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Classic Arms Corporation - American Made Best Quality Rifles

Classic Arms of Palo Alto, CA. is a little known company established in 1980 by Lloyd Chiswick. Mr. Chiswick had an extensive history of having fine guns made, dating back to the 1960’s. With the creation of Classic Firearms Corporation, he commissioned the best gun makers in America to produce rifles to his tastes and standards.

Mr. Chiswick is still in business and currently working on his 80th rifle. We currently have three of Classic Arms Corporation rifles here at the U.S. Agency. All three rifles are based on original  commercial Mauser actions and stocked in spectacular walnut. The stocking and metal work are second to none on these rifles and they rival the quality of any rifle maker from their respective era. They are also beautifully cased in Oak & Leather cases with canvas covers and Nitre blued accoutrements. No detail was left unchecked on these rifles, and they truly represent the best of custom rifle making in the United States.

In my opinion, these rifles are as nice as any rifles ever made in the U.S. and are very underrated, much of which is due to being a bit obscure and off the radar of most collectors.


Classic Arms Corporation No. 3

The first is chambered in 6mm Remington and engraved on the barrel: "Classic Arms of Palo Alto, CA No. 3".

The rifle is based on an original intermediate length Mauser, serial number: "3" is on the front ring and the original maker’s mark: “Waffenfabrik Mauser Oberndorf  A/N”  on top of the front ring and on the sidewall of the action. Mr. Chiswick had this action for some time and specifically made it his third Classic Arms Co. rifle to match the single digit number of the action.

This rifle includes all the custom upgrades one would expect on a rifle made at this level. New bolt shroud with an 3-position M-70 type safety, straddle floorplate and inside-the-bow release, 22” Krieger barrel with a rust blue finish. The highly figured “California” English walnut stock has a smooth steel butt plate, beaded cheekpiece, smooth steel grip cap, and an Ebony forend tip. The handmade barrel shaped swivel studs are one of my favorite features.

The floorplate is engraved by American engraver Lee Griffiths who remains one of America’s finest and most well known engravers. The game scene features a roe buck lying down supported by an American style scroll on the remainder of the bottom metal, the grip cap, scope bases, and smooth steel butt plate. 


Classic Arms Corporation No. 5

The second rifle is a Classic Arms Corporation No. 5 and chambered in the mighty .505 Magnum. This rifle was also completed in the early 1980’s and built on an original Oberndorf Mauser Single Square Bridge Magnum length action. Throughout my career this action was the holy grail in the custom rifle world prior to firms like Granite Mountain Arms making their wonderful version of a Mauser. To this day, the original Mauser M98 actions made in the Oberndorf factory for commercial sales remain the benchmark which all other bolt actions are compared.

The action is fitted with both the traditional flag safety and a second tang mounted “stalking” safety. The straddle floor plate has an inside the bow release and the drop belly stock shape and big magazine box allow for the bolt to close over 3 rounds. The rifle has a 26” Krieger match grade barrel with cut riffling. The quarter rib is hand filed and has a one standing Express sight and three folding leaves (50, 100, 150, 200 yds) and a banded/hooded front sight with a flip up night sight and removeable sight hood. The metal is rust blued save for a Nitre blued extractor and bolt release. The trigger is checkered. There is barrel mounted banded front sling swivel.

Stocked in a highly figured Turkish walnut stock expertly laid out beaded cheekpiece, a leather covered recoil pad, a single steel recoil bar, and an ebony forend tip. The checkering is superbly cut in a point pattern with mullered borders and a full wrap on the forearm. The stock's shape allows for easy use of the sights without having to bury your cheek into the comb and also has an open pistol grip shape which allows a bit more room for the knuckles.

The massive floor plate has a polished vignette engraved in a Bulino style featuring a bull elephant and a lone acacia tree, also done by Lee Griffiths and signed on the front edge of the floor plate.

The rest of the floor plate, trigger bow, grip cap, recoil bar and action screws are engraved in a tasteful scroll pattern. The bolt knob has three checkered panels, and the top of the action’s front ring is also hand filed, matching the quarter rib. The top of the barrel is engraved: “Classic Arms Corporation Palo Alto, CA No. 5”. Finally, the rifle is cased in a handmade, full length, oak and

Both rifle No. 3 and No. 5 are in Oak and Leather cases by Ray Sterck with a lightweight royal blue canvas zippered travel cover. Each case has a brass disk engraved with the maker’s name and numbered to the rifle. Included in the case is a leather sling with Super Grade sling swivels and handmade accoutrements by Ray Lozito featuring a horn handle cleaning rod and fire blued oil pot and grease jar.


Classic Arms Corporation No. 11

The third Classic Arms Co. rifle we have here at the Agency is “No. 11” and chambered in .350 Classic Arms Magnum, a proprietary cartridge developed by the company’s founder, Loyd Chiswick .  

This rifle is based on an original magnum length single square bridge Mauser action with the original “Waffenfabrik Mauser – Oberndorf  A/N”  on the action wall. The action has a flag safety with a “stalking” safety added to the middle of the actions rear tang. The action is fitted with 30mm “tip-up” quick-release scope mounts. The metal work on these three rifles is exquisite and, like the others, the quarter rib, foresight, sight hood, sights, sling swivels, and scope mounts are all hand made and rust blued.

This floorplate is also engraved by Lee Griffiths and features a bull moose on the side of a lake. An appropriate animal for this cartridge’s performance, which shoots a 250gr, .358” caliber bullet at 2,700 fps. This rifle is a bit hotter than the .350 Rigby introduced in 1908 and closer to the performance of  the .350 G&H Magnum developed in 1925.

Stocked in an exceptional piece of highly figured California English walnut that is perfectly laid out; straight through the wrist with the figure turning to the toe line and a perfect chevron of figure seen when looking at the top of the comb. Ebony forend tip, single steel recoil bar engraved, action screws shaped flush to the contour of the bottom metal. 

The metal work on these rifles was probably done by Jasper Rayburn (a long since retired metalsmith) and the rifles were stocked by ACGG founding member Gary Goud or stockmaker James Tucker.

This rifle is also exquisitely cased in Oak & Leather by Huey Gun Cases and also features a full length canvas zip cover. The inside is well laid out and includes compartments for the traditional leather scope tube and other accoutrements.

Classic Arms Corporation Palo Alto, CA is a little-known experiment in gunmaking history that has quietly produced exceptional examples of Best Quality American made rifles for over 40 years. While the name is not well known the quality of these rifles is unmistakable. Any serious rifle collector should be giving rifles by Classic Arms Corporation some serious thought.

Westley Richards has an outstanding reputation for supplying a comprehensive selection of pre-owned guns and rifles. We pride ourselves on our in depth knowledge of the many sporting arms built over the last 200 years, placing particular emphasis on big game rifles, like the 577 Nitro Express, 505 Gibbs and 425 Westley Richards. Whether looking to grow or sell your collection of firearms, or simply require a trusted evaluation, our team from the sales department would be delighted to hear from you. To view the latest available, head to the used shotguns and used rifles pages, and for those interested in new firearms, explore our custom rifles and bespoke guns pages.


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