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Gun company takes stock of history

May 28, 2002|BY JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

A Colorado company is selling 10 limited edition Winchester Model 1894 rifles with detailed wood and metal engravings of Washington County historical landmarks and connections.

The cost of the rifles is $3,000 each.

Firearms collectors aren't the only people who buy this type of rifle, said Jim Combs with Investment Arms Inc. of Fort Collins, Colo.

History buffs also have been interested in the company's rifles, Combs said.

The company sold 10 such rifles with Jefferson County, W.Va., historical engravings in four days last year, Combs said. Investment Arms also sold 10 limited edition rifles with historical designs of Franklin County, Pa.

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The company keeps the original or proof rifle for each design.

Six of the 10 Washington County rifles have been reserved for sale, including one to the Potomac Fish & Game Club, Combs said. The rifles will be ready in 45 to 60 days.

The fish and game club on Falling Waters Road will use the proceeds from a rifle raffle for a new shooting range, said Randy Myers, club vice president.

The price for the raffle tickets hasn't been set, but they are expected to go on sale the second week in June, Myers said. The winner will be announced at an Oct. 19 gun bonanza at the club.

As the co-owner of K&R Engraving off Virginia Avenue, Myers said he appreciates the fine detail of the engravings.

"The detail is incredible," Myers said.

Investment Arms officials expect to produce a limited edition Winchester with historical designs of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., late this year and plan to offer a shotgun with Washington County-related engravings next year, Combs said.

Owners of the Washington County rifle will first be offered the chance to buy the shotgun, which will probably cost $3,000, Combs said.

Combs said he expects shotguns to be made with Jefferson County and Franklin County designs.

Investment Arms buys the rifles from Winchester, which ships them to Arkansas. There, a master engraver dismantles the rifle to engrave the metal receiver and sends the wooden rifle butt and forearm to Wyoming to be engraved, Combs said.

The engravings on the Washington County model's receiver include a Battle of Antietam scene, a boat going down the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, a grist mill and a horse-drawn carriage on National Road. An outline of Washington County shows where the various towns are.

A steam locomotive is engraved on one side of the rifle's American walnut butt. Animals indigenous to the area, such as deer, pheasant and quail, also are engraved into the rifle.

It takes 120 to 130 hours to engrave each rifle, Combs said.

While the rifles are functional, Combs said firing one can devalue its worth.

Several buyers have told Investment Arms they were offered $5,000 to $7,000 before they even took receipt of the rifle, Combs said.

A Texas oilman bought a Texas version of the Winchester rifle for $50,000, Combs said.

"These become family heirlooms. Very rarely will they be resold," Combs said.

For more information about Investment Arms Inc., visit the company's Web site at www.investmentarms.com or call 1-888-708-4867.

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