Rifleman Q & A: Fred Adolph Rifle– “If I Rest, I Rust”

posted on May 3, 2019

Q: I have an engraved single-shot .25-35 Win. rifle with set triggers, an octagonal barrel and a flip-up sight. The rifle was my grandfather’s, who was long gone by the time I came into this world. I don’t care about the value; I would be happy to know what this gun is.

Your rifle was imported from the Suhl area of Germany by Fred Adolph of Genoa, N.Y., probably sometime before World War I. A near-exact copy of your example is shown on p. 45 of Adolph’s 1916 catalog.

Adolph emigrated from the Silesia area of Germany in 1908, where he had started as an apprentice gunsmith. Before emigrating, he was a gunsmith with Weber in Switzerland, Steyr in Austria, and three firms in Suhl, Germany: Haenel, Sauer and Schilling. These are very famous early gunmakers.

Adolph’s business flourished up until he could no longer import from Germany during World War I. He could still make custom guns, but the bulk of his business was severely curtailed. He was very well known and respected; among his customers were Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Charles Newton, Roy Chapman Andrews, et al.

On a side note: The cover of his 1916 catalog features a coat of arms and his motto: “Rast ich so rost ich” (If I rest, I rust).

--Michael F. Carrick


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