Johann Fanzoj 300 Norma Magnum Luxury Masterpiece
A 300 Norma Magnum like No Other
In this article we will explore a 300 Norma Magnum luxury hunting rifle made by some of the finest craftsmen in Alpine Austria, master craftsmen and women that have dedicated over 200 years to the passion, art and finesse of luxury gun and rifle making, but with an important twist and I feel quite humbled to be sharing this with you today. I’ve seen many custom rifles in UK, Italy and Germany, but never quite something like what these people have been making for the last nine generations. Through this series of articles in cooperation with Johann Fanzoj, we seek to bring you some of the finest examples of gun and rifle making.
The article is structured as follows. See the Index table at the top for easy navigation.
- The 300 Norma Magnum cartridge experience
- Unveiling the Johann Fanzoj 300 Norma Magnum luxury hunting rifle
- 300 Norma Magnum Cartridge Performance
Luxury hunting rifles is what this firm does best. They are committed to create some of the most remarkable rifles around.
INTRO to Johann Fanzoj
These people and their ancestors have dedicated their lives to creating some of the most remarkable gun and rifle masterpieces which serious, well to do, firearm enthusiasts can enjoy. Johann Fanzoj craftsmen and women are preservers of old craftsmanship pushing further into the future with a creative spark using materials such as titanium to accomplish what others thought unimaginable or unfeasible in rifles. Titanium is a premium application metal which is highly corrosion resistant, is stronger than most alloys and is extremely light weight. The same titanium action is 45% lighter than a traditional steel Mauser action. In the process we get to witness the highest level of craftsmanship thanks to those patrons who commission them.
Director Daniela Fanzoj discusses the luxury hunting rifle project in meticulous detail.
Rifletalks.com readers are passionate, data driven, relentless rifle enthusiasts, field-proven rifle shooters and handloaders largely pursuing excellence and performance. Among these I’ve learned, there is also a cluster of hunters that has overlapping interests, particularly those that venture in open country and challenge mountain peaks where these high-performance competition cartridges come into their own; they increase the chances of making an effective deadly shot under trying field conditions.
We recently interviewed Ammon Ammon who quite literally fits in this category like a fireformed case slides into its chamber. He is best known for his hunting exploits seeking some of the most unique species, with the skills to effectively harvest them at extended distances, otherwise an almost impossible shot. He also owns multiple fine precision hunting rifles and at least 2 Fanzoj rifles in 338 Lapua, a working model and an embellished model. Ammon Ammon turned this hunting niche into a lifestyle and he commissions finely hand crafted hunting rifles like these for his adventures.
Now take stock of that knowledge and multiply it by decades of commitment and you may come close to the knowledge, passion and drive that lies with the Johann Fanzoj family. These people have been making rifles for more than two centuries listening to clients’ wild requests and making it happen year after year. The thing that struck me most is how well these people listened and then the extents they are willing to go to, to accomplish that vision. Remarkable.
Above: A working model in 338 Lapua Magnum single shot ‘Kipplauf rifle’ and an embellished model below.
The 300 Norma Magnum cartridge experience
I can’t come close to any of the craftsmanship experience described above. My experience is with this 300 Norma Magnum cartridge however. For the last 5 years, I have spent significant time behind the 300 Norma Magnum cartridge both in the reloading room as well as in the field, either shooting or spotting for one using the 215Berger, the 230 Berger and 250 Hornady A-tips. It all started when I had initially read an article about the 338 Norma Magnum and learned that there is also its .30 calibre variant for which sourcing good .30 calibre bullets would be easier especially in Europe.
Pushing a 250 Hornady A-Tip at 2970ft/s (905m/s) is something the 300 Norma Mag can do with ease, that’s my competition load. For a lighter weight hunting rifle, I would stick around 200-225gr Eld-x, Nosler Accubond or similar bullet which keeps the recoil manageable. At these weights you may hit 3200ft/s (975m/s) with ease. Running a ladder test to find the optimal charge weight, velocity and precision is a good way of doing it. When your hunt involves this type of terrain seen below, a 300Norma Mag can be your enabler. This picture below shows Mark hunting Ibex in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan for which rifletalks.com provided the tuned, handloaded ammo.
