The Mighty .500 Jeffery in a Westley Richards Droplock Double Rifle

WEstley Richards Droplock in 500 Jeffery

The .500 Jeffery is a cartridge that has gained an almost cult status, probably this is due to the very limited amount of bolt action rifles produced by Jeffery in this calibre, the number 27 comes to mind. Anything very hard to get becomes very desirable and an original .500 Jeffery is one of those rifles. Legendary Professional Hunter Tony Sanchez-Arino was a big driving force behind the calibre in more recent years, he trusted it solely for his Elephant hunting days and sung its praise most highly.

For sure it is a very powerful cartridge, I have seen many Elephant despatched cleanly and quickly with this calibre, a calibre that due to its power almost allows a margin of error, a slightly off brain shot is a fatal shot sort of thing.

In recent years there has been some confusion created with the 500J cartridge. This came about when Kynamco started producing a 500J Cartridge which they claimed was to the original Kynoch and Jeffery drawings. It had a slightly different form to the case. They then proceeded to register this case with CIP in Europe making it ‘THE’ .500 Jeffery load. I have always felt this was wrong, and that the .500 Jeffery was simply based on the German 500 (12.7 x 70mm) Schuler round which I have no doubt was used. Nobody has ever seen an original Kynoch 500 Jeffery round that matches the drawings specs.

One time I sent a .500 Jeffery to proof and they told me the chamber was wrong for the round. I said it wasn’t and took the 2 original Jeffery 500’s we have and the original .500 Schuler we have to the proof house to prove my point. If the same chamber was right when the people who introduced the round, why is it now wrong? Now there are 2 proof codes one for the Jeffery and one for the Schuler, a very stupid, confusing and dangerous scenario in my opinion.

Anyway, I digress, here I am pleased to show the only .500 Jeffery Droplock double rifle Westley Richards has ever made. I am not sure if any other UK companies have made a double in this calibre. The rifle uses an enlarged version of the excellent Westley Richards extractor system devised to use with the rimless .425 and .318. This rifle has been to Africa and I have seen it take down buffalo effortlessly.  I will however admit the ‘shooter’ was almost taken down as well. It certainly has a bark to it!

WEstley Richards Droplock in 500 Jeffery

WEstley Richards Droplock in 500 Jeffery

WEstley Richards Droplock in 500 Jeffery

WEstley Richards Droplock in 500 Jeffery

Jeffery 500 Catalogue page.

Westley Richards Best Quality Droplock Single Trigger Rifle in 32-40

32-40-Westley-1

I think in the world of double rifles the very big and very small always seem to attract the most attention. I am not sure why exactly this is, but most probably because they are not that common. It is quite easy to go to a gun show or showroom and see a double rifle in the 375 – 500 size calibre but much harder to go and see a nice big bore or small bore rifle of the same quality, there just were not that many made.

This rifle no 17303 was one of 2 made with 17304 and is a best quality droplock in 32-40, we only ever made 8 in this size and only half of those were best quality, I am not sure how many had single selective triggers like these two, it weighs in at a lively 7lbs. 8ozs. The rifle remains in superb condition and is the perfect miniature Westley Richards traditional double rifle, drop lock, single selective trigger, traditional engraving and case colour hardened. For this rifle I had Superior Ammunition load a few hundred rounds of ammo.

I notice that the of the four folding leaves on the express sight, only the first one is engraved with a distance, 100 yds. I recall when I first started at Westley Richards we had a similar rifle brought into the shop and offered for sale, my fathers line of negotiation was to tell the owner the calibre was absolutely useless, so useless infact that he was quite prepared to go down the end of the range at Grange Road and let the owner try and shoot him in the arse! I can’t remember if we got the rifle but luckily the challenge wasn’t taken up. I think the bullet would have made the 50yds distance but obviously the man who regulated this rifle wasn’t able to reach the target beyond 100yds.

This is a super little rifle and one that needs to taken out and tried on some game. There is an article about the 32-40 Cartridge here by Dave Thornblom for anybody wanting to know the history and ballistics. It confirms Dad was lucky!

