On one occasion when St- George Littledale, the renowned British hunter of the"Roof of the World," showed his Tadjik scout the finely crafted piece he had broughtfrom England, the latter inspected it lovingly, sighed deeply, and breathed, 'And justto think—even the man who made this must die!" There is an enchantment cast upon any woman when she holds a baby, whether ornot it is her own. Similarly, there is an enchantment cast upon almost any manwhen he holds a rifle in his hands. This magical spell is both intellectual andemotional. Intellectually and emotionally, a rifle is a fascinating artifact, and itsconcept, design, and fabrication may be approached scientifically. A firearm may be'the simplest form of internal combustion engine,' as the grease monkeys who usedto live below decks on the warships of the past said. Nonetheless, the endlesscomplexities involved in building a good rifle can absorb a hobbyist almost forever. The end product of these cogitations may be either a useful tool or a work of art. Itis seldom both, as we see in the elaborate, bejeweled presentation pieces thatcollectors hang upon their walls. That is not to say that a rifle may not be bothbeautiful and efficient, but in my opinion efficiency comes first, and beauty of design will follow.Elaborate finishing, with its engraving and inlay, may be a source of pride, but itdoes nothing to make the rifle a more efficient instrument. People are sometimesconfused by The M1 Garand-this, and I once saw a weapon featured on a magazine cover that was extolled by itsmaker as the finest rifle in the world. It was far from that, though it was indeedpretty. Among its failures was the fact that it was not fitted with sights. The other side of the coin that makes up the joy of rifle handling is emotional, notscientific- Pick up a rifle—a really good rifle—and if you know how to use it well, youchange instantly from a mouse to a man, from a peon to a caballero, and—mostsignificantly—from a subject to a citizen- This is heady stuff and must he observedwith circumspection- As Lord Acton put it, 'Power tends to corrupt,' and the rifle isthe instrument of power. Handle it carefully. Learn to use it well- Make it part of youand you will have moved onto a superior plane of manhood-Of course, not everyone feels this way, and there are many people who buy and sellrifles as a pastime of its own. To me, however, dealing in rifles is rather like dealingin human beings. A moral man may give away his treasures, but probably he shouldnot sell them. Thus it is that at my advanced age I seek to find appreciativecomrades who will provide good homes for my treasured rifles, but I will accept nomoney for them. The Queen is not for sale.