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The Second Life Of A Perazzi MX8: Firearm Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC

The Heritage of Fine Gun Manufacturing Tradition: Learning From Perazzi Daniel Perazzi started his gunsmithing training when he was 14. He worked for a gun maker, he apprenticed to a gun maker, and then he worked as a gun maker himself. He designed a very clever single trigger design and with the money he made from selling the patent (and he made quite a considerable amount!), he started the Perazzi Armi (“Perazzi Guns”) at the young age of 25. Perazzi was founded in 1957, and developed well for the next three years. Perazzi then met Ivo Fabbri, a young automotive engineer who worked for Fiat. The two joined together to create high class, yet affordable shotguns, inspired by the British gun industry. Perazzi and Fabbri work together aimed at the goal of producing a high end gun that could stand alongside the English high end guns, like the ones produced by Gun Makers Boss & Co. and Woodward. At the same time, they were trying to market them at a more affordable price, in accordance with their local Italian market purchasing power. The two looked at the Boss & Co. and Woodward designs, and they adopted some of their concepts, features and ideas and built what we know today as the “Perazzi style action”. This process took years to develop and the pair worked with Italian shooting star and gun designer, Ennio Mattarelli, at developing and perfecting the design of a clay gun – and they actually did really well. Mattarelli took this design to Tokyo, at the 1964 Olympics, and brought back the first gold medal that the Perazzi shotguns would win. In fact, they’ve won well over 14 medals at the Olympics, let alone many other shooters who win using their firearms every year. A great number of shooters who win the Olympics shoot Perazzis. The Birth Of MX8: The Perazzi That We Most Often Restore In Our Gunmaking Shop at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC

In 1965, Fabbri and Perazzi parted ways, Fabbri becoming one of Italy’s best firearm manufacturers and Perazzi maintaining the course for Perazzi Armi.

Perazzi produced an even better clay gun to take to the 1968 Olympics: enter Perazzi MX8. The original MX8 is not exactly what comes to mind when we think about today’s MX8, but it is almost identical, apart from maybe some of the specs and technological updates. MX8 represented not only a new great clay gun, but it was a turning point in Perazzi’s career as a gunmaker and a turning point in the gun industry overall. The MX8 featured some traits that we now consider to be in clay guns by default, but that was not always the case. The pistol grip (can you remember a time when a pistol grip was not standard on a Perazzi?), the higher ventilated rib (acting as a heat disperser), the higher stock (to compensate for the rib) – all these features were not commonly found on clay guns up to that point and were introduced with the MX8. This improved design was definitely a very important turning point in Perazzi’s designs. Another very exciting thing about the MX8 is that it had a remarkable groundbreaking feature for the time: multi chokes. This is a feature that started showing on the marked around the time MX8 was designed. Perazzi was one of the first one to embrace the novel idea of multi chokes.

Of course, the other feature that is a signature mark for MX8 is that it has a detachable trigger group, traditionally powered by V springs, although customers today have the possibility to order the coil springs option if they prefer. Without any doubts, the MX8 was a groundbreaking gun, a gun that really changed the market and influenced the way we look at guns today. It is still available and still fantastic in terms of engineering and design. Needless to say, it is the one Perazzi that we see coming into our shop most often! In spite the MX8 being an absolutely fantastic gun, it’s no secret that the 1968 Mexico Games (Olympics) were won by Bob Braithwaite who used his American Browning C3 Trap Gun, to Europe’s dismay and America’s boast. Over the years a certain mystique has grown around that Browning C3, with the suggestion that its unique qualities contributed to Braithwaite’s victory. It seems like last time this Browning was auctioned was on 30th June 2016, in London.

Bob Braithwaite with his Browning C3 Trap Gun
Bob Braithwaite with his Browning C3 Trap Gun

