Griffin & Howe rifles have been the rifle of choice for such notable sporting shooters as writers Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark, actors Bing Crosby and Clark Gable, and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. They are an indispensable part of America’s hunting and shooting legacy. From small beginnings the company developed a reputation for excellence that led to their name becoming a household word amongst sporting shooters and hunters in the United States and across the globe.
In addition to being known for their fine custom rifles Griffin & Howe are famous for the creation of their quick detachable side mount system which proved to be so dependable on the sporting rifles it was installed on that the US military adopted it as the standard mount for the M1 Garand when they were to be fitted with a rifle-scope.
The origin of Griffin & Howe began when a carpenter named Seymour Griffin read about American President Theodore Roosevelt’s African safari in which he used a sporterized 1903 Springfield, and he decided he could make his own Springfield into a nice custom rifle also. So Seymour Griffin got a nice French walnut blank from Von Lengerke & Detmold and proceeded to use his carpentry skills to do just that. The result was so impressive that pretty soon he had a queue of people wanting him to give their 1903 Springfields the Griffin treatment. The word got around and it was in 1923 that avid shooter and commander of the Frankford Arsenal, Colonel Townsend Whelen, visited Seymour Griffin and told him about the head of the machine shop there, James Virgil Howe, whose work was of the highest quality. Whelan suggested the two not only meet but that they go into the custom rifle-making business together.
The Griffin & Howe business grew and still exists today. You will find Griffin & Howe’s website if you click here.
Griffin & Howe are still in the business of making superb custom rifles in both the traditional and modern styles:
- To see an example of their current traditional style sporting rifles click here.
- To see their modern Highlander Rifle click here.
- To see their Long Range Precision Rifle click here.
In the Rock Island Auction sale that is coming up on June 23, 2017 there is a lot of two Griffin & Howe rifles:
- The first (shown in the above picture at the top) is a Mauser 98 based rifle in .308 Winchester. This rifle is fitted with Griffin & Howe quick detachable side mounts with a Lyman Alaskan rifle-scope. Griffin & Howe’s standard fitting for their sporting rifles was to not only mount a rifle-scope but also a top quality aperture sight, usually by Lyman, and this rifle is fitted in this way. Griffin & Howe tended to favor a good aperture sight in preference to conventional open sights except on dangerous game rifles. The condition of this rifle is described by Rock Island Auction as follows: “ND – VERY GOOD: in working condition, 80% finish or better. NPRF – NON-PROFESSIONALLY REFINISHED/COLD BLUE, ETC. WB – WOOD IS BETTER FOR THE PERCENT OF FINISH RATING GIVEN.”
- The second rifle (shown in the above picture at the bottom) is a Springfield 1903 in .30-06. This rifle has the Griffin & Howe side mounts for a rifle-scope although it is not fitted with one. This rifle looks to be somewhat older than the Mauser 98 and it looks like it is fitted with an original Lyman No. 48 Long Slide aperture sight. The Lyman No. 48 rates as one of the best aperture sights ever made and they have long since been out of production. The condition of this rifle is described by Rock Island Auction as follows: “OD – VERY GOOD: all original parts; none to 30% original finish. PRF – PROFESSIONALLY REFINISHED OR RESTORED. WB – WOOD IS BETTER FOR THE PERCENT OF FINISH RATING GIVEN“
You can view the sale page for this pair of rifles if you click here.
Expected sale price is in the range USD$1,400-$2,250 for the pair.
(All pictures courtesy Rock Island Auction).
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.