Kindly tell us a little bit about your company’s history. How and when did you and your father get started?
A dream drove my father, Viggo Olsson’s life during the latter part of the 1900's – A dream to offer perfect handmade and custom designed rifles to hunters and collectors worldwide.
Intense sensitivity for beautifully crafted things and a burning, life-long interest in guns laid the groundwork for VO Vapen, a family owned company that Viggo launched in 1977. He started to realize his dream with a small workshop on the backyard of his house and gradually would build and design his first rifle. In the late 1980s, I, Ulf wanted to join my father’s dream. Side-by-side, with the same ideals and visions, we planned the company’s future.
We still work together. With carefully selected staff, the team always enjoys new challenges. The production is limited and enables new dimensions for discriminating clients - people looking for something beyond ordinary. Top discretion and anonymity are given when you choose to realize your dream of a unique, world- class, handmade rifle.
VO Vapen delivers exclusive collections, limited editions and tailor-made one of rifles to satisfy demanding clients all over the world.
Your rifles are made by hand and are of extremely high quality workmanship. Tell us a bit about that philosophy.
We have a simple philosophy – we want to be able to deliver a hunting gun that will last for generations. A combination of quality hand craftsmanship, technical solutions and a gun that has totally amazing shooting comfort. We love the challenges we face to give birth to our clients’ dreams and wishes and we are incredible grateful for the faith given to us by our clients.
How did you learn to make rifles?
My father, Viggo who founded the company was raised in a military family and guns were a great part of his life. Upon the launch of the company Viggo also was trained in Italy among some of the best gun manufacturer. But most of the trade he learnt himself, in his small workshop.
When I joined my father’s dream and vision I learnt about precision-tools and CNC machines. To be able to realize some of the innovations my father carried for a long time in his head, I also learned to be design engineer and to draw in 3D. I did my military service as a gun mechanic.
After finishing these educational courses my dad created a tailor-made gun making programme for 3 years within the company. My exam was to deliver a true masterpiece and have it approved by my father!
Just a year after this I designed and developed the now famous take-down concept that we still use on our handmade rifles.
Tell us a bit about the VO Falcon Edition. Many say it is one of the most expensive rifles ever made.
After all our journeys to the Middle East we got an opportunity to see these unique birds and be inspired by them, particularly by the Peregrine and Saker falcons. They captured our imaginations with their capability to fly without exhaustion, with their grace and last but not the least, with their natural, sharp hunting instinct.
The VO Falcon rifle is from VO One of One category, the rifle will be build in one sample only and is created to honor not only the traditional sport of falconry but also the fantastic birds, the true master of the sky.
We are especially proud of this gun since it contains many new and interesting details. Beside the amazing engraved design, we also developed barrels in exclusive handmade Damascus steel. From what we have understood, these are the first modern rifle barrels today in this material. We also did several other details as take down parts, safety and the finishing of the fore-arms in Damascus steel. This is a gun that we always will remember as something truly unique and special.
All of your rifles are inspired by great traditions and cultures. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you gather inspiration?
Travel and meeting new amazing people, cultures, buildings and locations. Each meeting with a new potential client, to hear his or her history and dreams and then try to do all we can to learn as much as possible about the subject before we start our design work. This inspires us, we never know what the next project will lead us into and we love when the clients are involved in the progress of the work.
Many of our projects are developed together with the end client. To see the project develops from a brief idea to a finished masterpiece in the end, a gun that the client will be the only one in the world to own. That´s an amazing feeling and a privilege to be part of creating memorable art like that!
Sometimes also heartbreaking since it’s a piece you have been spending tremendous amount of working hours on to finalize and sometimes you really just want to have a few days to really say goodbye before it’s delivered.
As hunting has been part of the Indian culture, would you ever make a rifle inspired by the Royal Bengal Tiger?
That is an amazing idea and that has potential to become a superb project! We have been busy with Middle East region for the last eight years with many exciting projects and most of our focus has for obvious reasons been aimed to that region. Now when people know about us we are looking to be inspired by new markets and India with its richness in culture, animals and history of hunting would be incredible interesting to set some projects up! I hope with this article we will find the first clients in India to start develop any new projects and what could be a better idea than yours Royal Bengal Tiger?!
If someone from India wants to buy your rifles, how should they go about it?
They should contact me and then we investigate the opportunities to deliver the first handmade VO Vapen gun to India.
What are the different types of rifles you make?
Today we manufacture bolt action rifles with our patented take down system. Many different calibers from 6,5x55 and up to our own Africa caliber, 416Taylor.
In our plans for the next coming months we have some breathtaking new innovations to launch but I prefer to keep them to myself at this stage.
If someone is new to the whole arena of rifles, what are some good sources to learn about them?
Normally an interest like this comes from generations. I know for myself that no better source is to sit in your fathers or your grandfather’s knee when you are a young to get the most exciting hunting and gun stories.
What is the secret behind the exquisiteness behind all your rifles? Do you consciously think of anything? Do you have any mental models of working?
Me and my father don’t consider this as a work, this is a way of living. We are getting emotionally involved, sometimes to much in every project and we love the combination of being able to design something truly unique to clients that appreciate something special. Then of course we have some practical advantages with our patented take down that makes it easy to travel and visit different hunting sites around the world. The balance in our guns are developed very carefully. We have during the previous 20 years designed our barrel profiles to be balanced perfectly to each caliber. Our gunstock design is not only looking wonderful, it has a straight gunstock that will absorb maximum of the recoil and together with the well balanced barrels you get an amazing shooting comfort, even with the heavy African calibers. Each project deserves a special way of working and thinking. All from when the first drafts of the design is being engaged until when you choose what part of the big walnut root that will become the new gunstock. We are always open to new challenges and see possibilities in every new project.