The Fanzoj Snow Leopard 338 Lapua Rifle Project

– Probably The Most Luxurious 338 Lapua Magnum Rifle Ever Created –

 Luxury 338 Lapua hunting rifle from Ferlach, Austria –

In January, I had the pleasure to visit Ferlach, a small town in Alpine Austria as a result of a unique 338 Lapua rifle project I was invited to see. On my way through the winding roads of the historic firearms making village, I wondered about the extent we all go through to build our perfect bullet delivery platform. Be it hunters, target shooters or military, it all revolves around that bullet delivery system. This 230-year-old firm is tasked with creating works of Art that will be as precise as your BAT barreled action.

I never came across such a laborious rifle project, so special, it is probably the most highly decorated precision rifle of modern-day gun making chambered for the venerable 338 Lapua magnum. Today I have the pleasure to share this travel experience and rifle making project with you.

338 Lapua hunting rifle

When Daniela and Patrick Fanzoj initially spoke to me about this rifle project, I honestly had no idea what to expect, my knowledge is mostly around the shooting and hand loading for a precision rifle that must perform to its highest degree especially in competition. If you want to see a 338 Lapua magnum in action during competition, we have prepared an aggregated article showing exactly this.

The Fanzoj firm was granted the opportunity to put unique technical and artistic skills in the service of ‘capturing the essence of the beauty of Tajikistan’ in steel and wood in an unprecedented display. I had to see this! This rifle is such a one of a kind build, that it was also featured by Forbes in their recent article about Johann Fanzoj’s efforts in saving craftsmanship and wildlife.

Landing in Ferlach –

A green Land cruiser awaited me outside the airport in Austria, it reminded me of an earlier trip to N. Africa where these Toyotas roam like Gazelles. On the way through these Alpine valleys, I had a look at the initial video the manufacturers had sent me showing some of the material that the client wanted on this rifle, mainly aesthetic qualities and precious stones representative of the country, carved and perfectioned to highlight and pay tribute to this most amazing part of the world, Tajikistan.

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338 lapua rifle in honour of the Snow Leopard

Hunting Tajikistan –

338 lapua magnum hunting rifle

Tajikistan is a country in central Asia, world renowned for its natural beauty, high peaks and steep valleys and wide-open plains cascading over forgotten gorges. Some of the hills are guarded by ancient fortresses that stand guard over the ancient Silk Road near the border with Afghanistan. It is surrounded by the -STAN countries on the north, west and south, while China and Pakistan flank the Eastern border.

You can imagine the astounding fusion of influences, colorful textiles and withdrawing landscapes oozing breathtaking views that would culminate in creating this rifle. In the paragraphs below, we seek to touch base with those elements that inspired this build that

brough about some of the finest gun and rifle makers in the world to see this project through.

338 Lapua luxury hunting rifle

The main inspiration for this build is the snow leopard that inhabits these rugged and untamed lands. It inhabits the alpine and sub alpine elevations ranging from Eastern Afghanistan to the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau ranging to southern Mongolia, Siberia and Western China. The prospective owner of this rifle has an almost sacred devotion to this animal and the habitat it thrives in.

The hunting of numerous species of mountain game like the Tajik Ibex, is one way in which conservation efforts have played a key role in safeguarding the habitat in which this alpine leopard reigns.

Meet the Fanzojs

Once at Fanzoj, they walked me through their private collection of double rifles and Kipplauf rifles for which they are so well known. I even got to put two rounds down range with one 470 Nitro Express in their private testing facility beneath the grounds of the actual workshop. Walking through the corridors of this museum/workshop, one thing kept ringing in my head like tinnitus, ‘how on earth will that 338 Lapua round fit the Mauser action?’. I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

This required the construction of a previously non-existent MEGA-SIZE Mauser rifle action including components, secure enough to hold a .338lapua cartridge with extra length. On the aesthetic front. this rifle build involved delving deeply into the culture and history of the country in order to correctly interpret connections and fundamentally transform those multi-dimensionally onto the firearm. Fanzoj was honoured to accept this challenge as an opportunity to accurately portray what was already known in a special dynamic way. Two plus centuries of experience and metal work provide the level of confidence required to embark on this ambitious project.

Mauser 338 Lapua hunting rifle action –

Patrick Fanzoj showed me a fresh off the CNC machine 338 Lapua mag Mauser action and explained in detail how laborious a process it is to machine the Mauser action compared to other ones on the market. As we stepped from one room to the next of their workshop, Patrick walked me through the stages of the rifle making process, introducing me to some of the professional craftsmen and women that were working on the stocks by hand. I absolutely loved this walk through.

In the distance behind the stock maker, I can see the Ferlach gunsmithing school, an Austrian government funded school which provides the formation for some of the best craftsmen in the business receiving students from all over the world running courses in German and English. More so, it is free! Yes, that is indeed remarkable. They also provide tuition on goldsmithing, engraving and related fine trades which are important to a town that builds guns fit for Royals.

Below: Patrick inspecting a stock in the making. Center – the Ferlach gunsmithing school. Right – 2 new rifles being worked on sit still in the corner of the temperature-controlled workshop.

Down the aisle, we reached the gun stock room, no aluminum chassis in here, only hand selected pieces of wood of Circassian walnut sourced through some of the best traders in the world. They bear markings on them, which I later learned was the year they were acquired, almost like fine wines in a cellar. Some had 2004 markings on them. I removed the patina of dust that accrued over the years to appreciate the characteristic of the wood. When you handle one of these Fanzoj rifles, you are patron to some of the world oldest crafts aggregated on one single project. Isn’t that really remarkable?

