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Back in the United States, we don’t have the history of craftsmanship that Europe does when it comes to firearms. Sure we make some awesome functional firearms, but you don’t see the same artistry. We make rifles to use them, not admire them. In the Old World, they’ve been making guns so long that companies have had time to get bored with the process and start embellishing their designs, making them incredibly beautiful to look at as well as functional. One of those companies, Fuchs Fine Guns, has produced what is quite possibly the most beautiful rifle I’ve ever seen . . .

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With shotguns, the pros figured out quite some time ago that an over/under design for the double barreled offerings is better than a side by side configuration. But with rifles, the over/under design isn’t really “done.” Side-by-side rifles are abundant for big game hunters, but over/unders are few and far between. Which makes Fuchs’ rifle rare among rare finds.

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The rifle is chambered in .416 Rigby (I think…jetlag may have been getting to me) and is available with either a 2- or 4-round magazine. Which means either one or two rounds per barrel in the magazine. The gun is in the style of an African hunting rifle, and the caliber choice is in line with that kind of gun.

What I found really interesting is that the barrel (well, both of them) is free floating. This isn’t just a wall-hanger, it’s intended to actually perform its job. Fuchs pride themselves on making accurate guns, and by all accounts this rifle will produce a 1/2-inch group. At 300 yards.

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The internals of the rifle are interesting as well. The gun uses a set of recessed extractor claws in the bolt face to remove spent cartridges, and due to the design of the bolt the locking lugs are located at the back instead of on the bolt face. The triggers are different too. They use a GLOCK-esque sear protector that allows them to set the trigger pull weight to a dangerously light level without having to worry about the gun discharging before the shooter pulls the trigger.

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The magazine is the icing on the cake. Fuchs doesn’t do the engraving in house, but the people they use are top notch. This scene of a family of lions is absolutely beautiful and incredibly detailed, almost to the point where you’d have trouble figuring out which side of the rifle you’d prefer to display. And while the bolt handle on this specific rifle isn’t that ornate, they can fix that too.

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Fuchs makes bespoke firearms – each rifle is custom made to the customer’s order. Ther’s no such thing as “production runs” and no SKUs, just what the customer wants. As you’d expect, the price tag for that kind of service is on real estate levels. I asked the rep how much that under/over rifle would cost, and he responded simply “400.” That’s not dollars. And it’s not hundreds of dollars, either. That’s 400,000 euros, or about $532,000.

So it’s a gun that will cost you as much as a Ferrari. But it’s worth every penny.

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117 Responses to IWA: The Most Beautiful Rifle I’ve Ever Seen

  1. I’d make a comment about you guys using a proofreader or copy editor before hitting “submit” but that will get moderated, so, instead I’ll just say “BEAUTIFUL RIFLE”. Wow. I mean….WOW.

    • Let it go. No need to comment. When I pause to consider how much time I spend here and the effort I put into my own posts, then realize that my noteworthy expenditures are but a fraction of what these guys do to put this show on the air each day, I feel like a bit of a punk even for noticing the occasional typo in an article. It makes nothing, so just let it go.

    • FWIW: The memory hole seems reserved for comments on stance and style. I have yet to see a comment disappear into the ether for something like grammar. Usually you get, as Matt said, a “text amended.”

  2. It is a beautiful rifle in a Baroque way, though to my taste the bullet pack’s techie appearance clashes with the timeless engraving. The upper classes in Europe have a tradition that commends the country estate as preferable to the city and esteems shooting sports as appropriate to their station, since only they have the land on which to enjoy these activities. Land is much more available in the US, and so hunting has no air or reality of exclusivity.

    The Germans and Italians have been producing O/U double rifles for eons. It is the British who’ve insisted on the S/S as if tradition and best function were the same thing.

    • You can get S/S’s from Beretta and others in Italy.

      The French have several outfits producing both double guns and double rifles. Darne’, Chapius, Manufrance, Verney-Carron. The English/Scottish best gun companies are of course, still producing S/S’s, as are Merkel, Krieghoff and Heym.

