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Old 01-12-2020, 07:27 PM
Calfed Calfed is offline
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Default Griffen and Howe 1903 Springfield target rifle

A few months back, I ran across a rifle that looks similar to a 1903 Springfield Heavy Barrel target rifle, but purported to have a 28" barrel installed by Griffin and Howe. I threw in a bid and won the rifle.

The stock is obviously different than a Springfield target stock and kind of looks like it could be a G&H stock.





I've looked for any information available about Griffin and Howe heavy barrel target rifles and didn't come up with much. When it arrived, I found that it indeed was a Griffin and Howe rifle in 30.06.

The bore is very good...shiny, sharp and the muzzle measures "0" on the CMP muzzle gauge. The bluing is excellent.

The barrel is marked "Griffin and Howe Inc New York"



And "30.06 Gov"



Bolt had striker modified and the bolt handle is marked "J5"





Stock has interesting grain



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Old 01-12-2020, 07:33 PM
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When I finally picked up my rifle from my FFL, I went over it carefully. I couldn't find any more markings on it, other than this. Under one of the scope blocks I found "No 1x27". The X digit was drilled through for the scope block.



Bolt body has "damascene"


Muzzle is tight..."0"- on the CMP gauge.



With this new information, I contacted Bob Beach, Griffin and Howe's historian, with this result...

"I regret that I have retired from doing the research and letters of provenance effective the end of 2018. There is a current G&H employee who intends to continue the service but it will take some time to rearrange his present responsibilities and familiarize him with the available documents.
A new Research email account has not yet been set up for him so I will continue to read and respond to inquiries. As you may know there are no original G&H& records prior to 1970 except for those rifles sold through Abercrombie & Fitch which owned G&H from 1930 until 1976 and sold many G&H rifles as both new and used guns. I checked all of the possible G&H serials numbers in the A&F records that were in the form 1x27 and there were four possibilities, but each does not seem to describe your rifle.

No. 1127 is built on a Winc. M54 action

No. 1627 has a 26 inch barrel

No. 1827 is a Winc. model 70 in .270 caliber

No. 1927 is in caliber 257 Roberts.

This suggests that your rifle could be:

No. 1027 built in 1930 Ė 31

No. 1227 built in 1933

No. 1327 built about 1933 - 34

No. 1427 built in 1935

No. 1527 built about 1936

or No. 1727 built in the early 1940ís

These dates are derived from the dates of near number G&H rifles sold at A&F and Michael Petroffís research. I will check the files at G&H when I next get there which may not happen until November. G&H does have some paperwork for guns that were sent back for shop work post 1970 but these havenít yet been put into the database that I can check. If I find anything more for you Iíll be sure to get back to you.

Thank you for the inquiry and enjoy owning this piece of undocumented history.

Regards,"
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Old 01-12-2020, 08:50 PM
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I've come to believe that this rifle was built as a Wimbledon style "bull gun". I found this article about a Wimbledon "Bull Gun" made by Griffin and Howe for Ben Comfort, who won the 1935 Wimbledon match with it. Comfort's rifle was chambered in 300 H&H and was built on a Remington model 30 action, which bears a strong resemblance to a 1917 action. I've read, however, that prior to Comfort's Wimbledon cup win, most "Bull Guns" built for Wimbledon competition were chambered in 30.06 (like my rifle) and many were built on the 1903 action.



Griffin & Howe .300 H&H Magnum bull gun, Ben Comfort, 1935 Camp Perry Wimbledon Cup, engraved, inspired by Elmer Keith - Sportsman's Legacy, Fine firearms, related books and sporting collectibles. Representing estates, collectors and nonprofit conservation organizations.

The barrel profile, although chambered in 300 H&H mag rather than 30.06, appears to be very similar to mine.







Muzzle seems very similar to mine also.



Damascene markings on the bolt seem similar

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Old 01-12-2020, 08:52 PM
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Neat rifle.

The action may be a National Match 1903. That's just a guess from the headless firing pin/cocking piece in the bolt.
Some of the NM were made or could be ordered that way.

