Gary Duffey is a huge supporter of Rigby rifles and an avid collector of fine English and American guns. Based in Texas, USA he has always been a voracious reader of sporting literature and as far back as he can remember has always been passionate about guns, hunting and the great outdoors. In this latest blog, Gary examines the term vintage guns and discusses his love of Rigby’s pre-WWII .416 Rigby Big Game rifles.
The year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.
Relating to or denoting wine of high quality. “vintage claret”
Often the term vintage as applied to firearms can be used as either a noun, or as an adjective, denoting a period of manufacture or a reference to quality or condition. Many of us who feel a connection to sporting history through literature, certain firearms, and our own hunting experiences desire to own what we often may refer to as a vintage gun or rifle. This can provide us a tangible connection to persons, periods of time, places, and events that have made lasting impressions on us. We can see this in many areas of life; fashion, architecture, art, etc. It seems there are collectors of vintage items of all types and from all periods that are seemingly insignificant to others while providing some connection to a time or activity to another person.
A great example is the highly sought after original or vintage Rigby Big Game rifles chambered in .416. There were some 189 of these iconic rifles made prior to World War II. These are highly coveted and widely revered in the writings of many of hunters of the ‘golden age’ of safari and contemporary hunters and collectors alike. Their design, quality, and performance in the field is legendary. The demand for these rifles is, and has always been, far beyond the number produced and the demand has always exceeded exponentially the number available.
In 1987 I purchased an original Rigby .416 on the magnum Mauser, in its lightweight leather case with all original accessories. To this day it is the most original and highest condition Rigby .416 that I have seen of the original 189. At that time, I paid what was a staggering sum for it within my economic world. It was such a sum that I wouldn’t dare tell anyone the amount for fear that they would think that I had lost my mind. Some two years later I sold it for almost twice what I had originally paid for it and thought that I had made out like the proverbial bandit. Today the rifle would fetch four to five times the amount that I sold it for. Sadly, I must admit, that as the demand for these rifles has grown, my ability to own another has not kept pace.
We hear it said, “if only this rifle could talk”, and as much as I still covet that rifle I fear it could not tell us much. Oh surely, could it talk, it would tell us of its owner, and about its trip from England to the United States. But, I fear it had not seen any adventure. It was for all practical purposes, new. Its virtue lies in its condition, allowing it to serve as a great store of value and as an appreciating asset. I did enjoy it, it just lacked something that I have never been quite able to put my mind around. I do think that as I have gotten older, that I have gained some insight into what things go into an objects intrinsic value. I think of the few heirloom items that I possess of my parents and grandparents. These things are a connection to them and to their time and as much as I treasure them, those days were not mine.
My time, our time, is today.
I can now design my own Rigby .416, just as I want it, and no doubt it will be in a very traditional ‘vintage’ configuration. While it will possess all the DNA of its iconic lineage, it will have no history of its own. It will be a newborn. From beginnings as new, I will use it in my own hunting experiences and it will be a part of my own memories. For my children, I hope that it can be among the things that will serve as a connection to me and my time, to my vintage.