By: Tony Lenyo
One of my favorite things to do on a completely free Saturday, is pawn shop hopping. I spend a few hours going to almost every pawn shop in my area. I’m usually not looking for anything in particular, but you never know what you’re going to find. The other day I was driving, and there was a pawn shop on the opposite side of the road with no turn opening in the median to get to it. I decided to skip this one instead of pulling a U-turn just to get to it. Then, the light ahead turned red and I thought, “Aw what the heck, I might as well…” I merged into the turn lane, got a green arrow, did a U-turn, and parked in the parking lot.
Now, I have been to this shop several times, and the reason I was inclined to skip out on this one is because generally, when it comes to firearms, they mostly have new ones. And I’ll tell you, I wasn’t about to spend $500+ that day. But today was different. Hanging behind the counter was a beautifully worn–in Marlin Model 60. I asked to see it and it was actually a Glenfield Model 60 (essentially the same rifle), serial # 21xxxxxx. That is a 1979 rifle right there. It has the birch wood “squirrel” stock, a decent looking bore, and a cheap 4x Tasco rimfire scope, and no price tag. I ask how much he wants for it… $60 out the door. I know a great deal when I see one, so I slapped 3 20’s on the counter and asked for the 4473.
I get home with my new plinker, eagerly grab some hoarded .22lr and head out to see how this 37 year-old rifle shoots. After setting up my targets at 25 yards, I load 17 rounds into the tube magazine, take aim and carefully squeeze 5 rounds into a 1.5” group. Not too shabby, that’s good enough for squirrel hunting! I shoot 5 more with the same result. I’m on .22lr cloud 9, and then tragedy strikes. A round misfeeds. The bullet of the round never makes out of the tube but the rim catches the bolt and gets shoved forward. I lock the bolt back and pry out the round and see that the bullet has become unseated from the brass on one side from being slammed at an angle. I figured, hey these things happen, it’s fine. I reload and within 5 more rounds, it does it again, then again, and again. By this point I’m more than a little frustrated. It’s really starting to look like I just got this rifle for $60 for a reason, but I’m still holding on to hope. I decided to take apart the rifle and see what I can do. I disassemble it and to my joy, the damn thing is absolutely filthy. Not 25 rounds that I just shot filthy, but more like 1000 rounds filthy. I used some Breakthrough Clean Military-Grade Solvent to clean out all the carbon and grit. Then followed that up with Breakthrough Clean’s Battleborn High Purity Lubricant.
I reassembled the Model 60, and I spent the next hour or so dusting little 2” clays at 25 yards with ease, with absolutely ZERO malfunctions. I don’t know if it was the Breakthrough, or if it was magic, but now that I have it running without issues, I’d say this might be the best $60 I’ve ever spent! Sure, a Model 60 is one of the cheapest rifles you can get, but $60 ($50 considering it has a brand new Tasco that is about $10) is a steal. At the time of this writing, the cheapest I can find on Gunbroker is $71 with 4 days left on the auction.
Most pawn shops out there have FFLs nowadays, and you never know what they might have. I’ve seen old Mosin Nagants for under $200 (cheap in 2016), single shot and double barrel shotguns for $125, even AKs for around $400. Sure, the popular names like Glocks, Smith & Wesson, Kimber, and other big name guns are going to be about market price, but even those can sometimes be found for a great deal! I have an affinity for cheap, old firearms, because the good ones shoot just like they did 50 years ago, and I seem to find a lot of satisfaction shooting a firearm older than I am. A decent portion of my guns were bought at pawn shops.
So I encourage all of you to get out there and explore your local pawn shops. It’s the perfect way to find some great gems without emptying your wallet, and an easy way to support a local mom and pop business.
By: Tony Lenyo