We interviewed Daniela Fanzoj- Vice-President at Johann Fanzoj fine gun and rifles firm in Austria.
1. Can you describe the process you take to craft an exclusive piece for a customer?
2.What is the difference between good and great hunting weapon?
Both, obviously, should perform well in the field. The difference is in the philosophy, style, taste, certainly financial means and which emphasis people appoint to the appearance of their material environment. Our items reflect technical sophistication, strive for perfection, creativity and high sense of aesthetics. We prefer to see a Fanzoj gun-beyond its actual field use. an object of cultural value, An original, a collectible. A demonstration of craftsmanship skills and artistic talent. A statement also of our company’s dedication and passion for the craft.So making a great hunting weapon means continuing at the point where everybody else stops.“Striving for perfection” in one’s field is a state of mind, a lifestyle, which like a circle, has no beginning and no end. In gun making it starts in the planning process, the wish to go beyond the already existing, explore further, understand-on the way towards execution high-quality materials are sourced and processed into perfect fits. Finally, in the “regulating” process, the satisfying “the sucking and clicking sounds” of a nicely regulated mechanical object, the perfect dry, crisp trigger pull, the flawless smooth stock surface, the natural balance when the gun is flung to the shoulder…. is what brings satisfaction to the maker, and the customer alike.
3.What are the benefits of maintaining a family business?
Obviously this is not something you choose yourself (smile). In our particular case the craft was passed on for eight generations. I am managing the firm with my sister, and our father is still of great help. We are the first generation, actually, who consciously decided to follow the tradition, and in fact understand ourselves as “bridge builders” between tradition and modern times. A challenge. As a major benefit, furthermore, I would name the long term thinking and planning, the continuity, literally, that forms the basis for any decision. This builds trust to the outside world. Our company exists already 220 years. Very important also is the spirit of absolute trust and a great mutual vision, that goes beyond differences between.
4.Where do you source the materials to craft these guns?
Apart from the traditional high quality materials that go into our guns, such as Circasion walnut wood from the roots, best quality steels for barrel, action, and inside parts We are quite open-minded towards new material technology. I myself, being the technician and driving innovation force in our company am going ways to search and explore and compare our requirements with that in other industries. We cultivate an active exchange with institutes, university and the world renowned Higher Technical school of Weapon Engineering in our home town Ferlach. We have found inspiration also in other fields as in Formula One when searching the optimum durable surface treatment and friction in our world wide unique Titanium carbine rifles. Most of the technical solutions and mechanisms in classic hunting gun making were invented in the 19th century, and we are still today drawing from the innovative spirits of this industrialization period. The challenge and the opportunity today lies in the combination: remember our roots, know the tradition–and combine it with the opportunities of modern highly exact technical engineering! In fact, where I personally see a large playground to improve and explore, is new material technology and surface treatments–and combine it with traditional gun making techniques. For instance, we have started to work with Carbon fiber recently which we combine with crocodile leather–an incredibly unexpected luxury experience. Always keeping the explicit goal in mind to build safe, high-quality, durable weapons that satisfy clients high sense of aesthetics and wish for individual expression.
5.How do you maintain the balance between tradition and innovation?
As many examples in the gun world have shown, it is tempting to introduce machinery and start thinking in terms of “quantity”. Which is inapplicable to our vision and philosophy. We have consciously chosen to NOT grow in quantity, but in quality, and remain dedicated to further building only a limited number of guns & rifles per year,supported by best modern technology to being able to adequately prepare the raw material, but with emphasis on handwork, as the work process evolves. In fact, while the whole world is “outsourcing”, we have succeeded in the past years to unite all work steps INSIDE the company, and can proudly call ourselves a“manufacture”. We plan, design and build every single part in-house. We train our young people carefully in the philosophy of classic gunmaking. We emphasize on a very broad understanding and skills–and only then have them specialize in a particular task. Otherwise you loose the old skills. This is what has widely happened and in fact, this is one of the major challenges our branch is facing worldwide today. Training people is very time-intense!
6. How much time and work goes into creating a single gun?
Many, many hours of manual skilled labor Since we are talking about“handwork” it is impossible even to calculate or anticipate exactly how much time a single gun will take to finish. We have been following two directions in fact: Our company is known for building sophisticated, high-class weapons with high aesthetics, highly functional–with a certain technical edge. A unique positioning within our branch of “classic gunmaking”. The artistic direction. We represent nowadays the EXTREME in our field when it comes to the creation of one-of-a-kind items, well-thought-of rifle theme concepts,that tell a story and fascinate worldwide.
7. Who have been some of your most illustrious customers?
It is in the nature of things that we are privileged to meet very interesting, high profile people worldwide. Beautifully enriching encounters sometimes. Interestingly, there our customers seem to be somehow united by a mutual spirit, passionflower hunting and the outdoors. A very well known name in our history was certainly Kaiser Franz Joseph I, the last emperor of Austria.
8. How much time and work goes into creating a single gun?
Many, many hours of manual skilled labor Since we are talking about “handwork” it is impossible even to calculate or anticipate exactly how much time a single gun will take to finish. We have been following two directions in fact: Our company is known for building sophisticated, high-class weapons with high aesthetics, highly functional–with a certain technical edge. A unique positioning within our branch of “classic gunmaking” The artistic direction. We represent nowadays the EXTREME in our field when it comes to the creation of one-of-a-kind items, well-thought-of rifle theme concepts, that tell a story and fascinate worldwide.
9. Who have been some of your most illustrious customers?
It is in the nature of things that we are privileged to meet very interesting, high profile people worldwide. Beautifully enriching encounters sometimes. Interestingly, there our customers seem to be some how united by a mutual spirit, a passion for hunting and the outdoors. A very well known name in our history was certainly Kaiser Franz Joseph I, the last emperor of Austria.
10. What is your customer base in the GCC countries like?
A very interesting, high-profile clientele. Discretion is an important part of our worldwide reputation.
11. What is the best way to learn about hunting weaponry?
Literature and Meet people who own our rifles. Please be welcome to come visit our company and tell others what you saw. Live, hunt and enjoy!
The LIONFIRE, A Fanzoj double rifle, cal. .470NE
The World of the Bespoke
Artistically decorated weapons as an expression of people’s material and spiritual lives have been in existence for many centuries. They have a highly symbolic meaning and served not only as everyday objects, but also as diplomatic gifts or even a demonstration of local craftsmen’s skills. Fanzoj is one of the few gunmaking firms worldwide still capable of designing and building such collectors’ items–amazing works of technical engineering, objects of beauty and cultural value–that have propelled the firm into the worldwide elite of specialty and boutique firms. Representing tradition at its most dynamic, company Fanzoj fascinates with ultimate artisan, specialty and bespoke objects, and pushes the boundaries of gunmaking a step further back with each extraordinary project.