Most Americans are consumed with so-called scary “black rifles.” Especially with the younger generation, it has consumed the shooting sports in all regards – from hunting to competitive shooting and everything in between. I will not lie – I do like them. They are fun and can bring some excellent range time and sport with friends. But my passion has always been fueled by the English guns. This is a sector of the industry that is unknown by most Americans. Words such as “drop lock,” “round body,” and “rising-bite” are rarely if ever heard whilst discussing guns in America. Of course they are commonly used across the pond and at shows such as Safari Club.
Naturally guns of all sorts are on display at the show. The younger crowd typically hovers to those with long-range tactical hunting rifles on display while the English booths are surrounded by gray hair. Rightfully so, in some aspects, as the English guns are a fair jump more in cost! However, there is nothing like them. The look, the feel, the finish, and the history. You just can’t feel warm holding a fiberglass rifle called “Chey-Tac.”
Walking around the booths I noticed another commonality: the companies either had guns or they didn’t. Some English makers had droves of “new” guns on display and available for immediate sale. I write “new” hesitantly, because it appears these guns have been around the block a few times and have the handling marks to prove it. If I were paying $50,000 or more on a new gun – I wouldn’t want it to appear already used! I was also a bit confused by some makers who would place half-finished guns on display. At least for me, this was very unattractive. Why not display the pinnacle of your work? It’s almost as if they just don’t understand. Is there a reason these companies aren’t selling guns?
All of the English booths had a certain aire to them. Although, some were stuffy when compared to others. Most of these people didn’t know me – especially those owned by the large companies – and it was like pulling teeth to get them to acknowledge my standing there! Although, I noticed, I wasn’t the only one! This is of course a frustrating battle to fight; especially for the younger generation. For all they know, they just missed a sale for $250,000 to a dot-com millionaire! Others welcomed me with warm arms, encouraged questions, and seemed genuinely interested to have a young body nearby. I think these are the companies of the future.
While at the show, I had one person ask me – What will it take to bring the younger generations into this trade? Honestly, I don’t think it takes a lot (other than a massive checkbook, of course!). Once you hold these guns, see the details, and understand the massive amount of time and energy it took to create these – it’s quite easy to fall in love. Like anything else, it has to do with taste. Some might teeter back and forth describing their taste. For me, it’s quite easy: the best
vancedaigle on January 11, 2016 at 8:48 pm
Good story Mr. Blunk,
I also attended the DSC show last weekend and visited all the English Vendors in particular. I am one of those ole guys you are speaking of, and really think like with most things, it takes much time, not only to be able to afford guns that cost as much as many starter homes. But to really appreciate what they have in hand the time involved in building along with the rich history of these stoic company's. Like fine wine it takes time for a gun buyers to mature, as it has been for last 150 years or so a few of these young men will move to British Best. My fear is that the British best gun trade may not survive, are they enough young men to continue on this wonderful trade.
Like you Mr. Blunk I found some of these builders had way to many so called British Best guns for sale on the shelf....not exactly Bespoke. I also found some a little standoffish, I really can't say why. But you never know who you might be ignoring...Just saying guys. Again thanks for a good honest observation Sir.
Don Snell on January 14, 2016 at 7:53 pm
It seemed impossible to get the so-called high end makers from England to even talk to you. They deserve what they get. I did however find WR a little better than most. Spent my money on a new .375 elsewhere. Maybe I need to look more prosperous or something. Anyway good story, my feeling exactly.
Simon Clode on January 16, 2016 at 12:46 am
I am sorry that you found us only a little better than most! We do try hard to answer every question and look after everyone who comes on the stand, we certainly don't judge a book by its cover either! Pleased you found somewhere to spend your money anyway and hope you enjoy the 375.