Gallery: Best Engraved And Custom Guns (2020)

Gallery: Best Engraved And Custom Guns (2020)
Photos by Sam Welch

Gun Digest‘s annual review of the finest examples of beauty and artistry in the world of custom guns.

What Are The Best Custom And Engraved Guns:

Reto Buehler Custom Springfield M22

Reto Buehler custom rifle
Photos by Brian Dierks

This fantastic rifle began as a desire from a client of Reto Buehler. The client had commissioned two big-game rifles from Reto previously and he expressed a desire to have Reto build him a full-sized rifle, but chambered for the diminutive .22 LR rimfire cartridge. Reto couldn’t resist the challenge. He started with a Springfield M22 training rifle and transformed it into the magnificent rifle shown here. It has all the bells and whistles of an express rifle, but chambered for the rimfire cartridge. All work by Reto Buehler.

Reto Buehler British Express Rifle

Reto Buehler 2 custom gun
Photos by Brian Dierks

A typical Buehler British Express rifle, using a Granite Mountain Arms (GMA) small-ring action, Pac-Nor barrel and custom-machined quarter rib, front sight ramp and barrel band. Turkish walnut stock with 24 lpi checkering and light engravings done by John Todd. The GMA factory bottom metal was replaced with a Blackburn/Swift drop-box magazine.

Brian Powley Colt Single Action

Brian Powley custom revolver
Photos by Sam Welch

The Engravers’ Choice Award of Merit at the annual Firearms Engravers Guild of America (FEGA) Exhibition of 2020 was presented to Brian Powley for his masterful engraving of this Colt Single Action, .38 caliber. Brian executed his engraving pattern in keeping with original factory Colt styling. He did an outstanding job.
Photos by Sam Welch

Brian Hochstrat Browning O/U

Custom Guns 12
Photos by Brian Hochstrat

Brian Hochstrat knows his way around an engraving bench to be sure. A former professional bull rider, Brian learned early on there had to be a better way to make a living, and took up the art of engraving. This Browning O/U is an example of how he has mastered his art. To use the term magnificent is not strong enough to describe his work. This Browning was awarded the Best Engraved Shotgun prize and the Engravers’ Choice Award of Merit by his peers.

Lee Griffiths Custom Cabot Guns 1911

Custom Guns 8
Photos by Sam Welch

Lee Griffiths is one of the most talented and most unique engravers I know. It doesn’t take a lot of experience viewing his artistry to be able to discern his work from across a big room. At the recently concluded FEGA Exhibition, Lee received two awards, the Artistic Uniqueness Award and the Best Engraved Single Shot Rifle Award.

Marty Rabeno Winchester Model 1876

Marty Rabeno
Photo by Sam Welch

A typical example of Marty Rabeno’s outstanding artistry on one of his favorite canvases, a Winchester Model 1876. I’ve seen quite a number of engravings done by Marty and most all have been on lever-action Winchesters. This exquisite ’76 won the award for Best Engraved Rife and also the Engravers’ Choice Award of Merit at the recently completed Firearms Engravers Guild of America (FEGA) Exhibition.

Draw A Bead On Custom Guns

Dale Bass Remington .45 ACP

Dale Bass
Photos by Sam Welch

This Remington .45 ACP was beautifully engraved by Dale Bass of Amarillo, Texas. His work is new to me, but he is obviously turning out excellent engraving. This 1911 would look great in anyone’s collection.

Melissa McMinn Cabot 1911

Melissa McMinn
Photos by Sam Welch

Melissa McMinn is another engraver who is new to me. While I had not previously seen her work, I do know the engraver who mentored her, John Barraclough. Her unique styling is not often seen, but it is exceptionally well-executed. This Cabot 1911 that she embellished won the Best Engraved Handgun Award at the FEGA Exhibition.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from Gun Digest 2021, 75th Edition available now at


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  1. I agree that the Krieghoff K80, still family owned since the 1800s, is the most superior high quality small batch shotgun manufactured in the world today, when all factors such as beauty, reliability and performance are considered. Some of their top engraved shotguns by G. Stoegner (aka G. Stogner)and Jana Schilling are trading at more than $100,000 and are highly coveted by collectors and shooters alike.

  2. The world’s top shotgun engravers are more sought after and those guns bring a financial premium when they are sold, but the top 5 rarely trade and are hard to find. When it comes to ranking the world’s best gun engravers, from any objective criteria, the top Krieghoff engraver is G. Stoegner. G. Stoegner, with 7 Krieghoff “Guns of the Year,” far more than any other engraver, has graced their guns, with deep detailed engraving, with little in the way of precious metal ‘frills’ – just pure classic engraving excellence. What makes these even more special and rare is that I understand that Stoegner is no longer working due to old age, so the market for G. Stoegner guns will become increasingly more scarce, more collectible and likely more expensive. My understanding is that #2 on the list is Jana Schilling (who is also about to stop or has already stopped working) and then down the line from there, including 3. Goeser, 4. Reich, 4. Nonn (tie), and 5. Creative Arts. These are the ”names” to own. Krieghoff, arguably one of the, if not the world’s best O/U shotgun maker knows what they are doing and they actually lay out their top player’s names right on their website under “Engraving, Guns of the Year.


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