Luxury Deep-Woods Gun (Part 2)

Last week I started talking about going for a gun that is a little more than utilitarian, and I want to explore this topic a little further today.  Before I get started, however, I want to state categorically, as I have done in the past talking about “dress” watches, that this is not about pure utility:  we all know that a Timex works as well as Raymond Weil watch, and a 1950s-era Winchester 94 lever rifle will work just as well as one of the ornately-carved “commemorative” modern ones.

This is about going with something “finer”, whether in finish or even in function, rather than settling for just the “adequate”.

Many years ago, I made my first haj  to Collector’s Firearms in Houston, and met the owner.  He knew about me, of course, because then (as now) I often featured pics of guns from his website, and always with attribution.  I had, in a nutshell, driven lots of business his way.  One lovely story he told me was when I featured a Swedish Mauser Mod 96 41B “sniper” rifle on my old website, and drooled all over it, as is my wont with exquisite quality rifles.

Apparently, it was sold the very next day — but later on, over that and the next few days, about a dozen people either came into the store to buy it, or called to see if it was still available.  All had to be sent away disappointed.

Anyway, we chatted a while, and then he excused himself for a moment, then came back with a rifle, asking “What do you think of this?”

It was a Mauser Mod 11/84 (pre-Mauser G98) from the 1880s, only this wasn’t any old rifle:  it was a carbine (which I’d never seen before in 11/84), but it had a couple of other features which made my jaw drop.  For a start, it had an octagonal barrel with gold inlays, had an action so smooth that I have never since experienced its equal, and boasted a stock which featured various hunting scenes in bas-relief, carved in detail so fine that it looked as though dental tools had been used in its manufacture (which, incidentally, was indeed the case).  Condition?  It looked as though it had been completed the day before.

It was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s personal hunting rifle.  And for a collector of guns or historical memorabilia, it was almost literally beyond price.  Like a $75,000 Vacheron Constantine watch, this moves far away from the “utilitarian” category and into the “investment” one — and that isn’t the purpose of this post.

So let’s step down a little  lot from that, because that’s a one-of-a-kind, no-expenses-spared kinda gun.  That’s the far end of the spectrum, which we mere mortals cannot aspire to.  But between that and a rusted-out old lever rifle, of course, is a dizzying array of choices, and I want to talk a little about the segment that is just a little over the purely utilitarian.

To be honest, the “Iron Triangle” of guns (cost / quality / utility:  pick two) has to apply.  The Kaiser’s rifle, for example, scores a 0 in terms of utility because you’re never going to take it hunting (quite apart from the difficulty of finding 11mm ammo).  Your new Winchester 94 .30-30 is going to score highly on cost (low) and utility (everyday), but let’s be honest:  that’s not a pretty gun.  To make a lever rifle “pretty”, you have to go into the Dark Arts of engraving and carving;  and I would argue that that activity falls into the “lipstick on a pig” category — you can, but why?

Also, engraving — fine engraving — is really, really expensive.  It’s one of the reasons why you pay an absolute fortune for a Holland & Holland shotgun:

That’s the “Royal” model, and it sells for just under $50,000, second-hand.  You’re not paying for the action, by the way — Holland’s actions are made in Spain, not Britain — but for the barrels, the quality of the engraving and, of course, for the bragging rights that go with saying “I’ve got a Holland & Holland”.

So let me use this as another example of what I’m talking about.  And to make the proper comparisons, I’m going to be talking only about my favorite kind of shotgun:  side-by-side, double trigger, splinter fore end and smooth “English” grip, barrel length greater than 27″, like this example:

That Holland shotgun is undoubtedly gorgeous.  But it costs close to $75,000 NIB.  If you want the quality of the action, why not go with an Arrieta — the guys who until very recently made all the Holland actions?  You can get a matched pair of Arrieta 803 shotguns for around $15,000 new, and I would suggest that their engraving isn’t anything to sneeze at, either:

At least, you wouldn’t kill yourself if you dropped one of these off the back of the truck, as you might a Holland.

“But Kim,” I hear you say, “Even seven grand is too much to pay for a shotgun!”

Maybe.  In fact, you could always get a CZ Bobwhite:

Of course, it’s not actually made by Česká Zbrojovka, but by the Turkish gunmaker Huglu — nothing wrong with that, they make excellent shotguns — and the “engraving” is actually stamped, not engraved.   The gun itself retails for under $600 at Bud’s, i.e. less than a tenth of the cost of an Arrieta and less than a hundredth of a Holland.  Is a Holland a hundred times better than the Bobwhite?  No.  There is nothing, repeat nothing wrong with the Bobwhite — in fact, I’m considering getting one myself, as soon as I can safely go back to work (in about 2030, according to best estimates).

