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There was one of these for sale in the classifieds this weekend. Doing a little research on the rifle, seems as though they were custom rifles in Montana in the mid 80s, but the guy doing the work may have passed away? Anyway, with what little research I can dig up, shows these rifles to be between four and 5 pounds? He would build them on whatever action you sent him maybe? Seems like there’s some Winchester Remington and Sako action rifles he would build on?

Anyway, if any of you guys have any more information I would be curious to learn more about these rifles.

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Yes he's deceased. He was in the Bozeman Belgrade area. He did some work for me on my Sako

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Well, your assumptions from one advertisement in the Campfire Classifieds are a little too broad.

Dave Gentry was an excellent custom gunsmith who passed away 15 years ago at 62. He built my first custom rifle in 1991, a .280 Remington on a 700 action that weighed just under 7 pounds with a 23" Douglas #1 stainless barrel, which I used to take a bunch of game through the 1990s. He was one of the first such gunsmiths who built his own lay-up synthetic stocks, but by the time he did my .280 he'd started using some other makes, because so many had appeared during that era. The stock on mine was a Garrett Accur-Light, a Colorado company that disappeared during the 90s.

Basically he turned the action into a push-feed Model 70, installing one of his excellent M70-type 3-position safeties, along with a M70 type bolt stop. He also cut out the main tube of the bolt, and replaced it with an aluminum tube of equal diameter, and so well you couldn't tell, and machined some weight off the outside of the action. He replaced the factory trigger with a Timney, and the rifle would shoot its most accurate load, the 139-grain Hornady Spire Point Interlock with enough mil-surp H4831 to get around 3100 fps, into around half an inch.

But he also built much bigger rifles, and in fact was such a 98 Mauser nut that he also built sporter 98 actions from short-action up through the "magnum" actions that could handle the .416 Rigby and .505 Gibbs. He not only built rifles on 'em, but sold unmarked actions to more than one British company, which of course marked them with their name.

He also made muzzle brakes with the ports angled slightly forward, to keep blast away from the shooter as much as possible, which he called Quiet Brakes. They were only slightly quieter than "normal" brakes, so Dave also made a model with a sleeve around the brake, to push muzzle blast even further from the shooter. Eileen tested one rifle he built, a .416 Remington Magnum weighing around 10 pounds, to see how it felt to her. (This was years before she started getting recoil headaches.) She shot it once offhand, in the presence of Dave, me, and David Petzal, who happened to be visiting Montana at the time. She hit what she was aiming at, then turned around and when Gentry asked her how it felt, she said, "Huh?" (She had forgotten to put on muffs.) But the recoil was definitely lighter.

At that time Dave also employed both his sons part-time. The older was Dave Jr., at the time getting at least one degree in computer science at Montana State University, who started converting Dave Sr.'s machines to CNC. The younger was Dennis, at the time still in high school. (He also let me do some work with his machines, while we built another of my rifles together, a .30-06 on an FN military action. He even offered me a job in the shop, but by that time I was making more writing than he could pay.)

Eventually Dave Jr. found a better-paying job, but Dennis really liked gunsmithing, and is now making the rifles. From everything I have heard they are very good, but am going to be visiting him soon for a magazine assignment, and test at least one of his rifles. Since he learned from a real master, and has been making rifles full-time for a while now, I don't expect to be disappointed.


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Hey Mule Deer - I still own your old Gentry 280. Still shoots great with 139 Hornadys. Been a few years since been out hunting but will probably take a pig or 2 this summer

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Thanks for that excellent bio JB. Always fun learning the rest of the story, so to speak.

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I already knew most of it, but that's a great story, John, and I never tire of hearing you re-tell it. You know how you have said that most gunwriters, as they age, tend to write too little about guns and too much about themselves? Well, your readers do not think this applies to you. The story is neat because we can picture a young Mule Deer at the master's elbow, learning a top-notch gunmaker's craft, while you were still learning your own craft. And then one day you would also be a top-notch craftsman, although in another art form, and used the .280 in part to hone your craft. Anyway, I think it's a cool story, similar to when you told us about using the same rifle up high in the mountains on a horseback hunt to take a gigantic mule deer.

You replied to inform lubbockdave, but, perhaps without meaning to, entertained the rest of us.

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Originally Posted by Lou_270
Hey Mule Deer - I still own your old Gentry 280. Still shoots great with 139 Hornadys. Been a few years since been out hunting but will probably take a pig or 2 this summer

Lou

Good deal! It always did love those 139s.....


