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Kelowna gunsmith has seen major change in firearms ownership

Kelowna  gunsmith Chris Weber says he’s seen lots of changes in both the popularity of firearms and the types that are popular in the 25 years he’s owned Weber and Markin Gunsmiths.  - Judie Steeves/Capital News
Kelowna gunsmith Chris Weber says he’s seen lots of changes in both the popularity of firearms and the types that are popular in the 25 years he’s owned Weber and Markin Gunsmiths.
— image credit: Judie Steeves/Capital News

There’s been a distinct change in the types of people buying firearms since 9-11.

Traditionally, hunters bought firearms, as did target shooters, and people who were simply passionate about firearms.

While they still buy firearms, there’s a new breed of purchaser who say they just want to target practice.

However, according to Chris Weber, owner of Weber and Markin Gunsmiths in Kelowna, who has 34 years of experience in the industry here, today half his sales are of handguns.

Weber is one of only three gunsmiths in Canada with the level of qualifications he has as a gunmaker, and he is a member of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild.

He doesn’t just sell firearms, he lovingly creates and restores them from pieces of wood and iron, sometimes rusted iron and pitted and scratched wood, along with his gunsmith partner Steve Markin.

“A lot of today’s purchasers don’t even have a hunting licence,” he notes.

Until about five years ago, the 25-year-old Kelowna gunsmithing business mainly did specialty, custom gunsmithing work for customers from across the country.

Today, the retail sale of new and used firearms has out-paced that work, says Weber, with the biggest increase in the past couple of years in handguns.

“We’re very influenced by the buying habits of the U.S. and firearms sales in the U.S. have soared in recent years, to the point where it’s now very difficult to get powder and bullets and some ammo, even here,” noted Weber.

While hard-core firearms afficionados might have considerable sums of money tied up in their hobby, most hunters continue to purchase basic rifles that aren’t worth a lot of money, he added.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

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