At age 16, I bagged a Dall sheep and a moose in the Yukon Territory, using my grandfather’s custom-made .270 rifle. When he passed, it came to me — along with the mystery of when and where it was built. Last week, a cousin dropped off several letters that my grandfather had kept from 1949, which had remained undiscovered until now. The letters indicate that F. L. Magoon built the rifle in exchange for a Hohner No. II Verdi accordion:
“I have your letter of the 24th in reply to my ad in the Shotgun News. My daughter has been wanting an accordion for some time and I want to get one for her. I operate a custom rifle shop principally as a hobby and make very fine custom rifles using the best materials available. In trade for the accordion I would give you a very fine custom rifle made to your specifications.
“The rifle I propose to make would be as you have outlined in your letter, with a ramp with ivory bead, Lyman 48 receiver sight, Weaver K4 scope with cross hairs and dot with the new Weaver QD side mount,” wrote Magoon, who lived at 4704 Chesterfield Street, El Paso, Texas. “For the action, I would use a new Fabrique Nationale equipped with Timney trigger. The barrels I use are new 6 groove chrome-moly, nickel alloy that are straight and have accuracy and wearing qualities second to none.”
He followed this correspondence with a second letter: “In regard to the retail price of the rifle such that I have built for you, I have been charging individuals $275.00 minus the Lyman 48 rear, which is $12.50 extra. I make up a few rifles for dealers around the country and can make others as you wish. The making of a rifle is much more of a hobby than a business with me, and I am interested in making only high grade rifles using only the best of everything obtainable. I am afraid I have gotten to be a ‘pain in the neck’ to most of the barrel makers. I pay a premium price, plus, for barrel blanks and then only about half of what I get will my specifications.“
Do you know of Magoon rifles? How many did he make? Did the family carry on his craft? If you know anything about Magoon and his labors, I’d love to hear from you. Sound off in the comments below.