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March 24, 2006

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How Much? The days when factories gave guns to writers are dead and gone

This is in response to a gentleman who, in response to my rant on custom rifles versus factory guns, said that, in light of the prices some of these firearms go for, he’d like to know how much I’m paid. Fair question.

In the good old days when I was breaking in, factories used to flat-out give firearms to gun writers, and the better-known of these guys used to accumulate veritable arsenals. When Warren Page passed on, his guns were baled like hay and sold by the ton. Custom gunsmiths used to give them guns too, because a kind word in print could make their careers.

Well, those days are over. These days, we get guns on loan, and if we want to keep them, we send a check, usually for an amount that isn’t reduced a whole hell of a lot from list price. As for custom guns, we sometimes get a small discount. These guys simply can’t afford to give away guns. The components are too expensive and the labor costs are too high.

I have to scrimp and save to buy the fancy stuff, but I’ve found this: Long after you forget about how much you paid, or what you went through to get it together, the performance of the gun justifies everything, and then some. Many of the golfers on the pro tour don’t make a lot of money, but their clubs cost a fortune, and have been diddled with to the nth degree. They are the tools of the trade, as guns are the tools of this strange profession, and we use the best we can.


Mike Diehl

I think it is a tragedy how fine old traditions have been allowed to slip away. ;)

ranger nick

It sounds like a fair system to me. You test. if you like, you get a little discount on the price. I would like that job=)!


Not feeling a whole lot of sympathy for you. You get to try out all kinds of new guns before they hit the market. Then you sit and write about them. Huh, sounds bad.

A. S. Moeggs

And I remember when cops use to get free coffee. I know where your coming from.


As a former "outdoor writer" I can say those wriers who actually write gun performance columns, should be offered the opportunity to get the gun on loan. In today's business climate, no one is going to give anything away. But I've known too many fishing writers who took advantage of the "free" gun program, just because, well, its free. That deystroys the integrity for all.


Ooops, pardon the typos, I was typing too fast.. it should be "writers" and "destroy". An added comment, I was around when the industry starting cracking down on the freebies because the privilage was being abused. Outdoor writers I knew had more fishing tackle, guns, coolers & cookers than they could ever use. But every industry gives away SWAG to get product noticed!!


I enjoy reading your articles. I have recently purchased a remington sendero chambered for 300 ultra mag. I had a heck of a time finding one (one of last 5 available in Western Canada).
Now I am looking for a scope. In your opinion what is the best scope availble for about 1000 dollars. I would spend less if your experience lends you to belive a 200 dollar scope is as good as a 1000 dollar one, but I can't afford the 1800 dollar scopes. Have you had a chance to look and test the Zeiss conquest, or any of the IOR scopes? Am I over analyzing this purchase? Should I just stick with the tried and true Leopold VX-III? Thanks Brian
Hey by the way I would love to see a scope review in Field and Stream.


Dear Gun Nut,
Thanks for the interesting information about bygone times.
I still can't figure out how Col. Craig Boddington, whose writing I like a lot (but not more than yours...let's be clear on that...) has accumulated so many "high dollar" guns and travelled all over the globe a hunting. Yes, I am a little bit jealous.

To Brian: What power range are you interested in? There is a scope test coming up, but it's on scopes of $300 and under.

to Kevin: Col. Boddington has no bigger fan than I, but I don't get it either. He must do it on charm.

David Wright

It's just plain old-fashioned greed. It's the same greed that make CEOs stop caring for their employees while paying themselves millions of dollars while their companies go down the toilet. And now it's raised its ugly head against our favorite gun writers. Damn those filthy gun-greedy manufacturing bastards. Perhaps the gun writers should say what they REALLY think about their products. For example, "What the *&#$)#&$ is this PLASTIC TRIGGER GROUP doing on this piece of (#($*&$# rifle !!!", and things like that.

