It’s a common practice for fire departments to raise money by raffling off a gun or other prizes. But the Altavista Volunteer Fire Company isn’t using just any gun for its gun raffle, which was launched September 17.

The company is raffling off a Colt Model 1911, engraved by master engraver Tim George, and fitted with mammoth ivory grips, courtesy of PCM Industrial Services in Altavista. The gun also has a stainless chromium finish as an added touch. The gun was donated by Lynchburg Pawn Inc. Tickets for the raffle cost $100, and the company is prepared to sell up to 1,000—giving the fundraiser the potential to raise as much as $100,000, if all available tickets are sold.

“A lot of departments do their own gun raffle, but nothing actually to this magnitude that we’ve seen,” AVFC chief John Tucker said. “There are some fire departments out there that do some amazing raffles with tons and tons of different gifts and prizes and stuff. But around here locally, I think this is probably one of the bigger tries.”

Tucker said funds from the raffle will go towards the AVFC’s operating budget, which covers the costs of things like truck repairs and new turnout gear.

Tucker said part of AVFC’s strategy will be to spread the fundraiser on social media, and hopefully garner national attention. By Monday evening, he said tickets had already been sold to people in five different states.

In some ways AVFC has always taken a different approach to fundraising than other departments, for example by leasing properties, and manning the Thrifty Firemen thrift store along with the Hurt Volunteer Fire Department.

“We run a volunteer fire department with the same standards as a career department,” Tucker said. “And training alone is very expensive. We’ve spent thousands of dollars in the last 12 months just on training.”

Tucker said he is grateful that George was able to offer his engraving talents to help raise money for the company.

George said he thinks he has probably engraved more Colt 1911s than any other kind of handgun during his roughly 40 years as a gun engraver.

“In the custom world it’s a very, very nice gun,” George said. “Somebody would probably pay about $12,000 to duplicate it.”

According to the fundraiser website, tickets will be sold online until October 17. Tickets can be purchased at: