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July 24, 2006

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Perazzi Over/Under 12-Gauge: The Gun I Had to Have

Perazzi_1To put this in perspective, you must be aware that if you are left-handed, and spend all your spare time looking at fine guns, you will go about 15 years before you see a fine shotgun that’s stocked for a southpaw. And then another 15 before you see the next one. No kidding.

And so in 1990 or so, when I walked into my gunsmith’s shop and he had a smile of purest evil on his face, I knew it was trouble, and I was right. In lieu of cash, a customer who owed him a lot of money had given him a Perazzi Special Sporting o/u shotgun. It had a color-case-hardened receiver, special wood, a spare trigger group, ten screw-in chokes, and it had been stocked to fit him at the Grand American Trap Shoot at Vandalia, Ohio, right at the Perazzi booth.

And it was stocked for a southpaw. I mounted it, and there was no doubt that this gun was made for me. The guy they built it for had been at Vandalia, but it was meant for me.  It was a heavy, long-barreled gun, about the only kind of shotgun I can shoot worth a damn.

Now when you reflect that 16 years ago a single Perazzi choke tube was worth about $200, and a trigger group went for $500, and this wasn’t even the gun we’re talking about, I was faced with a choice—give up a whole bunch of rifles or walk away from the shotgun of a lifetime. I gave up the rifles—real good ones, too—and cash, and I got the shotgun, and have never regretted it.

I only own three shotguns, and I use that gun for just about everything, and I can’t even tell you any more what rifles I traded to get it. And the moral is, once or twice in a lifetime you’ll see a gun you know is meant for you, and you should do whatever is necessary to get it. Excluding, of course, capital crimes.


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JA Demko

Then there are the ones you look back on and kick yourself for not grabbing when you had the chance. About 10 years ago, I was browsing in a Poconos antique shop with my girlfriend of the time. The place had mostly furniture, knickknacks, and the like. I thought I'd maybe spot a vintage pocketknife, if I was lucky. Imagine my surprise at seeing a WWI-bringback Artillery Luger, complete with stock, drum magazine, and leather gear, in one of the cases. Man, it was beautiful. The shop owner explained that she didn't normally handle such items, but the pistol and the other items in that case were on consignment from an estate sale. Here's the kicker: The family wouldn't take "a penny under $1200 for papa's gun." You read that right: $1200. I don't know what happened to me. I'm not normally subject to fits of insane cheapness. True, I didn't have $1200 cash in my pocket at the moment, but I could easily have purchased the Luger with a credit card. But no, I passed on it. A couple days later, when we had returned from our trip, I recovered my wits and telephoned the shop with every intention of returning that very day with cash in hand. I shall leave it as an exercise for the reader t determine what the shop owner told me when I inquired about that piece.

Dave Petzal

I'll see you that and raise you this. A friend of mine in Tennessee bought a mint Artillery Model Luger when he was in college in the 50s for $25. It was browned, not blued, and had perfect checkered ivory grips with a swastika on top. All the serial numbers matched. He sold it for $35 and was pleased because he made $10 on the deal.


Dave, you only own three shotguns? My faith in you has been unexpectedly shaken. By the way, please give me your friend's phone number. He might have one or two Lugers still hanging around and I have an extra $35.

Dave Petzal

To Matt: I miscounted; it's four. I have trouble with numbers. In later years my friend who sold the Luger for $35 was so traumatized by what he had done that I don't think he has ever sold another gun. Buys plenty, though.


Only a gun owner can get what this story and the comments truly mean.

Some guys talk Cars, some talk tools, some model trains.

Ours, gentlemen is GUNS!!

Only 4 shotguns! I only own six guns, (A story all its own, still young with Kids) and Three of those are shotguns!! Tsk Tsk!!

Awesome story, keep it up Mr. Petzal.

Do you have any War stories to share about the guns you saw or used?




….Can’t understand why these Italian manufactured gun names’ all end in vowels.
Still, my reaction to the Perazzi;

“Slurp!” And I'm happy for you.

Don’t cry over the lack of quantity in your shotguns, DP. You got the quality “Babes” in the gun case.

I can’t get over some of the replies to your Ugly Gun Rant. Some of those bloggers wanted to put a bowtie on a hog and call it Class.

This isn’t a subtle, in-your-face reply, is it?

Later, Guy.

Dave M

And then there are the ones that you know are meant for you and in a rare moment of lucidity you don't let get away.

I was at a Christmas party in Billings, MT back in 1987 when the host, a lifelong rifleman and big game hunter, told me a tale of woe regarding his first purchase of a shotgun. It seems that fall he had gotten the idea that duck hunting might be fun and, at a ranch estate sale down in Wyoming, picked up an old over/under and proceded to try his hand at Yellowstone River mallards. After 4 boxes of shells and no ducks he was offering this "fence post" to the first guy with the $150 he had in it and going back to his rifles.

I still shoot this 30" Belgium Browning Superposed trap gun on a regular basis, and say a short prayer of thanks for dedicated riflemen each time I lovingly return it to the original fitted leather case.

B. Cameron

Some rifles are meant to be ... and some aren't.

I have a small collection - six guns, rifles and shotguns. Most of it is nothing of note. An 870, a 710, this'n'that. I have great-great-grandaddy's turn-of-the-century LC Smith SxS. Gorgeous display piece.

But the one that got away... A friend's father recently came down ill and can no longer hunt, so was selling his various guns. I ended up with his Remington 760 in .30-06 with a Weaver 3x scope on top, and a Winchester Model 94 in .30-30 (1951 manu.). The .30-06 is a nice gun, accurate, pleasant to shoot. The .30-30 is a treasure. Near-mint condition, shoots like a dream.

But ... the .30-30 wasn't to be. Apparently a family member found out that he had sold the guns several weeks after the fact and was rather upset that he wasn't given first crack at the .30-30. I was asked to return the .30-30. I did... what a shame. I hope the person getting it knows what a treasure it is and treats it as such.

Mary Ann Hockenbury

Been trying to figure a way to send David Petzal an email. Just wanted to thank you for noticing the work that went into the Serengti rifle at the 2008 Vegas Shot Show. I did the checkering and you made my day. Had to send some folks to the website with that video so they could share my excitement having a minute of fame. I had a moment back in April 2oo3 when Charlie Petty let the gun world know that Cooper Firearms calls me the "finishing wench". I bought 5 magazines. Custom checkering at home is where the glory is though. Again thank you, Mary Ann

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