32-40-Westley-4

Double Sherwood Rifle

32-40-Westley-2

32-40-Westley-3

 

Westley Richards record

 

A Very Happy New Year and Prosperous 2015. A selection of guns from 2014.

Double Rifle, Westley Richards, 470, droplock2015 brings a new chapter in our gunmaking history. This .470 will be the 1st delivered.

In England we are lucky to enjoy a prolonged holiday at Christmas time, this year the factory closed on the 24th and opens again on January 5th, giving plenty of time to add a layer of winter warmth from the excess food and drink! I hope everyone, wherever you may be also enjoyed a good holiday and Christmas and wish you the very best for the New Year.

One of the comments I received recently, related to there being a great selection of photos on our Instagram account but not so many appearing ‘large size’ on The Explora. So in an effort to correct that, here is a selection to start the year off.

Westley Richards, droplock, .410, alan brown,

Westley Richards, droplock, .410, alan brown,Westley Richards .410 Droplock engraved by Alan Brown.

Westley Richards, sidelock, roundaction, 12g, shotgun, Westley Richards 12g Round Action Sidelock engraved by Florian Guillert.

Westley Richards, sidelock, roundaction, 20g, shotgun,Westley Richards Trio 20g Round Action Sidelocks engraved by Florian Guillert.

Westley Richards, Droplock, 12g Shotgun, Oak & Leather caseCased Westley Richards 12g Droplock with sideplates engraved by Peter Spode.

Westley Richards Ovundo, 20g ShotgunWestley Richards Droplock Single Trigger 20g Ovundo engraved by Vince Crowley.

Westley Richards 20g, Roundaction Sidelocks,

Westley Richards 20g, Roundaction Sidelocks,Pair of Westley Richards Roundaction 20g Sidelocks engraved by Paul Chung.

577 Droplock, Westley Richards, double rifle, 577

577 Droplock, Westley Richards, double rifle, 577

577 Droplock, Westley Richards, double rifle, 577

577 Droplock, Westley Richards, double rifle, 577Westley Richards .577 Droplock cased in Oak and Leather and engraved by Peter Spode.

Westley Richards, Droplock 375, Double Rifle,Westley Richards .375 Droplock fitted with QD Telescope and cased in Oak & Leather.

Westley Richards, droplock 500,Westley Richards .500 Droplock rifle with Traditional pattern scroll engraving.

Westley Richards double rifleMany customers wait patiently for this photograph. The rifle stocked and off to engraving!

Pair Purdey 28g

Pair Purdey 28g

Pair Purdey 20g

Purdey Pair 20gTwo Pairs of James Purdey in 20g & 28g for which engraving was done in Italy.

Boss 28g Over under Pair

Boss 20g Over Under PairBoss & Co. 2 Pairs of Over and Under shotguns in 20g and 28g.

Droplock WR 303 A Rare .303 Westley Richards droplock. (Sorry HL!)

Sutherland Rifle .577 James Sutherland’s 577 Single Trigger Hand Detachable Lock Rifle.

Picture00121-Edit The Westley Richards 12g Cutaway Gun with Single Selective Trigger.

WR Gold Name 12gThe Westley Richards ‘GOLD NAME’ 12g, clean, simple but beautiful.

The India Rifle, WEstley Richards, 600 Double rifleThe other end of the spectrum is the India Rifle, a sidelock .600 engraved by Paul Lantuch.

The Lion Rifle, Westley Richards, 470 double rifleAnother masterpiece from Paul Lantuch, the Lion Rifle. A Westley Richards 470 sidelock.

Pair Express rifles, 7x57r, westley richards,Pair of 7x57R Droplock Rifles engraved by Paul Chung.

We have many more guns in the collection to photograph and will be trying to find time to do this in the new year. First though we are headed to Dallas for the Dallas Safari Club convention which starts on the 15th January followed by visits to The Antique Arms show in Las Vegas and the SCI Convention. We will be exhibiting at all three exhibitions and look forward to welcoming all to our stands.

W. J. Jeffery 600NE Sidelock Snap Action Double Rifle.

W J Jeffery, Sidelock, 600, snap action, The Explora, Westley richards,

You think you have seen everything in the rifle world, then suddenly something totally  unusual pops up!

