June 18th, 2014

Baer/Cloward Masterpiece Rifle — Saved for the Grand-Kids

Shiraz BaloliaLast week we ran a story on revered stock-maker Jim Cloward of Washington State. Well here’s a story about a very special rifle, featuring one of the finest hand-crafted, custom stocks Cloward ever made. This stunning, heirloom rifle was crafted two decades ago for Shiraz Balolia, President of Grizzly Industrial. Since he hasn’t been shooting it, he initially thought about putting it up for sale. But our Forum members argued: “Don’t sell it Shiraz — that gun should be in a museum or stay in the family!” Shiraz listened and decided to keep the rifle as a family treasure: “It’s off the market and will wait for the grandkids to grow up to decide which one gets it.”

The Balolia Baer/Cloward Heirloom Rifle
by Shiraz Balolia
I commissioned this rifle over 20 years ago and am ashamed to say that it has less than 50 rounds down the barrel! This is a super-custom, one-of-a-kind rifle that was built by Bruce Baer and the stock work was done by Jim Cloward. This was a “money no object” gun. The stock was a special highly-figured walnut piece that I had saved for years to build “that special gun”, thinking I would pass it on to one of the kids. It has an Ebony fore-end and an Ebony and Ivory grip cap. The barreled action rides in a barrel block in that beautiful Cloward-crafted stock.

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Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

  • Caliber — .308 Baer, made for 1000-yard shooting.
  • Action — Hall, single shot with Jewell trigger.
  • Barrel — Obermeyer, fluted, 29″, 1:10″ twist, throated to shoot up to 220gr Sierras.
  • Stock — Jim Cloward custom with 3-way adjustable buttplate and barrel block.
  • Scope — Rare silver Leupold 36X Benchrest model in mint condition.

Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

The super-comfortable thumbhole stock is an absolute work of art by Jim Cloward, who did the lovely checkering as well. Jim has done some nice stocks for me, but this one is probably the best. He outdid himself on this stock — I do not think you will ever see another Baer/Cloward rifle like this!

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Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

Shiraz Balolia James Jim Cloward Stock Bruce Baer

One More Cloward-Stocked Rifle
Shiraz has a few other treasured Cloward-stocked rifles, including this stunning break-down hunting rifle in fitted travel case. Click image to see the rifle, full-screen, in all its highly-figured glory. We’ve asked Shiraz to to photograph some of his other “Clowardian” beauties so we might showcase them in the future — stay tuned.

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June 11th, 2014

Zebra Spotted in the Pacific Northwest

Forum Member John V.S. (aka BPD459) has a special story to tell — about rifle craftsmanship and a life-long friend. What you see below is John’s new .243 Win prone rifle. It sports a beautiful Zebrawood stock crafted by Mr. James Cloward. Here’s the story of Jim Cloward and John’s new gun:

James Cloward of Lake Stevens, Washington did the stock in just a month. The stock is African Zebrawood, with an Ebony grip cap and a WTC rail. Jim had the Zebrawood in stock. I wanted a lighter-colored stock and this blank called my name and did not eat my wallet either! Photos do not do it justice! The rifle features a Barnard action, and 30″, 1:7.5″-twist Krieger chambered in .243 Win by Randy Gregory. Sights are Warner rear and RightSight front.

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James Cloward Zebrawood Stock gunstock wood prone rifle

Jim Cloward surveys the original blank.
James Cloward Zebrawood Stock gunstock wood prone rifle

Jim’s stock work is above reproach. His hand-cut checkering is better than a couple custom 1911s I had done by “big name” builders! When Jim refined the original Roy Dunlap stock, he created history. There is no better feeling / handling stock on the world than a Cloward Dunlap stock. I wanted him to do a Dunlap for my Barnards and we could not get it to work due to the size and trigger placement on the Barnard action. So, I just had to make due with his prone stocks — life is rough sometimes.

Respect for a Master Craftsman
I am honored to have known Jim since I was 12, and even more honored to call him a friend. Growing up, it was always “Sir” or “Mr. Cloward” when I would ask him something. When I was 35, Mr. Cloward told me “You can call me Jim now”. I felt like I was a grown-up adult that day!

James Cloward Zebrawood Stock gunstock wood prone rifle

I have several Cloward-built XC rifles and two other prone rifles that Jim stocked. It still amazes me how Jim can take a big piece of rough-sawn firewood and turn into artwork that’s functional and better looking than anyone else’s stocks!

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