here are icons in our sport and there are legends. On November 7, 2012, the shooting sports lost an individual who was easily categorized as both icon and legend. Daniele Perazzi passed away in Brescia, Italy.
Daniele Perazzi, even from a young age, knew in his heart and soul his destiny was to be involved with firearms, having been introduced to them by his uncle when he was just a lad of 6. When he was 14 years old he began to seek employment as a gunsmith’s apprentice. A local gunmaker hired him, but it wasn’t quite the employment status he sought. Instead of a position as a gunsmith’s apprentice, he was tasked with running local errands on a bicycle for the gunmaker. Young Daniele was not deterred. He keenly observed the gunsmiths at their trade and before long had saved enough of his earnings to set up his gunsmithing bench at home. It was the beginning of the development of his gunmaking skills that would have him patenting his own model within a few short years, marking the first of many famous guns to carry his name.
Daniele’s genius was in no small part his ability to envision the future of gun development. Coupled with his uncanny knack of seeing things intrinsically complicated and understanding how to make them simple, he maintained elegance in his designs. Perazzi’s guns were like no others in their time. Their grace of line was equaled by their grace and beauty of balance and swing dynamic. Perazzi owners shared a common thread; that of knowing what a finely balanced, finely tuned, competition shotgun feels and performs like in their hands. Daniele Perazzi’s mind was his greatest tool.
Ennio Mattarelli at the 1964 Japan Olympic Games in Tokyo became the first Olympic champion to use a Perazzi shotgun. Since that early collaboration a long list of Olympic shotgunning champions have garnered Gold, Silver and Bronze Olympic medals shooting Perazzi over & under shotguns. Not the least of which is the recent history–making Gold Medal accomplishment at the 2012 London Games by Kim Rhode. Kim, a career–long Perazzi competitor, became the first American Olympian to successfully medal in 5 consecutive Olympic Games in an individual sport. Every one of those achievements in the sport’s grandest and most challenging arena was won using her cherished and trusted Perazzi over & under.
Other shotgunning disciplines have had their fair share of champions who shot Perazzi firearms; American trapshooting legend and ATA Hall of Fame inductee, Dan Bonillas, to name but one. Dan and Perazzi have enjoyed a long relationship even to this day.
That reminds me, I recall visiting the Perazzi building at a Vandalia Grand American one year. I was curious about the stories I had heard of the Perazzi woodworkers brought over from Italy and how they would transform a raw blank of walnut into a finished, checkered and fully fitted stock onto a customer’s gun within 24 hours. I thought, “They’ve got to be exaggerating. 24 hours, from raw blank to fitted stock? It can’t be.” I took a lunch break and strolled to the Perazzi building. A good crowd had populated the building; checking out the many beautiful Perazzi models displayed on the familiar red velvet–covered display stands. I quickly turned my attention to the fabled Perazzi woodworkers. I noticed Mr. Daniele Perazzi himself was attending to a prospective buyer who was examining a truly spectacular blank of walnut. The transaction appeared to have been completed because no sooner had the customer and Mr. Perazzi shaken hands than the blank was turned over to the first stock shaper. I marveled at the speed with which his sharp drawknife flashed across the highly grained wood roughing it into what began to look like a stock. Other workers took their turns on it further shaping the pistol grip, the comb and, of course, the separate piece that was to become the forearm. The lady who performed the checkering amazed me. She spoke in Italian with other workers nearby never once taking her eyes off her task. Within the short time I was there I watched what was first a blank of walnut get well on its way to becoming a masterpiece of woodworking on an equally masterfully designed Perazzi shotgun.
From 1957, for more than 50 years this family–run business has been producing high quality firearms for the discriminating sportsman, the designs of which originated from the brilliant and determined mind of Daniele Perazzi. The following excerpt is from a Perazzi catalog. It gives you an idea as to the level of passion for gunmaking that consumed Daniele Perazzi.
…I would like to extend to you an invitation to visit the Perazzi factory which I founded in 1957 and – with the help of my family – has grown and expanded to become renowned throughout the entire world. The shotguns I created are suitable for every discipline and the needs of each shooter. Every morning I and my family await your visit with great enthusiasm, along with our gunsmiths, stock makers and other technicians, to assist you in choosing and individually fitting a custom gun which is best suited to your shooting requirements.
Mr. Perazzi was truly a remarkable individual; driven with an inordinate degree of enthusiasm for his trade. Imbued with vision that made him a legend and his guns coveted pieces of the gunmaker’s craft by sportsmen throughout the world. Daniele Perazzi will be mourned and missed.
Daniele Perazzi’s legacy will continue on in Armi Perazzi under the capable leadership of his son Mauro and daughter Roberta.