Learning About High-End Gun Purchasing Experience From Perazzi Perazzi currently has over 100 skilled gunsmiths working for them, which means that yes, a great portion of the gun making labor is done by hand and anything that is machine made is 100% hand finished. This allows you to have a gun that has way more soul than something that is 100% machine made. But this also means that you have to leave room for a few tolerance issues that you will have with a handmade gun. So you might have to be a little forgiving, although their quality control goes beyond any contemplation. The Perazzi purchasing experience is very much customer centered, which definitely justifies the price. They offer services that other large gunmaking houses would consider to be more of an inconvenience, rather than a standard purchasing practice. They have a shooting range, and from testing the firearm to having it fitted, the experience includes it all. When customers visit the Perazzi factory and showroom, they can choose and select between 27 different forms and styles of forends - and even so when they go through the hand fitting process they will probably ask for it to be completely custom fitted. (Who wouldn’t?) That's just the forend – let alone the stock fitting, let alone the wood grade that they can pick; and when it comes to the barrels, there is a great variety of lengths and weights for one to choose from. These are highly personal and personalized guns, which definitely play a central role in the Perazzi quality and the Perazzi experience. Due to the tremendous level of gun fitting and customization of these firearms, some people can feel very comfortable with shooting a Perazzi MX8 and completely uncomfortable shooting an identical MX8 that was fitted for someone with a physique different than theirs. The way the stock fits or doesn’t fit one’s physique makes a massive difference in how comfortable it feels to shoot a Perazzi, and how accurate the shooting is. Depending on who you talk to, some people might say that Perazzi goes through good and bad stages, like all gun makers. It's worth saying that there are certain periods of time during which, like in the Beretta history - or any other gun maker’s history, either the engraving is considered to be a little better or a little bit less than ideal, or the action is considered to be a little better or a little less carefully fitted, and so on. The hand fitting level of quality depends, after all, on human skill and human error which depends on many socio economic factors and the dynamic in the society – it is really, a very fascinating topic. Having said this, overall, Peruzzi are solid guns and spare parts are still available on the market.

The Joy Of Owning a Pre-Loved Perazzi There are many reasons why one would own a pre-loved Perazzi. First, Perazzis are the type of firearms that one would leave as an inheritance to their heirs. At Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC, we work on restorations and re-fitting of family heirlooms routinely. Perazzis, Winchesters, Brownings, Colts – many valuable firearms need a second life with the new generation that owns them. Most of the time, the value of the restoration / refitting projects is similar to the cost of purchasing a brand new gun. American families are very interested in conserving their family history, and family firearms are a big part of their history. Second, Perazzis are valuable collectible items. Many shooters purchase them with the intent to solidify their collections. At the same time, Perazzis are not outdated. So usually Perazzis are not retired up on the wall, but are part of the owner’s collection of firearms that are routinely used for competitions and sporting events. Third, there is the accessibility factor – a Perazzi that has already been imported and had custom engraving or checkering work done by master craftsmen is definitely of interest to anyone who loves nice guns. It might make sense to purchase a second hand firearm, provided there are personal preferences that are met by that particular firearm, and re-fit it and restore it to match the physique of the new owner.

Perazzi Restored at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC - Complete Firearm Restoration and Custom Gun Stock
Perazzi Restored at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC - Complete Firearm Restoration and Custom Gun Stock

High End Gun Making, Gun Fitting and Firearm Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Our gunmaking shop is visited by high-end firearm owners primarily for our complete restoration services, which include custom fitted stocks and forends, and high end metal refinishing or for custom gunmaking services when the patron wants to build a custom firearm from scratch. Among other serious clay and trap shooters, Perazzi owners take seriously the responsibility of owning a high end gun, and – for good reasons – expect a similar experience when it comes to restoring their valuable firearms as the experience of purchasing them.

Here is what our customers can expect when they choose to work with us. In order to restore a high end Perazzi - or another firearm of similar value (century old Winchester, Colt Python, English Double, etc.), one of our master gunsmiths will have a scheduled appointment with the customer. (If the customer is not local, the firearm will be shipped to our gunmaking shop and once the firearm is here, our staff will set up an online video appointment.) The appointments (online or in person) last between 30 minutes and 2 hours, during which time the customer will go over the history of the firearm and the scope of the project. The master gunsmith takes notes and asks additional questions that might be relevant for the project. One document that we have developed in-house and we find to be a very useful tool is our Gun Fitting Form. This questionnaire takes in consideration all preferences and physiological particularities of the shooter, starting with: the weather the firearm is going to be used in predominantly, scope preference of the firearm shooter, right hand or left hand shooter, body measurements (we take actual numbers and note the physique style - barrel-chested shooter, long-limbed shooter, broad-shouldered shooter), length of pull, length of grip, cheekpiece style, hand grip style, recoil pad style or buttplate style, cap, swivels, front sight, rear sight, forend tip style. This 4 page document is the result of almost a decade of activity in restoring firearms and building custom guns. When everything is discussed and decided, the rough estimate is provided and the rough timeframe is discussed. At Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC, we send out satisfaction survey requests every year in December to our customers, and we try to implement the requests that are mentioned most often. One of our main focuses, as a result of the 2019-2021 surveys, was to shorten the turnaround time from an average of 9-12 months for a complete restoration to 3-4 months. We are still working on achieving this, but we’re happy with the progress – at the moment, we are at roughly 6-9 months turnaround time for complete restorations. Our office staff will assist the customer and the master gunsmith further with filling in the industry required paperwork, the Work Order, the down payment and the Contract.