      The reason for the O/U form factor has more to do with American clays competition guns than any field use. Once you start looking off-shore, the O/U obsession dies down to a line item in the catalogs, except where they’re catering to American buyers. S/S guns are still the way I like to go for a field gun.

      • I rarely see S/S guns in Sweden or Germany. I’m certain Merkel has been making O/U African rifles for many decades. So far as I can tell, the Germans think the continued use of S/S shotguns by the British is an affectation. The British, on the other hand, think shooters who use O/U’s simply had families too poor to leave them any decent guns.

        FAMARS, Merkel, and Beretta between them hold some of the best O/U patents. For that matter, I wouldn’t be surprised but that the engraving done on the rifle above was carried out in Gardone.

        I agree that clays powered the popularity of O/U shotguns in the US. Nobody likes to lose.

        • This type of double bolt action was originally made in a S/S. The O/U spin by Fuchs is more recent.

    • I like it. I like it a LOT.

      However, I would feel compelled to wear brass goggles, a custom toolbelt, and an awesome leather duster when shooting something like this. Even though they didn’t intend it as such, this work of art is possibly the most Steampunk thing I’ve ever seen. It should come with a mechanical manservant and a nuclear-isotope thermal powered rotating display stand.

      “Bring me the Fochs gun… I’ll be in the airship, polishing the brass in preparation for our journey!”

        • I’ve been in touch with Mr Joseph Szecsei for many years now, and I have recently been in touch with Mr Willie Beales who kindly keeps me updated on everything about the designs that Mr Szecsei keeps working on. The guns were originally designed as O/U and SxS double bolts as well as a drilling. In addition to the versions that were later standardized by the Fuchs gunmaking house, several experimental versions were designed by Mr Szecsei including straight pull and controlled feed versions. What is manufactured is just a part of the range of variations that he has designed.

          If TTAG are interested, I would be happy to put you in touch with Mr Szecsei via Mr Beales’s office. Just FYI in response to the many comments about these rifles being impractical, they were tested more than twenty years ago both by Mr Szecsei and by Gun Digest writer Mr Holt Bodinson in Canada and in Africa. These are extremely robust and reliable designs. The reason why you don’t hear more about them is because they are a premium product, and the price reflects the work that goes into them.

          Good hunting, everyone!

  3. Nick, plenty of Euro companies make O/U rifles. Krieghoff, Chapuis Armes, and Merkel immediately come to mind.

    Now if you mean an O/U bolt action, that’s another story.

  4. No Thx…..my tools are not ornaments. I appreciate the craftsmanship but I’d rather have a plain jane kalashnikov than that fancy pants rifle.

  5. There are paintings in the Louvre that are almost as beautiful but I suppose I couldn’t bear to shoot one of those either.

    • I like the one little room off one of the long halls that is just paintings of food, like cuts of beef and beef eyes.

  6. “In the Old World, they’ve been making guns so long that companies have had time to get bored with the process and start embellishing their designs …”

    The firearms manufacturers are not bored because they have been around so long; they are bored because almost no one in Europe purchases firearms anymore thanks to their heinous gun control laws.

    Sure, you can buy pretty much anything the in Czech Republic and we hear rumors of everyone having a full auto rifle in Switzerland. We all know that those two countries are the exception, not the rule.

    Aside from politics, I think the shooting sports are lot less practical in Europe as well. There is a lot less land for hunting and even less for recreational shooting. Just think of all the people in the U.S. who hunt on private property as well as the millions of acres of public land. And how about the millions of acres of both private and public property where people can just plink? That doesn’t exist anywhere near to the same scale in Europe as a whole.

    So of course the firearms manufacturers are bored. They sure can make awfully beautiful pieces of art, though, eh?

  7. 1/2″ group at 300 yards?

    That’s the equivalent of a sub-0.2″ group at 100 yards. Out of a .416?

    I’d have to see it verified to believe it.

      • Projectiles precision-turned from thrice-smelted, vacuum-purified blanks on aerospace-grade lathes to tolerances in the tenths.

        Brass casings made with the same care, centrifuge-balanced before and after being hand-polished by a Swiss jeweler.