Springfield Research Service (.com) will for a fee research the rifle by ser# and if on record verify what it left the S/A as.
A National Match rifle as a starting base rifle would add to the value IMO.

I notice that either G&H or perhaps sometime after that, the rear recv'r ring 'hump' was removed from the action.

That feature is a simple reinforcement over the tunnel that allows the bolt safety lug to clear when working the bolt .
The normal Lyman 48 aperture sights and other brands that are expressly made for the 03 Springfield have a step in the top cross bar of the sight to make it over that hump.
That places the aperture a bit higher and correspondingly it requires a higher front sight to balance that and bring the impact point back down.

I suspect it may have been done when the 'scope mounting was done. It's removal may have given the scope a bit more room to fit coming over that rear ring of the recv'r.
Maybe they just wanted to use a lower rear aperture sight assembly.

All just speculation of course.

I think the stock on it now is not a G&H product just looking at the pics. But just my opinion of course. Checkering pattern and quality doesn't appear to be G&H's nor does the over all stock work. Grip cap isn't what I'd expect to see on a G&H.
But it sure is a great piece of lumber,,and never say never when dealing with these things. Customers had their say as to styles and accessorys. Checkering may simply have been recut somewhere along the way and not done up to G&H standards.
Again just a guess.

Nice find. I hope they can come up with something about it's history for you.

added: That style of Damascene (sp?) on the bolt was very common on the G&H, Hoffman, Hart and others of that period.
The tightly patterned swirl done with an abrasive stick or brush was not as much used as it was later in the 60's and forward.

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Old 01-12-2020, 08:52 PM
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That is a great old rifle, I bet in will shoot A tight group !
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:06 PM
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Nice rifle, easy on the eyes. But how does it shoot?
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:19 PM
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That is a fantastic old rifle. I’ve always been a fan of older target guns, especially from well known gunsmiths/makers.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:51 PM
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Another great score.
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Old 01-12-2020, 11:42 PM
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Default Oh Three Target Rifle

Very nice! I built a parts 1903 match rifle on a 1903 action with an A1 stock and an 03A3 barrel and handguard for much of the same purpose your rifle was built. Lots of fun to shoot these old gals at long range.

Have you located an elevation and deflection slide for your sight base yet. It look like it probably takes the older 4 MOA per revolution threads. My rifle has the later 3 MOA Lyman sight.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:46 AM
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Originally Posted by 2152hq View Post
Neat rifle.

The action may be a National Match 1903. That's just a guess from the headless firing pin/cocking piece in the bolt.
Some of the NM were made or could be ordered that way.

Springfield Research Service (.com) will for a fee research the rifle by ser# and if on record verify what it left the S/A as.
A National Match rifle as a starting base rifle would add to the value IMO.

I notice that either G&H or perhaps sometime after that, the rear recv'r ring 'hump' was removed from the action.

That feature is a simple reinforcement over the tunnel that allows the bolt safety lug to clear when working the bolt .
The normal Lyman 48 aperture sights and other brands that are expressly made for the 03 Springfield have a step in the top cross bar of the sight to make it over that hump.
That places the aperture a bit higher and correspondingly it requires a higher front sight to balance that and bring the impact point back down.

I suspect it may have been done when the 'scope mounting was done. It's removal may have given the scope a bit more room to fit coming over that rear ring of the recv'r.
Maybe they just wanted to use a lower rear aperture sight assembly.

All just speculation of course.

I think the stock on it now is not a G&H product just looking at the pics. But just my opinion of course. Checkering pattern and quality doesn't appear to be G&H's nor does the over all stock work. Grip cap isn't what I'd expect to see on a G&H.
But it sure is a great piece of lumber,,and never say never when dealing with these things. Customers had their say as to styles and accessorys. Checkering may simply have been recut somewhere along the way and not done up to G&H standards.
Again just a guess.

Nice find. I hope they can come up with something about it's history for you.

added: That style of Damascene (sp?) on the bolt was very common on the G&H, Hoffman, Hart and others of that period.
The tightly patterned swirl done with an abrasive stick or brush was not as much used as it was later in the 60's and forward.
Thanks, 2152!

