There are many “keepers” in life. The most important keeper in the home is watching TV in another room as I write this — she is my most important.
As a peace officer, keepers kept my belts together and prevented the holster belt from sagging. A firearm that is too good and too useful to trade or sell is a keeper.
Like many of you, I may trade up when the need is there or when a new introduction is attractive. I have traded three or four for a single piece, and I have not always gotten something better than the firearm traded.
What follows is a serenade to 10 solid handguns, rifles and shotguns that have earned the title “keepers,” and are definitely guns worth keeping.
(Click here to skip the infographic and go straight to the rest of the article.)
1. Heritage Rough Rider
The Heritage Rough Rider is the least expensive revolver that I know of. There are inexpensive centerfire revolvers and self-loaders that are just cheap. They aren’t my favorites.
The Heritage single-action .22 rimfire is trouble-free, friendly, and more accurate than it should be. I am never happier than when firing single-action ‘cowboy guns.’
I have done quite a bit of gunsmith work, and hang around gun shops often. I have yet to see a Heritage in need of repair or adjustment.
The Rough Rider features a manual safety that allows safely keeping six rounds at the ready. This revolver isn’t expensive. Why trade it, it isn’t worth much on trade-in, but it is worth more than its modest price in utility.
The Heritage is a great plinker, trainer and small-game handgun.
2. Smith and Wesson Military and Police
I am working up a curriculum for a gunsmithing school that includes the different generations of the Smith and Wesson M&P revolver.
While there are important differences, all of the revolvers from 1899 to the present are reliable, smooth and accurate. My friend Darrell owns one that is the most accurate revolver he owns.
The K-Frame .38 Special is just the right size for most hands. The .38 Special is the most powerful cartridge the occasional shooter wishes to handle. There is no smoother and faster-handling revolver.
Used examples are still available at a fair price and if you’ve got one, you have one of the best guns worth keeping.
3. GLOCK 19 9mm
The GLOCK is a baseline for self-loading handguns. There are less expensive pistols claiming similar performance, but corners have been cut to lower the price.
There are more expensive handguns as well. You must ask — is it possible to improve on GLOCK reliability? The GLOCK 19 is arguably the best balanced of GLOCK handguns.
The 9mm Luger is a powerful cartridge, and the GLOCK holds 15 cartridges in a relatively compact grip frame.
This is an affordable and useful handgun, one of the best service and personal-defense handguns ever offered.
4. SIG Sauer P229
The SIG trigger action is among the smoothest double-action first shot triggers. The single-action pull breaks at crisp 4.2 pounds. A favorite is a .40-caliber version.
The .40 S&W hits hard. Any accuracy problems with the .40 are not apparent with the P229. The P229 isn’t inexpensive, but it is well worth its price.
This is a nice-sized handgun that is suited to personal defense and hits hard.
5. Browning Hi-Power 9mm
This pistol has it all — reliability, superb accuracy and emotional attachment. My oldest son built this pistol for me. The trigger has been tuned to a crisp let-off and a Bar-Sto barrel fitted.
The Browning Hi-Power is easily the most accurate 9mm I own. It is also a superlative carry gun, accurate, easy to use well and completely reliable. It is at the top of my keeper list.
6. Remington 870 12-Gauge Pump
This is my longest serving long gun. The Remington features an Adaptive Tactical stock set. I like the folding stock and the ability to mount a light if need be. The 870 is a model of reliability.
If there are only four shells in the magazine, well, #00 buckshot tends to be decisive. Four shells equal 36 holes with buckshot. The pump action is smooth and the Remington points well.
Mine is the rifle-sighted version. I like this for overall accuracy with slugs. The front post has been replaced by an XS Big Dot tritium sight, giving the shotgun 24-hour utility.
This shotgun has been with me for years. I have gradually upgraded it. I once fitted a stock that did not suit me, it was made of cheap plastic. The Adaptive Tactical combination is a quality rig I like.
Others will find the factory wood stock better. For quick storage and use as a truck gun, nothing beats this relatively inexpensive and effective combination.
I also have a new in the box Remington 870 DM (Detachable Magazine) version just in case.
7. Benelli M4 12-Gauge
This is the most expensive of the ten firearms tested. It would make a good piece of trading stock, but by the same token, as many of you will understand, if I traded it, I would probably never have another shotgun like this one.
It wasn’t easy to obtain this one. The Benelli M4 is gas-operated, in contrast to the Super 90’s inertia-driven system. This is among the most reliable firearms I have used.
It has never failed to function, save with very light training loads using rubber buckshot! Recoil is modest compared to the 870. The M4 features interchangeable choke tubes and excellent peep sights.
The front post has been replaced with an XS tritium dot. The Benelli is well worth its price, because after all, it doesn’t get any better. Definitely one of the nicest guns worth keeping.
8. Remington 700 .30-06 Springfield
My favorite rifle cartridge for hunting, as opposed to target shooting, is the .30-06 Springfield.
Not long ago, I was pleased to find a used bolt-action rifle with a cut-up stock — someone had attempted to make a youth model stock.
The rifle sports a Bushnell Varmint scope, among the best buys on the planet. It was fitted with a McMillan stock and Huber trigger. I will cover these in detail at another time.
The Remington 700 has been an enjoyable rifle to build up and fire. There is sweat equity in this one. One of my favorite guns worth keeping.
9. Aero Precision AR-15
This is a rifle built for me by my eldest son. I have no sweat or financial equity in this one. The rifle features an Aero Precision upper and lower receiver, a Hyperfire trigger and a first-class barrel.
The rifle is light enough and accuracy is exceptional. This rifle is a good example of a properly built rifle. Use Aero parts and the proper tools, and you will own a gem.
10. Springfield M1A SOCOM
Sometimes you need a .308. I have surprised my friends, I suppose, when the talk turns to a SHTF gun. I am glad that my fate is more in the hands of our tawny young warriors these days.
Just the same, if in the unlikely event I really needed an all-around survival rifle, this is it. The .308 hits hard and will take deer and boar-sized game cleanly.
The rifle is fast handling and reliable. Accuracy is good to excellent out to 200 yards. The short, fast-handling rifle is a great choice for the one rifle shooter.
It isn’t as accurate the Remington 700 and certainly not as easy to use as the AR-15, but what it does, it does very well.
These are 10 guns worth keeping. I go over and update the list from time to time, but there are constants that never change. Reliability, power and usefulness are at the top of the list.
What are some of your guns worth keeping? Why are they “keepers?” Let us know in the comments below!