Straight shooter: 5 fascinating vintage firearm appraisals from our gun expert

Guns & ammo

Expert advice, appraisals and fascinating firearms stories


In the era following the Second World War, there was a strong demand for custom and upgraded factory hunting rifles. One of the most renowned and highly respected of the custom gunmakers was Al Biesen of Spokane, Washington. Biesen restocked rifles for regular hunters looking for something a bit fancier than their factory sporters, He also built complete guns for wealthy hunters, presidents, shahs and rajahs. His son Roger later joined him in the business, followed by Roger’s daughter Paula, who is a superb engraver. Roger and Paula are holding the rifle in the photo.

This rifle was Al’s personal hunting rifle, a .270 on a custom Mauser action with a Model 70-style safety. The stock is maple, checkered in the distinctive Biesen pattern. After he stopped hunting, Al refinished the stock and Paula added some engraving. Al died in 2016 at age 98, and Roger is in his seventies and retired, so there will be no more Biesen custom rifles made. Paula remains active with her world-renowned engraving. This rifle is owned by the Biesen family and not for sale. I wouldn’t speculate on its value if it ever did come on the market, but it would be substantial.

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