Friday, January 20, 2006

Stephen Hunter's Eulogy for the Winchester Model 94


Thank you, Steve...
Out With A Bang
The Loss of the Classic Winchester Is Loaded With Symbolism
By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 20, 2006; Page C01

A famous ad that most boy baby boomers will recall from Boys' Life, the old scouting magazine of the '50s, showed a happy lad, carrot-topped and freckly like any number of Peck's Bad Boys, his teeth haphazardly arrayed within his wide, gleeful mouth under eyes wide as pie platters as he exclaimed on Christmas morn, "Gee, Dad . . . A Winchester!"

All gone, all gone, all gone. The gun as family totem, the implied trust between generations, the implicit idea that marksmanship followed by hunting were a way of life to be pursued through the decades, the sense of tradition, respect, self-discipline and bright confidence that Winchester and the American kinship group would march forward to a happy tomorrow -- gone if not with the wind, then with the tide of inner-city and nutcase killings that have led America's once-proud and heavily bourgeois gun culture into the wilderness of marginalization.


How light it is, how quick to the shoulder, how pointable! It begs to come to the eye. It swiftly finds what's called the natural point of aim, the perfect equipoise between its own grace and its shooter's talent. There, it wants to be fired. It's knobless and trim yet hardly streamlined. It hails proudly from the pre-streamlined world. No ergonomic study went into its design, only the sound trial and error of Yankee genius that finally found the ideal form.

It's weirdly squarish, yet like other classic guns, it boasts an orchestration of lines of unusual harmony, which somehow seem to soothe the eye. The Colt Peacemaker revolver, the Tommy gun and the Luger have the same effect; all are instantly known and knowable. They have a design charisma that transcends their actual usage in the real world...
This is one of the greatest pieces I have ever read about guns. THIS is what "gunwriting" should — and can — be!


Anonymous said...

I agree about Hunter's piece.

But I am a bit biased. I'm a college English instructor and old sports writer by trade.

I make my house payment and buy my groceries by teaching writing. And about 10 years ago, I was buying my groceries and my gasoline by writing sports for a small daily newspaper.

Hunter is what happens when a writer decides he likes guns.

That's the key here...Hunter is a writer first.

Guns are secondary in his case.

The vast, and I do mean vast majority of "gunwriters" are guns guys who write articles only because writing articles is the annoying, unimportant task they have to perform in order to justify their continued career of playing with guns for a living.

I do not mean this as a slap against anyone in particular.

I do not mean this personally to anyone who might read my comments.

It's just an observation of the way things actually are.

Hunter is a writer first.

Almost all other gun writers are gun guys who write only because that's what their gun-related jobs require them to keep doing.

And it shows in the quality of the articles.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with hillbilly on this one as to the quality of the writing. When you win a Pulitzer (as did Hunter and Roger Ebert both) for movie reviews, your writing's gotta be something special. I've kept several of Ebert's old review compilations around just 'cause his writing's so good they're fun to read! Sort of the essay version of the short-short-story discipline.

However, it's very nice to be able to say that there is at least one Pulitzer-Prize-winning gunwriter out there!

ChargeOfQuarters said...

Wow! Outstanding article.

One can only hope that Marlin (or someone) purchases that plant and continues the tradition...

I think I might get one just because, and I own a Marlin already...