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Cabela’s gun library offers spot to learn in Fort Mill

Mr. Morris, in the library, with a gun or a book.

What is the question for the Clue-like answer?

“Where can you find Todd Morris of Rock Hill?”

For several years, Morris was a manager of the Waldenbooks in Rock Hill, helping people find books for their home libraries. Current hardback and paperback best-sellers filled most of the space, but there always were shelves for the classics. Browsing was an integral part of the book-buying experience.

When Cabela’s opens its newest store off Carowinds Boulevard in Fort Mill on Thursday, Morris will be found in its library. There are no books in this library, but there are plenty of cabinets filled with guns.

Cabela’s gun library features classic, antique and collectible firearms. It includes rifles, shotguns and pistols of all sizes and calibers.

The gun library heritage dates to the Gilded Age, when great American families such as the Vanderbilts built mansions such as The Breakers in Newport, R.I., and Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.

The mansions had rooms dedicated for specific purposes, such as libraries with floor-to-ceiling bookcases and sporting rooms filled with guns. These mansions took their inspiration from the great houses of Europe.

The gun library at Cabela’s is for the curious, as well as offering a place to learn. Morris and his staff are there to answer questions.

It is a natural place for Morris. He remembers telling his parents he wanted to go into the military when he was in the third grade. He has had a lifetime interest in guns and once served as a policeman in North Carolina.

Cabela’s buys guns at estate sales, from collections and from people who bring them to the store. Each Cabela’s has a gun-checking station near the front door for customers wanting to get a gun appraised, sell it or have it repaired. Customers are given a receipt for the gun, and store employees, commonly called “gun runners,” take customer-owned firearms to the library or other places in Cabela’s.

In the gun library, Morris has the shotguns divided among three categories – good, better and best. Morris said his staff will try to determine which gun meets a customers needs.

The impressive arms, however, are the collectible and military weapons.

The military section at Cabela’s library is a miniature history museum, with everything from muskets to the AR-15 rifle, from which was the basis for the M16 rifle.

There are two pre-Civil War muskets at the Fort Mill Cabela’s, each with a price tag of about $2,300.

There is a World War II-era Garand rifle with an interesting history. The Garand was the standard-issue service rifle for U.S. forces in World War II and the Korean War. This one, Morris said, had its barrel replaced just before the Vietnam War.

Cabinet after cabinet is filled with pistols.

But the most impressive and costly guns are the older shotguns, featuring engravings that are miniature works of art.

One of Morris’ favorites is a Charles Daly side-by-side shotgun from the 1940s. The gun’s engravings are precise and have not been dulled by time.

The price: $7,000.

Price is the biggest difference between the Waldenbooks library and the Cabela’s library, Morris said.

“But it’s the same customer service,” he said.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066 •  dworthington@heraldonline.com.

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