Unfortunately, power is often associated with the military and gives rise to the images of different weapons in our mind: swords, sabres, revolvers and rifles.Country
Unfortunately, power is often associated with the military and gives rise to the images of different weapons in our mind: swords, sabres, revolvers and rifles. But there are some who see and make weapons not only as killing machines but as real art objects. Peter Hofer is a genius architect of the gun world. He combines modern scientific knowledge and the ancient art of hand making in his workshop. Thus, are born the masterpieces collectors all over the world dream of and are proud to have. Herr Hofer explains.
«Carinthia» is the mountainous southern region of Austria. Far from the «big world» is the small town of Ferlach, a longstanding centre of the master gunsmith’s art.
In the last thirty years things have changed and now we have fewer than ten weapon shops and factories left from the hundreds that existed before in Ferlach. Modern technologies made skills of hand making unprofitable. But the wonderfully rich traditions of hand making shouldn’t be given up to the fast profit of mass production.
My father had a gun shop and he dreamt of a father and son company. He sent me to study at the Institute for Higher Technical Studies in Metalwork and Weapons Manufacturing. There’s no other profession with the same need for so much knowledge: maths, chemistry, physics, metallurgy, joinery, mechanics, technics, even medicine. You should live three lives to learn it all. But I was a hard-working student and never let myself to be distracted. At twenty I became the youngest master gunmaker worldwide. Anyway, I wasn’t in a hurry to get back home because of wanting to learn more and open my own business. Father was angry for almost three years because I didn’t return.
I lost my job when the weapon company’s owner I was working for died and that was when I decided to open my own business. Refusing to invest my energy and resources into the family business and choosing my own way so that I could pursue my own creative ideas and achieve the weapon quality I wanted. It seemed to me than in Ferlach we had the right place and the right people. People with whom I wanted to work would love what we do together and luck was with me. This is how Peter Hofer Jagdwafee appeared.
Our business is not simple at all: mass production means 20 tons of metal to order from factories, but all metallurgical companies of Austria would hardly do it in 50 years.
This is a problem. Although we can order steel from other countries like China or Brazil, the quality and percentage of chrome and nickel might vary and after steel hardening the colour will differ depending on the parity of metal.
Mass production doesn’t guarantee the same quality in case of providing country change.
That’s why we chose to exclusively hand make. We put our faith in brains and hands rather than modern machines. Our competitors make less than four models a year and we fifteen and I often hear they copy us. There’s so few gunmakers who work with their hands and industrial scale methods takes individuality from the work — everyone has the same gun, no difference. Beretta is the oldest gun making company in the world but it changes the model only once in
6 years. We win by flexibility and individual approach.
The models of rifles we make depend on individual qualities of the client: weight, caliber, material combinations, form, colour. We can differ the model according to the client’s eye vision, his leading left hand, any physical issues such as lameness, our rifles have hundreds of calibers, mechanism constructions, quantity and quality of barrels combinations
The individual approach is impossible in mechanized production and computer designing narrows imagination and creativity. We decorate our rifles with animal engravings. Engraving depends on the country of the prospective owner. We pay much attention to this moment: if we make ornament on the rifle we make it ethnic and the hunter looks authentic. I like to be creative in it. For example, we made the largest and the smallest double-barrel possible: for the first we took the largest cold and warm-blooded animals ever to exist, for the second — the largest insects of Earth.
Of course, this all takes time. One of the not so very expensive guns took twelve years, more time than I ever spent with my nine-year-old daughter and I put into it part of my soul.
Who are the clients? They have to be wealthy and usually are successful people searching for the best from the rest. They are hunters and collectors of rare exclusive things. Connoisseurs able to appreciate the gun art product. Mostly men because in my experience women are rarely interested in guns. All of them look for something special for themselves and usually know what they want. For many people an exclusive handmade hunting gun is a distinct cultural heritage which suits their level.
But most of owners do use it for hunting. We make for each of our clients their own unrepeatable option of the hunting gun. It is important to make sure that clients share our philosophy: we hunt to eat. We don’t hunt just for the pleasure of killing. We don’t use big caliber for small animals and don’t uselessly kill small birds. The question of humanism is very important.
While hunting a man meets his ancient deep nature. Hunting is as old as a man and a hunting gun with its power, beauty and harmony was always a sign of power and wealth. I believe that my guns will be passed from generation to generation. My inspiration and work quality are dedicated to my client and I am grateful for the opportunity to create a masterpiece for him and for all who will live after us’.
— Hunting is as old as a man and a hunting gun with its power, beauty and harmony was always a sign of power and wealth>.