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 Celebrity Talk

with Richard Grozik

Archive: George Trulock   Patrick Sweeney

Welcome to the Shotgunworld Celebrity Talk. This section of Shotgunworld will be used to bring you interviews with industry leaders, authors and shooting innovators. These will be celebrities that you want to hear from. In conjunction with this we will also provide a section in our Celebrity Forum for you to ask questions directly. Often the celebrity will offer a free prize giveaway on the forum. All you have to do is enter your name in the Celebrity Talk Forum. Lets get started...

cover This weeks interview is with Richard Grozik. Mr. Grozik is the author of two very popular books. Game Gun is for those who appreciate fine custom shotguns and would like some tips on how to customize their own. Birdhunter: A Celebration of Wild Birds, Fine Guns, and Staunch Dogs is an entertaining collection of Mr. Grozik's hunting experiences that will make even the saltiest reader wax nostalgic.

 

cover

 SGW: Where did your appreciation of fine guns come from?
Grozik: Because I was gifted with a dominate left eye and had to teach myself
how to shoot from the left shoulder, I had difficulty operating pumps and
autoloaders that were designed for right-handed shooters. As a result, I
began using double guns with their convenient tang safties, good balance
and choice of chokes. Most were bare-bones boxlocks of U.S. and European
manufacture. I continued to upgrade these guns and began to research and
buy some of the better grade doubles offered by Parker, L.C. Smith, Fox,
Lefever, Ithaca and others. I also explored the origin and lineage of game
gun development in the British Isles and Europe. As I learned more about
the intricacies of game gun function, form, fit and finish, and the amount
of skillful hand work required to build a "best" gun, my facination and
appreciation grew. Boxlock or sidelock, a fine game gun is not only a joy
to handle and shoot, it is also a fitting tribute to the ingenuity of man
and the animals he hunts.

SGW: If you could own any one fine shotgun, which one would be?
Grozik: I believe the Dickson round action combines mechanics, esthetics and
handling into a compact package that fits my passion for upland bird
hunting.

SGW: Who do you consider to be the finest American shotgun manufacturer (past or present)?
Grozik: This is a tough question. Three American companies come immediately to
mind-- Parker, Smith and Fox. Of these, I prefer the pre-1913
Featherweight Smiths and the small-bore Foxes for bird hunting. Their
exemplary rotary bolting, fine barrels and overall function and form should
please most double-gun enthusiasts.

SGW: Who do you consider to be the finest Non-American shotgun manufacturer (past or present)?
Grozik: For me, it's a toss-up between the Boss rounded action and the Dickson
round action. The quality of both is superb, and their shooting and
handling qualities are second to none.

SGW: Generally, are the European engravers more talented than their American counterparts?
Grozik: In years past, I would have to give the engraving crown to the
Europeans. However, today, I don't think any country has a monopoly on
accomplished engravers. With talented engravers like Winston Churchill,
Ron Collings and many others, America can compete with anyone in the
engraving world.

SGW: Do you think that the arts of engraving and custom stock making are a dying art?
Grozik: Today's custom engraving and stock making represents some of the finest
work in the long history of game gun development. And, if the world
economy doesn't totally self-destruct, there is no end in sight. If you
want the best of either, and can afford it, America, and most of its
allies, can deliver it in all of its compelling forms.

SGW: Let's say someone showed you their brand new Remington 11-87 and asked "How can I make it better?". What would you say to them?
Grozik: Remington has done a tremendous job with autoloading shotguns over the
years. I still shoot a left-hand Model 1100 that has ground through more
targets and duck loads over the past 30 years than I would hazard to count.
I didn't think Remington could top the gun until they introduced the Model
11-87. It cycles and shoots flawlessly. How could you improve upon it?
Well, about the only thing I would recommend is to make sure the buttstock
length-of-pull and drop-at-comb dimensions are a good fit. A well-fit
11-87, though somewhat heavier than a classic game gun, still has the
balance and handling qualities to score consistently on the range or in the
field.

SGW: You write a lot about game guns, but is it possible to own one gun that works well for all game situations?
Grozik: If there was such a gun, my wife would have more diamond jewelry and a
sunnier disposition, and I would have been writing about home improvement
instead of game guns. Like golfers who search for that one "do-everything"
club, they eventually realize there is a reason for 14 clubs in the bag. I
guess, at the very least, you could get by with two guns, both doubles, of
course, configured side-by-side or over and under. One, a magically
balanced six pound small bore to waltz through upland thickets, the other,
a long-barreled 7 to 8 pounder for our web-footed friends, sporting clays,
trap, etc. I have still been unable to explain my cabinet full of guns to
my better half.

SGW: Since you've written books on guns and hunting I have to ask you this. What guns do you hunt with and which is your favorite dog breed for hunting?
Grozik: I essentially have three shotguns I wear the blueing off each gunning
season. I have a 28-inch barrel, straight-gripped, double-triggered L.C.
Smith Featherweight (Circa 1912) in 16 gauge that is bored skeet 1 & 2 for
upland birds. For clay targets, and when the ducks are in season, I
alternate between my A.H. Fox (Circa 1911) 30-inch barrel, full and full 12
gauge and my 28-inch barrel Remington 1100 with modified choke. My
favorite dog is a field-bred Irish setter. They require more patience and
TLC to train, but my experience has proven that they seldom forget what
they learn, and are infinitely smarter than me when it comes to finding
birds.

SGW: Okay, I'm Joe Average and I want to start customizing shotguns as a hobby. Where do I start and what tools will I need?
Grozik: Start by reading everything you can about firearms, from matchlocks to
centerfires, black powder to smokeless, rifles and shotguns, and research
the mysteries of metal and wood. Then locate a patient and approachable
old master gunsmith you can pester and quiz every now and then for more
information. A good gun library will also have an index of gunsmithing
suppliers to find needed tools. Beyond that, a strong mechanical
apptitude, a tolerance for pain and perplexity, and a full measure of
common sense could help make the hobby more satisfying.

SGW: Walnut seems to be the wood of choice for most of us, but do you prefer English, American, Turkish or some other type of walnut? Is there some type of wood you prefer even more?
Grozik: For a fine game gun, English or Turkish walnut would be my choice.
These walnuts are lightweight, strong and can have some very dramatic
figure. They also allow for precise inletting, fine checkering and hold a
traditional hand-rubbed oil finish better than other wood.

SGW: Can you give us any secret cleaning tips? Keep in mind that I'm a sucker for shiny barrels and shiny wood.
Grozik: I try to keep my game gun cleaning chores as simple as possible. Too
much solvent, too much lubricant can be as harmful to a gun as too little.
A disciplined approach is also helpful. Inspect and clean your gun after
every outing, whether it has been shot or not. For my shotgun barrels, I
wad-up a cheap facial tissue in each barrel and push the excess fouling out
with a cleaning rod. I then insert a bronze brush, a swill of solvent, and
scrub the bores down. Then, I set the barrels aside to allow the solvent
to do its penetrating job. While they soak, I clean and lubricate the
hinge pin, knuckle, water table, standing breech and fore-end iron.
Occasionally, the safety slide and top lever will require a spot of gun
oil. Then, it's back to the barrels. I push more tissues through each
barrel until they come out clean. I then run an oiled mop through each
barrel, clean and lubricate the barrel lumps, flats and ejectors, and
reassemble the gun. The gun's exterior metal is treated to a lightly-oiled
gun cloth before the gun is returned to its place in the gun cabinet.

SGW: Anything else you want to tell our readers?
I hope all of your seasons are filled with good friends, fine guns and
great hunting!

SGW: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Mr. Grozik and we look forward to you coming back.