W. J. Jeffery made one sidelock .600 snap action rifle in their history, (to date), it is number 22368 and was an ejector model made with Joseph Brazier back action locks. The rifle has 24 inch barrels, 1 + 4 folding leaf sights to 500 yds. The rifle is stocked with original Selous grips which are the steel reinforcement plates you see on the pistol grip. The rifle is engraved with Indian game.

The rifle was made for C Larsen.

Jeffery Catalogue

Jeffery, sidelock, 600, the explora, westley richards

Losing the Patina. Refinish or Not?

Purdey 12g, shotguns, Westley Richards, The ExploraThis pair of J. Purdey guns have had a very sympathetic and light refurbish.

I feel a good ‘follow on’ to the excellent post about patina, is a message about restoring guns and deciding if they are not ‘better off left alone” thus retaining their Patina.

I have always been very much against refurbishing guns for the sake of it. It actually takes a great deal of skill to work the finish of a gun and most of the guns I see at gun shows have suffered more financially as a result of a bad refinish, than if they had just been left alone.

Two weeks ago one of our clients came in with a .375 take down rifle which we had made for him several years ago. It was a bit bashed around, had some scratches at the muzzle, bruises and dents in the stock and general wear on the blacking where the rifle had been carried. To me it looked great, it had been to Africa several times and had started to bear the scars and stories from those travels.

The client wanted the stock refinished and the blacking all redone to ‘as new’, £1800 of work, thank you very much!  However, in honest Westley Richards style I persuaded him not to refinish the rifle in anyway at all, but rather to give the rifle a thorough service, whilst retaining the wonderful patina the rifle had acquired.

A gun or rifle can only withstand so much refurbishment, If you polish and re-black the barrels you lose steel, if you polish the stock you lose wood, it is really as simple as that. The more you refinish the more you lose of the original finish and the original finish is the best finish in most cases.

The client was pleased to hear this and that if the bruises were not bothering him that they were doing no harm. He also understood when I explained that if his stories and scars ever had to be wiped off, it was best done once,  just before he sold it or whatever.

You will notice on a new gun that the wood is always left a little proud of the metal edges, it looks best and will allow for refinishing the wood at some point. I emphasize this ‘some point’ meaning not continually. By leaving the wood alone as long as possible, you retain this reserve of wood.

It is very hard to convey how important original finish and patina is. It is also very hard to explain how much damage some gunsmiths can do when not experienced in the task of refurbishment and not familiar with how the original gun should look.

My initial advice would always be to leave well alone, or at best seek expert advice before considering any form of refurbishment.

Boss ou 12g, The exploraThis Boss OU has light wear and has not been touched since new in 30’s.

The Explora, gun refurbishmentThe excess wood on the wood to metal fit of a new gun. Use it wisely!

 

Patina. by Gary Duffey

; a shiny or dark surface that forms naturally on something (such as wood or leather) that is used for a long time; the sheen on a surface produced by age and/or use; the sheen on a surface that is caused by much handling

Droplocks, westley richards

To the collector, a firearm is a possession that he may own or desire to own because of the rarity, the history, association or an attribution to someone or something, a period in time, artistic qualities, the design and complexity, or perhaps it is a store of value, or any combination of any or all of the above and even more. To another it may be a means to an end; to simply use for its intended purpose. This is a broad brush look on this, but there is no limit to the possibilities.

For many, and I count myself among them, it is a combination of both broad categories.

Our eyes and brain draw us to certain objects through an individual context and background that is different and unique to each of us and peculiar to the object. We have an appreciation for some objects with a respect for the art, simplicity, mechanical achievement and/or an appreciation of the labor and skills that it represents. For another it may appreciation of the utilitarian or functional aspects of a certain gun or rifle or that they perceive it is ‘the’ tool for the job at hand.

Millions of dollars have been spent in very sophisticated research studying the Stradivarius and other 16th and 17th century instruments. It is very interesting reading but in short, the wood was very old growth at the time of use, slowly cured, and the finishes all organic, and in the hands of the finest maker. These have been cared for over years, used, and have improved with age.

Much money and resources are spent making things that are new that appear used and old. I am a dinosaur in so many ways but please do not cheat me out of the pleasure (and discomfort) of breaking in my jeans! When they are finally ‘right’ they are just so perfect. I find myself looking at something new and at the same time seeing it in the future. Guns, gear and all of the associated other things are so connected in this way to my thinking.

Westley Richards, 577, Droplock Rifle, Sutherland,James Sutherland’s .577, many miles and many stories to tell.

That is what we see in best guns when they are brought back to life, stocks re-hydrated with oil and metal cleaned. One hundred year old guns, never fired, yet have a beautiful age to them, or patina. Some not touched at all but cared for exhibit this patina. New guns because of the organic elements of wood and oil, will also have this someday. There are old and used guns that show much wear and patina, checkering and edges worn down. For me personally this is why a rifle such as the James Sutherland W-R .577 is such a significant rifle or object, as it embodies so many of these elements that appeal to me. It represents a supreme mechanical achievement, of high quality, created for a noble purpose. Carried for miles and for days and years by hardworking, dedicated and focused people in equatorial sun. No rifle made to duplicate it even exactly can go where it has been, and have such a story. There are other rifles with the same or similar attributes but this one certainly is a great example and particularly because it embodies so many of the qualities mentioned above. When I see something with these qualities, my mind immediately jumps to the story and I only wish I could know the details. We say this often, “if only this rifle could talk”. I hope that my Son and Grandson will want singular rifles and equipment from among my things for these very reasons.

Patina is created by aging, by use, the touch of human hands, purposes and pursuits noble. It is a beautiful thing.

droplock, 470, westley richards. This new .470 rifle is shortly to leave the factory to start obtaining its very own patina.

The Westley Richards ‘Lion Rifle’. A .470 Sidelock Express.

Westley Richards, Lion Rifle, Lantuch, 470 Sidelock

The Lion Rifle is complete and is a rifle I am particularly pleased with, I think the whole rifle has come together really well and that the engraving is unique. It is refreshing to see another new style so beautifully executed. Not, I am sure, to everyones taste, but certainly to mine! Thanks to everyone involved with its making.

Lion Rifle, Westley Richards, 470, Sidelock,

Westley Richards, Lion Rifle, 470 Sidelock

Westley Richards, Lion Rifle, Sidelock 470

Rifle by Westley Richards, Engraving by Paul Lantuch, Barrel Black Johnsons, Colour Case Hardening Richard St Ledger, Colour Brush Off A.M. Brown.

The Westley Richards Single Selective Trigger – Good to Best, a Yankee Connection. Guest Post by Gary Duffey.

A.E.-Lard-Ad

American businessman and inventor A.E. Lard, the developer of the early single trigger was by all account quite a driven and dynamic entrepreneur. His early development of a single trigger design gained him some six U.S. patents during the period 1899-1915. I am not sure as to what name he used to label his design during that period but I do know that when Hunter Arms of New York, maker of the L.C. Smith purchased the American rights in approximately 1904 they referred to it as the ‘Hunter One Trigger’. This Hunter One Trigger has been both praised and vilified.

In the early 80’s I purchased a beautiful and seemingly perfect L.C. Smith ‘Wildfowl’ model equipped with the one trigger and was so excited to use this on ducks and turkeys only to experience a nightmare with it. At that time I could not locate a specialist for these triggers and so put it in the hand of folks who had no more success than I did. I have an idea today that the softer American Walnut in combination with the torque applied to the sideplates may have been part of the problem. In any case there are several gunsmiths today that can straighten them out and make them work quite satisfactorily.

Westley Richards, Lard, Single Selective Trigger The Lard Single Trigger from an old gun (top) and the First Westley Richards version that replaced it below.

I am not sure when Westley Richards adopted the A.E. Lard design, I do know that he was an Agent for the company and was advertising the Westley hand-detachable boxlock fitted with the Selective Single Trigger in the American Field Magazine in an August 24, 1901 issue. I would love to read his agreement with Hunter Arms and explore the language pertaining to the sale of his design to them; something tells me that Mister Lard was a pretty ‘slick’ operator. Westley fitted some 1000 plus of these triggers to guns and rifles and adopted the companies own design approximately 1909.

