Chris Ellis: Fox Model B the perfect shotgun choice
I fell in love with wingshooting, upland game bird hunting, hunting dogs and old shotguns yet again.
It happens to me frequently. But this time, I fell deep and hard. I recall the moment vividly when I caught myself smiling on a crisp morning on the South Dakota plains. I was with a group of friends and we were pheasant hunting with a couple of buddies.
This week is their hunting dogs’ Super Bowl, their World Series, their Daytona 500.
And for me, it solidified a decision I made after decades of thought. I changed my mind more times than I needed to or should have over the years. But finally, I bought an old side-by-side shotgun and learned to shoot it. For me, that is huge step after a lifetime of hunting with pump actions and the occasional auto loading shotgun.
The last thing I wanted to do on this pheasant hunt far from home, in front of a group of die-hard bird hunters, was to show up with a used antique gun and not be able to hit anything with it. That would be a poor excuse of a bad decision.
After the first little walk and plenty of evidence and witnesses to my shooting, it was obvious I had made the perfect choice in shotguns. Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was my day. Or maybe, I simply finally found a gun that fits. I do not know. It doesn’t matter. The fact is the report of my shotgun was generally followed by a down bird and a very happy dog to retrieve it to me.
On my way home from the trip, I did a little research on my old Fox Model B shotgun and found that Chuck Hawk had written a fine piece on it. I asked his permission to share his work with you and he agreed. Here are a few excerpts from an article on the Fox Model B from Chuck over at Guns and Shooting Online, an online reference source for information and articles of interest to shooters, written by shooters for shooters (www.gunsandshootingonline) about the old shotgun that I fell in love with.
“Savage Arms purchased the A.H. Fox Company in November of 1929. They kept the A.H. Fox gun in production until America’s entry into the Second World War, 1942 being the last year an A.H. Fox retail catalog appeared. After the end of the war a few A.H. Fox guns were sold from existing warehouse stock, and some were assembled from remaining parts on hand, but the era of the original A.H. Fox gun was basically over.
“However, back in the 1940′s the Fox name had considerable market recognition, and in 1940 Savage capitalized on that by using the Fox name on a somewhat upscale version of their Stevens Model 311 side-by-side utility shotgun, which had been introduced in 1931. (Savage had purchased Stevens in 1920.)
“The resulting gun, named the Fox Model B was introduced at a MSRP of $25.75. It was to be a long-lived model, remaining in the Savage line until rising manufacturing costs and the sale and reorganization of Savage Industries, Inc. (which became today’s Savage Arms Company) caused it to be discontinued in 1988. By that time the MSRP for the Fox Model B-SE had risen to $525.
“The most common variations of the basic gun were the Model B (Mfg. 1940-86; black or color case frame, double triggers, extractors, plain rib later changed to vent. rib), Model B-ST (Mfg. 1955-66; case color frame, single non-selective trigger, plain matted rib, beavertail forend), Model B-DL (Mfg. 1962-65; a B-ST with a satin chrome-plated frame, vent. rib), Model B-DE (Mfg. 1965-66; similar to the B-DL with reduced checkering coverage), and B-SE (Mfg. 1966-88; similar to the B-DE with selective ejectors, vent. rib, select walnut and impressed checkering).
“The Fox Model B had a long production run and many were produced in numerous variations. They are still in widespread use today and are often seen in gun dealers’ used racks. These guns were solid performers in their day and they still are. They seldom malfunction and they are usually easy to repair when they do.”
Thank you, Chuck, for letting me share your history on the shotgun. I’m thinking I’ll keep mine for the next pheasant season or 12 or until it takes me another decade to find another one.
Chris Ellis of Fayetteville, W.Va., an outdoorsman and Marshall University graduate, is the owner of Ellis Communications, a public relations agency serving the outdoor industry. Contact him at email@example.com.