RUDY'S FAVORITE GUNS A PRIDE IN QUALITY
In 1941, Rudy's father, Fred Etchen, had an "Etchen Special" Parker made for a family friend and lawyer named Charles Wooster. In 12 gauge, with two sets of barrels, it featured the full Etchen-style stock and beautiful beavertail forearm. The woodwork was crafted by the famous Lefever family who, along with Larry Del Grego, made many of the fine stocks for Parker.
This was one of the last of the fine Parkers made in 1941, just before the assembly line was converted to building aircraft machine guns for World War II. Its serial number was 241606, and the very last one off the line in 1941 was 241609.
This work of art returned "home" to Rudy Etchen last spring after 34 years with its Chicago owner. "It's almost in mint condition, " Rudy fondled the 30 lines per inch checkering. "Charley Wooster didn't shoot it a lot and kept it just like new. About a year ago, when he decided he would be shooting it even less, he let me have it. He wanted to make sure I got the gun which Dad had built, complete with the original bill of sale from Marshall Field."
GRITS: What is the "Etchen Special" stock?
RUDY: It was one my father designed, with a full pistol grip measured and made to fit the individual hand. All were Monte Carlo, built individually. Each has a silver grip cap which read "Etchen Special" and had the person's name on it.
GRITS: How many were made?
RUDY: My father died in 1961 and there hasn't been an Etchen stock made since then. The total? Maybe a dozen Parkers, half a dozen Ithaca singles, about 115 Model 870 Remingtons and about 90 Model 12 Winchesters. Maybe 50-60 Remington 1148s, and 35-40 Remington Model 32s. A few specialty guns - I know of two Boss, one Purdey, and not more than a dozen Model 21 Winchesters. That's about it.
GRITS: Did you have an "Etchen Special" put on your Purdey?
RUDY: As best as I could get the English to do it. They have definite ideas as to what you should shoot. It's a problem to convince them that you know better what you want than they think they know. They don't believe in pistol grips, Monte Carlos or beavertail forearms, and think a ventilated rib is unnecessary.
GRITS: How about that Schnabel forearm on the old Parker?
RUDY: When the Lefevers were particularly interested in a fine piece, they put the Fleur-de-Lis on, which was native to the finer grade Parkers, and would use the Schnabel-type forearm even on the side-by-sides. Beautiful work. A very special job received these lovely "extras" from the Lefevers. Frank and Art Lefever are now dead, but Bob lives at Lee Center, N.Y., where he's very much alive and very active and still does beautiful gun work.
GRITS: Do you shoot the old Parker that came home?
RUDY: I now do all of my columbaire live-bird shooting with it. Strangely enough the stock fits me almost perfectly, although Dad made it for Charley. It was a beautiful gesture on Charley's part to let me have it, and I'll always cherish this grand old gun.