Hunting Ibex on horseback is the ultimate way of experiencing this hunt. The rider was carrying a 300RUM providing similar performance.
Five years ago, I had my gunsmith in the UK chamber a Bartlein 30” 1.9 barrel for it on a workhorse RPA action and the rest has been time spent shooting and collecting data with it, with two identical rifles that me and my spotter Rob have been shooting in competitive ELR matches. Now I run 2 different 300 Norma Mag barrels with 1.9 and 1.8 twist rates in a commercially made RPA and Desert Tech rifle respectively. The latter sports a 1.8 Bartlein by Solid Solution Designs.
Terminal ballistics of the 300 Norma Mag
There’s one US rifle smith that has built many 300Norma Mag for hunting and that is Ryan Pierce. He was very helpful when I started out with the 300 Norma Mag and his clients use this cartridge exclusively for hunting. His rifles are closer to tactical style setup on the lighter side using commercially available high quality components. However in case you are interested to learn about the terminal ballistics on game, of the 300NM, Ryan has taken numerous North American game animals with it and would be a better reference point than me on that side of the subject.
Another gunsmith that is focused on high performance hunting cartridges for hunting is Kirby Allen with his series of Allen Express cartridges built in light weight hunting rifles. I would say Kirby is a pioneer in this line. Extremely knowledgeable guy, I’ve been following his posts on LRH.com for about 15 years and provided content that sparked my interest big time in high performance cartridges. None of these options offer anything depicted in this article in terms of classic European hunting rifles, but they are very knowledge people whom I have reached out to in the past and they were helpful in providing their experiences especially hunting related.
More information on the cartridge performance further down.
Unveiling the Johann Fanzoj 300 Norma Magnum luxury hunting rifle
Life is a surprising alley. When the Fanzoj Siblings, Daniela and Patrick Fanzoj told me they were building a 300 Norma Magnum, the ultimate Ibex Hunting rifle, I was more than intrigued. Firstly, because to date, I had only seen tactical rifles in 300 Norma Mag with a few, beautifully made US custom rifles that could easily be mistaken for their SOCOM military contract equivalent. The lines indeed are blurred these days between tactical and hunting often sourcing from the same components inventory available to the general trade. That makes these rifle builds more cost effective.
However, when I got on the video call with Patrick and Daniela Fanzoj, they unveiled a very different 300 Norma Magnum hunting rifle, one that could possibly also connect with the 1-mile plate but more likely to be used on the treacherous mountains of Kyrgyzstan or the precipitous valleys of Tajikistan while riding on horseback into god’s open country. This narrative wasn’t completely new to me as Mark and Mario, two avid hunters and friends of mine, had spoken to me in great detail about the conditions they would be facing when hunting the mid-Asian Ibex in Kyrgyzstan. That Ibex crowns the magazine of this 300 Norma Magnum hunting rifle that pays homage to this sure-footed, wild goat species of the genus Capra that are found in the mountains of Europe, Asia, and North eastern Africa.
Daniela Fanzoj, the ninth-generation director of this bespoke firm popped the case locks open; the bright red tightly woven worsted wool known as baize contrasted with the satin black of the 300 Norma Mag rifle barrel while the Ibex engraving on the magazine radiated that distinctive glint with horns spreading the width of the 3 round fixed magazine original hinged floor plate.
The 26” long barrel enjoyed a leaner profile than my competition workhorse probably tapering to about 0.78” at the muzzle preserving much of the classic lines closely guarded and preserved in the iconic image of the Mauser. The adjustable cheekpiece ensures its lucky owner would get a solid consistent weld when aligning his face to the classic Swarovski X5i 3.5-18×50 P scope which is a beautiful hybrid of a fine hunting optics with the more distinctive target turrets, revealing the ultimate end-user intentions, long shots in mountain kingdom where this 300 Norma Magnum hunting caliber comes into its own.