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Originally Posted by gaperry59
I already knew most of it, but that's a great story, John, and I never tire of hearing you re-tell it. You know how you have said that most gunwriters, as they age, tend to write too little about guns and too much about themselves? Well, your readers do not think this applies to you. The story is neat because we can picture a young Mule Deer at the master's elbow, learning a top-notch gunmaker's craft, while you were still learning your own craft. And then one day you would also be a top-notch craftsman, although in another art form, and used the .280 in part to hone your craft. Anyway, I think it's a cool story, similar to when you told us about using the same rifle up high in the mountains on a horseback hunt to take a gigantic mule deer.

You replied to inform lubbockdave, but, perhaps without meaning to, entertained the rest of us.

Greg Perry

Thanks very much! It's been a very interesting journey.....

Also took one of my two biggest caribou with the .280. Was young and fit enough then to actually jog uphill across the tundra for at least half a mile to get within range when the bull paused long enough for a shot. Left a trail of clothing and a daypack, but managed to get within 350-375 yards, and the rifle worked fine. In fact, the first 160 Nosler Partition stopped the bull--but it didn't fall, which happens with caribou. The second landed within two inches of the first, and then it fell!

John


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Originally Posted by Mule Deer
Well, your assumptions from one advertisement in the Campfire Classifieds are a little too broad.

Dave Gentry was an excellent custom gunsmith who passed away 15 years ago at 62. He built my first custom rifle in 1991, a .280 Remington on a 700 action that weighed just under 7 pounds with a 23" Douglas #1 stainless barrel, which I used to take a bunch of game through the 1990s. He was one of the first such gunsmiths who built his own lay-up synthetic stocks, but by the time he did my .280 he'd started using some other makes, because so many had appeared during that era. The stock on mine was a Garrett Accur-Light, a Colorado company that disappeared during the 90s.

Basically he turned the action into a push-feed Model 70, installing one of his excellent M70-type 3-position safeties, along with a M70 type bolt stop. He also cut out the main tube of the bolt, and replaced it with an aluminum tube of equal diameter, and so well you couldn't tell, and machined some weight off the outside of the action. He replaced the factory trigger with a Timney, and the rifle would shoot its most accurate load, the 139-grain Hornady Spire Point Interlock with enough mil-surp H4831 to get around 3100 fps, into around half an inch.

But he also built much bigger rifles, and in fact was such a 98 Mauser nut that he also built sporter 98 actions from short-action up through the "magnum" actions that could handle the .416 Rigby and .505 Gibbs. He not only built rifles on 'em, but sold unmarked actions to more than one British company, which of course marked them with their name.

He also made muzzle brakes with the ports angled slightly forward, to keep blast away from the shooter as much as possible, which he called Quiet Brakes. They were only slightly quieter than "normal" brakes, so Dave also made a model with a sleeve around the brake, to push muzzle blast even further from the shooter. Eileen tested one rifle he built, a .416 Remington Magnum weighing around 10 pounds, to see how it felt to her. (This was years before she started getting recoil headaches.) She shot it once offhand, in the presence of Dave, me, and David Petzal, who happened to be visiting Montana at the time. She hit what she was aiming at, then turned around and when Gentry asked her how it felt, she said, "Huh?" (She had forgotten to put on muffs.) But the recoil was definitely lighter.

At that time Dave also employed both his sons part-time. The older was Dave Jr., at the time getting at least one degree in computer science at Montana State University, who started converting Dave Sr.'s machines to CNC. The younger was Dennis, at the time still in high school. (He also let me do some work with his machines, while we built another of my rifles together, a .30-06 on an FN military action. He even offered me a job in the shop, but by that time I was making more writing than he could pay.)

Eventually Dave Jr. found a better-paying job, but Dennis really liked gunsmithing, and is now making the rifles. From everything I have heard they are very good, but am going to be visiting him soon for a magazine assignment, and test at least one of his rifles. Since he learned from a real master, and has been making rifles full-time for a while now, I don't expect to be disappointed.

John,

The first piece of yours that I read featured that 280. It was a write about lightweight rifles in the Wolfe seasonal (?) magazine Hunting Horizons (?). I still have it and a number of others as it was a great magazine.


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Mule Deer;
Good evening, I trust you and Eileen are well and getting the right weather you need for the garden to grow.

Thanks for the information on Mr. Gentry, I recall reading about your rifle years back and as well I believe we've also chatted about him over the years as well.

When I was making a Ruger No. 1B look the way I thought it should, I ordered a Gentry made barrel band for it, but for the life of me I can't recall if I got it directly from them or from Brownells? This would have been 1995 or maybe '94.

It was perfect or at least exactly the dimensions that I'd ordered.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and stories of some of the folks "in the industry" with us here, I always enjoy and appreciate it very much.

All the best to you both.

Dwayne


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