Given my druthers. however, I’d prefer to get this Browning sidelock:

It’s gorgeous, made by Miroku in Japan and Steve Barnett is selling one second-hand for $5,750.  I just hope I can save enough to be able to buy it before someone else snags it.

Or else I’ll be disappointed, like the second guy who came into Collector’s to buy that Swedish Mauser.

You can always buy something that will get the job done, inexpensively.  But there’s nothing wrong with wanting something just a little better, either.

Africa Addio

Peter Grant talks about Africa, and the savagery that never ends except when the White man steps in to stop it.  And when he gets sick of carrying the White Man’s Burden and walks away, it starts up again as though it never stopped.

Although the links Peter posts are of an earlier era, what he states is absolutely true:  it’s still going on today.  He’s seen it at first hand, and so have I.

And now this is happening not just in Africa, but pretty much everywhere Africans settle.

Prove me wrong.

Addendum:  And right on cue, I get an email from Longtime Reader And Friend Peter B., who has the scoop on the latest reindeer games in Africa:

A Chinese factory in Zambia was set on fire. The following quotes are from the Global Times, the CCP news outlet:

The three Chinese nationals from East China’s Jiangsu Province were murdered by three local Zambians who then set fire to the warehouse of a Chinese clothing company on Sunday, outraging the Chinese community in the African country, local sources revealed to the Global Times.
According to a preliminary investigation by Zambian police, the suspects, two men and one woman, entered the warehouse and killed the victims before committing robbery, and then set a fire to destroy evidence.

The ChiComs are discovering just how much fun it is, and how much it costs, to play in Africa.  Can we call it the “Yellow Man’s Burden”, yet?

Floating Swarms

A while ago I opined that what the U.S. Armed Forces needed was not MOAR COMPLICATED weapons systems, but simpler, even old-fashioned kit that would do more or less the same tasks for much less money, with a much greater redundancy (i.e. losing one multi-million weapons system out of the dozen on hand to enemy action would not cripple either our wallet nor our force, when instead we had a hundred and fifty simpler weapons systems capable of doing more or less the same job).

Seems like some smart people think the same way about the Navy:

The Navy’s problem remains its obsession with blue-water ships and big-budget contracts instead of stepping back and rationally thinking about what is actually needed to fulfill requirements at a cost-effective level in terms of construction, use, and the risk of combat losses. The enemy of “good enough” is the desire for perfection and there is no reason to spend time and money reinventing the wheel when a proven gunboat design already exists that is good enough for the Navy’s littoral combat needs. A modern version of the Fairmile D motor torpedo boat—the famous Dog Boats of the Royal Navy’s coastal forces in World War II—is what the U.S. Navy needs today.

And the author goes on to explain how it would all work, and it’s a compelling argument.  A couple hundred of these bad boys, suitably updated, would definitely put a wrinkle into someone’s turban or Mao jacket, if you get my drift.

Read it all, and let’s hope someone in the Navy Department reads it as well, without throwing the thing straight into File 13.


In my post yesterday about the new FNugly plastic pistols, I made reference to revolvers looking like real guns, at least.

What I should have done was add a few revolver pics, because as we all know, pictures of guns are what this website is all about good for the soul:

And yes, I have owned all the above, and more, during my lifetime.  Tragically, as Longtime Readers know full well, all were lost in The Great Canoeing Accident On The Brazos River several years ago.

But all of them, even the rimfire revolvers, look more like real guns than the FNuglies.

News Roundup

Not much to see today, unlike here.  Still:

to which I say, fukkem.  But right on cue:

of course, it was New York.

and fuck you, too, asshole.  Wait till I do something like this:

it ain’t gonna be pretty.

which can easily be fixed by some activities which include MOABs and daisycutter bombs.

also Scorpios, unicorn rodeo riders and men named Fred.  JHC, what a load of bullshit.

but the only newsworthy part of this story is that he wasn’t Indian (dot-head variety), or Chinese.

but I should remind everyone that Southside Chicago votes overwhelmingly Democrat, so they got what they voted for, good and hard.

and while Britain breathes a sigh of relief, I can start making plans to go back Over There again.

And finally:

and Governor Death Eater Cuomo’ s decision to house Chinkvirus patients in New York nursing homes was just as spectacularly wrong.