August 15, 2008
Petzal: Notes on the Vomit-Colored Rifle
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
It occurred to me that as a responsible journalist I could not simply say that I had a vomit-colored rifle built and let it go at that. The rifle in question was a 7mm Weatherby Magnum, made by Ultra Light Arms in 1989. It was intended as a beanfield rifle, and therefore, since it was a gun made for use in the Deep South, I thought it should have an appropriate camo pattern.
However, I was sick of looking at trees and flowers and chirping birds, and wanted something original. So I hit on the idea of the puke pattern you see after a pig pull and asked the stock painter at ULA to make the background beer-yellow, and include green splotches that looked like okra* and dark brown gobs that looked like pulled pork. It was an artistic triumph.
The rifle, which had a No. 3 contour Douglas barrel, was one of the best all-around guns I’ve ever owned, and it went to such diverse places as Texas, Wyoming, Quebec, and South Carolina. I finally settled on a 160-grain Nosler Partition as my everything bullet. Velocity, as I recall was about 3,100 fps, which is plenty. On a hunt in Quebec, the stock was covered in caribou blood after I packed out the meat from one of the awful beasts, and it improved the gun’s appearance considerably.
Because the nature of my trade prevents me from keeping rifles forever, I sold it some years back and it has since been repainted in a drab and respectable color. But it was fun while it lasted.
One of you mentioned a piece I did years ago for Gun Digest titled “I Sold All My Lovely Wood,” which told the true and pitiful tale of how I said goodbye to just about all my wood-stocked rifles. There’s a subsequent story to that.
A few years after the article ran, I was seated at a table at the Swarovski cocktail party at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, stuffing down free food** as fast as I could. Across the table from me was a young man from Sweden who kept staring at my name tag, and then at my face, and then my tag again. And I mean he stared.
I tried to place his name, and whether I had insulted him at some point, and was looking for something to use as a weapon when he came across the table. Then he remembered:
“YOU…YOU…YOU…”, he said, pointing his finger like Bubba Clinton at a press conference. I braced to throw the first punch and then run. “YOU SOLD YOUR WOOD!”
I admitted that I had, and after stuffing my pockets with canapés, left in a hurry.
*In my yankee opinion, the best use of okra is as an ingredient for puke.
**Were it not for free food, most gun writers would collapse from starvation before the SHOT Show ended.