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Favorite Firearms: A Reminder Of Dad | Mossberg 26B

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This Mossberg 26B bolt-action rifle in .22 caliber belonged to my dad, Robert Elmo Babington. He was born in 1921 and later served as a navy corpsman in Japan and Korea. He had the rifle for as long as I can remember. It has no serial number, and I did some research to find it was manufactured sometime between 1937 and 1941. It shoots the .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle cartridges and also includes a Mossberg Microclick peep sight. At some point, when I was growing up, the firing pin broke. We didn’t have a lot of money, so dad just didn’t shoot it anymore, but he hung onto it.

About the time I got to be in my fifties, I remember he tried to make a firing pin for the rifle from a piece of sheet steel with a hacksaw and a file. He didn’t even have the old one to work from as a model. I am pretty sure our continued economic situation encouraged that, but dad grew up during the Great Depression, and his generation was used to “making do” with the things available. The homemade firing pin did work, but poorly, despite his best efforts.

When he died at 83, back in 2005, I made sure to take possession of the rifle. For several years, I just kept it in my safe. As my economic situation improved, I was able to hunt down and buy replacement parts to restore the rifle, namely an original factory firing pin and safety lever. I shot it a few times, and it functions well. But the most important aspect of the rifle to me is that it is a significant reminder of my dad and one of the most meaningful things left from him that I have. I told my niece about it and hope it will go to her son after I pass.

—Gary Babington


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