While fall hunters excitedly stalk prey in the Idaho high country, rifle maker Ryan Breeding works diligently in his shop to put the finishing touches on his 2018 Oceania-themed World Heritage Series Rifle. After 18 months of strenuous effort, Breeding says the rifle is “pretty much done.” All of the parts and pieces of Breeding’s original vision are coming together to create a one-of-a-kind .375 H&H bolt-action rifle that can take down Oceania’s largest animal, the Asian water buffalo, as well as elk and other big game.
The Oceania rifle is a testament to legendary rifle maker and cartridge designer, Gil Van Horn. In addition to being Breeding’s mentor for 35 years, Van Horn became a close friend to Breeding and his family. Van Horn was always encouraging and interested in Breeding’s projects, and was extremely excited about the Oceania rifle. Unfortunately, Van Horn will not get to see the finished project as he passed away on June 30, 2017, at the age of 87. Breeding, his wife, Toni, and daughter, Kaylee, all love and miss their dear friend.
Breeding collaborated with the TechHelp New Product Development Team of Boise State for a soft launch of the Oceania rifle on October 4 at a Manufacturing Day event in Nampa, Idaho. Breeding and TechHelp created a large poster explaining the unique features of the gun, how it was designed, prototyped and built. Hundreds of visitors, including Idaho school children, visited the TechHelp booth to learn about Oceania and the Breeding rifle. The booth included a Safari Challenge target game that gave visitors the opportunity to sharpen their shooting skills and win “Spud Bars” from the Idaho Candy Company. The soft launch gave Breeding the chance to talk to the public about the Oceania rifle, and test messaging materials for the upcoming Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas.
Breeding had hoped to display the actual Oceania rifle at the Manufacturing Day event, but it was still out for engraving with renowned craftsman, Lee Griffiths of Hyde Park, Utah. Griffiths is embellishing the gun with an engraving based on a painting by Australian artist, David Southgate, that features three Asian water buffalo grazing in a field.
Accomplished master craftsman James Wear of Laramie, Wyoming is recognized for his work in leather harnesses, rifle cases and accessories. Wear is putting the finishing touches on the Oceania’s fitted rifle case. Drawing influence from a classic 19th Century leather working style, Wear is making the case out of black buffalo hide with a white stingray insert in honor of Oceania. The case is designed to carry the rifle and a host of accessories including the bolt, scope and a special Oceania-themed knife. The knife handle is made out of the same wood as the rifle stock, and includes a spacer made from water buffalo horn. Wear will use the same materials and style to produce a matching case to hold ammunition made by Federal Cartridge Company. In another nod to Oceania, some of the rifle’s accessories, such as its sling, ammo pouch and knife sheath, will be made of shark hide.
When not on the hunt, the Oceania can be displayed at home on a fine credenza designed and built by the brilliant woodworkers at Julian & Sons Fine Woodworking of Heber Springs, Arkansas. The credenza is topped with a metal stand mechanism that rotates to display all facets of the Oceania. Below the rifle display area, the credenza includes a cabinet designed to hold the fitted case and all of the rifle’s accessories. Julian & Sons is also creating a wooden frame for the David Southgate Oceania painting.
Topping Oceania is a scope from Swarovski Optik, a manufacturer of high-quality optical instruments. Swarovski is a world-renowned producer of high performing, intuitive and precise scopes.
The Oceania is the fourth in a series of five rifles celebrating the world’s major hunting areas of Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) and the Americas. The Oceania is a one-of-a-kind custom Magnum Mauser in .375 H&H. The parts comprising this rifle are incredibly complex with curved surfaces and tight tolerances. The rifle’s elegant appearance is smooth with curved surfaces enhanced by hiding all of the rifle’s screw heads. Breeding worked and designed every component exclusively for this single World Heritage Rifle. There will be no other rifle like this. The Oceania will be auctioned at the 2018 Safari Club International Convention taking place from January 31 through February 3 in Las Vegas.