Jere Smith

Hey Dave dont hold back tell em what you think! I had a bad experience with the FAMOUS Maker of Magnum rifles and "fine" shotguns that used to be on Firestone rodad in LA, notice I got them identified without naming names {B^D, heh heh I bought one of their over under shotguns named afer a Constellation (notice how sneaky I am? Heh Heh. THe stock split after about 500 shells down range, I had the dealer return it to them for a new stock... the *$%^&@'s REPAIRED it and sent it back! Needless to say NO ONE at my skeet club ever bought another one of those unnamed (as yet) POS's

Jere Smith

make that road not rodad (maybe thats a little spanglish?

Jere Smith

make that road not rodad (maybe thats a little spanglish?

Jere Smith

Sorry about repeating, new to this blog.

Smith W. Dewlen

Thanks Dave, for calling me a gentleman. I wish to return the compliment. You have a lot of savvy and you show it. I truly enjoy reading your works. And yes, good english makes for better reading.


Sorry for the late response. I have been working out of tow most of the week. I was looking for a minumum of a 3-9 power, but am interetested in the 4-14 range as well. The oopportunity to shoot out to 300 yards is common in Alberta, but even to observe it is nice to have the higher magnifications.

Roger E.Reeves

I am a disabled/handicapped hunter who does get the opportunity to go to the Rockies about every 3 yrs for Elk/Deer hunt. I shoot only Remington firearms in bolt actions 700's 30-06's and all are equiped with Nikon USS Scopes in 3 x 9 x 40. There is no justifcation in spending l or 2 or even 3 thousand dollars for a scope you only going to use for 2 minutes per shot.If you pratice enough, 2 minutes is too long. So save you money on high dollar scopes and buy a new gun you have wanted. A NIKON Monarch will do anything you need to shoot and cost near 500.00. My trophy roam will verify the results, with a 6 x 6 Elk, A 6 Mulie, several w-tails in 8's 9's l0's. Just make sure you mount in a position you don;t get a cracked nose. too bad about Winchester, but they killed themselves with so many Comm. in 30-30. Now Remington will step up and fill what void Winchester may have had. To me the Model 70 was a piece of junk, the only gun they ever made satisfactory was the 94 in 30-30 about 50 yrs ago. Of which I still have 4 of.

Jeff Nelson

Dave, was Warren Page the writer that J.O'Connor referred to in "The Last Book" as having a huge collection of freeloaded factory guns that he called his "retirement fund"?

Just curious!

Roger E. Reeves, Sr.

I will be hunting in Douglas, WY this fall for Antelope. I will use a Remington 700 in 25-06, topped with a Nikon Scope as usual. I need to know what Ammo I should use on this hunt? I understand shots may be over 200 yds, down here in the flat land 200 yd shots are few, most are l00 yds or less. I've read a lot on Ammo. best I can understand, is a Polymer tip with a boat-tail bullet in say a l00 to ll5 gr bullet, Please, readers give me your opinion. Thanks, Roger Reeves

Roger E. Reeves, Sr.

Dave. emjoy your articles, please continue to keep us informed of what is happing in the firearm industry. Will Browning pick-up where Winchester stopped,? or will some other company step up to the plate. I would like to see more information on the dfference in a 30-06 and a 300 win mag.Being disabled/handicapped, a 06 appears to be about the max I can handle. Thanks, Roger

Mike Mason

Hey, I,m retired and I have been shooting and hunting for at least 45 years.I can shoot a deer with anything from a 44mag, two this week, 223 to 7mm o8 and my old faithful 270.I have a range and a place to hunt and I can write, please send me guns for testing.I won,t keep them because all my safes and custom oak cabinets are full.I of course will test them for free as long as you take me on safari.lol Oh and us southern boys don,t need sticks.I did not even know what they were till the last
3 years.
If a man cannot freehand shoot the kill zone of a whitetail buck running at 30 mph, then he needs to go back to hunting 101 or consider retiring.
Accidents and luck happen but skill and practice makes luck
seem like a normal occurrence.
Keep your powder dry, and the world will turn. Mike

Robert G. Ramsden

Can anybody give me some insight on the Nikon Monarch scope in 5.5 - 16.5 x 44? Planning to use on a Browning single shot 25-06.
Any problems associated with this model? Many thanks! Bob

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