        Powder measured by a German savant meticulously counting out the charge, weighing each individual grain after examining it for uniformity under a microscope. The measured charge hand-laid into the primed case grain-by-grain by hand using a scanning electron microscope and a microscopic waldo. The exquisite result is then microphotographed before the charge is gently pressed down with a disc of purest papyrus from a Tibetan monastery deep in a mountain cave, the papyrus discs having been weighed and measured with a 98% discard rate.

        Then, only then, does a Belgian master arms-maker hand-select projectile and cartridge, and press them together using a machine of his own design, via an arcane process known to only three living persons, two of whom are deaf-mutes. The finished round is then hand-fitted into its individual protective case by a Japanese master carver, using the same techniques used to fit a fine samurai blade to its saya.

        No roll marks or stamps mar the perfection of the cartridge. The maker’s marks are inlaid on the surface of the primer, designed to be utterly shattered and destroyed in the moment of firing.

        • Well it is nice to see that the 9th’s holding in Peruta has allowed you to relax a bit and tend to comments. Nothing but happiness and peace can result from the CA news.

  8. I can definitely understand the attraction of the craftsmanship. Undoubtedly everything is hand-finished, lapped, polished, and fitted. I’ve never seen a magazine-fed, over-under bolt-action rifle before, either. No doubt that it’s chambered in a big-bore cartridge, a great big belted-magnum most likely.

    Entirely too rich for my taste, though. Aesthetically pleasing though it may be, I know what will stand up to Mother Nature’s wrath and get the job done just as effectively. All without having to save for 40 years or more to get it.

    • Very plain looking lovers can get the job done as well as beautiful ones. So what? And all those visits to the salon and boutiques? Should women give those up to disappoint me but, apparently, meet your approval? Not even Fidel or the nomenclatura in the Kremlin ever fell for that tired notion.

      Even better, the second some sheik buys the gun, the cash flows out to the entrepreneurs and craftsmen, thereby improving a nations GINI score! Guns like the one in the photo are meant to encourage sale of the base model. No one is going to order an oddball gun for 500K twice.

  9. The one thing I wonder is this: When you cycle the bolt(s) after firing only one round, does it leave the unfired round in the chamber?

    I can conceive of a design where the extractor claw is allowed to slip over the rim of the case only when the firing pin is allowed forward by firing, but it seems a really baroque setup in the event you wanted to unload the rifle and you have to get your finger into the chamber area to flip the cartridge out.

    After looking at it more, I don’t like the aesthetics of the magazine plate on the left side of the action. It makes the whole thing seem asymmetrical and unbalanced to a distraction.

    The last picture, with the highly relieved engraving/inlays: That’s a uniquely Germanic style on firearms. Many of the pre-WWII custom guns had absurdly deep engraving/carving onto the metal (and sometimes wood) on their sporting guns, to a point where you’d better hope that the gun didn’t recoil into your flesh, because it was going to hurt like holy hell if it did. I’m talking about miniature gargoyles on the rear of rifles and stuff like that. Absurdly detailed, deeply carved scenes in metal. Again, this is (or was) unique to Germanic custom guns in the past.

    • I’m assuming both chambered rounds are ejected when cycled, whether or not they’ve been fired. The idea of having some sort of mechanism that could be efficient enough to discriminate is the sort of puzzle that keeps me intrigued with gunsmithing, albeit on a low scale, amateur level. And I often find myself torn between these complex, incredibly engineered clockwork designs, and the sort of basic, durable, functional designs (see: my recent bragging about finally finding an M44).

      At least the Fuchs SxS in the NRA museum I mentioned above, upon viewing through glass, looked like it would eject both rounds. I do remember marveling at the design and trying to think of the logistics, but it’s barely one of the memorable sights from that day.

  10. Attention friends and family, I just added this to my Amazon wish list. You might want to go ahead and put it on layaway.

  11. IMHO, that rifle is gaudy, if you want to see quality look at work done by Jerry Fisher, Steven Dodd Hughs, Michael Ullman, or D’Arcy Echol. American made rifles and made to look nice and function 100%.
    JMHO

    • I agree, but some people find there’s some manner of “I’m better than you” thing going on in bespoke guns from Europe.

