by Jeff Johnston - Friday, January 13, 2017
Oh timeless Super Black Eagle, may our 25th anniversary be merry!
We’ve shared countless hunts and amassed piles of memories like doves over Argentine fields. Though at times I neglected you, you thrived on a fistful of steel No. 3s each time I fished you from the mucky bottom of a duck boat.
The first day I saw you high on the shelf at the Outdoor America store, you were out of reach. But I wanted you oh so badly you because you were the one that could do it all. Your appeal was one of no frills; no wood to scratch, no shiny blued barrel to frighten game. Just 7 pounds of go-anywhere, do-anything, hunt-any-game, keep-me-safe-at-night reliable shot-shooting goodness.
If I’m being sincere I was enthralled by your magnum capabilities and your inertial intrigue. You were the only one that could fire the mighty 3½-inch shell without adjustment, and you remained the only game in town for two decades. And while you have received a makeover that has modernized your lines and slightly tamed your bite, I prefer the original you, old friend, and likely always will.
You were the rare childhood gift that was never outgrown. I held you high in the air on that snowy Christmas morn and you rocked my world with exhilarating recoil later that afternoon. I learned to use you as a tool, directing your payload with precision against any foe no matter how wary of wing or fleet of foot. You witnessed my morph from boy to man through girlfriends, school days, career moves and bird dogs in-between. Odds are your steel guts and polymer stock will outlast my flesh and bones, and so I beg you’ll one day lend your new heir the same unwavering companionship you’ve shown me.
Oh, Super Black Eagle, your talents are diverse. Remember that time we killed that gobbler on a Hail Mary as it walked away? I picked up that flopping bird 66 steps from whence you barked. There was that magical December day at Charlie’s when we limited on greenheads and geese? Luckily I’ve forgotten most of the ducks we’ve taken, but its tally would be judged shameful by some. And how could I forget the wild boar, downed by a lethal dose of double-aught buck from your bore? Likely never! Indeed, if I could have only one, oh Super Black Eagle, that one would be you.
The side of your limousine-like receiver is stamped “HK-Sterling, VA” a reminder of your Italian maker’s growth and a measure of your popularity. Indeed, you dominated the last two decades like Michael Jackson did the 80s and still your style remains en vogue among today’s waterfowling elite. Twice I’ve resisted offers for double your blue book value; to me, dear SBE, your value can’t be measured in greenbacks.
Perhaps your only fault is your innate dislike of the lightest 12-gauge loads. But you needn’t explain. Your springs must be stout enough to withstand behemoth turkey loads, and so they’re also slightly too stout to cycle the pipsqueak 1 oz. target loads. So quickly I learned to feed you standard 1 1/8 oz. loads if I wished to shoot clays, doves or quail. Ever since, it’s been a honeymoon.
So here’s to 25 wonderful years afield, oh beloved SBE, and to several lifetimes more—God, gun laws and your inertia spring willing.
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