Custom Stock and Full Firearm Restoration of a Perazzi MX8 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Yakima - Slow Rust Bluing, Bonanza Gold line, Recut Engraving and Lettering, Custom Shotgun Stock made to fit for a Competition Shooter
Custom Stock and Full Firearm Restoration of a Perazzi MX8 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Yakima - Slow Rust Bluing, Bonanza Gold line, Recut Engraving and Lettering, Custom Shotgun Stock made to fit for a Competition Shooter

How It’s Made: Firearm Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC

When it comes to the actual work of gun restoration, we first completely disassemble the firearm and evaluate every part. Everything is cleaned up nicely and prepared for polishing and refinishing. The parts that need to be addressed are either replaced or fixed (if safe); if unavailable, we will manufacture the parts for you. Our master gunsmiths can reverse-engineer obsolete parts that are no longer available on the market.

Custom Stock and Full Firearm Restoration of a Perazzi MX8 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Yakima - Slow Rust Bluing, Bonanza Gold line, Recut Engraving and Lettering, Custom Shotgun Stock made to fit for a Competition Shooter - stock detail
Custom Stock and Full Firearm Restoration of a Perazzi MX8 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Yakima - Slow Rust Bluing, Bonanza Gold line, Recut Engraving and Lettering, Custom Shotgun Stock made to fit for a Competition Shooter - stock detail

The Value Of A Custom Fitted Wooden Pattern One of the main differences between Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC custom stocks and other gun restoration companies is that at Brubaker Arms, we offer the option to have a custom pattern made, which can then be replicated in a blank of your choice. A standard factory production stock and a factory stock template are made to a set of dimensions that would loosely fit most shooters, and would render a stock that is easy and economical to produce commercially. A custom fitted stock is tailored to the specific dimensions of the individual. That way, the shooter doesn't need to twist their body to line the eye behind the sights, but when the firearm is thrown up to the shoulder, the sights are in perfect line in front of the eye. This eliminates the few very important seconds that are usually wasted on adjusting the eye line behind the scope; sometimes all you have is that split second before the deer runs away or before the other competitor wins the match. In other words, the line of sight and the point of aim are matched in the geometry of the firearm - and the custom stock plays the essential role in this. We do not generally recommend the use of wooden templates that are dimensioned to fit an average shooter, but we encourage the production of a one-of-a-kind stock template for each customer. Some customers prefer to leave their templates with us, in order to be able to duplicate additional stocks for other shotguns and even rifles (with minimal changes). Other customers prefer to have their templates in possession, in which case we can have them shipped together with the firearm. At any rate, a custom fitted stock can be replicated way easier if a custom pattern is produced first. If the budget calls for a lower grade stock, we make available the option to skip the template production and produce a one-off custom stock. The cost of producing a one-off custom stock is lower than the cost of producing a template and then duplicating it, for obvious reasons. However, the investment in a custom stock template is definitely worth it, especially for trap shooters who like to own and use different firearms by rotation. Having a custom wood template actually saves a lot of fitting time (and money) because the cost of measuring and fitting any additional stocks for other firearms that fit the owner perfectly is reduced to zero; the only cost left is the actual cost of duplicating. At the same time, it allows for testing before having a precious piece of wood carved and shaped. (Once that file goes in, there’s no way to add the wood back!) In general, if the original stock is not made out of a precious piece of wood, it will be used as starting point for building a custom pattern that fits the customer like a glove. The original stock is re-shaped to fit the particular measurements of the owner by adding a patching compound where it needs it and by filing down the areas that need to be removed. The advantage of using the original gun stock for producing the template is that the original gun stock is already fitted to the action, so there’s no inletting necessary. Once the pattern is produced, it is installed on the firearm, and the firearm owner gets the chance to shoot the firearm and test the ergonomics of the stock. We prefer it when one of our gunsmiths has the opportunity to join the customer at the range / at the club, and has the opportunity to make on the spot the adjustments necessary to the fitted gun stock. That way, any adjustments that need to be made are addressed prior to the pattern being duplicated into a precious piece of wood. The custom gun stock template silhouette is then traced on the blank of choice (we usually use Turkish walnut imports or well dried American walnut). In order to allow for manual tolerances and a comfortable final shaping, we leave a margin of roughly 1 inch wide around the shape of the pattern. We rough-shape the stock and remove all excess wood, as we prepare the blank for duplicating. Our band saws are calibrated to the ideal speed for cutting through various types and grades of wood. Throughout the years, we have worked with olive wood, rosewood, Circassian, Claro, American and Turkish walnut, with different grains; the more attractive the figure, the more careful we need to be when we rough shape and finish the wood. The grain and the wood grade make a difference in the amount of time needed to work with the wood. In order to duplicate a pattern, we use one of our two wood stock duplicators, depending on the quantity of stocks that we are producing. At Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, we operate two wood stock duplicators: a large six station Salstorm duplicator – when we are producing a number of stocks for our customers – and a one stock duplicator for one-off orders. Both our duplicators use the standard stylus – rotary head type, but allow for multiple rotary head sizes types, depending on the quality and figure of the wood that we work with. The stylus traces the shape of the custom template, and directs the router’s cuts into the piece/s of wood, which is why it’s important to make sure that we use the right rotary shape and size. The duplicating process is a labor intensive process, but it is considerably faster when using the right duplicator. The next stage is the inletting. If the customer ordered the stocks as a semi-inlet, we stop at 95%-98% inlet. If the customer works with us on a full restoration or stock replacement, we will fit the gun stock to the action entirely. All our inletting is done manually, using inletting black and gold, which mark the areas that need to be filed down in order for the stock to fit the action perfectly. This type of manual inletting is a time consuming process, but it is the only way to make sure the wood and the metal work together in harmony. Below, an example of a very complex manual inlet that we produced for a Bond & James Double 12.

Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC -  inletting 3
Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC - inletting 3

Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC -  inletting 4
Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC - inletting 4

Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC -  inletting 5
Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC - inletting 5

Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC -  inletting 7
Custom Stock for a Bond & James Double 12 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC - inletting 7

During the inletting stage, after the stock is completely fitted to the action, we manually finish using different files and sanding paper grains. From the time the stock leaves the duplicator, all other shaping and fitting are done manually - from filing down the rough patches left by the duplicator, to rough sanding paper and to fine sanding paper, until the stock is perfectly smooth and ready to have the stain and finish applied. When it comes to wood finishes, we offer a number of options: lacquer (for the budget options), oil (in-house boiled or commercially boiled), and a high-end two-part epoxy finish, similar to the Weatherby original finish. The original Weatherby finish is no longer available on the market, but what we use is a special two part varnish that is primarily developed for the marine industry, for sealing masts and staves and other parts that are exposed to the caustic marine environment. It is a very durable finish. A high-end finish helps the grain and figure of the wood show. Below, a pristine picture of the Perazzi MX8 stock, finished with our Weatherby two part epoxy finish:

If the customer asks for a stain to be used – or when restoring the firearm to the appropriate era requires a particular type of stain – we will do so; we use high-end stains that preserve their color in time and do not react with the oil or the two part varnish finish that we apply after the stain is dry. We even produce a number of them in house.

