Peter Hofer’s “Jaguar” Double in .500 Nitro Express

Peter Hofer’s Jaguar Double in .500 Nitro Express
Peter Hofer’s Jaguar Double in .500 Nitro Express

The rifle has an articulated front trigger and two-stage rear trigger. The 24-inch chopper-lump barrels are Böhler steel. The rear sight has one standing ‘V’ and one folding leaf, regulated at 49 and 82 yards.  It is also fitted with a Swarovski Z6i 1-6×24 scope, reticle 4AI, zeroed at 100 yards, with Hofer’s quick-detachable swivel mount.

In gun engraving, animals cannot stand alone; they need to be supported by ornamental framing. The overall composition must be suitably wed to the shape and surface of the gun, each element connecting with the part of the gun it is embellishing.  For example, in a Big Five-themed rifle, Hofer might engrave the safety catch with the texture of elephant skin or feathers. 

Jaguar’s platinum and solid-gold inlays of white, yellow, and red gold, combined with gorgeous enamel inlays, portray yellow-eyed jaguars, black-spotted frogs in a rainbow of bright colors, and the vivid parrots and toucans hidden in a jungle of vegetation.  Bulino engraving captures the detail of the cat’s whiskers as it crashes through the riverine forest in pursuit of a peccary under the watchful eyes of exotic birds. A coiled viper patiently waits for a reason to strike, and a caiman surges from the Amazonian mangrove swamps.

While thrifty Belgian engraving traditionally did not exceed one-quarter of a gun’s value, Hofer’s engraved works of art can quickly double or triple an already very hefty price tag. After a bit of a slump in popularity, the demand for “high art” guns took off with Mario Abbiatico’s 1978 book, Modern Firearms Engraving.  It whetted the appetites of collectors and helped keep the taste for artistic hunting weapons alive.  It also made the photographic quality of extravagant bulino engraving an increasingly popular “must.”

Bulino’s effects are achieved on unhardened steel by making 8,000 dots per square millimeter with a hand-held needle-like chaser under a 40-power binocular microscope. Compared to other techniques, such as etching, bulino produces a remarkable and subtle range of colors, from shiny steel to almost black, with many shades of grey in between. Perspective is achieved by controlling the depth and density of the points, creating a play of light and shadow between the subject and the setting.

I don’t know when we will return to Ferlach.  Until then, that French professional hunter will have to make do by visiting

Editor’s Note:  Brooke discreetly omitted the price of “Jaguar,” but as with yachts, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Brooke Chilvers assures Peter Hofer that Rudy and Brooke’s Peugeot is now equipped with snow tires, “so he will not have to dig us out of a snowbank again when we return to Ferlach.”