November 2005

Downrange: 11/05

On occasion, God (or Jehovah, Yahweh, Muhammed, or for you Pagans, Mother Nature) deigns to remind us of what is important in life. Impending disaster has a wonderful way of focusing the mind, and in late September, we had all the focus we wanted in the form of Category 5 Hurricane Rita.

A goodly portion of your humble gun-writing staff lives in the Houston area, including Contributing Editor Roger Eckstine, Product Coordination Editors Ben Brooks and Kevin Winkle, Managing Editor Tracey Taylor, and me. As Rita moved from the Atlantic into the Gulf of Mexico, she blew Publisher Tim Cole a wet kiss in southern Florida, then headed for what was initially the lower Texas coast.

As the weather-guessers changed Ritaís projected landfall, certain members of the Woodard household grew very concerned on September 22 and 23. At one point, Rita was due to make landfall at Freeport, about an hour south of our house. My wife was blasť at the notion, and she waved off my mounting skittishness with a casually maddening phrase, ďWeíll be fine. Iím not feeling it.Ē

Oh but I was, and I insisted that everyone else in the household get ready to hit the road within an hour of when we were certain the storm would track over us. Thatís when the storm focused me.

It was illuminating to find out what was really important: family pictures, a dog, a cat, personal clothes and toiletries, three computers, two cameras and assorted lenses, road provisions, extra gas ó and one gun per car, because at the time images from Katrina were fresh in my mind.

Gun Tests readers wonít care about any of those choices, except perhaps what guns I packed. In the car I drove, I planned to carry my Ross Carter-built .45, four loaded magazines, and 200 additional rounds of Federal Premium 165-grain Hydra-Shok JHPs.

In the other car, I had to select a gun that my wife, son, and daughter were all checked-out on, and which offered more range than the pistol, if that became a necessity. My choice: A slightly modified (trigger and mag release) Ruger 10/22 with 10 loaded magazines of Remington high-velocity 36-grain hollowpoints. It wears a 4X Weaver scope in tip-off mounts, and weighs less than 5 pounds. Over the years, itís probably had 10,000 rounds cycled through it, and the action is loose and buttery.

After Rita blew farther north and away from us, I laughed when I put the pistol and the 10/22 back in the safe. After the hundreds of rifles, handguns, and shotguns Iíve shot over the past 10 years, my must-have guns boiled down to a full-size 1911 and a plastic-stocked .22 rifle.

What would you take if you had to choose just one gun, stuff it into a packed automobile, and hit the road with a couple million of your new best friends? Let me know at <guntestseditor@earthlink.net>.


-Todd Woodard