The checkering stage is one of the most skill-requiring stages in producing a custom stock for a shotgun or a rifle. We like to have the customers involved at this stage, by inviting them to select what type of patterns they prefer. Checkering is usually re-cut era-accurate for restorations of firearms, but it can also make room for the creativity of the gunmaker / client when an era-accurate checkering is not required. Our gunmakers and gunsmiths are proficient in producing pointed checkering, English flattop checkering, semiflattop checkering, fish scale checkering, borderless checkering, fill in checkering, fancy checkering, angular patterns and wrap around patterns. Checkering ads visual interest and gives the rifle or the shotgun a better grip. The art of vintage gun restoration includes a fair amount of knowledge and know-how of various checkering styles, especially when an era-accurate style is required. The interesting part when it comes to wood restoration is that when a nice stock is put against aged metal, the metal will look particularly bad if the wear and tear of the last decades is not addressed. The brand new, fresh wood, will underline the metal wear. So while one of our gun makers is focusing on the wood, another gunsmith will be focusing on the metal, and prepare it for refinishing and engraving. Refinishing metal has to do with two components: metal texture and metal finish. The texture of the metal has to do with the level of polish and gloss that metal is prepared to. At Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC we offer five types of different metal textures, each one great for replicating a particular era; for newer firearms, the metal texture choice depends on the intended purpose of the firearm and the desired finish. Brubaker Arms features the following metal textures: - matte texture (abrasive / bead blast / wire wheel followed with all screw holes and corners protected and square); - satin texture (abrasive / bead blast / wire wheel followed with all screw holes and corners protected and square. Finished with Scotch-Brite.) - semi-gloss (polished to #320-#450 grit polish with all screw holes and corners protected and square. Finished with Scotch-Brite.) - high-gloss (polished to #600 grit polish with all screw holes and corners protected and square. Finished with Scotch-Brite.) - mirror (polished to #1500 grit polish with all screw holes and corners protected and square; all polishing marks removed, no ripples, and finished with #1500 polish to a mirror finish. Finished with Scotch-Brite.); when paired with Charcoal Bluing, this metal texture will replicate the Traditional Colt Bluing, which we really love on Colt Pythons. Once the rust and pitting are removed, the metal is bead blasted, polished and prepared for finishing. In our experience, a long gun that has average wear (the rust is not too dramatic and there is no pitting – the wear is more of a normal wear-off of the bluing), requires a minimum of 10 hours of polishing, but usually the long guns that come through our shop require about 12-15 hours of manual polishing as most long guns have at least some minimal rust. This leaves the metal in a condition that we call “better than original”. At this stage, after the metal has been polished to the right grit, and the rust, pitting and machining marks have been removed, we usually have a conversation with the customer about the engraving. New engraving is a fairly direct process; the desired design is discussed with the customer, and decided based on factors like manufacturer, era of manufacturing and personal preference. Elaborate engravings on the rifle / shotgun receiver aren't necessary, but they can make an old rifle look really upscale. It's up to the client to decide if they want to keep it simple or go with a fancy restoration process, which is by no means cheap but it also doesn’t look cheap. Sometimes we engrave a gun’s receiver with scrollwork or other era accurate designs; other times, we do gold inlay or bonanza gold. Our engravers cut the steel entirely by hand for all classic engraving orders. We do offer the option for laser engraving, but not for old classic firearms. With either one of the engraving types that we offer (hand cut or laser cut), there's no room for error because a mistake can't be corrected. However, something that we take pride with here at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC, is the engraving restoration process that we have developed in-house. Using CAD design software, we are able to scan the existing engraving pattern on any given firearm. The parts that wore off completely can then be re-composed and re-designed. We start with a complete historical analysis of what is left of the engraving that wore off – we study the typology, the line style, and compare it to similar examples from our archives. We do a photographic analysis of the object to restore, a complete pattern analysis; we then conduct measurements and reconstruction on the leftover traces of the engraving. Next, we hand sketch the computer generated patterns on the metal to engrave. We scale the pattern and re-compose it according to the surviving traces on the object to restore. We then do a final sketch, transpose the pattern to the area to be engraved, and we proceed with the actual engraving. This process, that has been established in house by our restoration specialist, is making the most of the new technologies that we have available at hand (AI, CAD software, digital scanning, digital photography, etc.), and the traditional hand cut engraving skill. Below, a prime example of a very successful engraving restoration conducted by Brubaker Arms on the trigger bow of a 1899 field-grade W.R. Pape. The trigger bow had been modified to fit a left handed shooter. A small part of the trigger bow had been polished off, and the axis had been modified to fit the ergonomics of the left hand. In the meanwhile, the engraving wore off, and when we restored the entire firearm, we were tasked with restoring the engraving to the original condition, and re-blue the trigger guard.

