Our annual review of the finest examples of beauty and artistry in the world of custom guns.
My latest rifle from the shop of Gary Goudy in Dayton, Washington. I started the project with a pre-’64 Winchester Model 70 action that I sent to Danny Petersen, superb barrel maker from Prescott, Arizona, who fitted the action with one of his cut-rifled barrels and chambered it for the .300 Win. Mag. cartridge. When he finished, I sent the barreled action and my very best stick of English walnut to Gary for stocking. I obtained the super stick of English from Jim Bisio of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gary whittled out the stock and when it was finished, sans checkering, he sent the metal to Bruce Farman for finishing with his lovely slow-rust blue job. While he was doing that, Gary checkered my stock with his fleur-de-lis pattern.
Custom Rifle From The Past
The author’s first sort of commissioned custom rifle. He provided a pre-’64 Model 70 barreled action, chambered for the .270 Winchester cartridge, to a gunsmith in Germany, to do the metalwork. This included making and fitting a quarter-rib with one standing and three folding leafs and a new front sight ramp. He also slicked up the action and adjusted the trigger to a nice crisp 3-pound pull. As instructed, he returned it to me in-the-white for stocking. I then gave the barreled action to one of Germany’s best stockmakers with instructions to shape and bed the stock using a blank of French walnut that I provided, including fitting a rosewood fore-end tip, grip cap and Pachmayr recoil pad. I asked that he deliver the stock back to me finish-sanded, but otherwise unfinished. I then finished and checkered the stock myself. While I was finishing the stock, I returned the barreled action to the metalsmith for finishing in a nice glossy blue, which was in vogue at the time. If I were to build this rifle today, I would change a bunch on it, but it has served me very well as my primary hunting rifle just as it is for several years. Photo by Tom Turpin.
Gun Engraving From The Past
Here is a floorplate engraved by one of my favorite engravers, Lynton McKenzie. Australian-born McKenzie moved around a fair amount during his life, spending his final years in Tucson, Arizona. He engraved this floorplate, part of an extensive engraving job he did on a David Miller Co. rifle. Sadly, he did this engraving toward the end of his life and much too early, as he was diagnosed with cancer not too long after finishing this work. The engraving was very distinctive and easily recognized as his work immediately by those very familiar with it. Photo by Tom Turpin.
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Erich Boessler engraved and gold inlaid a mountain goat head on this Model 70 triggerguard. It adorned my hunting rifle for a few years.
Robert Strosin Custom Parker Shotgun
This Parker shotgun, engraved by Robert Strosin, won the Best Engraved Shotgun award at the recently completed Firearms Engravers Guild of America (FEGA) Exhibition in Las Vegas. Photo by Sam Welch.
Reto Buehler Granite Mountain Arms .300 H&H Magnum
One of the younger members of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild (ACGG) is also one of the best, Swiss-born Reto Buehler. The rifle shown here is a perfect example of his exceptional talent as a gunmaker. This magnificent rifle began with a Granite Mountain Arms small-ring long action. Chambered for the .300 H&H cartridge, Buehler did all the metal and stockwork on this rifle, including shop fabricating H&H-type scope mounts. Charles Lee did the lovely engraving and Doug Turnbull did his magic color case-hardening on the action. As some wise person once stated, it just doesn’t get any better than this. Photo by Brian Dierks.
Mike Dubber Custom Colts
Hoosier engraver Mike Dubber has done a lot of engraving on Colt pistols over the years as a Colt Master Engraver. As such, it should come as no great surprise that a couple of his latest engraving canvasses for his artistry are both from Hartford – a Python and a Single Action Army. At the 2017 FEGA Exhibition in Las Vegas, the Python won the Best Engraved Modern Firearm Award. Not to be outdone, the SAA won an Engravers Choice Award of Merit. Photos by Sam Welch.
Keith Heppler Peter Noreen Action .460 Weatherby
This rifle is an excellent example of the work of gunmaker Keith Heppler. Keith has been turning out exquisite rifles from his California shop for a very long time. This one, built on a custom action from Peter Noreen, is chambered for the massive .460 Weatherby cartridge. He used a magnificent stick of English walnut to craft the stock. He had to watch his P’s and Q’s in selecting the blank for this rifle as the recoil of the .460 is pretty fierce. This one is great with the wonderful figure in the butt and nice, straight grain through the remainder of the stock. Also, please note the detail sculpting around the cheekpiece. Photos by Steve Heilmann.
Lee Griffiths Custom Colt Model 1911
This Colt Model 1911 was engraved by Lee Griffiths utilizing a World War I motif. It won the Best Engraved Handgun Award at the recently completed FEGA (Firearms Engravers Guild of America) exhibition in Las Vegas. Photo by Sam Welch.