By Vic Venters
Rich Cole, a gunsmith sometimes dubbed “Mister Beretta” for his encyclopedic knowledge of and skill in repairing and customizing Beretta shotguns, has opened a retail operation at the National Shooting Complex, in San Antonio.
The new Texas shop is the third location for Cole Fine Guns & Gunsmithing, which includes an operation in Harpswell, Maine, and its flagship store in Naples, Florida.
“We’ve been interested in having a location in Texas for a long time,” Cole said, “and especially at the National Shooting Complex (NSC). Not only does it host a lot of shoots, but they’re also big shoots, both in prestige and in terms of the numbers and quality of shooters they attract. People travel from all over the world to compete there.”
The NSC is the headquarters of the National Skeet Shooting Association and the National Sporting Clays Association, and the grounds host the World Skeet Championship and the National Sporting Clays Championship as well as dozens of smaller shoots.
Though Cole is best known for his work on Berettas, the new location also will retail many of the world’s most popular competition shotguns, including those from Caesar Guerini, Perazzi, Zoli and Blaser. Half of the shop will be retail space, with the other half being a full-service repair center, which will operate during major shoots to service competitors’ guns.
Tom Bryant, a widely respected industry veteran with 16 years at Cabela’s as manager of its online Gun Library, has been hired to run the new shop. “Our retail operation will be open year-round,” Bryant said, “buying, selling, trading, consigning guns and providing demo guns. Although our primary reputation has been built on serving the competition market, one of our goals is to expand our offerings to hunters. One of the most exciting things about the new shop is that we are literally yards away from clay ranges—so if you want to shoot or test a gun, you can.”