When I was about 7, my grandfather sent me my first .22 caliber boltgun for my birthday. I still have it today. I decided that when I started building quality boltguns, I would return the favor.
I built him his first custom rifle - A .25-06 on a Howa 1500 action and Douglas hunting contour barrel with a Bell & Carlson fiberglass stock and a Leupold scope. I put the whole thing together in a custom cut Pelican case and sent it out to him in Michigan, where he had lived and hunted for over 60 years. He never got a chance to take it out on one last hunt, but he went to the range with it a couple of times and told me he had never had such a fine piece of hardware in his hands.
For a man who spent his entire life turning out custom wood working projects after his duty to the US overseas in WWII, it was quite a compliment.
I never heard the man ***** or complain about anything my entire life. He always had a kind word and a funny story to cheer you up, no matter what. When life gave him lemons, he always made the best lemonade you ever tasted.
He passed before he got a chance to take any game with it, but he made a point of amending his will to make sure he referenced that rifle specifically as being one of his priced possessions, in spite of a vast collection of firearms valued much higher, and that it should be given back to me.
I would say without a doubt - that rifle is my absolute favorite rifle, sporting or otherwise.
I am not sure what your definition of sporting arm is but I have 2 by my thinking. My first is a Remington Model 34 NRA target that was my dads. The stock is cracked, the bluing is gone and it went through 2 brothers and 2 sisters before I got it. It still shoots great and it was my first real rifle.
The second is not of sentimental value but one of just love of the design and history. I have a DSA SA58C with 16.25-barrel tactical forearm with grip and a DSA scope mount with a 3x9 Leupold. It is my current hunting rifle.
Of my rifles and pistols I would have to say my favorite is my Remington ............ 511-X 22lr. it has taken so many squirrels, piegons, and even a coyote. It may soon take a ground hog as well and three skunks ( I got orders today to remove the vermin from the club I belong too). So tomorrow morning I am heading out to try and remove at least the ground hog.
Now back to your regulary scheduled story. My grandfather bought the rifle then my dad got it then I got it. 3 owners it still has 99% bluing on it and the bolt has 90+% of the case hardening on it as well. It is one of the finest looking 511-X rifles I have seen to date.
I don't really have any favorite of either rifle or handgun , I guess I am to practical and realize it is indeed just a simple tool for a job .
Just as I can often remove a Slotted Hex Head fastener with either a nut driver , ratchet and standard socket , ratchet and deepwell , ratchet and standard socket with an extension or even a plain old screwdriver it comes down to what gets the job done best at the moment and what I have to do it with .
If hunting for Deer I could be happy with any one of dozens of calibers and even different action choices from so many brands of guns .
I guess my thing isn't the love of just a few but the appreciation of them all for what they are and what they represent to a still very young Nation struggling with it's identity and place in the world .
I can even find beauty in an old Revolutionary war weapon with a cracked stock and spots of rust here and there by thinking back on the work , dedication and perhaps hope that went into making it O so many years ago .