A helpful poster on the CMP forum checked and advised it is not in the SRS files, but did note that it is 2 numbers away from an SRS hit on a 1903 Special Target. I'm not sure that means anything.

I also noticed that the rear bridge "hump" had been "flattened" and assumed that it was for the reason that you suggested. Hoping it was done by G&H...at least that way I know it was done correctly.

I also note that the knob at the end of the striker has been removed. Possibly to speed the lock time?

A number of posters on the CMP forum also had questions about the stock work. You and they could be right about the stock not being G&H quality work. I can't say.

One of the things that people comment on is the stock cut out for the Lyman sight. It does not seem to be match the Lyman 48 sight relief on other G&H rifles. A CMP forum commenter, apparently knowledgeable, believes that the rifle was originally equipped with a Whittek-Vaver rear sight and that the stock relief on my rifle would match that sight closely.

Here is a picture of a 1903 Springfield Whittek-vaver rear sight and he could be right.



The quality of the checkering is also an issue.

Did the "Damascene" serve a purpose?

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Old 01-13-2020, 01:48 AM
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That is a great old rifle, I bet in will shoot A tight group !
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Nice rifle, easy on the eyes. But how does it shoot?
Thanks, guys. I haven't had a chance to shoot it yet.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:52 AM
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That is a fantastic old rifle. Iíve always been a fan of older target guns, especially from well known gunsmiths/makers.
I'm a fan of the target 1903's also. I have several of them and enjoy shooting them.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:53 AM
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Another great score.
Thanks, Steve. Hoping to get out to the range and shoot this one soon.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:55 AM
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Very nice! I built a parts 1903 match rifle on a 1903 action with an A1 stock and an 03A3 barrel and handguard for much of the same purpose your rifle was built. Lots of fun to shoot these old gals at long range.

Have you located an elevation and deflection slide for your sight base yet. It look like it probably takes the older 4 MOA per revolution threads. My rifle has the later 3 MOA Lyman sight.
Thanks Sharpshooter.

I've got several 1903's that were converted to target rifles back in the day. I should start a separate thread for us to post out match 1903 rifles.

I have a Lyman 48 complete sight that I intend to use, but have not been able to get the screws holding the existing base on to budge.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:28 AM
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I mounted a Lyman Super Targetspot on my rifle and comparing it to Ben Comfort's Wimbledon "Bull Gun" is what convinces me that is probably what my rifle was conceived as.














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Old 01-13-2020, 07:58 AM
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A friend of mine answered an ad in "The American Rifleman" in 1946 or 47, it seems a Col. Wheelan had a pre-was Model 70 Winchester Target action for sale. My friend bought it for $70 and sent it to the Winchester Custom shop with instructions to build him a target match rifle. It also is in 30-06 with a 28" barrel that is a bit heavier than yours, While at he ask that the stock have a "Bit of figure to it, if possible" Not quite as nice as yours, but outstanding compared to the normal stocks back then!

Using Sierra's 180 grain GameKing bullets he won the 1952 or 53 Wimbledon Cup. He and his rifle are discussed in Sierra's 3rd edition loading manual. He didn't set a new record, but it got his name on the record books!

Ivan

PS Have you compared the stock to work by Sedgley? They were known to do some work on 03's in that time frame!

ITB
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:24 AM
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A friend of mine answered an ad in "The American Rifleman" in 1946 or 47, it seems a Col. Wheelan had a pre-was Model 70 Winchester Target action for sale. My friend bought it for $70 and sent it to the Winchester Custom shop with instructions to build him a target match rifle. It also is in 30-06 with a 28" barrel that is a bit heavier than yours, While at he ask that the stock have a "Bit of figure to it, if possible" Not quite as nice as yours, but outstanding compared to the normal stocks back then!

Using Sierra's 180 grain GameKing bullets he won the 1952 or 53 Wimbledon Cup. He and his rifle are discussed in Sierra's 3rd edition loading manual. He didn't set a new record, but it got his name on the record books!

Ivan

PS Have you compared the stock to work by Sedgley? They were known to do some work on 03's in that time frame!

ITB
Iíd love to see a picture of that rifle!
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:34 AM
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I also note that the knob at the end of the striker has been removed. Possibly to speed the lock time?

