Despite being a complete neophyte, after six months of working at the gun store and shooting range, I felt pretty at home. Sure, I was still in the middle of a crash course on all things firearms—prior to the store hiring me, I’d done nothing more than admire my grandfather’s rifles hanging in their rack—but like a dog who gets his first morsel of steak snuck to him under the dinner table, I couldn’t get enough.
Hunting, too, had ignited something in me, a wonton desire kindred to the one lit in me by the first French kiss our high school’s marching band drum leader sweetly planted on me in the drum storage room one sunny afternoon. Now, my pining for the drumming Casanova didn’t last more than a few weeks, bright at its start, pin-prick sharp at its end, when I caught him wandering out of the drum room with a clarinet player. But hunting—now there was a lover who promised to be all mine for as long as I wished. Truthfully, I don’t really know where hunting’s “kiss” had come from, but with every issue of Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, and the others that graced my mailbox, I wanted more.
All the other guns in the store’s racks were rather commonplace. Naturally, it was the .270s, .243s, .30-06s, and .300 Win. Mags. customers wanted, for these were the cartridges that both did their intended jobs and were easy to find on even Wal-Mart sporting goods shelf. Fine enough, but I wanted something different.
I turned the rifle over in my hands to look at what was cut into the barrel’s left side: .280 Remington.
I didn’t know anyone who had a rifle in that caliber. And in my “vast” six months working in the store, I’d never had a customer ask for either of the two dust-covered boxes of .280 ammo shelved behind the glass display counters.
Ten minutes later, I was $450 cash poorer—and, at least in my own mind, inestimably gun richer.
Looking for your own next “priceless” gun? The author suggests: