Kilimanjaro Rifles - Custom Rifles - Founder's Blog

The Majestic Tahr – Kilimanjaro’s 2012 Field Tests

Rifle Testing Cattle Flats New Zealand

Each year, Kilimanjaro puts its rifles to the test in the field in our continuing efforts to craft not merely beautiful rifles, but rifles tough and durable enough to handle the most extreme conditions. In 2010, it was twenty-eight days in Africa and the dust & ash after burning of the long grass in the Selous. In 2011, it was the extreme wet conditions of the Alaskan Peninsula in the Fall in pursuit of monster Brown Bear. For 2012, we headed to New Zealand’s South Island to tackle the extreme mountain and glacier conditions of the Southern Alps.

Our Master Gunsmith, Gene Gordner, headed out with Gus Bisset of New Zealand Trophy Hunting for field testing of the Kilimanjaro Jaeger 10-Bore Historical Rifle. They set out to break the world record for free-range Red Stag taken with a muzzle loading rifle. They came close… but the magnificent Stag which Gene took with one shot places 2d in the SCI record books (Correction: The official measurement is in and Gene’s Stag is No. 1 at 319 4/8, easily eclipsing the prior record holder of 308!). Full video of this remarkable hunt can be seen in the video link on You Tube). If you want to understand what hunting in an earlier era is like, this is a must see.

new zealand kilimanjaro rifle testing

My son William and I headed out instead with Stu Marr, Ben Smith and John Totty of
New Zealand Safaris. We were delighted that Diana Rupp, Editor In Chief of Sports Afield magazine, was also able to join us. Diana was testing our new Artemis-Tigercat Rifle in 30-06 for an upcoming article. William picked our lightweight Leopard rifle in 6.5×55 Swede with a stunning Quilted Maple stock. I carried the full size Kilimanjaro African rifle in 7mm Rem. Mag. which is Stu’s recommended cartridge for the distances and the toughness of the Tahr. William’s 6.5×55 Swede, and Diana’s 30-06, also both performed exceptionally well (and were considerably lighter to carry).

William and Stu

We were tackling the steep mountains in pursuit of the high-climbing Tahr, Chamois and Arapawa Ram. We did it the hard way, completely on foot, starting at the lowest elevation and ascending 2,500 to 3,500 vertical feet each day, and then descending (the hardest part) into the evening. The climbing was difficult, not just because of the ice and snow at the higher elevations, but due to the loose shale covering so much of the mountain sides. You could never be sure of your footing. My son and the younger guides just danced over it with the energy and quick reflexes of youth. For my older legs, and slower reflexes when footing gave way, each step required careful consideration.

Erik Eike descending Lochaber

Bull Tahr, with their magnificent blonde mane against the dark fur of the body, has long been on my wish list, and I eagerly awaited this hunt. After arriving, and being confronted with the reality of the New Zealand Southern Alps, I didn’t think I could do it. I did, however, and am quite proud of myself. With a week of this type of climbing, my legs haven’t been this strong since I was 20 years old. My success is in large part due to what we jokingly called guide Stu Marr’s studied lack of candor in projecting how much farther we had to go. I quickly learned that Stu’s favorite phrases like “we will just pop up there”, or its just over that out-cropping, translated into two or more hours of fiery agony in the thighs, only to learn that now we needed to “pop up” someplace higher, and again, and again. By the end of the hunt, one truism emerged: “There is always more mountain to climb.” Stu, however, knew from experience what it takes to motivate and encourage hunters like me facing a greater than expected challenge, and my thanks go out to him.

Erik and John

Erik's first tahr trophy shot

We also were accompanied by professional photographer and painter Craig Smith. Aside from his talented photography, and ability to create original oil paintings of scenes from the hunt, Craig was just a great hunting companion with contagious good cheer and optimism. If you head down to New Zealand to hunt, we heartily recommend Craig’s services to create a beautiful and professional visual record of your hunt. Be forewarned, however; he turned my son into an avid New Zealand rugby fan, and “All Blacks” (the NZ national team) supporter.

The key to a good hunt is always the outfitter/guide escorting you, and New Zealand Safaris (Stu, Ben and John) are about the best we have seen. With hunting areas all over the South Island for all of New Zealand’s available game, they have the ability to choose the best location for your desired hunt. They displayed keen knowledge not only of the game and its habits, but of all the different terrains in which we hunted. Like Craig, they are enjoyable hunting companions: friendly, personable, and fun to be with.

Between William, Diana and myself, we successfully took five Tahr, 2 Chamois and 3 Arapawa Rams. More of the trophy photos can be seen on our Gallery page. With the 30-06 Artemis-Tigercat rifle, Diana took a magnificent Bull Tahr and superb Arapawa Ram, both with one shot. William took two Tahr, two Rams and the largest, most impressive Chamois I have ever seen with the Leopard 6.5×55 Swede. His shooting continues to excel. My own shooting was off to a less than impressive start. While I successfully took both my first Tahr and Chamois, it took three shots on each to get on target. We had just sighted in the scopes the night before the hunt, so I was perplexed. After that shooting performance, I sighted in again, and the scope was way off. Somewhere during the climb, it had been knocked out of alignment.

Diana's Tahr trophy photo

Erik with Chamois

My second Tahr was taken with one shot from a free-handed sitting position, shooting up slope, into the setting sun at 220 yards. With the sun behind him, and standing on the ridge line, this Bull Tahr was visible only as a black silhouette, impossible to judge quality of the mane. He had, however, amassed and kept close the largest group of nannies (female Tahr) of any Tahr we had seen on the mountains. I figured this was the dominant Bull on the mountain, and I was right. He was glorious. Because I will not take skyline shots for safety reasons, I had to wait patiently with the cross-hairs on him until he finally stepped down with his shoulder below the ridge line, and I squeezed the trigger. It was a good hit, and he took off just over a nearby outcropping where we found him. At this point, it was last light and trophy photos were taken in the twilight. We were all the way at the top of this mountain, and it was a long descent in the dark with the headlamps. As treacherous as the footing is in daylight, navigating down in darkness with only a small circle of illumination in front of you is an entirely different experience. The beer, left in the truck to cool naturally in the below freezing temperatures, never tasted so good.

This was a tough hunt, but don’t let that deter you. The beauty and stunning vistas of the South Island of New Zealand are beyond compare. Despite the difficult climbs, I found the majestic Tahr to be every bit as addictive as Cape Buffalo, and I am already planning the next hunt.

– Erik D. Eike

William's Second Tahr


Kilimanjaro presented with Sporting Classics Award

Noted writer Ron Spomer presents Kilimanjaro Rifles with Sporting Classics Award of Excellence

We are finally back to our work benches and back to work after the 2012 show season. The shows are quite exhausting but such great fun to be able to talk with and show off our rifles to so many people. We expanded to three full booth spaces this year at both the Dallas Safari Club show and the SCI convention in Las Vegas with 28 custom rifles on display to be held and handled, and were still crowded. Interest was higher than ever, and we did a record number of personal fittings.

The two shows combined only run a total of eight days for those visiting, but for us, it is a total of 25 days of packing, travel, set-up, show days, break-down, more travel, another set-up, more show days, another break-down, and finally the return trip back to Montana. Since the freight quotes came in higher than ever, we once again packed a half million dollars of rifles and 7,000 pounds of booth and gear into our trailer and headed south from Montana. This year, however, our regular driver was unavailable and it fell to me to haul this load on the 4,800 mile round trip. Crossing the continental divide six different times during the middle of winter with our truck and trailer is an interesting and sometimes challenging experience. I confess I loved it. It has been almost thirty years since I last had the chance to drive cross-country. You really cannot even begin to appreciate the grandeur and beauty of this great country without driving thousands of miles across it.

The highlight of the shows for us was the presentation by Sporting Classics magazine of their Award Of Excellence for 2011. Noted writer Ron Spomer made the presentation on behalf of Sporting Classics to the Kilimanjaro team in Las Vegas, and the crystal trophy was proudly displayed on the front table in our booth. Dr. Kevin “Doctari” Robertson was once again able to join us in our booth in both Dallas and Las Vegas to demonstrate our Doctari Rifle which he designed. This year, customers were able to meet and talk with not only me, Dr. Robertson and Master Gunsmith Gene Gordner, but also Principal Gunsmith Noah Hathorne.

custom rifle show 2012

las vegas rifle show

We were quite apprehensive about the new location for the SCI convention in Las Vegas, but the logistics went very well. While I am sure many attendees enjoyed the Las Vegas environment, we still prefer Reno. The show was larger than ever in Las Vegas, but the casino megaplex just seemed to swallow and disperse everyone as soon they left the show floor. In Reno, it is hunting, guns, friends and colleagues morning, noon and night—and that’s what makes it so much more fun. SCI will be back to Reno next year, and we are looking forward to it.

The Dallas Safari Club continues to amaze with their superb hospitality. The 100% commitment of virtually every club member to the success of the show is a joy to behold. Our thanks go out to them. This commitment has seen the Dallas show grow at an incredible rate to the point where I am no longer sure which is bigger, the DSC show or the SCI show. DSC reports there were 38,000 attendees this year in Dallas. One of our favorite parts of the Dallas show are the Exhibitor breakfasts sponsored by Sports Afield magazine. Held every morning in a relaxed setting before the hustle and bustle of the show day begins, these breakfasts continue to provide the very best opportunity for us to meet and share notes with others in the industry, establish new working relationships, and launch more joint projects and endeavors.

We wish the primary purpose of the shows was for all of you to buy new custom rifles, but booking of hunts is still paramount as it should be. We were at it ourselves. We have now made arrangements for our 2012 Field Tests, and this year, we will put our rifles to the test in the high alpine environment of the South Island of New Zealand. My son William and I accepted an invitation for a “Southern Slam” hunt for Tahr, Chamois and Sheep with Stu Marr of New Zealand Safaris. Meanwhile, Master Gunsmith Gene Gordner is also heading out into the New Zealand mountains with Gus Bisset of New Zealand Trophy Hunting with the very modest objective of bagging the World Record Red Stag taken with a flintlock firearm. Gene will be testing one of our new Historical Rifles-a new firearm crafted from scratch to a historical design. He still needs to finish building the rifle for the hunt. Now Gene complains loudly each year about the cramped conditions on the short plane flight from Kalispell to Dallas and Las Vegas. I can hardly wait to hear his reaction to the more than 25 hours of airline travel it will take to get him to New Zealand, but at present he is as excited as a child on Christmas Eve.

Kilimanjaro Rifles

See Us At The 2012 Shows

custom rifle trade shows 2012

Kilimanjaro Rifles will have more than 25 custom rifles on display to see and hold at both the Dallas Safari Club show (January 5-8; Booth 1835) in Dallas, Texas, as well as at the Safari Club International convention (February 1-4; Booth 2908) in Las Vegas, Nevada. We hope you will stop by to see us. It is impossible to fully appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of our rifles until you see and hold them in person. The shows are a rare opportunity to see such an extensive collection of our work all in one place, as well as the opportunity to meet and speak with our gunsmiths who will actually craft your rifle. Dr. Kevin “Doctari” Robertson will also be joining us in our booth at the Dallas show to demonstrate and talk about the Doctari Rifle which he designed. We look forward to seeing you and hope you can join us at the shows. In the meantime, Happy New Year from the entire Kilimanjaro team.

Special Limited Holiday Sale

holiday special rifle deals
To Our Customers And Friends:

We hope all is well with you as the holiday season approaches, and that you have had a successful fall hunting season. My son William (age 15) and I just returned from a hunt on the Alaskan peninsula as part of Kilimanjaro’s 2011 field testing efforts. We were both able to take Alaskan Brown Bear, including a very impressive 9.5 foot monster that put up the longest and most intense close quarters battle of my hunting career. Of course, hunting conditions in our spike camp were wonderful: 30 to 40 degrees, 30 to 60 MPH winds, and unrelenting driving rain—all the stuff that makes the peninsula in October such a memorable hunt.

