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September 02, 2008

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Bourjaily: Rifle Shopping at a Shotgun Shop

When I mentioned in this space last week that I own no centerfire rifles it seemed to upset some of you. The last thing I want is agitated readers, and if that means I have to buy a rifle, I can live with that. So, last week when I visited Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Co., after I looked at shotguns, I asked CSMC’s Lou Frutuoso to show me something in a centerfire.

Connecticut Shotgun Mfg. Co, I should mention here, makes absolutely gorgeous A.H. Foxes, Winchester Model 21s, and Parkers as well as O/Us and doubles of their own design entirely in-house, right here in America. CSMC employs about 70 people in its factory housed in a former Stanley tool plant in New Britain, CT. Their work is world-class and you can drool over it at Connecticutshotgun.com.


Anyway, here’s the rifle Fruotoso found for me: a sidelock O/U in .22 Hornet (you can click on a picture to enlarge it). The deep relief engraving, by Richard Roy of Hartford, CT, is inlaid with gold and depicts all manner of small game, painstakingly rendered in steel. That’s solid gold wire you see inlaid around the borders of the checkering. The action is scaled down to match the size of the diminutive .22 Hornet. Not only is this rifle a wand of rarified beauty, it would be perfect for facing down a charging woodchuck.


The price? “$189,000,” said Joe. I set the rifle down very carefully and took the picture you see here. Surely someone else will buy it – one of you, perhaps? Me, I’ll have to pass, but I’m glad to see that such craftsmanship still exists in the USA.


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that is a remarkable gun, beautiful!


Wow. Back in school I used to hear about "art for art's sake," and I guess that's what a double rifle in .22 Hornet is. Wish I could see it. Wish I owned it; I'd sell it, pay off my house and put both my kids through college.

When it comes to guns, guys, the good old days are NOW.

Mike Diehl

That's one beautiful rifle. At $189K we're talking about the sorts of things only an oil baron will see, or a Powerball winner. So I'll make sure I buy that lottery ticket whenever the big prize crosses $50M and I'll keep on dreamin'.


Its not something Id ever even consider owning.

But It sure is pretty and Im happy that someone is able to make them.


Presumably there is an addtional premium for a matched pair ? -- but at least that way you could have a further 2 shots ready in your loaders hands in case that woodchuck or squirrel really followed thru' on the initial charge ! [God but I'm grinning at the mental image conjured up as I type this drivel].



Are those multi-leaf V sights on that barrel? Gold front bead, too. I think someone just wanted to engrave prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and foxes so created this gun. Just wouldn't be right with those little critters on a big bore. Very nice, but I'll pass ... just because, ahem, I'd have to add a scope and it would ruin the lines.


... and besides, it's just got a single trigger. I'd insist on a double trigger for those little beasties. Prefer a SxS for easier loading, too. Need all the advantage you can get with those hard-to-handle cartridges. Ejectors or extractors? ....


For the person who has everything I suppose... At least with an over/under they didn't have to regulate the barrels!


Nice rifle Phil but you still don't have one. I suggest you purchase a H&R Handi-Rifle in a mild caliber and shoot the daylights out of it today. You will have so much fun you will buy extra barrels for exotic calibers. Don't let Dave know how much fun you are having, he might want to borrow the H&R to have it engraved.

Dr. Ralph

So make up your mind, is it Frutuoso or Fruotoso? Not that I can pronounce it either way... I'm thinking he must see past all you F&S hotshots playing the "poor card" or he would have shown you something in the scratch and dent aisle. Think Remington Custom Shop and I'm sure you can drop at least one zero off that $189,000.

Diehl, I wait until it hits 100 million. After cash payout and taxes your 50 will look a lot like 10 and a nice oceanfront view with a Ferrari in the driveway will still be unattainable. Hell the insurance is 6 grand a month on an Enzo. Just enough to piss you off and make your wife file for divorce... and she'll get the Ferrari and her young boyfriend will be cruisin' in it.


I notice Bourjaily didn't mention the type of wood the rifle is stocked with. Nobody cares any more, but back in the day we used to argue about whether English, French, Circassian or some other walnut was the prettiest and best wood for gun stocks. They are all the same tree, but depending upon minerals in the soil, age of the tree, etc. they differ a bit. If we knew what this little gun was stocked with, that debate can finally be settled. Bubinga wood?


