Gunmaker honors city's history with rifle

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  It is recognition that would make Daniel Boone proud.
  A firearms company specializing in historically themed weapons has made Elizabethton the newest town recognized for its historical heritage with a special edition rifle. Elizabethton is the latest U.S. town customized as one of the City Guns of Investment Arms, Inc.
  "What does the town really boast about, what is it really proud about," said Justin Daley, project director for Investment Arms, who oversaw design and creation of the Elizabethton city gun. "That is what we attempt to honor."
  The rifle's wood stock features leaf engraving with the town's legacy as "Tennessee's First Frontier", the phrase "American by Birth ... Patriot by Choice" along with a covered wagon symbolizing the town's pioneer history. The Elizabethton name is engraved into the stock.
  Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Investment Arms produces limited edition rifles, pistols and shotguns for select cities and counties around the United States. The company's founder, Steve Faler, started the operation over 10 years ago as a home business doing a few customized firearms projects.
  A company research team gathers information about a town's history, its demographics and any culturally significant events occurring there during American history. History's fingerprints left on the town are then incorporated into the firearm's design.
  "Mainly it is based on what the city, chamber of commerce, and visitors center make available on the Internet based on the historical information," said Daley. "Really what we look for is the most significant or valued characteristics of a town's history."
  After reviewing the research of a municipality's history, Daley creates a design for the gun. For all cities and towns in the division he uses a .22-caliber Ruger 10/22 rifle -- a popular firearm found in gun racks of enthusiasts around the South.
  "A 10/22 is more the common man's rifle," said Daley. "We like to make them available to as many people as possible."
  The design is drawn by hand and then engraved onto the rifle stock with a laser. "The engraving itself on the rifle is a lot finer and a lot more detailed," said Daley.
  Overlaid in 24-karat gold and jeweler's grade nickel silver, the fully functioning heirloom rifles mark various historic events in American history. The custom crafted Special Edition weapons are built around such time honored firearms as the Model 1894 Winchester, the historic M-1 Garand, and the Remington 1100, to name just a few.
  The company's other divisions base special project editions on historic events like Civil War battles, the Louisiana Purchase, the "Cradle of Liberty" honoring Pennsylvania's history, and the "First Flight" commemorating the Wright Brothers' historic flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. The company also engraves a .45-caliber pistol honoring Sgt. Alvin York as well as shotguns commemorating Clemson University and the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team.
  Acquiring the Elizabethton city gun will set a collector back $599 with a $100 deposit required to reserve a series number of the limited edition stock. Daley said the Elizabethton rifle went on the market last week with over half of the 25 editions already sold as of Friday.
  Home of the first permanent settlement outside the original 13 American colonies, Elizabethton settlers set up the Watauga Settlement -- the first majority-rule system of American democracy -- at Sycamore Shoals. The settlement was home to prominent military officials, legislators and members of the Constitutional Convention including Tennessee's first governor, John Sevier.
  The gathering of the "Overmountain Men" at Fort Watauga in 1780 placed the area at the flashpoint of American history as part of the colonies' armed resistance to gain independence from England. More than 1,100 men gathered at Sycamore Shoals before making a 14-day march to Kings Mountain, S.C. where they confronted and defeated Major Patrick Ferguson's British militia.