The British .303

Toshiba Digital Camera

As a kid growing up I was always very interested in guns. However there are only a few that I really care about. None more important than the British .303 I watched my dad pack around for my entire hunting career, in other words “as long as I can remember”. I always thought it would be cool to doll up the old girl and refinish the chipped wood and scared steel that the riffle was made of, so about four years ago, I stole my dads gun from under his nose, and brought it over to my shop for a make over. Guns are neat that way because they can be really old and still be as effective as one that’s brand new. They just seem to be timeless.

I had no clue how to restore a firearm, but I did have the internet. I learned everything I needed to know about the project from a guy named Tex….from Texas. He took me through step by step, just like a high school science project. Except instead of being taught by a nerdy scientist in a lab coat, it was done by a 300 lb red neck in camo.

I don’t mean to get side tracked here but looking back at it, I wish I went to a local expert for help. In the past (before the internet), if I wanted to take on a project like this, I would have to get to know a skilled elder in my community. A relationship would bloom probably based on a trade. Labour for knowledge. Although the internet is cool in many ways, I find it sad that it creates a disconnect between the master tradesmen living right next door, and the young people that are seeking the skills and knowledge. The relationship between young and old is lost and replaced with a relationship of young with youtube, and old with nobody, and that sucks. Anyways, back to the story…

Although we don’t know if it saw any real action during World War II, we can be sure this rifle was made to help defeat the Germans between 1939 and 1945. Hitlers Germany threatened the world, and needed to be stopped.

The gun was built for a great service and has risen to the occasion, only in a very different way then originally planned.

It wasn’t till many years after the war, that it made its way to the shelf at the army surplus store in Vancouver. With a price tag of $40, my grandfather bought it for my dad who was still a teenager.

The father son combo used the rifle for bagging deer as the gun became a useful tool to them. It’s always been important to provide…. even if you have to do it by transporting dead deer in the trunk of a sedan back to the city streets where they lived. One time they got a small buck and had to wrestle the carcass though the lobby of an apartment building. Next, they had to drag it into an elevator just to get the meat safe into a suite on the 4th floor. Imagine sharing and elevator trip with two guys and one freshly killed Bambi. Every time I think of them learning to hunt with a car based out of the city, I can’t help but smile.

I can only assume the gun enabled my dad to impress the women of town with many kills. My mother must have stood little chance saying “no” to a young successful hunter. As they grew together and moved to the country to raise the family, the gun was quietly standing by as a reminder of his strength.

The rifle has since been used frequently in almost every hunting season over a stretch of 40 years. It has been run over by the stock truck and dropped into the Babine River. It has been snagged on trees and bounced off rocks. Frozen solid and rolled on by mules. Through it all, it always brought home meat for the table. Elk, caribou, moose, deer, and bear. If we ate wild meat growing up there was a 99% chance that it was killed with the British .303. (Until I started hunting big game with my own gun of course.)

The family sheep could sleep soundly knowing that gun would keep them safe. Particularly from the neighbours German Shepard (ironically enough) who was blessed enough to survive an incident at the wrong end of the barrel. The dog was one of the lucky few to get a warning shot.

If you had a pet that needed an euthanasia service in our neighbourhood, chances are it was to be carried out with the old .303. The gun was used for this act of humanity on several family pets including dogs, and horses alike.

Around the campfire my dad would humbly boast that if he notched the gun every time he killed something with it, there would be no stock left. Maybe he’s right, or maybe it’s for the best nobody knows the real number, that way we can stretch it a little.

I guess it’s no surprise that the gun shares a name that runs in the family. As I cleaned and polished the old dirty steel I made a very pleasant discovery. Stamped on the barrel was the manufacturer, Parker Hale, an arms company from Britain.

Nelson Parker my great grandfather, Gregory Parker my father, and Parker Allen my brother. The name Parker truly runs in the family. This Proves it.

Although the gun is over 60 years old, there is still plenty of life left in it and who knows what lies ahead? Perhaps the gun named Parker will continue to be used by members of the family for generations to come. Only time will tell.


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