Fortunately I never liked O/U rifles. A hunting buddy last year bought a Conn. Shotgun in 20 ga. S x S which is absolutely breath taking when you open the leather case. It is even more appealing when you take it afield. I see no way to improve it as it posscesses no negatives whatsoever. I only wish I owned one.

Tennessee Hunter Guy

I just bought a brand new .300 win. mag. Browning X-Bolt. It is probaly the most fancy gun that i will ever own.


Dang, Dave, I didn't know your tastes ran into those brackets...I'd hate to have to handle your shotguns, cause I know how a thing of beauty is..but it scares me just to think of taking a gun like that to the field....I'd sweat the scratches more than the lost birds....seems unfair to the birds! Much less fair to me...


Obama wants to raise ammo taxes by 500% and now you're showing us a $189,000 rifle?? What the hell? Is gun ownership and hunting going elitist like England where only the rich and connected can own guns and hunt??

I just bought a used Browning A-Bolt II in synthetic and stainless steel with a BOSS in .243 Win. for $550 this weekend and it's a tack driver. At 100 yds, I was putting bullets into bullet holes. Never mind Minute-Of-Angle, I was getting Second-Of-Angle with this rifle.

Screw the hoity toity super expensive elitist crap. Normal guys like me can never afford one of them, so I will never drool over them either. You can have it.


All thoughts on the gun aside, it's nice to see a company keep those artisans in a job. Paying someone who takes pride in his work and puts his heart and soul into his craft is always money well-spent, in my mind.


That be a Democratic gun, or be it a GOP gun?

BTW I think it should have a synthetic stock....as ALL pot -shooting rifles should have. :-)

james ti

way to go Phil! at least you looked. you will find the one you like. just do it before the general election just in case. and lots of ammo for it. we call this progress. stick with us Phil, we'll make you perfect and take you to the top! kicking and screaming if we have to! dave may be a little too far out though. science is still working on him i think.

Sd Bob

And I thought the Kimber 8400 in 270wsm I just bought seemed to expensive. With all the money I saved I can get 188 more!

Anybody out there load this round? Seems I've read somewhere that the standard primers work better than the magnums in wsm cases?


Is Petzal in jail, again ?

Thos. B. Fowler

I feel that you are patronizing the rifle shooters a bit too much. If you don't shoot a rifle, that is your choice. However, it might be good public relations to do more than buy a rifle, but to learn to like them. Gun writers perhaps can afford to be specialists, but I always enjoyed it when the O'Conner type trotted out the Winchester 21's and told about hunting birds...it made Jack seem more well-rounded.

That approach doesn't hurt, I would think. We all have fun, and we all need the same Constitutional protection.

Hope that your new dog is working out...!

Tom Fowler


O’Connor a shotgun and wingshooting expert?!?!?

Ha! That guy was bush league when it came to shotguns and wingshooting IMHO.

I can’t imagine a worse handicap in the Uplands by using a Winchester 21. Heavy and they swing like telephone poles, and Workmanship WAY BELOW standards for an s/s shotgun with that price tag.

I suppose if a hunter was after stocked pheasants and had a dog, the 21 would be OK. Otherwise, sell that POS to a wealthy, nimrod hunter, take the money and run!

Scott in Southern Illinois

One fine rifle. Phil, since you still do not own a rifle, please consider when you buy one, the ultimate function of that rifle. If you, by actually using it, intend to beat it up, then consider a synthetic stock. They are absolutely solid and will not "adjust" themselves at the precisely wrong moment. On the other hand, if you decide looks are of ultimate importance, then consider circassian walnut. I think it to be the most elegant of the walnut line. Caliber is "game specific", whether it is dangerous game or whitetails, or squirrels for that matter. In that instance, Hershel House will make you a fine .32 flintlock that will never fail you in the woods.


CPT Brad


You don't have a center fire rifle??? What's wrong with you??? :) Please Come to Arkansas so I can equip you with one of mine.

Nice gun though. Too bad it cost more than my house, my truck, and upcoming trip to Alaska.

Oh well I guess one day I'll get my priorities right.


Wouldn't you know -- he picks out a rifle that looks like a shotgun...

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