Westley Richards London Shop, Gun & Rifle Sales 1907

Westley Richards, Ledger, 1907, Guns Made

We have a multitude of old ledgers here at the factory, many of which, even after 30 years I have never taken time to look at. One such book is a matching ledger to the Mauser records both of which I had rebound some years ago. This particular ledger is the daybook for gun sales in our London shop for the years 1892 to 1927. The ledger is divided into sections as indicated above. I point out that these are ‘off the shelf’ or stock guns and do not include ‘guns ordered’.

I picked 1907 for no particular reason just to have a look what the London stock gun sales were in those days. 1914 would have been 100 years ago but also the start of the War so I jumped back a few years to what would have been 100 years before we left the Grange Road premises.

Westley Richards, 1907, gun makers, journal

The guns are all listed in columns by serial number and the totals sold were:

Best Hammerless Guns   45

Plain Hammerless Guns  84

Best Hammer Guns  0

Plain Hammer Guns  1

Double Rifles All Kinds  23

Keepers Guns and Cheap Guns  16

Secondhand Guns   41

Single Rifles  2 Best, 56 Bolt Action, 5 Lee Enfield, 35 Rook &Rabbit.

Revolvers  46

A brief overview is that most of the shotguns were 12g, the double rifles were .303, .318, .450, .476, .500 and .577’s (4). The bolt actions were mainly 318’s with .275, .303 and .375 being the largest with 3 sold. Rook rifles were .22 and .300 and the odd .250. In the revolver section you find Colts, S&W, Mauser, Webley and Bergman.

As with any old journals I cannot be sure how accurate the information is and how well it was kept, but I imagine it is actually totally accurate! Certainly it is also much easier to find than on the modern computer. It is just a shame we cannot write as elegantly as they did 100 years ago and maintain such perfect records for the future.

The Scroll Back Action Double

Droplock, double rifle, westley richards,A .470 Westley Richards Droplock with Scroll Back Action in Lightweight Case. 

This is a recently completed .470 Droplock for which we have used the scroll back action, typically found on our shotguns and which I have only ever seen on one vintage pre-war rifle. That rifle was a .476 and one that I have tried on many unsuccessful occasions to buy back from the lucky owner.

The scroll back works really well in my opinion and allows a more rounded shape to the action and ultimately very pleasing lines to the rifle. This is a feature we can now feature on any of our double rifles and possibly you will have seen this on a .600 which I posted ‘in the white’ some days ago.

Westley Richards, droplock, 470

 To compare options and ‘build your own rifle’ please visit our new gun site.

Westley Richards .577 Nitro Express Double Rifle.

Westley Richards, 577, Droplock, Double rifle, The canvas and buffalo skin outer covered oak & leather case made in our leather shop.

The 470 is quite a common calibre now, a multitude of gunmakers are turning them out in one form or other, some of them very nice and some I wouldn’t wish to pull the trigger of. There is no Jeremy Clarkson of the gun world, the reviewer who tells it like it is, a person not influenced by the advertisers $ or £, but rather gives an honest opinion based on many similar products, at least products designed and manufactured to do the same job. I think in a way it’s a shame, it would keep every manufacturer on his toes.

The .577 however, is quite an uncommon calibre and there are, to my knowledge, only a handful of gunmakers remaining who undertake to make this and other similar ‘large’ bore double rifles. These makers are the ones with a long and solid history of making double rifles, ones who bring years of experience to the bench and ultimately to the rifle. This is a calibre the owner of which wants to get up close to something, something that wants to kill him, he wants a rifle with pedigree, a rifle that he can entrust his life upon. Of these few gunmakers, I believe Westley Richards has probably made more rifles in this calibre than any other.

Westley Richards, 577, Droplock, Double rifle,

Potocki, Sutherland, Hemingway, Granger are just 4 of the many famous hunters who have taken delivery of a .577 droplock rifle over the last 100 or so years and we continue today to deliver these on a fairly regular basis, I think at least a dozen .577 & .600 rifles are making the slow journey through the factory at the moment. It may not sound like a lot but in best gunmaking terms it is a lot, I assure you!

Westley Richards, 577, Droplock, Double rifle,

This Westley Richards .577 Droplock Double Rifle is the most recent one completed and leaving the factory this week. Fitted with sideplates which have been beautifully engraved by Peter Spode, extra Hand Detachable locks and fitted in a buffalo skin covered oak and leather case with outer cover. This is a rifle of which we are proud to be among the few remaining makers with both the capabilities and customers trust to make.

Westley Richards, 577, Droplock, Double rifle,

 

The Westley Richards .577 Droplock Double Rifle costs from £59,500.00 + VAT

A Matched Pair of Westley Richards 7 x 57R Droplock Double Rifles.

Westley Richards, Droplock Rifle, Pair double rifles

Some years ago at IWA in Nuremberg, my daughter Karena took her first order for a double rifle at Westley Richards, actually her first order was for a pair of rifles. She was ecstatic, I was mortified! The order was from a gentleman that I had had a long relationship with and decided I wouldn’t put business ‘in amongst’ the pleasure of the friendship. On many occasions I had declined the offer of his orders.

That day in Nuremberg he certainly came up with a tactic to get some rifles from us, when I declared ‘foul play’ he just shrugged and said ‘she took the check and shook my hand’ and for those of you who have done business with us, you will know the handshake is all we need.

So, some years and a few specification changes later, here are the rifles!

Gunstocks. From Turkish Tree to Stockers Bench.

Walnut Tree, Westley Richards, Gunstocks, TurkeyAn ancient Walnut Tree prior to harvest. The trees are purchased from individual landowners often in remote and inaccessible places.

I have never actually been to Turkey to buy wood. I have always done this from a distance, either at the IWA show in Nuremberg each year where all the Turkish suppliers gather, or by buying from the mobile dealers who pass by the factory each year with a van load of wood.

Wood buying is an essential part of the gunmaking process, I think all those responsible for the duty hate doing it but love finding the special pieces every so often. The Turks are masters at spotting even the remote interest in your expression so it is a requirement to practise a totally uninterested look in the mirror before you embark on buying from them. I have always been amazed how, even if I am the last person to view and select from their wood at the shows, I am able to select their very best and thus most expensive blanks of wood!

I enlisted the help of one of the dealers in Turkey from whom I have, over the years, purchased some super wood. Fetin Genc of Gencoglu Gunstocks kindly sent me some photos of the first stages of the harvest of the stock blanks.

Walnut Gunstocks, Westley Richards, Gunstocks,Once harvested the tree is brought to the nearest road for transport to the sawmill.

Walnut, Gunstocks, root ball, westley richardsThe root ball is the source of the highest grade figured wood. At this stage it is not known what the quality of the wood is.

Walnut Gunstocks, Westley Richards, Gunstocks,The fully loaded truck of walnut root balls and limbs.

Walnut Gunstocks, Westley Richards, Gunstocks,The first time that the quality of the wood will be revealed is when the saws get to work. The wood always looks better in large pieces!

gunstocks, IWA, westley richardsNext stop for the wood is the Halls of IWA. In March every year the Turkish wood dealers congregate to show their years harvest and buyers from all over the world race to spot the best blanks! 

Gunstocks, westley richards Piles of long rifle blanks to be sorted. Buying wood is not an easy task, firstly there is the weight of lifting and sorting and then the dazed effect as you get confused by what will look nice and what won’t! Much of the wood has the grain running wrong and this also has to be identified piece by piece.

Gunstocks, Westley RichardsThis Pair of Exhibition blanks I purchased many years ago at IWA to use on some of the first .410 drop lock guns we made..

Stocker, westley richards, Keith Haynes, one of our stockers, turning the blank into the finished article.

Exhibition set, westley richards, drop locksOur set of 7 Bicentennial guns each stocked with a superb piece of Turkish Walnut. 

Engraving Fine Scroll, Engraving Fine Details

Westley Richards, 410, engraving,

If there was some method of measuring the length of cut scroll lines, I imagine you would find that the quantity of fine scroll on this .410 top lever about equal to the whole side of a sidelock shotgun. This is an example of fine scroll at its finest, a word I use to describe both the size and the quality of the work.

Vince Crowley learned his craft under the guidance of Rashid Hadi here at Westley Richards. Rashid is a master of fine scroll, when with clear head, the speed, dexterity and quality of work he produces off a spinning engraving vice is an absolute joy to watch. For Vince, the time with Rash was a time spent learning the hand skills needed to execute this level of work. The rotation of the vice, the sharpening of the gravers, varying depth of cut, shading, layout and whatever other magic is required to execute fine scroll at this level of finesse. It was time very well spent as you can see from this magnificent work.

And the game scene is not too bad either!!

Westley Richards, 410, Cover PlateThe Cover Plate on the Westley Richards .410 Droplock Shotgun. Eng. V. Crowley.

James Purdey, Damascus Barrel, Fine ScrollFine Scroll Coverage on the action of a new James Purdey Damascus Barrel Sidelock.

Enamelled Gun Ovals

Enamel Gun Oval, Westley Richards

The Enamelled crest plates found on certain guns we purchased in India always intrigued me and was something I always very much wanted to replicate on our current guns when and if an opportunity arose.. The deep Prussian blue enamel with elaborate and finely detailed Royal Crests gave the guns a certain presence and stature, especially when found on an otherwise normal fine scroll engraved and case coloured gun.