.........

Did the "Damascene" serve a purpose?......


You are correct,,The striker knob was sometimes removed in conversions to sporters and target guns to speed the lock time.

N/Match guns were offered with that feature done at the arsenal at least for a time.
IIRC the N/M rifles had a stronger firing pin spring in them as well to again speed up the lock time. I don't know if that was all of the N/M or just the headless striker type.

That striker knob actually served as a safety feature on the rifle. To divert any gas from a ruptured case/primer that could have made it's way that far back and out the rear of the bolt via the striker rod. The shape of the knob defected the gas to the sides at least somewhat. Instead of directly into the shooters eys and face.

That style damascene application is the same feature you used to see on the slide way beds of machine tools and other precision moving parts.
It very slightly impresses the surface ( couple ten/ .000") where applied and allows oil to migrate on those surfaces. That makes for a smoother and easier movement betw two very closely fitted parts w/o reducing either one or the other in their over all dimension.
It's done with a hardened steel tool shaped and highly polished to a rounded point. The point is either mounted in a hand tool and pressure applied to the work that way. Or the tool is held in a fixture and the work is brought to bear against it with the needed pressure.

..and sometimes it's just used as a cosmetic bling.
The overlapping circle style has much more flash & shine to it. So it really took over the bulk of damascene or Jeweling work.
It really does the same thing as far as making slight depressions to allow oil to migrate on close fitting parts.
Most is done just for looks though.

The Vaver sight look like the correct one for the cut out. Good call on that.
Maybe the Vaver required the hump to be cut down when used on the '03 if they didn't offer anything with a stepped top bar for that feature.

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Old 01-13-2020, 12:09 PM
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You Sir are a very lucky man!
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:43 PM
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If that were mine, it would be cast lead bullets all the way. My two Springfield 03s are fed cast exclusively. You will NEVER wear a bore with those. And they shoot like a house afire.

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Old 01-13-2020, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ivan the Butcher View Post
A friend of mine answered an ad in "The American Rifleman" in 1946 or 47, it seems a Col. Wheelan had a pre-was Model 70 Winchester Target action for sale. My friend bought it for $70 and sent it to the Winchester Custom shop with instructions to build him a target match rifle. It also is in 30-06 with a 28" barrel that is a bit heavier than yours, While at he ask that the stock have a "Bit of figure to it, if possible" Not quite as nice as yours, but outstanding compared to the normal stocks back then!

Using Sierra's 180 grain GameKing bullets he won the 1952 or 53 Wimbledon Cup. He and his rifle are discussed in Sierra's 3rd edition loading manual. He didn't set a new record, but it got his name on the record books!

Ivan

PS Have you compared the stock to work by Sedgley? They were known to do some work on 03's in that time frame!

ITB
In reading about the Wimbledon matches I noted that when the Winchester Model 70 came out, it soon overtook the Springfield 1903 rifles as a base for long range rifles used in that match.

Was your friend Bill Turpie or Glen Taylor?

https://competitions.nra.org/documen...hy/tro-105.pdf
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:20 PM
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You are correct,,The striker knob was sometimes removed in conversions to sporters and target guns to speed the lock time.

N/Match guns were offered with that feature done at the arsenal at least for a time.
IIRC the N/M rifles had a stronger firing pin spring in them as well to again speed up the lock time. I don't know if that was all of the N/M or just the headless striker type.

That striker knob actually served as a safety feature on the rifle. To divert any gas from a ruptured case/primer that could have made it's way that far back and out the rear of the bolt via the striker rod. The shape of the knob defected the gas to the sides at least somewhat. Instead of directly into the shooters eys and face.

That style damascene application is the same feature you used to see on the slide way beds of machine tools and other precision moving parts.
It very slightly impresses the surface ( couple ten/ .000") where applied and allows oil to migrate on those surfaces. That makes for a smoother and easier movement betw two very closely fitted parts w/o reducing either one or the other in their over all dimension.
It's done with a hardened steel tool shaped and highly polished to a rounded point. The point is either mounted in a hand tool and pressure applied to the work that way. Or the tool is held in a fixture and the work is brought to bear against it with the needed pressure.