      When I look at the prices the European gun makers get (and their haughty attitudes towards their customers), I think the US/Canadian custom gunmakers are charging far too little for their work.

        • Well, no, at least not to me.

          The idea behind having a “bespoke” of anything is to get something made to my specifications. If we’re talking a dress suit, then I want the fit to be perfect for me. If we’re talking of a shotgun or rifle, then I want the gun to fit me perfectly, with the features and embellishments that I might specify being a second issue.

          This is what lots of people don’t understand about bespoke guns. They’re not made to some run-of-the-mill length of pull, drop, cast, camber, etc. They’re fit to the person who ordered the gun.

          And once you’ve had a gun fit to you and to your satisfaction, you’ll never pick up another factory rack-grade long arm again with satisfaction. Especially where recoil comes into play, having a gun that fits you, specifically you, makes a world of difference.

        • I mean, I have an Honor Guard suit that could sustain a perfect horizontal split (which I didn’t intend, nor do I ever mean to do again) that was built to look like a custom fit under normal standing circumstances, but I’d hardly call it “bespoke.” It was pre-manufactured, but tailored to my body and my circumstances.

          I don’t know, if I could afford to have any rifle built specifically for me to the degree that you you could reasonably call it “bespoke,” I would do so in a heartbeat. To say that funding such an operation wouldn’t be a demonstration of social position is ridiculous. For a fraction of a bespoke rifle you can buy a tailored version of a production rifle. Sure, it might not be perfect, but there’s no such thing as perfection (says the Glock fan with a tin sign in his bedroom).

  12. It’s a gorgeous wall hanger and beautifully made for sure, but I have severe doubts about the real-world useability of a double-barrel bolt action. Sounds like it offers all the penalties and none of the pluses of either design, costs a metric shittonne, and has no capacity or weight advantage over a standard mag-fed CRT rifle. Also if I were hunting dangerous game with that thing I’d have big reservations about a round failing to extract, a $500K rifle is as good as gilded firewood if it malfunctions and gets you killed.

    My taste in guns admittedly run much more proletariat than that status symbol, because tools are meant to be used and not collect dust on a rich man’s wall. If I ever win the lottery I’d love a custom European job, probably a drilling in 6.5 x 55 mm or .375 H&H over 2 x 20 gauge or something along those lines but it’d be a workaday combo without any fancy engraving or wood–something I wouldn’t be afraid to shoot and get dirty.

    • I agree about the absurdity of actually using that rifle on the kind of game for which its caliber was created.

      However, I confess to wanting to see on YouTube the result of such an attempt.

  13. Surprised the guy did not have white gloves on or are gloves only required while on safari?
    Love to own it just to sell it, buy the whole trailer park and have enough left over for new truck and truck gun that I do not have to worry about getting scratched

  14. Such bespoke rifles are meant for those for whom the price is not an issue. On the other hand, to say as the OP did that the European manufacturers are so good that they can afford dalliances is absurd. They have nothing of the production capacity of highly accurate and well made rifles we have, it’s rather that they are attempting to make something far different. One of these half-million dollar rifles may not exceed the performance of $2000 dollar rifles readily available. It will however establish one as bespoke anywhere it goes.

    It’s not a competition in terms of performance and if it were this rifle fails altogether as being to little for too much. This is about building rifles that are such objects of desire than you want them for what they are, not what they do.

  15. Looks like it would’ve been right at home in something like Bioshock.
    That’s a compliment, you philistine non gamers.

  16. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think our weapons lack beauty or artistry. What they do lack is god awful gawdiness.

  17. Very interesting gun, However I’m more than just a bit skeptical about the clam for 1/2″ groups at 300 yards
    The only thing I know of that can pull off that kind of accuracy is a rail gun or bench rest gun. I seriously doubt that even our well tuned varmint rifles are capable of those kind of groups at 300 steps, let alone a .416!
    Of course a shooter can always get lucky with a 3 shot group, Maybe someone scored a 3 shot 1/2″ group one time, and that is what their claim is based on.
    By the way, would anyone like to see my 5 shot, .151″ 100 yd. group? I didn’t think so!

