The Pope rifle has the same DUBIEL ARMS CO. stamp on top of the barrel as my SN 19011 gun.
The rifle is SN 18072 (per Houze, SN applied ~Feb 7, 1929); there is a Winchester proof mark by the SN, but it's very faint.
The left side of the barrel is marked "ERIC JOHNSON".
Eric Johnson (1886-1972), a Swedish immigrant, and John Dubiel (1892-1937), a Polish immigrant, were friends, having worked together at Colt in Connecticut, and then beginning 1923 at Hoffman Arms, initially in Cleveland, OH, and later in Ardmore OK. Johnson was known as a top barrel maker, while Dubiel was known as a top stock maker. When Hoffman went insolvent in 1930, Dubiel set up his own shop on the Ardmore premises. Johnson joined Dubiel Arms as a partner for a year, April 1932 to April 1933, before returning to Connecticut.
Regarding the barrels, in a March 1925 American Rifleman (AR) ad, Hoffman Arms claims "Our barrels are made of Swedish nickel-steel, which is practically rustless, and is twice as strong as the best gun barrel steel used by other makers. Barrels are bored and rifled by expert gun builders, who are also shooters" (presumably referring to their Swedish barrel maker - Eric Johnson!).
In a July 1926 AR ad, Hoffman Arms says "We make barrels of our special Swedish Nickel Steel for all target and sporting arms, in any weight and dimensions up to 32 inches ..... Heavy Match barrels, including any standard front sight, and scope blocks when desired, $40.00." Then they list 27 different calibers, starting with 22 L. R.
April 1932 AR ad: "MATCH BARRELS 22 and 30 caliber made and fitted to any suitable action. Any length from 24 to 30 inches. Last word in accuracy. After April 15 address Eric Johnson, Ardmore, Okla." There is also an ad for "Johnson-made stocks", detailed further below.
May 1932 AR ad: "MATCH BARRELS in 22 and 30 caliber fitted to any suitable action. Barrels also made and fitted in any caliber. Stocks made to order. Rifles in any caliber made up to customers specifications. Eric Johnson, Ardmore, Okla."
June 1932 AR ad: "MATCH BARRELS in 22 and 30 caliber, guaranteed to be super-accurate. Also Sporting barrels in any caliber, made and fitted to customers actions. Stocks made to order, and rifles remodelled and refinished. Shotguns rebored. Eric Johnson, Ardmore, Okla."
July 1932 AR banner ad: "DUBIEL ARMS CO. Sporting rifles in any caliber, including the Dubiel .276 and .280 Magnum. Target rifles in .22 and .30/06 Cal., also super-accurate match barrels in these calibers. Imported walnut stocks, and best nickel steel used. First-class workmanship and accuracy guaranteed. JOHN DUBIEL and ERIC JOHNSON, Proprietors."
October 1933 AR ad: "52 WINCHESTER Heavy barrel only, perfect condition, $15. R. C. Pope, Box 1062, Dallas, Texas." Presumably Pope was happy with his Dubiel/Johnson barrel by this point, and no longer needed the Win 52 barrel.
There is a July 1934 AR ad where someone is selling an "Extra Fine Hornet" with a "barrel by Dubiel Arms Co., imported Swedish Nickel Steel, half octagon, 32 inch", so it seems likely that Dubiel used leftover Hoffman barrel stock and/or the same supplier.QUESTION:
Where did EJ get his barrel blanks, and was it in fact Swedish Nickel Steel?
Eric Johnson was already well-known when he joined Dubiel, using his own barrels to win the National Gallery Championship in 1926 and the Camp Perry National Small bore Championship in 1929. He also won titles in indoor gallery slow fire pistol, 200 yds offhand rifle, and 600 yd rifle. In 1930, EJ barely lost a 2nd national small bore championship on tiebreaker to Vere Hamer, with with Pope's friend Thurman Randle coming in third.
The muzzle on the Pope rifle is recessed and in the white, like SN 19011, but the recessed diameter is a bit smaller. The Pope rifle has a small barrel band above the hand stop. Length & diameter of the two barrels appears to be identical.
The rifle currently has a Lyman 524J rear sight and Griffin & Howe front sight, although for the Pershing Cup it was listed with a Marble-Goss rear and a Vaver front. There are also earlier photos showing a left-side mounted Lyman 48 sight, and there was a Vaver front sight in Mr. Pope's range box.
Compared to SN 19011, the fore end is wider and the cheek piece is thicker, as the stock was customized to the shooter. The checkering pattern is a bit different between the two, including the checkering pattern at the butt. The Pope gun has the holes at the top of the buttstock for the riser, but the riser is missing.
The wooden hand stop / front sling swivel is the same, as is the absence of a rear sling swivel.
The Pope gun was originally configured to use a magazine, but was changed to single-shot, with a wooden insert covering the breech guide opening, as with SN 19011. The stock also shows inletting for a wing safety, which has been removed. The action was not taken out of the stock, so no info on markings under the barrel or on the trigger.