..and sometimes it's just used as a cosmetic bling.
The overlapping circle style has much more flash & shine to it. So it really took over the bulk of damascene or Jeweling work.
It really does the same thing as far as making slight depressions to allow oil to migrate on close fitting parts.
Most is done just for looks though.

The Vaver sight look like the correct one for the cut out. Good call on that.
Maybe the Vaver required the hump to be cut down when used on the '03 if they didn't offer anything with a stepped top bar for that feature.
Thanks, 2152! Some good information there.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:34 PM
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Sorry, just edited my previous post. You'll never wear the BORE.

I hate smart phones, gosh darned auto correct!
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:49 AM
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back in the late 60's after I got out of the navy I tried high power shooting.Back in those days you had two options for actions. The high Numbered Springfield action for the 30-06 cartridge. The second one most seen on the field was the pre '64 action also for the 30-06 cartridge.For sights usually Lyman's long slide model 48 rear sight for a front sight again you would see either the Lyman 17 sight or redfield globe front sight.Dunlap has his style of match stocks. Winchester had their Marksman stock. And just about all rifles were drilled and tapped for scope blocks. Scopes usually were the Lyman Supertargetspot or Unertl. Barrels were Douglas and there were quite a few one or two man shops that could fit good barrels to either a Springfield or Winchester action. Pacmayer did supply their white line recoil pads to many target rifles. I started out with a pre'64 Winchester model 70 rifle which had a Douglas barrel. Since I worked rotating shifts it was extremely difficult to schedule time off to attend matches. So ended my foray into High Power match shooting. I had about 4 Winchester match rifles. All had been configured by the factory so you could load 5 rounds with stripper clips. Ammo was either U.S. or gov't issue or handloads. The Gov't match and National match was loaded with a 172 grain bullet with enough IMR 4895 to get approximately 2660 feet per second. I started out with the Sierra 168 grain Match King at approximately 2700 feet per second. all my model 70's went to collectors or newer shooters and the last of my stuff went a few years ago to a Marine just out of the service. Shooting mat, gloves,match sling and some other stuff like 500 once fired Remington brass. All I have now is a post '64 model 70 match rifle. Anyway it was fun while it lasted. Frank

Last edited by Frank46; 01-15-2020 at 04:46 AM.
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Old 01-14-2020, 06:01 PM
Patrick L Patrick L is offline
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Frank46,

How do you like this:


That was my old match rifle. O3A3 with 03 hardware, glass bedded type C reproduction stock, Lyman front and rear sights. I still shoot a match or two with her each summer.
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:00 PM
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Daniel Howe Daniel Howe is offline
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I would love to have a Griffin and Howe rifle. this .308 of mine ain't even close to that kind of quality.

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Old 01-15-2020, 05:04 AM
Frank46 Frank46 is offline
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They made I believe a 1928 style "T" Springfield match rifle. Style "C" stock or something very close to it. 28" inch long barrel and the front sight supposedly came from a Browning Automatic Rifle aka The BAR. I had a chance back in the '79's to pick one up but could not swing the $900 they were asking for it.The bore on that rifle gleamed and the rifling was almost perfect giving me the impression that it had not been shot much. Target rifles fascinate me. Especially the older ones. I was in a gun shop near Stroudsburgh Pennsylvania and way in the back of the store was a cabinet with 3-4 Hammerli's. One was in 30-06, another in 7.5 Swiss and the third was in 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser. And the 4th,well you will have to forgive me but cannot remember what it's caliber. One of the best things I saw in that store was a wall of 1911's and 1911a1's. just about any and all makes and manufacturers was there. And since Pennsylvania is a class 3 state a huge water cooled Browning Machine gun in 50BMG. And to top it off there was a mint condition Winchester model 54 in 30-06. Beautiful rifle. I have a Win 54 action made in 1928 and chambered for the good old 30-30. Ah the memories. If you ever are in NYC take a trip to Abercrombie and Fitch and visit the gun room run by Griffen and Howe. many custom examples of the gunmakers craft. Frank
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