This was a rifle that handled like a classic Mauser with refined lines, built to the customer’s thorough specifications revealing a most discerning rifle collector, enjoying some of the finest grade woods a stock maker could ever lay his hands on in years. That wood has been left to dry for 10 years at their premises before being hand selected, she remarked. At the time I jumped on the call, the rifle was being packed away in a tailor-made grey case beautifully crafted to be it’s resting place when not called upon for action. These rifles are the pride and joy of their owners and although they may draw blood from time to time, they adorn equally well curated offices, classic living rooms, art rooms, private galleries and men caves in different parts of the world, a heirloom for some and a prized hunting possession for others that bears every whim of the person that commissioned it.
Many gunsmiths can put together a well-tuned 300 Norma Mag but if you want your fingerprint on every detail using any sort of material, gilding or engraving with all the parts made by hand, then these people can make it happen. Extreme individualisation, technical and aesthetic fusion when budget is no limit. They lend their innovation at the client’s disposal, able to prototype, design and engineer in one place – That is Johann Fanzoj today.
As Daniela rotated the rifle for me to appreciate the details that had been prescribed by the client, I noticed the pronounced palm swell and the stock which was made over a period of months following a prescribed contour, measured multiple times at their Ferlach, Austria office. These rifles are built over a period of 2-3 years and typically involve close visits by the client to ensure it is to his utmost satisfaction. Most Fanzoj clients own more than one of their creations, some opt for a working model while another more luxurious version is built for the gun room as can be seen below with these two versions of the Kipplauf rifle in 338 Lapua Magnum.
Interestingly, the client opted for a well-known Atlas Accutac bipod which ensures better recoil handling when coupled with the 5-port muzzle break that crowns the fluted barrel. Simple yet effective setup that is very portable and which will at most be used to shoot no more than 2 rounds in surgical succession.
Below are some more details of this european firm and their people doing their magic. I absolutely love the snake skin feeling they managed to infuse on these scope mounts almost bringing them to life.
A trigger guard reminiscing African safari moments from another rifle build.
A 300 Norma barrel provides around 1000 rounds of match shooting precision, with handloads, that means 1/3MOA or better precision. If barrels are kept cool, this figure can be extended as these barrels will not see long strings of fire as their competition equivalent. The scope rings are adorned with magnificently hand engraved patterns mirrored as well on the action beneath and protruding over the bolt like climbing roses. Astounding.
The bolt knob was masterfully engraved to provide as much grip as feel-good factor when handling it, mindful of the fact that someone spent tens of hours working on this single item and that person has trained for this for years on end to create luxury and perfection culminating in the lifetime rifle build. When you brush your fingers over it as a user, you can enjoy the same tactile qualities that the master craftsmen has sought to create. Amazing.
Here are some of the more elaborate two-headed Johann Fanzoj Muzzle Brake options for this 300 Norma Mag. Shortly we will show you an even more impressive muzzle brake which you have probably never seen the likes of and neither had I.
“The Titanium TI-3 version of the rifle gives it unique handling characteristics that are different from a steel-actioned rifle. It is light, but not “flighty” like other lightweight steel rifles where weight reduction is achieved with savings in the barrel. In fact, the TI-3 points extremely well and holds on target very well when shooting free hand. Weight distribution is perfectly in the middle, the stock ergonomics we came up with makes handling easy, almost no felt recoil. Impressive. Carrying the Titanium M-98 in the field is a unique experience in itself. Collecting game with a Fanzoj Titanium TI-3 is the icing on the cake.” These were the concluding remarks of Patrick Fanzoj that runs the engineering and development side of the firm but who also is a hunter testing these prototypes in the field. On my last call with him, the man was packing up a rifle for field testing in Tajikistan. Truly a 360° experience.
Range time with the Fanzoj 300 Norma Mag hunting rifle
When you build this level of rifles, you have your own range where to test fire prototypes to understand better what works and what doesn’t but mostly, to be able to try out the rifles you are building. Crowned with this beautiful hunting Swarovski optic, the rifle is sure to show us what sort of performance it is capable of.
One thing that strikes me about these bespoke rifle builders is that they strive to create wildly aesthetically beautiful masterpieces as much as high performing ones that mirror the same excellence in shooting as they do in their build and finish.
As you would have guessed, this rifle shooting factory Norma ammunition with a Svemko suppressor cloverleafed into a rounded 1/3 MOA group.