    • I forgot to make another point about the claim of 1/2″ grouping at 300 yards. Does anybody see scope mounts, or a scope on this rifle? Even a bench rest rifle can’t equal that claim for accuracy without a scope.

  18. Take a look at that stock. That is old growth walnut. It is getting to be a very very rare commodity. I wouldn’t be able to afford even the stock blank made of that quality wood. Dammm…..

    • What’s more is that this level of figure in a stock isn’t a good indication of the sort of recoil that the stock can handle.

      Ideally, you want to see pretty clear grain through the grip area. I’ve seen more than one high-figure piece of walnut crack through the grip area due to recoil. And a .416 will have recoil – lots of it.

      When you see a rifle stock as high figure as this crack through the grip due to recoil, it is only polite to look away as the owner breaks down in tears…

      • I think you are right. I just blew up the photo. It looks like the principal grain runs up in the wrist a bit, not through it. Do you think that’s why they carved the wrist so thick? And what is the correct name for the metal that would ordinarily connect the two barrels except for a small bit at the end on a double rifle? I have skeet guns which are not joined, but I’ve never seen that on a large-bore double rifle. It actually looks odd, the empty space. The barrels look neither finely blued nor truly flat.

        (and question: The barrel sets on my favorite skeet guns say “Mannlicher” though the guns are Italian. Would they have aligned the barrels or simple produced the blanks?)

        • Without taking the rifle apart, I can’t tell much from the outside. It is possible to reinforce the grip area for recoil by putting in a metal rod, and gluing it with bedding epoxy to take some of the load off the grip grain. I’ve seen this done with a threaded rod run down through the grip with flush nuts counterbored under the rear tang and the grip cap. The threaded rod is tightened to pre-load the grip a bit, then the whole thing is glued up. The end result isn’t at all visible from the outside, unlike cross-bolts through the magazine area in bolt action rifles.

          I’m not sure which piece of metal you’re referring to. The empty space between the barrels does indeed look odd, but there’s an issue of trying to regulate the barrels of double rifles when you use a rib on both sides. When you find out that you’ve got the barrels shooting to the same point of aim without the ribs, it is difficult to add the ribs and solder them on and not change the point of aim – especially if you’re trying to claim sub-MOA accuracy, which seems a really odd pursuit in a dangerous game gun. Usually most dangerous game rifles aren’t caring that much about long shots – such shots don’t present themselves that much, and a design like this (or a double rifle) is all about the rapid follow up shot during a charge, and the game here is much larger than a squirrel and coming towards the shooter with alarming speed, so the target it getting rather big.

          A gun that groups 1″ at 100 seems to be focusing on the wrong sort of criterion for the job at hand.

          I can’t tell what the treatment on the barrels is. From the supplied photos, it might be a variant of a French Grey job, but it is impossible to tell. The only guy here at TTAG who takes photos that allow me to discern real details about fine guns is Joe Grine, and his photos have good detail. There’s a whole host of details about fine guns that could be photographed, but most gun tire-kickers don’t and won’t, because they don’t know of the existence of these details. The type of blueing or rusting on the barrel is one of those details.

          re: Mannlicher: No idea. I’d have to know the maker of the gun and then do some more homework. Some Italian gun makers use German-produced barrels or German barrel blanks. That’s the single biggest COGS item on a shotgun, typically, the barrels. German barrel steel is very top-shelf stuff, and would allow for thinner barrel wall thicknesses, resulting in a snappier-pointing gun.

        • Thanks, Dyspeptic. The metal rod reinforcement through the wrist is interesting.

          The barrels (‘Mannlicher’) are german, well-regulated, relatively thin-walled, and chromed. The ‘chromed’ bit was unusual thirty-one years ago when I bought the pair. Perhaps because I shoot only monthly, sometimes weekly, the actions have held up well, are not yet loose. The guns were made by Renato Gamba after he (they) recovered from the Edinburgh Match Skeet debacle, in which the US distributor left a large batch of his guns to rust in a warehouse. The feature I like is the removable trigger group with the barrel selector on the trigger housing rather than on the rear tang. Otherwise the guns are just very functional. So the metal joining the barrels of an over-under is also called a ‘rail.’ I never knew.

