Monday, March 1, 2010

"My first Weatherby" by Gary7

I handled and fired a Weatherby for the first time in the mid 70s when I was 16. My best friend's uncle died and left all his guns to his brother. One was a Mark V 300 Wby Magnum. Even as a teenager I recognized the Weatherby as something special, and I made a promise to myself that one day I would own one.

So, 35 years later, I decided to make good on that promise. I started off by looking at the Vanguards down at Academy last week and I was impressed by the fit and finish and the quality feel. It did remind me of how I remember the feel of that Mark V from 35 years ago. But one thing that most impressed me about that Weatherby from my youth was sadly missing: a beautiful walnut stock. The green plastic stock on those Academy Vanguards may be functional, but pretty it ain't. So I came home and got on the Weatherby web sit to see if the Vanguard could be had with a wood stock. I knew a Mark V was out of my price range, so I didn't bother looking at them. It looked like the Vanguard Sporter model was what I wanted.

I started looking at the Vanguard Sporters on the gun auction sites and other online retailers. But then I ran across an auction for a "like new" Mark V in 30-06 that had an opening bid that was in my price range. It's one of the last Japanese made Mark Vs and according to the seller has only had one box of shells fired through it. This rifle was clearly the prize or award for some kind for an event or organization because of the laser engraving on the buttstock. Based on the photos, the rifle does indeed look like new.

Now comes the hard part: waiting for it to get here so I can get a scope on it and take it to the range.

Here are some photos from the seller:


JayPee said...

That's a beautiful rifle indeed. When I was 22 years old I wanted a Weatherby Mk V in the worst way and I lived about ten miles from the plant in a suburb of Los Angeles. I made several trips down to lust over them and finally figured I could finance one if I lived on peanut butter for a while. During all my trips down to admire the guns though, the sales people at Weatherby's basically weren't interested in me and gave me the "go away kid-you bother me" treatment, refusing to believe anyone my age could afford one of their rifles. So when I went down with intent to buy one I got the same bum's rush treatment and left pretty disgusted. The upshot of it is that I went home to my home town and bought a Browning Safari Grade otsix instead. I still have it today and that was 45 years ago, in 1965. I got one of the good ones that didn't have salt cured wood, so the blue is still perfect although the old epoxy stock blistered and had to be refinished. But if those guys had taken me seriously, I'd be a Weatherby owner today. I believe the Mark V was using a JP Sauer action at the time and they were real sweethearts.

I owned the only chronograph in town for a while in the early 80's and got to shoot a lot of them in 7mm Weatherby and .270 Weatherby, most of which were Magna-Ported and very pleasant to shoot. Western hunters loved them and still do today, so I'm sure you'll be very pleased with yours. But don't be surprized if the recoil is a bit more than other otsix's because of the high comb. The nice rifles of that era really went for the jazzy high comb, my Browning included, and although stylish, kicked more than other rifles in the same calibers. But what the heck, it's a Weatherby!! I hope you use yours for 45 years too!! Jer

Gary7 said...

That's unfortunate about the way you were treated by Weatherby. Sometimes the people that own or work for a company can be incredibly short sighted about how treating a potential customer can have long lasting effects. You no doubt still have an appreciation for the design and craftsmanship of Weatherby rifles, but your experience with the nascent company left a bad taste in your mouth that has lingered for nearly half a century.

Concerning the Mark V action, the guns you were drooling over then no doubt had barreled actions made by J. P. Sauer in Germany, but they were Weatherby's Mark V proprietary design and not a Sauer action in the sense that Weatherby just purchased an existing design already produced by Sauer.

JayPee said...

I didn't know the technical details of the Sauer units, nor do I know when Weatherby stopped using Mauser actions on his rifles. But either way, they were the Cadillac of Cadillacs back then.

For some years after he adopted the Vanguard model with the Howa action, only the Vanguard was offered in standard, non-Weatherby calibers. It was commonly written back then that he didn't have a good enough share in the rifle market with the Mark V in his proprietary calibers alone, so he brought out the Vanguard to bouy up his bottom line with a less expensive model in standard calibers to get into the lower end of the market, or so the story goes.

I don't know when they started offering the Mark V in standard calibers, but it surprised me when you said your Mark V is an otsix. I had seen something in print fifteen years ago or so about the Mark V being offered in the 7mm Remington Mag., But then I haven't kept up with them with any real dedication.

You were correct about my having a bad taste towards the Weatherbys for many years. But, even at that, I started to purchase a Mark V with a classic style stock offered in the early 90's, but the price tag was up around $1,200 retail and I was buying it for one special elk hunt with a special friend and that fell through. So I lost interest and kept on shooting my old Browning.

Gary7 said...

I'm pretty sure the Mark V was always offered in 30-06 as a "standard" caliber. Of course, Weatherby would make a custom Mark V in almost any caliber a customer wanted. I've got a pdf copy of the owners manual for the German made Mark Vs and it lists 30-06 and 22/250 as the only non-Weatherby calibers. Same for the later Japanese made owner's manual.

The really big difference came when Weatherby switched all the non-Weatherby calibers to the smaller 6 lug Mark V action that had been made for the Varmintmaster in 224 and 22/250. Prior to this, the 30-06 came in the same massive 9 lug action that the the magnum calibers used. And one things for sure: You could develop some hot 30-06 loads for a 9 lug Mark V action that was designed for pressures up to 200,000 psi.