Below, the rifle sits in the lobby of the range matching almost perfectly against the leather couch it sits on today before heading out to the mountains where it will face the real conditions it was built for. Next to it, the 338Lapua kipplauf rifle of Ammon Ammon during it’s test firing at the Ferlach range in Austria.
If you are after something truly unique from the European Continent that exudes legacy, luxury and savoire-faire, this Johann Fanzoj Vierling, four barrelled rifle-shotgun is truly a unique testament to what this ancient firm can accomplish at the level of luxury they offer.
A single shot, Johann Fanzoj Kipplauf ‘working model’ shown below.
Johann Fanzoj Luxury Hunting Rifles – You dream it, they create it.
300 Norma Magnum Cartridge performance
The 300 Norma Mag is a terrific cartridge. The below photos show the culmination of a load development weekend on my new barrel shooting under 0.6″ at 300meters that’s 0.2 MOA! I like the fact that Johann Fanzoj do not opt for very light weight barrel to preserve the harmonic qualities of the barrel and preserving weight where it matters meaning their barrels would be very capable of similar accuracy. If you want to learn more about the 300 Norma Mag load development, I suggest you read my articles on the 300 Norma Mag as well as the next one I have coming out shortly.
Above: Different bullet seating depth tests were tested to achieve the best result shown in the lower left, 3 shot group.
Johann Fanzoj selects premium hand lapped barrels from the best manufacturers worldwide for their clients. When a client wants the absolute best, this is a determining factor. It’s not just about the looks. I’ll say it again but what I found remarkable about these people given their experience is how many questions they ask to ensure they get a full picture of the options available. As they say, judge a person by his questions.
The thing that has struck me the most about the 300 Norma Magnum over these years is that it is a very dependable, well studied cartridge that has reliable and consistent performance with excellent components to be found. I’ve taken this 300 Norma Magnum to Cold bore range in Denmark to shoot past 2000meters. Here we experienced freezing weather conditions as you can see below and winds up to 24mph.
Can you tell which direction the wind was coming from?
We drove across Italy to Tuscany to engage hilltop to hilltop targets with the boys at EXLRS. We made hits to 2200meters.
The next two years we flew to France to experience the challenging conditions of the plains at the military grounds of Caylus and Canjuers near the French Riviera at the prestigious King of 1 Mile and two mile competition shown below on the firing line of these huge flat lands.
We then ran the same cartridge at Extreme Shot Italia 500-2000m Competition series. We grew to respect this round and its capabilities.
Below are some more pictures during load development at 300m. The 87.2grain load at just 0.015″ off the lands printed a one holer 5 round group at 300m all touching.
The 300 Norma Magnum’s consistency enabled us to score 9th place out to 1300m on day 1 competing against 110 teams in France on a range we never shot at, thereafter make it to the finals at Extreme Shot Italia on the perched Sicilian hills. The 300 Norma Magnum carries a very special place as it has given us some unique moments and enabled us to warm up to other ELR calibers like the hot-rodding 33XC, 375Cheytac, the 37XC and now the mighty 416 Barrett. We’re into the deep end of this rabbit hole I realised!
We have shot balloons with it out to 1500m and hammered the 1mile plate consecutively. I ran a course for a few friends heading out to Kyrgyzstan for a Mid-Asian Ibex hunt and besides the venerable 300Win Mag, I also took the 300 Norma Mag to help these hunters understand the advantages brought about by a better wind-bucking cartridge/bullet doing some 3200ft/s with a 215gr. In fact, my friend Mark, adopted its closer relative, the 300RUM which gives similar performance.
Here is what a 300Norma Magnum can do at 1500M at Extreme Shot Italia III.
How would you have your 300 Norma Mag hunting rifle?
Would you have this Johann Fanzoj luxury hunting 300 Norma Mag rifle in any other configuration?
Stay tuned for more in-depth understanding of these rifle builds as I visit the Johann Fanzoj workshop in the next weeks to understand more about these most exclusive gun and rifle builders from Ferlach in the southern part of Austria.
If these details flick your hammer and your account is throated for bigger pills, then you’re on the right path and I invite you to give the Fanzoj Siblings a call on +43 42272283
Prices for this experience and product start from just €50,000.