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Thread: Sukalle riflemaker

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    2

    Sukalle riflemaker

    I have a model 12 BSA with a barrel marked "W.A. Sukalle-rilfemaker-Phoenix, Ariz". Anyone ever hear of him? I'm told he had an association with Buhmiller and worked in the 1940's and 50's.
    Rich

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Poetry, Tex.
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    4,998
    You might try the gunsmithing forum on www.accuratereloading.com. This is more up their alley.
    Butch

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palmer, Alaska
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    1,086
    You can read more about Bill in "GUNSMITHING" by DUNLAP. Bill had a shop on east Washington street for many years. He was hired away from his barrel making and rifle work by NASA in the late 50's to work on the space program.

    He was considered to be the finest machinist in the country. NASA thought so much of him they let him stay in his shop in Phoenix and would send him machinery and work.

    The funny part was when the machinery would come into his equipment yard, he would try it and cover them back up with the tarps. They would never meet Bill's standards. Truly a hardheaded old German!

    I have a mint Mauser built by him, in .300 Win mag. The rifle is among the finest in classic American sporters.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    372
    He barreled some guns for Jack O'Connor if I remember correctly. I kinda think he made barrels but I might be wrong. Check out some of O'Connor's books.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    2
    Thanks for the help. The stock work on this little rifle is exceptional. If he did the barrel and stock he was quite a talent. I'm proud to be the current caretaker of this rifle.
    Rich

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Tacoma, Washington
    Posts
    105
    I am the proud and extremely lucky owner of a William Sukalle barreled .22 LR, based on a Martini large frame falling block action. I paid Cabelas in Post Falls Idaho $850, not knowing what it is. Now that I know I own a piece of history,as well as an exceptionally accurate .22, I am pleased beyond words.

    I did quite a bit of research on W.A. Sukalle and found the following:

    William Sukalle was an automotive machinist and hi-power shooter who wanted a better barrel. He played around at barrel-making for some time, then took the Big Step by buying 100 military surplus .22 caliber barrels made for the Springfield Hoffer-Tompson. These he re-bored and re-rifled to .25 caliber for the then “new” .257 Roberts. ( This is the barrel on the pictured rifle) The first business address I found for him in The American Rifleman was in October 1931 at 60 South 5th Avenue Tucson, AZ; in November 1935 he was at 1120 East Washington St. Phoenix, AZ. Sukalle barrels will have the Sukalle mark that is an “S” in an oval (and a four-digit number.) I just do not have enough numbers to say positively but I believe that the last two numbers are the year the barrel was made and the first number or numbers signify the barrel number. If this is correct then number 1036 would be the tenth barrel made in 1936. I have reports of barrels marked with just the “S” and barrel number, with no name. Early barrels are marked “W. A. SUKALLE TUCSON ARIZ” while later barrels are marked on top “W. A. SUKALLE-GUNMAKER-PHOENIX-ARIZ” One rifle I know about has a barrel marked A.O. Niedner Dowagiac, Mich. on top and W.A. Sukalle Tucson Ariz. on the bottom without a Niedner or Sukalle barrel number. You figure that one out.

    A couple of Sukalle’s well known customers were Jack O’Connor (at least eight rifles) and Dr. Russell C. Smith of Barren, Wisconsin and later of Petersburg, Alaska. Dr. Smith was the Patron Saint of the custom gunmaker, having custom rifles made by many of the custom smiths. When Dr. Smith died in 1968 his collection totaled around 400 guns. One of the highlights every year for Sukalle was to travel to Alaska and clean Dr. Smith’s rifle collection, and I would think a little hunting was in order also.


    You can read more about Bill in "GUNSMITHING" by DUNLAP. Bill had a shop on east Washington street for many years. He was hired away from his barrel making and rifle work by NASA in the late 50's to work on the space program.

    He was considered to be the finest machinist in the country. NASA thought so much of him they let him stay in his shop in Phoenix and would send him machinery and work.

    The funny part was when the machinery would come into his equipment yard, he would try it and cover them back up with the tarps. They would never meet Bill's standards. Truly a hardheaded old German!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palmer, Alaska
    Posts
    1,086
    I have a friend in Fairbanks, Alaska that bought a number of his rifles at the auction held in 1974-75 that Dr. Smith had built by Winchester and reworked by other custom gun smiths. The SUKALLE rifle he got at auction was perhaps the most ornate of all the rifles he purchased that day. He bought the rifle on my advice and later sold for a vary substantial profit. This rifle was a Mauser that was fully engraved by CORNBATH and has a beautiful hunk of wood done by BILL. Pictures of this rifle can be found in the 1957 edtion of GUN DIGEST.


    The word most commonly used to describe W.A. SUKALLE durning his life was eccentric. When I remember him, I always wonder why?

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