Trigger Bow Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC -  Engraving Restoration1
Trigger Bow Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC - Engraving Restoration 1

Trigger Bow Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC -  Engraving Restoration 2
Trigger Bow Restoration at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing LLC - Engraving Restoration 2

After the engraving is done, or if the engraving is all together skipped, our gunmakers offer eight types of finishes and three types of coatings that can be applied to firearms. Of course, not all these finishes or coatings are recommended for any type of firearm, and sometimes we will refuse to fulfill a particular type of request – for instance, we will refuse a request to Cerakote a classic English gun like a Webley & Scott (not that many W&S owners would ask for having their M700 cerakoted, but sometimes fine guns do fall in the hands of those who don’t know exactly what they have). The metal finishes that our shop offers are: - Caustic Salt Bluing – which is the industrial process of bluing firearms, used by most manufacturers on a large scale; this type of bluing is also known as hot bluing, salt bluing or Oxynate bluing; this finish cannot be done on firearms that have soldered ribs. This finish usually lasts about a decade on long guns with average use. - Slow Rust Bluing – which is the original, most time-demanding and perfected way of bluing metal; it is a one-week long process that produces a thicker coat of rust, which can be performed on rifles / shotguns that have soldered parts and ribs; this finish usually lasts 20-30 years on long guns with average use. - Slow Rust Browning is similar to Slow Rust Bluing – the only difference is that the color of the rust will be different. - Belgian Bluing (Express Bluing) – is an expedited process of Slow Rust Bluing, and the finish that results lasts about 15 years on long guns with average use; - Nitre Bluing or Fire Bluing – we offer it for small parts / accessories only; - Anodizing – offered for aluminum only - Color Case Hardening – We use the traditional wood and bone charcoal method of color case hardening (pack hardening). The process results in a marbleized coloring of the parts and provides a thin hardened layer of steel while preserving a softer steel core; - Charcoal Bluing - a hard-wearing finish with colors that vary from a blue-black (when the metal is polished to mirror) to a lighter blue (if the metal is polished to a lesser grit / less polished). In our experience, an average long gun restoration costs around $3500-$4000, when there is no major mechanical work required on the functioning side of the firearm, and when there are no major issues to address (like cracks in the wood, pitting, rust, broken or missing or loose parts, the stock is not replaced with a custom fitted stock, etc.). The price can escalate quite significantly with expensive engravings and gold inlay work or a custom fitted stock, or if there are any mechanical malfunctions that our gunsmiths need to address. A custom fitted new stock and engraving restoration / fresh engraving will up the price of restoration towards $10,000. This is actually a very affordable cost, depending on the cost of the firearm and the overall value of the firearm. Most firearms that go through a 10k re-do are worth anywhere between 20-50k; a massive overhaul is only needed once every two decades or so, provided the finishes are done properly, so the actual maintenance cost for a 50k rifle / shotgun is under $85 / month. This is a very acceptable maintenance cost, especially provided the value of these firearms increases over time. The turnaround time depends on the size of the project and on the particularities of the project; a wood that has multiple inclusions will be harder to work with; metal that has deep rusting and pitting (especially blood rust) will require more work and will take longer than metal that has average wear but no rust or pitting marks. The Story of a Perazzi’s Second Life at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC, Firearms Restoration The Perazzi MX8 below, which came in for a custom stock, is a prime example of a complete restoration and a very particular gun stock, fitted to the very specific shape of the customer’s shoulder pocket, height of cheek bones and measurements. This was a 2 ½ years long project (probably the longest project we had in the shop!), and it was worth every second. It required two fitting sessions and it is made out of a beautiful piece of wood that had easily over 50 minuscule inclusions.

Custom Stock and Full Firearm Restoration of a Perazzi MX8 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Yakima - Slow Rust Bluing, Bonanza Gold line, Recut Engraving and Lettering, Custom Shotgun Stock made to fit for a Competition Shooter
Custom Stock and Full Firearm Restoration of a Perazzi MX8 at Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, LLC Yakima - Slow Rust Bluing, Bonanza Gold line, Recut Engraving and Lettering, Custom Shotgun Stock made to fit for a Competition Shooter

Since each shooter’s physique is unique, the stock that this MX8 came with (a second-hand purchase), was not fitting the new owner at all. As we have discussed above, Perazzis are very personal and highly personalized guns, so a stock that fits well one owner will most likely not be a perfect match for the next owner. The metal finish was also not very fresh, and in some areas it seemed like the gold inlay had fallen out. The customer knew he will need to do a fair amount of TLC, but he really wanted this MX8, so the investment was worth it. The owner has a slight build - but not soft - because he's in a really good shape. He is not very thick in the chest area and he is fairly trim, although not particularly tall. His shoulder pocket is very angular and his cheek bones are higher than the average shooter’s cheek bones. He contacted us to have a custom stock made for his Perazzi MX8, a stock that would fit him for both trap and skeet. His MX8 has a 32 inch single barrel and a couple 28 inch over-under barrels set.

