A Gun Engraving Master Holds Court at Cabela’s

Larry Parker can enhance the beauty of people’s firearms – or he can just help them get what they need to store their guns safely.

The master gun engraver from Belmont is demonstrating his craft from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday at Cabela’s.

Parker, 70, started working with guns when he was in high school. He has studied with master engravers and is now one of about 350 master engravers in the country. He has been practicing his craft for 55 years and is well known nationally for his work, having appeared in – and on the cover of – several embellished firearms publications. All his work is done using hammer and chisel.

“This is the real deal,” Parker said. “I use only hammer and chisel. This is what I do. Most of the work I do is for collectors. People bring me a gun and ask me to work on it. When I’m done, they take it home and put it away. They just want to say, ‘I’ve got it.’ Most of them are never fired.”

In addition to doing engraving, Parker also does gold inlaying and fine checkering woodwork on gun stocks. He has embellished rifles, shotguns and handguns, as well as knives and tomahawks.

While gun sales have risen across the country in the wake of mass shootings that inspired discussions about gun control, Parker said he has not seen a rise in demand for his work.

“I don’t deal with those type of guns,” he said. “You don’t engrave an AK-47 or gun you plan to shoot. But I’m always behind and trying to catch up with the work I have.”

Parker noted, however, he has seen a marked increase in his secondary gun safe business.

“I started in the safe business after I bought a gun safe to keep guns people had given me to work on,” he said. “I’ve been hammered with people wanting safes. I’ve been slammed. People now are locking up their firearms. It’s been crazy. I have 120 on order and can’t keep up with the demand.”

He also plans to set up a display in May at the National Rifle Association National Convention – the 10th National NRA Convention in which he has participated.