By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
Can you ever imagine holding an $85,000 gun in your hands, much less own one?
Sometime during the course of this week at the 173rd Pennsylvania State Gun Shoot at the Valley Gun & Country Club, there will be an unnamed shooter from Canada who will be visiting Allem’s Gun Craft Inc., right off the main building, with the sole purpose of purchasing that particular gun designed according to his own specifications.
“The prices of our guns vary greatly because of the different classes of people we encounter, not just here but at all the shoots we attend,” John Allem Jr. said. “The type of guy you would see buying a Bentley or a Ferrari is the level of individual we usually will be working with specifically, but that does not mean we cannot supply the beginning shooter with a gun varying in prices from $1 to $3 thousand dollars.
“We predominantly deal with Perazzi and Krieghoff field and target guns and they are our two biggest sellers.”
Owner John Allem is a AA27AA trapshooter with many state and regional trapshooting titles to his credit, and has been selected to more than 15 Pennsylvania All State Teams, including captain of the 2010 Senior Veteran Team. He founded the company over 30 years ago in Zionsville, Pa., and has been coming to the Pa. State Shoot for over 40 years.
Target shooting started back in the 1880’s and competitors bought a gun that at the time may have cost several hundred dollars and the shooters used it most of their career. But like the Model-T Ford, as time went on, progress and improvements were made and suddenly the price of the equipment began to rise along with the level of competition.
“It’s no different than anything else that had a beginning, and with time and the desire to ever improve the product, its cost also went up,” Allem Jr. said. “Actually, when you consider what all goes into a custom-made gun, starting with the engraving, which could involve anything from gold, silver and platinum, your purchase is like an investment that only increases over time.
“The $85,000 gun we customized is a German-made Krieghoff and our buyer from Canada can either present us with a design of his own making or we can come up with something of our own, which will be suitable to his liking.”
The Allems can be found in their modest setup usually working on any number of high grade, target shotguns throughout their stay at this week’s state shoot. Thus, they are not just limited to selling; they also customize and service guns brought to them throughout the competition, or even from individuals who will come to the shoot not to compete but to get some work done on their own gun.
Allem’s Gun Craft is nationally known for its customized gun work on Allem’s release triggers, back boring, forcing cones, barrel porting, choking, adjustable socks, gun repairs and other various gunsmith services for the target shooter.
“My father began tinkering with his release trigger until he was satisfied with the action from his gun and pretty soon other shooters began asking him to replace their trigger with his model,” Allem Jr. said. “Our product is nationally known and sold all over the world and many of our customers are well-known, high-profile individuals ranging from athletes to movie stars and politicians, who come to us with a specific request to which we do our best to accommodate what they are looking for in a customized gun.
“John Honda, grandson of the owner of the Honda conglomerate, flew in from Japan so we cold work on three of his guns.”
The Allems can expect to see several thousand people over the course of their 10-day stay at the VGCC. In addition to selling guns for shooting trap, they usually take care of the most common breaks that occur during a shoot, which is firing pin or ejection breaks.
John Sr. was one of the original Navy snipers while serving in the Armed Forces and the job was not as glorified as it is today.
“I used a Model 70 Winchester rifle with a 20-power scope,” Allem said. “We had to estimate distances and work into factoring wind conditions and did not have the sophisticated equipment you see the snipers using today. Back then we were frowned upon and did not receive the glory that surrounds the Seals of today’s Navy.
“In addition to the minerals used in our engraving, we import the wood for our stocks from Armenia, which is a small country near Turkey.”