Olympic-Grade Arms at Surprising Prices
By Joel Kolander
There’s a saying in the automotive world that goes, “Fast, reliable, and cheap. You can pick two.” If firearms had a similar three simultaneously unachievable characteristics, they might be “accurate, reliable, and cheap.” The point is, it’s a rare gun that achieves all three cherished qualities, and those that do are rightfully given a lofty status by the sportsman and the collector alike. In this writer’s opinion, there is a genre of firearms that readily satisfies all three, but remains largely unnoticed and often undervalued. These are the guns of competitive target shooting.
These firearms, worthy of Olympic events or other elite levels of competition, are often unheralded and unfamiliar to many who are quite familiar with firearms. Yet these guns by their very nature must serve as the epitome of accuracy and reliability. Luckily for collectors today, they remain under-appreciated and are available at fantastic price points, thereby satisfying all three difficult-if-not-impossible qualities.
Get ready to meet match grade target weapons.
To make a quick clarification, target pistols and rifles can be inexpensive, but it doesn’t mean they have to be. As with any hobby or consumer good, if you want to make it expensive, there is a long line of people and businesses waiting to oblige you. The guns that will be shown in this article will be beyond the realm of what are considered “normal” target shooting guns, and into “competition” or “match grade” guns. These range from flat-bottomed, bench rest rifles, to light weight pistols with ergonomic grips that give them a futuristic appearance. Let’s take a look at what this sale has to offer, beginning with the target rifles.
Lot 4413: Two Anschutz Sporting Bolt Action Rifles
Estimate: $1,700 – $2,250
If you watch Olympic shooting sports, then you’re already familiar with the name Anschutz. Seen on the sides of most competitors’ rifles, the manufacturer enjoys close ties to the sport and has for some time. Case in point, the top rifle shown in the above photo, the 1827b Biathlon rifle. Like most Olympic-grade equipment, every detail is scrutinized, and at the end of the day you have a gun that is unfathomably well-balanced, ergonomic while shooting or skiing, aerodynamic, reliable in extreme cold, and has a trigger pull more frequently measured in grams than in pounds. No details are overlooked and this lot’s estimate makes it an extremely attractive way to enter the shooting sports with fantastic equipment, but without breaking the bank.
Lot 6678: Two Single Shot Bolt Action Target Rifles
Estimate: $800 – $1,300
This lot consists of an Anschutz Model 1413 (top) and a Walther GX1 (bottom) and shows perfectly the level of customization these rifles must offer to their respective shooters. Combs can be raised or lowered, butt pieces exchanged, supports swapped, and barrels adjusted. The estimate on this pair makes it an even more affordable option to obtain some very specialized tack drivers.
Lot 6720: Three Single Shot Bolt Action Target Rifles
Estimate: $1,400 – $2,000
Moving from one style to the next brings us to these three wildly colored target rifles intended for bench shooting. Bench rest shooting is done from, as the name implies, a large sturdy bench. From there, any number of competitions arise based on caliber, distance, sights, or method of securing the gun to the bench.
Often given away by their large, flat forends, the rifles used in benchrest shooting competitions remove “large” human movements, thus forcing outcomes to be determined by tiny things such as the minuscule movements while pulling the trigger, as well as having consistently performing ammunition. The highest emphasis is placed on precision and accuracy. By the very nature of their sport, these guns are remarkably well-kempt since any fouling could potentially disturb a well-placed shot. It is more than a bit astonishing that three such finely tuned rifles would be available with the estimate given.
Lot 1007: Hammerli/Walther Olympia Semi-Automatic Target Pistol
Estimate: $900 – $1,400
Hämmerli is another well-known name in the world of competitive shooting. Knowing that they’ve paired up with a sporting and military legend like Walther probably points to the fact that Walther wanted to lean on the Hämmerli name and that Hämmerli wanted to lean on Walthers’ outstanding distribution, name recognition, and sales numbers. Except that would be completely wrong. The Walther Olympia has, as its name implies, been performing nobly at the Olympic games, even as far back as 1932. In 1936, the Germans used the M1936 Olympia to win five gold medals at the Berlin games, trouncing the previously dominant Colt Woodsman target pistols. The Hämmerli name on these pistols came about in 1952 when Walther licensed the pistol to Hämmerli once civilian production resumed. A nice selection of Walther Olympia pistols appears in this sale including those with weights (as seen in the above photo), Nazi markings, and chambered in 22 LR, and 22 short.