My opportunity to execute such a crest came when I built a rifle for The King of Spain some years ago. I described to him what I wanted to do and he agreed to it. It was a spur of the moment thing as the King had arrived at the factory unannounced and whilst I had wanted to try the enamel ovals I had actually done no research into it and had no idea who could do it for me, I was now committed to get the job done well.

The jewellery quarter in Birmingham is notable for the wide variety of workshops who for years have supplied the London and other jewellery emporiums with a wide variety of goods. It was here that I found a young lady quietly painting enamel cufflinks at about £10 a go. I asked her how fine she could detail a gun oval if given the time and money to do so and she was enthusiastic to try it, to see what she could achieve.

Spanish Royal Crest, Westley Richards

The young enamel artist delivered a magnificent job, one that was extremely well received, so much so that The King ordered 5 pairs of cufflinks executed in a similar style to give to his friends. On future rifles we executed the same work.

Over the past 15 years since this first use, we have completed many crests in a similar manner both for Royal households and for private individuals. It is a small detail that takes a lot of trouble to execute well, but which is always gratefully received and admired.

Westley Richards, Gun Oval, Crest Plates

Westley Richards, Enamel Oval

James Purdey Pair of 12g Shotguns.

Pair Purdey 12g 29445/6 Pair Purdey 12g 29445/6 Pair Purdey 12g 29445/6

Here is a super pair of “ready to go” Purdey shotguns with pairs of barrels for high birds and low birds! Although built some years ago, these guns are in mint, essentially unused condition and represent a saving of 50% to the person about to walk in the Mount Street shop and get a pair. The ovals and case are ready to initial and that is all that’s required!

James Purdey Pair 12g Shotguns.

TEAGUE Precision Chokes.

Teague Chokes

It is some months now since Teague Precision Chokes became a part of our business, time which has allowed us to become familiar with the company, its personnel and methods of manufacture.

Teague, Chokes, Craftsman.Teague Precision Chokes are experts at fine tuning a shotguns performance.

Up until the time of acquiring the business, I had been able to spend very little time seeing the manufacture and methods used to fit the Teague thin walled chokes to shotguns which traditionally had fixed choke systems. This was a process kept firmly out of sight. I was of course familiar with the ‘end result’, as I had sent our production guns to be fitted on many occasions and was always impressed with the quality of workmanship. I am sure this is a feeling held by all the English gunmakers who regularly send their guns to fitted with the system.

Hand Finish, Chokes, TeagueHand Finishing the installation of Teague Thin Wall Chokes

My first visit to Teague as the owner allowed me ‘behind scenes’ to be shown the whole process in detail and to meet the craftsmen involved doing the work. The team spirit and dedication to quality could be felt in the air, the concentration of the craftsmen threading a £15,000 pair of London side lock barrels was total. I left the company that day excited by the opportunity to introduce this superb quality product to a wider audience.

L1003651Determining a guns pattern at Teague Chokes range.

It is now with pleasure, after these few months work, that I direct you to the new TEAGUE Precision Chokes website and at the same time invite any comments you feel will help people unfamiliar with the brand understand the product and services the company supplies. Please either use the comment box below or email me theexplora@westleyrichards.co.uk with any suggestions.

Thank You!

Case Hardening or Coin Finish on Guns & Rifles.

westley richards, 600, double rifle,nitro express rifle, A Westley Richards .600 Sidelock Rifle just prior to Case Colour Hardening. 

The decision on whether to leave case colour hardening on a gun or not, is occasionally not such an easy call. I think I am correct in saying that we are the only remaining gunmaker who case colour hardens ALL our shotguns and rifles, be they destined to be coin finished or not. Most of the other makers have opted in the main for the cheaper route of chemical case hardening, which, in my opinion is just that, a cheaper option. The gun will not have the nice traditional tell tale signs of colour left on the inside of the forend iron, the action flats and trigger plate, details which many might not care about but is very nice to retain.  The colour of the coin finish on the less expensive method is also too bright and shiny, lacking the much less severe characteristic of the brushed off case colour, which leaves a more grey tone to the steel.

Our guns all, without exception, take the 400 yard trip up the road to the workshops of St. Ledger’s who have been serving the gun trade now for many years with this service.

This rifle is a new .600 NE Sidelock which has been engraved by Vince Crowley and looks great in the bright Finish (The photographs were taken just prior to the rifle going to hardening.) but it also looks very good with the case colour hardening on now that we have it back. Case colour hardening is not an exact science so colour will vary from piece to piece and I think this particular one has come out very well.

So for this particular rifle I am not yet sure, to brush off or not brush off, that is the question!

westley richards, 600, double rifle,nitro express rifle, The same rifle after Case Colour Hardening.

westley richards, 600, double rifle,nitro express rifle,

westley richards, 600, double rifle,nitro express rifle, westley richards, 600, double rifle,nitro express rifle,