The trigger guard has a window cut in the bottom for an aftermarket trigger. This window appears in the September 1938 US Dewar team photo (below), but, while difficult to see, the trigger looks different (original?) in the May 1937 photo with Thurman Randle (below).
Pope was known well enough by 1935 to merit a full page Peters Ammunition ad featuring his win of the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) Small Bore Grand Aggregate in the Sept. 1935 AR (see below; he also won in 1938).
Pope displayed his Texas pride with a Texas medallion inset to the side, which may be related to his winning the 1935 and 1938 TSRA championships with this rifle.QUESTION:
Does anyone recognize the Texas medallion?
His rifle was named "Dinny", with the name engraved on top of the receiver.
In his shooting career, Pope had the advantage of having fellow Dallas resident Thurman Randle (1890-1957) as his mentor, shooting buddy, teammate, and competitor. Randle owned a Dallas sporting goods store, catering to the shooting community.
Randle was a smallbore legend, referred to as "the Maestro", or "the wily Texan", or "the ramblin' Texan", as he traveled extensively to competitions. He used a 1927 (SN 13713) Win 52 with a factory stainless steel barrel he named "Ole Bacon Gitter", after having won a pig with it in a shooting competition. Among his many feats, at Camp Perry in 1933 he scored three perfect (400x400) iron sight Dewar scores, and in a July 1934 sudden death "Swiss Match" (miss the bull and you're out) he put 196 consecutive shots from prone position into a 7.2" diameter bull at 200 yards, smashing Ralph McGarity's (see Pershing thread) previous world record of 125 shots. See story, starting p.8:https://digital.hagley.org/islandora/object/islandora%3A1988653/datastream/PDF
See photo below of Thurman Randle (left) and R. C. Pope (right) with their respective rifles, at the 1937 National Mid-Winter Smallbore Rifle Championship, along with a writeup from the May 1937 AR.
An August 1938 AR article notes that Randle had installed a trigger by "gunsmith Wright of Fort Worth", on Ole Bacon Gitter; likely this is also where Pope got the custom trigger for Dinny.QUESTION:
Does anyone recognize this trigger?
Ole Bacon Gitter, which Randle bought new in 1927, now resides in the NRA National Firearms Museum: https://www.nramuseum.org/guns/the-...ster-model-52-bolt-action-rifle-(1).aspx
The cheek riser on OBG looks a lot like Dubiel's work. It doesn't seem to fit OBG quite right, and looks suspiciously like the missing riser from Pope's rifle....
A March 1941 newspaper article claims Randle won 900 medals with Ole Bacon Gitter. With that success and notoriety, it seems surprising there wasn't wider adoption of stainless steel barrels.
There is an interesting April 1932 AR ad: "JOHNSON-MADE Stocks fit and make prone shooting a pleasure. Ask Randle or Wilkens of last year's Bisley Team. They know. After April 15 address Eric Johnson, Ardmore, Okla." This appears to be referring to OBG.
Also, there is this August 1934 AR ad: "52 Heavy Stainless Speedlock, Eric Johnson stock, 48J and 17A sights, very good $60.00."
Clearly, Eric Johnson also made stocks, in addition to barrels.QUESTION:
Does there exist a good photo of Larry Wilkens' rifle in the 1931 time frame (Pershing Cup), or just after? If the stock looks like OBG, then that would support OBG being stocked by Eric Johnson. Note that Wilkens' rifle would not necessarily have a cheek riser.QUESTION:
Is there a photo of Randle with his rifle after 1927, but before 1931, with a factory Winchester stock? This would also support OBG being restocked.QUESTION:
Forum member GRH (Bob) discussed a Dubiel Win 52 in this thread: https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=256995
The rifle, also discussed in the RFC Dubiel Win 52 thread (see top of first post), has a Dubiel barrel, but it doesn't look like a Dubiel stock. Is it possible that the rifle might have an Eric Johnson stock?
Note that OBG, like Dinny, was engraved with its name on the receiver (see below).
Randle was active in the NRA, first as an NRA director starting 1930, then as TSRA president 1933-1936, and eventually as NRA president in 1944 for a term. He was commissioned as a Navy officer in WW2, and organized the small arms training of some 2 million Navy sailors.
NRA - All About Thurman Randle: https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2020/8/30/all-about-thurman-randleQUESTION/COMMENT:
This is a terrible article. First, the caption on the photo of the rifle says Randle painted the barrel. This is unlikely; Winchester stainless steel barrels came from the factory with a black lacquer finish. Second, factory SS barrels were available roughly 1926-1931; what evidence is there that OBG was rebarreled? Also, the dates on Randle are just wrong. Can someone please tell the NRA to replace this article with the much better obit in the March 1957 AR?
Finally, Randle makes this list of top 50 rifle shooters of 20th century: https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2018/4/8/50-great-competitive-shooters-of-the-20th-century-part-1