Petzal: The Official SCI Report

News of the recession has not reached Safari Club International. On the first day of their Reno convention the traffic was pretty light, but by the second day it was hard to elbow your way past the trophy wives, trophy wives in waiting, and guys with South African accents. The SHOT Show is largely a grind, but SCI is pure fun. It is the world's greatest temporary toy store for hunters. There is art, jewelry, clothing, knives, guns, accessories, and more outfitters than you can shake a platinum AMEX card at.

The guns are the main attraction, and you will see stuff here that you just will not see anywhere else. Here are the ones that caught my eye. (Oh, and if you are dumpster-diving behind the local Popeye's in order to feed yourself, you won't want to read further.)

D'Arcy Echols .416 Rigby: Here is a rifle with a past. The action is a Remington-made Enfield that was given a complete makeover by the late Tom Burgess, who was for 40 years or more one of custom gunsmithing's finest metal workers. (He did a lot of work for Jack O'Connor and lived to tell about it.) The Enfield is long, strong, and about as ugly as bolt actions come, but Burgess sawed off the rear end of the receiver and welded on a new one that you can look at without turning to stone. Now it is long, strong, and very handsome, and you can't tell what the hell it was originally. Burgess added a good trigger, put in a dropped magazine, rebarreled it, and added his fold-down front sight and rear peep. D'Arcy Echols did the polishing, bluing, and stocking. This is a used rifle and is going for $23,000. If it were new it would be a lot more.

Butch Searcy Underlever .577 Double Rifle: You see very few .577s around because it is an extreme cartridge--750 grains at 2,050 fps. It was used in very limited numbers by elephant hunters, and then only in the most desperate situations. This one has 26-inch barrels, weighs 13 pounds, and is available in a top-lever version as well. It is stocked for a left-hand shooter, which put an almost intolerable strain on me. The price is $23,500, but if it were made in England it would cost $123,500, and would not be as good a firearm. You can see a similar rifle by clocking on searcyent.com.

Kenny Jarrett .223 Varmint Rifle: I got a very similar rifle from Kenny about 15 years ago, and before I scorched its barrel it would put five shots through one hole. Now it can almost do that. This rifle is comprised of a heavy-taper Jarrett barrel, a Jarrett Tri-lock action, Jewell trigger, and McMillan stock. The price is $8,834, but that is jacked way up by a Leupold Mark IV 8.5X-25X scope with a custom reticle. Without the fancy scope the price is a lot less.

Jim Brockman .458 Lott and Custom Ruger Number One: While he's primarily known for his souped-up Marlin Guide Rifles, Jim Brockman is one of the few gunmakers who has created a distinctive look for his bolt-action sporters. He uses slicked-up Dakota actions, laminated stocks, and a very flat blue. This one, a left-hander in .458 Lott, also has Brockman's unique pop-up rear peep. The barrel is by Krieger, and is nice and heavy. The price for this rifle was $5, 499, including Leupold scope and custom Talley rings and bases, and I was extremely pissed off when someone bought it the very first day.

The Ruger Number One is chambered for the .500 S&W, has a 16 ½-inch barrel, and is stocked in one of the fanciest pieces of American feathercrotch walnut I've ever seen. They ain't two rifles like this. Mommy, get me one.