In a world which has commercialized everything to optimized efficiency, it was so revealing to see a workshop where time stood still and patronage, beauty, aesthetic and mechanical perfection are the sole things that matter.   

Back 15 years ago, when I studied History of Art in my college years, I learned about the Italian bottegas and Flemish schools which produced some of the finest Art pieces we treasure today. These moments with Patrick and Daniela took me back to those moments in classrooms around Italy, Malta, Spain and Flanders, where we appreciated the strokes of the master’s brushwork. Likewise, Patrick’s fingernail chased the lines drawn by the chisels, the wax on the woodwork and the goldsmith’s tools as he briefed me on every step in this project bringing to life this client’s vision. I was speechless. A few large muzzle breaks in the corner of the room caught my eye as well as the reloading room adjacent to it where I would help load some ammunition for their trials. The Fanzoj rifle building experience today encompasses a true 360 degree rifle and ammo making process.

A turn to the left brought me to a large office in glass overlooking the mountains. Here two large Tajik Ibex soared over me, looking out at the look alike scenery from which they were once harvested. A moment of deja-vu took me to a similar room in France where the then hunting guide we had on a chamois hunt had showed me his prized possession, a Tajik Ibex, easily distinguished by the long strands of hair of the beard and its huge size.

The 338 Lapua Mag Hunting Rifle –

This rifle had to bear the qualities of the Snow Leopard which among other things, also preys on these Ibex. The rifle had to bear the fingerprints of these influences.

Rare – elusive – resilient – endangered

The Snow leopard is nature’s most elusive predator, referred to as the “ghost of the mountains” because of his incredible natural camouflage, rendering him almost invisible in his surroundings. Unlike any other big cat, the snow leopard does not roar.

        

From the stock which bears the tail profile of the snow leopard as well as the contours of the border of Tajikistan imprinted on the butt, to the tip of the forend of the stock, this rifle carries the prints of this predator’s legacy.

The three-dimensional snow leopard’s head on the forend is made of solid 18K white gold, 250 grams of it while blue sapphires line the contour around the neck as well as the eye sockets preserving that stone cold glare as he looks over prey in the distance.

338 lapua luxury hunting rifle snow leopard Johann Fanzoj

The sculpture captures the exact moment of intense focus, eyes wide open, before the animal attacks. Creating a three-dimensional piece of such quality and adapting it to meet the technical and functional requirements of this rifle involves extraordinary skill. The tension of the moment is captured by the expressiveness of the master engraver, which can all be seen and felt.

The oversized 338 Lapua Mag Mauser action became a living canvas of ornamental value. Patterns from the Tajik culture lay on the contours. This is now a Tajik rifle with cultural elements deeply woven in its steel. The long tradition and complex diversity of Persian-Oriental patterns is widely known. They are omnipresent in culture and history and have great importance. They preserve moments from the past as the foundation for one’s identity.

338 Lapua Hunting Rifle Technical specs

Yes, I hear you, give us some technical specs. I was thinking this as well while drawn into the aesthetics discussion of the client’s long list of requirements for this build. An 89-page book was delivered with this build detailing every step.

338 lapua muzzle break
Luxury 338 Lapua muzzle break made inhouse by Johann Fanzoj

For the technical shooters

CALIBER: .338 Lapua Magnum

ACTION: individually designed & dimensioned MEGA-SIZE Mauser action to meet the customer ́s special requirements for shooting a special longer cartridge (magazine length 100mm) and for highest accuracy on long range. These are built inhouse at Fanzoj.

Double square bridge, made of high-grade steel, extended trigger tang, three-position safety on the side; Fanzoj direct trigger. (Yes, they make their own like fine jewellery.)

BARREL: Specially selected Premium Match barrel of high-tensile barrel steel, 22mm muzzle diameter, length 68,5cm (27inch), 1.9 twist.

Special made throat for longer bullets, custom made muzzle break, with Silencer in Pure Titanium

+ 1 extra Barrel, completely engraved like Nr. 1

STOCK: custom-made to client ́s exact body measures, from spectacular, special selected Circassian walnut burr with full bird ́s eyes grain; stock “bedding”; hand-rubbed oil finish.

markhor 338 lapua

WEIGHT: 6,65 kg

ENGR AVING: “SNOWLEOPARD” theme, all action parts covered with deep-chiseled ornament and animals.

SCOPES for 338 Lapua hunting rifle:

  • Schmidt Bender 5-45×56 PMII High Power
  • Nightforce NX8 4-32×50 F1
  • ZCO Zero Compromise – Mod. CZ527

How does the 338 Lapua hunting rifle from Fanzoj shoot?

That’s the million dollar question! We are thrilled about its performance as we are about its aesthetics. The rifle ran through load development to bring out the best performance. At the Fanzoj shooting grounds, all fully equipped reloading room enables the team to conduct load development. 10 different loads were tested in this barrel with multiple nodes showing bullets touching which bodes well for the potential of this rifle. Equally encouraging was the performance of standard 338 Lapua Scenar factory ammo used to test the barrel when the rifle was in its early stages. The barrel isn’t picky and shows performance that equals or exceeds some match setups we are accustomed to on rifletalks.com

338 lapua luxury hunting rifle

ammo testing fanzoj 338 lapua

What theme would you have on your 338 Lapua hunting rifle?

If you ever wished for something so unique and 6 figure bills do not put you off, then reach out to the Fanzoj Siblings for a meeting that can turn your vision into reality, no expense spared.

Price [undisclosed]

 

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