Imagined in 2002, commissioned in 2004 and raffled in 2006; this one-of-a-kind custom rifle is the result of superb cooperation between the O’Connor family, the Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center and the Idaho Chapter of FNAWS. Donated to the Boone and Crockett Club by the raffle winner, it is presented through the Club’s Guns For Conservation Program.
Those who are familiar with O’Connor’s writings will remember that Al Biesen stocked and customized two nearly-identical Winchester pre-64 Model 70 Featherweight .270 Winchester rifles for the legendary writer. As O’Connor wrote in Sheep and Sheep Hunting (Winchester Press, 1974), The No. 2 rifle is my particular pet. Month after month, year after year, in sunshine and in rain it puts its favorite load with the 130-grain Nosler bullet into a little group three inches high at a hundred yards.” The Biesen / O’Connor rifle offered here is a faithful reproduction of “No 2”. As it should be, the original is owned by the O’Connor family and destined to forever remain in their care.
Built by Al & Roger Biesen, the Model 70 Featherweight barreled action is flawlessly stocked in French walnut, graced with a fine borderless 24 lines-per-inch checkering accented with fleurs and finished with an ebony forend tip. Additional features include a jeweled bolt body, extractor and follower, two-panel checkered bolt knob, recontoured and checkered bolt release and a recontoured (cloverleaf) tang. The stock itself is dressed out with a steel bottom metal and grip cap, initial shield on the toe line (blank), cheek piece with shadow line and a Biesen trapdoor butt plate with widow’s peak.
ENGRAVING: Engraved by Paula Biesen-Malicki (Roger’s daughter), the bottom metal is accented with delicate scroll. The steel grip cap continues the theme, surrounding a bust of one Jack’s finest Coues’ deer. The butt plate is nothing short of spectacular, as it presents the bust of O’Connor’s 44-inch Dall’s ram taken in 1950 on Pilot Mountain in the Yukon Territory.
SCOPE: In order to create as exact a duplicate as possible, a Leupold Mountaineer 4x scope with a “straight crosshair” reticle rides in favored Tilden mounts. The only aspect of the rifle not in perfect condition, it retains some 95 percent of the original finish.
DIMENSIONS: Weight is 8.8 pounds, length-of-pull is 13.5 inches and the balance point is two inches behind the forward guard screw.
CONDITION: New and unfired since completion.
INCLUSIONS: As assembled by the raffle winner and donor, a three-ring notebook approximately one-inch thick contains original and copied correspondence between the O’Connor family members, O’Connor biographer Eldon “Buck” Buckner, FNAWS, Roger Biesen, Wolfe Publishing (Rifle Magazine), a final draft of Craig Boddington’s August, 2005 Gunnotes column on the rifle, original promotional flyers and a raffle ticket stub. Original and copied photos include the Biesen’s with the rifle in progress as well as finished, along with a pair of O’Connor’s field photos with trophy rams. Finally, a single live Winchester Super Speed .270 round is included. Some would say it to be worth more than the rifle itself. The price is firm and layaway is available. $20,000 plus shipping. Proceeds benefit the Boone and Crockett Club.