Knowing that Scottsdale, a highly affluent and picturesque suburb of Phoenix, was the home of William Larkin Moore and Sons, I arranged an appointment to visit their showroom in person and get a behind the scenes look at one of the top five gun rooms in the country.
Before I planned my trip I spoke with Dan Moore and he was very gracious in offering to provide me with a tour of their showroom and discuss some of the fine guns they have on display. I arrived at the appointed time, in fact a bit early, as I was using my GPS to locate the showroom and as is often the case I don’t trust the GPS all that much. It appeared to be directing me to an area which I couldn’t imagine housing a gun room the caliber of William Larkin Moore & Sons. The area I am coming into is more of an office complex area and my pre-conceived notion and the picture in my mind is one of an old building in the luxury part of town and not the more modern buildings it was leading me to. Nevertheless the GPS was right on and I found the office. From the outside no one would have a clue what the business was and of course that is by design.
I arrived a few minutes before the opening hour and upon his arrival Mr. Moore invited me in through the front door. The interior at first glance struck me as odd as I had the feeling I was in an insurance office or even perhaps a law firm. The decor was nicely appointed and almost nothing spoke of the gun business except perhaps the giant size vault door to my left which certainly catches your attention.
The surrounding walls were as normal as any office and as I waited for Mr. Moore to finish his opening tasks, I wondered to myself where the showroom was. Mr. Moore then began working the combination to the oversize gun vault door and I was expecting to see racks and racks of guns. When the light was turned on we were standing in a showroom that would make any gun lover absolutely sure he was in his own version of heaven.
The room had a quietness and feel about it that was almost reverential and one could get a sense of history as well as an awe for the art that is a fine gun. A place where each piece demonstrates the artistic talent of the gunmakers, engravers and wood workers who create these masterpieces.
I have often seen photographs of the Holland & Holland, the Piotti’s, Garbi’s and Bosis but never in my wildest of imagination would I ever have had placed in my hands a gun valued in the six figure range. As a matter of fact when Mr. Moore handed me one of these magnificent specimens I almost declined as my mind went immediately to what if. What if I should drop it? What if I should put it down too hard and a few more what-ifs.
Holding a Piotti, which everyone knows is born and created in Italy by some of the finest craftsmen alive today, you can not only see the beauty in the wood to metal fit, the attention to detail but you can also physically feel how balanced it is.
I took a few moments to quietly walk around this shrine, as I had come to think of it, and gaze at guns I had only heard about. The only sound in the room was coming from the shutter of my camera as I took as many pictures as possible.
Once I got my shots it was time to find out more about the people and history of William Larkin Moore & Sons. I swear the feeling being here was similar to the tour I took of the Vatican museum a couple of years ago, a combination of awe and curiosity.
The Moores began their gun business in 1968 more by chance and personal desire for a good double than a plan to get into the business. They were seeking to import a few nice English style guns that would be less costly than the guns made in London at the time and when they were able to bring a few to this country their friends and hunting companions asked them to order some for them. It soon became apparent that there was a real market for them.
They opened their first showroom in Westlake Village north of Los Angeles and enjoyed continuous success, when in 1994 they decided to move to Arizona as California was becoming increasingly unfriendly to the gun business, even at the high level the Moores had established their business. They continued to run two locations from 1994 to 1998 and then consolidated all operations in Arizona.
According to Mr. Moore, as a business, they are constantly striving to find the best guns for the best value and make them available to their list of customers, which include not only collectors but also people who enjoy hunting with a fine double. Today the WLM company imports some of the top names in the business such as Piotti, Armas Garbi, Pedro Arrizabalaga, Arriets, B Rizzini and Chapuius.
All of these storied manufacturers are capable of making a custom gun to match virtually any special desire a gun owner may be searching for. At William Larkin Moore & Sons much of their business is from the sale of custom guns but, according to Mr. Moore, the majority comes from used guns of all manufacturers, including the famous Holland & Holland of London.
Maintaining an inventory between 400 and 450 used guns makes it pretty sure that any fine gun collector can find something of interest and many do. The origins of the majority of guns are certainly from Europe but also you can find Parker Bros, Fox, Ithaca and even selected Remington in this fine gun room.
My host, Dan Moore, spoke with great pride and knowledge about many of the guns he showed me and his appreciation for the fine art involved was clearly evident.
As a shooting and hunting family the Moores at one time owned and operated a shooting preserve in Argentina. Today they hunt over a wired hair pointer and a Vizala for their bird dogs and of course using their favorite doubles.
Looking back Dan was proud to have been the first company to import from F.lli Piotti and showed me the first 10GA ever shipped to the US. He added that it was very unusual as it was frame matched to gauge including the stock.
Looking at virtually every gun was like walking through an art exhibit. Each gun including Royals have, as illustrated in the photos, amazing hand engraving that is continued today by the European artisans which is a talent and skill learned and handed down generation to generation. It is this history, craftsmanship and quality that dictates their value of course. Each scene and pattern has a name and many were originally commissioned by Royalty and have been copied and continued over the years. I find it amazing that there are people today who have the patience and determination to create these wonderful and fascinating firearms day after day.
If you are a gun lover and find yourself in the Scottsdale area make sure you take the time to visit William Larkin Moore and Sons . Their knowledge, their collection and their business will impress you. If you have the appetite and the pocketbook for a fine gun then this is the place, no doubt. I certainly enjoyed my time and even though I am far from an expert on fine guns I know one when I see it and they certainly have them. I wish I could remember half of the details Dan Moore shared with me as my mind continually wandered a bit from gun to gun. So if you want to know more, contact them and make plans to visit. Your gun safe will be glad you did and remember no one can have enough good guns.
Al Hague is an avid outdoorsman and published author as well as outdoor photographer. Al resides and hunts mostly in the western half of the US and Canada. His photos can also be seen on http://www.shutterpoint.com and http://www.theartshop.com.