He had a nice burl stock blank tucked away for a number of years and a nice marble cake blank to choose from. We discussed the project and we ended up going with the burl; it was a very beautiful piece of wood that looks outstanding, although it did have its challenges because it had a particularly high number of inclusions, which made the woodwork a challenge. The full restoration and custom stock making took about 2 ½ years, but it surely was worth it! The customer came in and had a gun fitting session. We took precise measurements and made a stock pattern for the customer, out of the original shotgun stock which had no particular value. In the past, the customer had a pattern made for his Ljutic shotguns as well, so he was fairly familiar with the process. When designing the pattern and putting the numbers together, what resulted was a stock that had the cast off on the high end, the toe out quite noticeable, a really high and out comb as well. In most of our projects, the design stage is pivotal. Gun fitting is about transforming a series of measurements (that seemingly determine a strange shape) into an actual gun stock design - and manage to create an aesthetically pleasing gun stock to go with the high end gun, the nice piece of wood and to also fit the customer. With this stock pattern made and installed on his Perazzi MX8, the customer was able to go to a local gun club and test the fitting before duplicating it. It turned out that shooting the single barrel was great for him but when he was shooting the double barrels, just after 100 rounds, he would start getting some bruising on the cheek – especially from the lower barrel. Our Master Gunsmith observed the customer’s shooting style, so he determined that the cause of bruising was the comb’s height. He was able to shave the nose of the comb down just a hair, and that proved to be the final touch that made the stock a perfect fit for the customer. Once this stage was completed to the customer’s satisfaction, we duplicated it into the stock blank.

We also made a matching piece for the forend, which was also fitted to the customer. The MX8 forend is very entertaining to work with. We ended up having to make a number of special inletting tools in order to be able to work in some relatively hard to access areas in order to get everything done. The forend was fitted to both the single and double barrels. After we fitted the buttstock to the receiver, we did the final shaping. For the wood finish, we went with a Weatherby type two part finish. As mentioned before, the original Weatherby finish is no longer available on the market, but we use a special two part varnish that is primarily developed for the marine industry. It is a very durable, high-gloss finish. We chose it in this instance because trap is primarily shot throughout the day and an oil finish sitting out in the hot summer sun can get soft and sticky. A nice, hard, two part varnish, will take better the extreme weather. The MX8 that our customer owns turned out to be a one-off from the factory, in that it had what the factory records note as “gold striping”. This “gold striping” process is similar to gold wire inlay, but it does not go to the full extent that gold wire inlay does. Gold striping is lacking the dovetail undercut, and the gold is not a wire, but gold dust mixed with a compound that is manually pressed in the hand cut groove. Gold striping is also called “bonanza gold lining”. The most important difference between gold inlay and bonanza gold is that, if slow rust blued, gold inlay will not be affected; as to bonanza gold, it will start cracking and falling out. Since this MX8 was embellished with bonanza gold and not gold inlay, a substantial amount of time that went into the project was to re-cut the gold grooves and text to a deeper depth, rectify the sharp edges and the depth of the previous cuts, and re-fill the grooves with bonanza gold. We kept the original method of gold striping, for authenticity purposes, while adding the visual benefits of restored metal and freshened up bonanza gold.

Eventually, this project turned out to be a full firearm restoration with a custom fully fitted stock. The customer was particularly happy to learn that we can rust blue and refresh the bonanza gold and was pleased with the results. Below, pictures of the Perazzi full firearm restoration and custom fitted stock. Pictures take in our showroom.

And another set of pictures taken at the Agricultural Museum in Union Gap - many many thanks to the Central Washington Agricultural Museum for kindly allowing us to come in and take tens of wonderful pictures on site! If you are looking for something to do with your family, the Ag Museum in Union Gap is a wonderful location to learn and explore the local agricultural heritage of the local community: VISIT THE AGRICULTURAL MUSEUM WEBSITE. If you didn't know, our local Agricultural Museum is the largest Agricultural Museum in the Pacific Northwest; it houses over 150 antique tractors, over 1,000 pieces of historic machinery and acres of exhibits that showcase life on farm over the past 100 years.

And below, a series of pictures from the shop, taken by our gunsmiths as they were working on the project:

For even more pictures of this project and other projects of ours, please VISIT OUR PORTFOLIO.