Lot 6962: Walther Model FP Single Shot Target Pistol
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,250
The more I read and examined the Walther Model FP (“Free Pistole”), the more I knew that it would be getting an article or video all of its own. When you think high-end sporting pistols, think of this. It is essentially a wooden glove that you put on that has a gun mounted on it. Everything about it stoically exudes precision, the sights are remarkable, and perhaps most fascinating of all, it has a very peculiar firing mechanism. More on this rare pistol with the “cool factor” in the weeks to come!
Lot 6969: Cased Walther Model OSP Semi-Automatic Target Pistol with Accessories
Estimate: $850 – $1,300
The Walther OSP pistol was yet another Olympic powerhouse from the vaunted German manufacturer. Designed for the 25m Rapid Fire pistol event, it was eventually banned from competition in 2005 when rule changes came about that regulated cartridge type, trigger weight, and the distinct wrap-around grips. Speaking of which, if you’ve never used a pistol with wrap-around grips, go do so. You’ll never look back. With all the talk and training about the proper grip on a pistol, wrap around grips are a fantastic example of how a good grip should feel. The shooter is able to slip their hand in relatively easily through a large opening, but when gripping the gun, the hand naturally becomes wider as it closes and becomes a snug fit as it presses against the surrounding wood. The trigger pull on this pistol, as with all these high-end target pistols, is unbelievable. Under two pounds is something that requires some getting used to.
Lot 2105: Marlin Firearms Ballard Schuetzen Style Rifle with George Schoyen Marked Barrel and Scope
Estimate:$900 – $1,400
In the late 19th-century shooting sports were very much part of popular culture (let that sink in), and professional marksmen and women could tour the country and make a living performing exhibitions. This is evident by the names of shooters that we still know today such as: Annie Oakley, Ira Paine, the Fabulous Topperweins, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Buck Taylor. A big part of the shooting sports in the middle-to-late 19th century were schuetzen (pronounced SHOO-tzen) contests. These contests came to America with the German immigrants who gave them their name. Unlike many of the other guns shown, schuetzen rifles are quite heavy, commonly around 12 – 15 pounds. Often unusual looking to the novice, they often employ several features to secure the weapon tightly to the body for shooting such as palm rests, extended and ornate trigger guards, pronged “Swiss” butts, large cheek pieces, amazing triggers, and a drastically dropping buttstock. These heavy-barreled rifles are fired free hand at targets 200 yards away, so the level of expertise required is high and good technique is paramount. Unfortunately, the strong Germanic name of the sport was its downfall, as the U.S. experienced a great disinterest in all things German upon entering the Great War.
Lot 4385: Two Martini Action Schuetzen Rifles
Estimate: $850 – $1,400
The styles of schuetzen rifles vary immensely. From indoor parlor rifles for an evening of fun to serious rifles that employ every imaginable tool to guarantee accuracy. They come in rolling blocks, falling blocks, percussion muzzleloaders, bolt actions, and Martini actions as seen above. The work alone on the top gun could not be done for the price estimated on this pair.
Lot 6674: Two Schultz & Larsen Single Shot Rifles
Estimate: $1,600 – $2,500
Not to say that schuetzen contests are extinct – far from it! Though not nearly as popular as in its heyday, the sport continues and its shooters likely find much common ground with other shooters who also enjoy excellent technique, highly scrutinized equipment, a mastery of minutia, and the psychological wherewithal to heed such excruciating details over and over again. The guns above are a testament to persistent affection Americans have for their shooting sports.
All of these are guns that you’ll never outshoot. Well-maintained, they’ll provide for generations of precision shooting, backyard contests, friendly wagers, and who knows, maybe the starting point for a future Olympian. If you want to hold a high-quality, solid, precision-demanding firearm for an extremely reasonable price, these target arms have put that desire in arms reach. Search our catalog and place your bids today. This secret may not last for long.