          I agree that the post gun, the bolt double, doesn’t seem very focused on its apparent purpose.
          Thanks again.

  19. It’s a piece of art, no question. But even if I had the dough (which I don’t) I don’t think I could convince myself to spend it on a gun.

  20. I’m more impressed that this is a two barreled bolt action than the ingraving. The engineering that went into figuring this out and the machining involved s of the highest order. It would take the skills of a watchmaker. without the photos, I wouldn’t have believed that this existed.

      • See as a side by side that design actually makes (some) sense. Still a bit too complex for its own good, but there’s less concern about gravity or a weird extractor gumming up the works.

      • ah! Thanks.
        I have to wonder: The only point of the action would be to cope with a charge. Yet I can’t believe the action can be worked fast enough to allow two shots, the bolt work, then two more. I’d like to see a video of the gun handling a charge.

        • Yeah I’d think if you were going to go with more than 2 shots without fumbling with the action, a drilling would be the way to go.

      • It’s not exactly true that I learn something new everyday on TTAG. But it happens often enough to make the generic phrase more honest than most generic phrases.

  21. After installing the drool shield on my pad, I keep coming back to this work of art.
    That stock really is simply gorgeous.
    The engraving is right up there.
    A knife came through the shop a few weeks ago. The engraving was just like this. Simply beautiful.
    Like a fine Van Gogh, or Seurat, one simply stares. Appreciates, longs, loves, then walks away with great remorse….

    I’ll pick up my Sako with mannlicher stock Wednesday.
    She will need a name. She is stunning for being 30 years young.

  22. I’d rather hold that than my girlfriends dualling pistols.Although she does have a really nice set.

  23. Definitely a work of art and a testament to the gunsmith’s skill and ability.

    But not for me a functional firearm. Typical modern German product. They lost sight of the original functional requirement and kept needlessly tinkering.

    I have seen more than a few modern German sporting firearms outperformed in competition by an ersatz creation of a 1890s designed, and 1900s-1940s made receiver, and an off-the-shelf medium profile barrel in a classic service caliber (6.5×55, 7mm Mauser, 8mm Mauser, .303 British, 7.62 NATO, .30-06, or 7.62x54r). At least you can reload a Mauser, Lee-Enfield, or Mosin-Nagant on the go. The new guns ONLY feed from the magazine, and the magazine cannot be topped up between target exposures.

    Newer is not necessarily better.

  24. I LOVE wood stocks on rifles. I mean all rifles. If I get just a single scratch or ding in a wood stock I just loose it. I mean I even baby my Mosin Nagant. I couldn’t even be in the same room with that thing If I owned it.

  25. I’m not usually one for ornate guns, but that is indeed beautiful. Tastefully done, and I’ve never seen such an action before.

  26. It looks like it stepped out of a Bioshock game, am I right?
    The engraving is beautiful but the action seems, well, unnecessary. Does it eject both shells at once?

  27. “Back in the United States, we don’t have the history of craftsmanship that Europe does when it comes to firearms. Sure we make some awesome functional firearms, but you don’t see the same artistry.”

    You haven’t seen any guns made by Monte Mandarino or other US gunmakers who specialize in muzzleloaders – go to www. missoulian.com/art-of-the-gun/article_6b309c62-7ddd-5d54-9d09-5999c9144173.html for a story on a bunch of custom gunmakers in Montana.

  28. Motorcyclists have a saying “Chrome don’t get you home” That being the case; the craftsmanship involved outweighs the over-indulgence in gold and engraving. Fuchs manufacture’s only the best in quality making them an object of desire if you have money. If I was rich and getting ready for my African safari I would order a plain Jane one for the trip. I have to settle for Ruger, CZ, Browning, HK, Kimber etc. ’cause I cannot afford one of these. I don’t begrudge those who can I just want a free ride on the hunt so I can afford the trip.
    Engraving on firearms only appears on the finest quality as a rule even the cheapest of firearms that have engraving are not only works of art but function as well.

  29. Gee thanks for the review of the 500,000 euro rifle. what’s next a review of the 1.2 million dollar Patek Philippe sky moon
    tourbillion? if I wanted to read reviews like this I would subscribe to the Robb report.

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