Kilimanjaro Rifles is busy getting ready for the shows this January, and we will again have more than 25 custom rifles on display at both the Dallas Safari Club Show (Booths 1835-1837) in January, and the Safari Club International convention in Las Vegas (Booths 2908-2912) in February. We hope to see you all again at the shows. In Las Vegas, look for us on Sharps Plain on the upper level of the show.

If you are contemplating a new rifle for the hunting season next fall, we have just enough time to do it. Most of our production slots for the year get filled at the shows in January, so now is the time to secure yours. While we have had a very good year, and continue to grow, I would like to finish the year with a bang–which I guess is an occupational trait. To make it sweeter for our past customers and friends, we are pleased to announce a special limited holiday sale:

For any order placed and initial deposit received by December 27, 2011 (when I close the books on the year), and with specific reference to this letter, you will receive a full 10% off of a New Serengeti or Jaguar rifle, and a full 15% off any single rifle order, and 20% off any multiple rifle orders, for our Kilimanjaro, Doctari, Artemis, Tigercat or Lever-Action rifles, or Stockworks services. As our Christmas present to you, a custom tooled leather rifle sling or ammunition carrier to your design specifications is also complimentary.

This special sale will end on December 27, 2011, and is limited to the first 15 who respond, so don’t delay. The staff is calling it the “Erik-Is-Crazy” sale. What they don’t know, however, is what I have planned for the coming year and how much easier that expansion will be with strong financials.

I hope you are able to take advantage of this special offering. We look forward to the opportunity to custom craft your own perfect, and very special, rifle.

When One Shot Matters,


Erik D. Eike
holiday rifle deal

The Debut Of The New Serengeti Rifle

Kilimanjaro Quality & Beauty At A More Affordable Price

The New Serengeti Rifle 300WSM

The New Serengeti Rifle 300WSM

With new precision equipment, Kilimanjaro now has the ability to more affordably create our unique stock geometries in standard configurations from the finest American Walnut.   For those hunters that cannot yet afford to treat themselves to the ultimate, full-custom experience of our flagship Kilimanjaro Rifle, the New Serengeti Rifle is our semi-custom offering at a substantially reduced base price of $6995, but with all of Kilimanjaro’s legendary quality, beauty and accuracy.  Featuring our proprietary Stealth Lamination for superior strength and stability, the New Serengeti Rifle is available in your choice of virtually any chambering, right or left hand, Monte Carlo or straight comb, in any of our six most popular stock geometries, and in lengths of pull from 13.0 to 14.25 inches—over 6,000 different possible base configurations for your perfect rifle, even before considering the various options which can be added.  Only at Kilimanjaro is such a wide-array of choices considered “semi-custom.”  The multitude of different possible configurations exceeds the customization options from almost any other so-called custom rifle maker.  For the true full custom experience, the Kilimanjaro Rifle remains the pinnacle of the industry.  Read more about the New Serengeti Rifle on the Serengeti Rifle page of our website, or call us to get started on your own “perfect” rifle.

Kilimanjaro Rifles Offers Some Very Sweet Special Deals

With the completion of the 2011 shows, Kilimanjaro Rifles is in full production mode for new display rifles at the 2012 shows.  We accordingly need to reduce inventory of our prior display rifles, and are offering very special pricing to do so.  Check out the Rifles Now! page of our website for this extraordinary collection of hunting rifles at very special pricing.  All of these rifles have been displayed at the shows and in our advertising, and some have been used in our field-testing around the world or by noted writers for magazine reviews, but all are delivered in as new condition with Kilimanjaro’s full lifetime guaranty.

Kilimanjaro Rifles African 375 H&H

Kilimanjaro African 375 H&H Rifle

Kilimanjaro Lever-Action Rifle In 30-30 Win.

Kilimanjaro Lever-Action Rifle In 30-30 Win.

Kilimanjaro Walkabout 6.5x55 Swede

Kilimanjaro Walkabout 6.5x55 Swede