One of the most renowned Austrian luxury gun makers, Johann Fanzoj, which creations we covered multiple times, has finished another magnificent project – the DRACON bolt action rifle. As we always see in firearms made by companies like Johann Fanzoj, the ideas and concepts are executed at the highest possible level creating true perfection.
The DRACON rifle is accompanied by a hard-bound book telling the story of its creation in photographs and written form. Here is how Johann Fanzoj describes the philosophy behind this rifle:
THE DESIGN CONCEPT
An extraordinary conceptual achievement, executed on the highest level of craftsmanship, “DRACON” incorporates breathtaking images of dragons powerfully at work in their different elements earth, water, air and fire – a metaphor of the different aspects (elemental forces) at work inside us, made visible by our personalities.
We aspired to convey the strong presence of the dragon in our everyday life, and to visualize its powers (qualities), which move in symbolic form dynamically as “four elements” over the rifle parts. Mythology was woven thereby into the material production of this work of art, fueling the concept on a parallel level. One does not exist without the other, they supplement each other. A magical process.
As the theme unfolds we see EARTH, AIR, WATER and FIRE in their respective characteristics, moving over the system parts, dynamic, raging in their element. Powerful the Earth Dragon, wingless with branches and leaf-like scales. Magnificent the wings of the Air Dragon, that spans in marvelous detail across the upper parts and bolt. A Water Dragon winds up the barrel, in an eternal power-struggle with the unleashed Fire Dragon, which secures the rifle´s butt end against unauthorized energies.
A great performance by master engraver Franz Haas and our creative team, lead by Daniela Fanzoj. The implementation of this complex theme, on such different surfaces and levels, with masterfully deep ciselling and gold or Platinum inlay work is remarkable. A challenge to abstract the dragon’s body so as to be able to perceive it as a unit on the different gravure surfaces.
The stock of the rifle is made of Circassian walnut root wood which has been stored for over 10 years to bring the humidity level down to below 10%. The finish of the wood is a result of several months’ work of sanding, filling and applying oils with centuries-old techniques. Other materials used in embellishments of this steel canvas are gold, platinum, obsidian, ebony, and ruby.
Probably there is no need to mention that projects like this are extremely time-consuming and require the work of the highest skilled masters in the industry. The Johann Fanzoj team working on this project (designers, gunsmith, engraver, stock maker, saddler, goldsmith, tool and case maker) spent three years to finish it.
This rifle is built on a Mauser 98 pattern action and it’s chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. Despite being a masterpiece deserving to be displayed in an art museum, it is still a reliable tool with a proven mechanism and chambered in a potent caliber that can take down most of the big game animals.
To me, firearm engraving is a unique and separate subform of art. Which style you find the most appealing is a matter of your own perception of this art. Some may say that the almost three-dimensional deep relief engravings of hunting scenes and animal figures are the embodiment of the highest skills, others may consider the photorealistic Bulino to be the ultimate style of engraving and many of you may be fans of elaborate floral scroll engravings.
Probably one of the places in the world where the traditions and skills of this art are best preserved in is Austria and particularly the town of Ferlach which is the home of the 230-year-old Johann Fanzoj company and many other luxury gunmakers. No wonder why in 2010 UNESCO added the gun making craft of Ferlach to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Images courtesy of Johann Fanzoj (www.fanzoj.com)