an indicator of their ability to use a firearm; physical and mental maturity are the key factors. I am often asked what the best option for a youngster’s first gun might be. The classic .22 long rifle, single shot, bolt action rifle is usually my first recommendation. DON’T give your child a .410 shotgun, it is an expert’s gun. Unless they are exceptionally talented, they will be disappointed at constantly missing with the light shot load, and will rapidly lose interest in the shooting sports.

Here’s a winning suggestion if you are considering a firearm as a gift; give that someone special a basic firearms course. Whether it be rifle, shotgun, pistol, or even a reloading class, the recipient will receive good instruction and have the opportunity to really enjoy and learn about firearms. Of course, as a NRA Instructor, I strongly recommend NRA courses. They are the most comprehensive and thorough classes that I have found. NRA courses provide the best education available for beginners, novices, and even the experienced shooter and gun owner. That is why I chose to become an NRA Certified Instructor. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore


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