The bespoke process of manufacture in Westley guns and rifles vs. the mass production in the American market to meet demand no doubt has contributed to the success of the W-R single trigger. The combination of the A&D design, with the contained and protected hand-detachable locks, in combination with the single trigger design precisely made to close tolerances and protected within the design of action and stock is one of the greatest combinations of all elements in gunmaking. Being able to withstand high-volume shooting in shotgun, and recoil and conditions of hunting in the case of the double rifles. We have to look no farther than the James Sutherland .577 as an example of its success in combination of these elements. His fondness and confidence in it is well known and documented by his own words in print.

Westley Richards,. 577, James SutherlandJames Sutherland’s .577 Single Selective Trigger Westley Richards Droplock.

I am told that today approximately fifty percent of new Westley shotguns are built with the single trigger and some twenty percent of new double rifles. The single trigger being available up through .600 in the double rifle. There is a pair of 4-bore rifles underway in the hand-detachable, single trigger configuration which will be something to see indeed. The reliability of the A&D design utilizing the detachable locks, coupled with the single trigger makes for as trouble free use as you will find on any. These guns and rifles, from a simple case colored action, through a ‘gold name’, to exhibition engraved so configured is truly ‘Best Quality!”.

Straight Lines and Phantom Curves. A look at stock makeoffs. By David Brown.

Boss Over and Under, Westley Richards, The ExploraBoss & Co 12g Over and Under.

Little things: Ever wonder why some guns just look racy and keen laying on the bench?

Or, upon picking up certain guns you know they are really right before even getting them
to your shoulder?

Ever watch a real gunmaker pick up a gun for the first time and look directly
at you while checking out things by feel?

A goodly share of all this is a direct result of very subtile things in the makeoff or shaping of
the stock. Most of the makers have a particular style or look. Some of the differences are readily apparent and some require real effort to distinguish between looking and really seeing.

The diamond shaped hand and lines of Holland & Holland are there for all to see. Boss guns generally have ruler straight lines front to back with one often overlooked exception: Put a straightedge on a Boss stock from just behind the trigger bow to the toe of the stock and, likely as not, you will note just a little relief between that straightedge and the trigger guard on straight hand stocks. That little relief is in no small part responsible for the perfect feel of most Boss guns before before you even mount one.

Westley Richards, Used Guns, James Purdey pairSuperb pair of Vintage 12g J. Purdey guns.

Put that same straightedge on a Purdey stock from from the rear of the hand along the side to the centre of the butt and you may discover that midway the stock is just a tiny bit fat.
An interesting thing about this is that it is not not limited to Purdey makeoffs. This same slight midway enlargement can be found on the columns of the Parthenon and on Rolls Royce grills.
Known as “entasis” to early Greeks and modern architects, it is, at least in part, responsible for for the softer, lovely, classic look Purdey guns posess. Some stocker at some time almost certainly knew the secret of the Greek columns and applied it to his trade.

While none of this is of any great importance, it might be interesting for some to look again at various examples of the stockmaker’s craft.

After all, it’s those little things that make best guns what the name implies.

Westley Richards, Making Off a stock, stocker, shotgunsWestley Richards stocker Keith Haynes making off a 4g droplock shotgun.

Westley Richards, Double Rifle Westley Richards, Bolt Action, ProfileThe profiles of Westley Richards rifle stocks.

Thoughts on Fences by David Brown

Wetley Richards, Boutet, ShotgunThe highly decorated fences of the Boutet Gun.

VESTIGIAL: Something that has lost its original function but still retained.

While normally a biological term – think of your appendix – it can apply to an often overlooked but fascinating part of modern best guns. As with all vestigial’s, fences once had an actual purpose and, as that need or purpose became obsolete, those lovely little artistic sculptures devolved into respectful hints of their antecedents.

Sometimes to understand where we are it is useful to look at where we’ve been and the story of these often elegant examples of file and chisel work is part of the story of the path leading to today’s best gun.

Westley Richards, Fences, percussion The ‘Fence’ can be seen between the nipple and the hammer body.

Westley Richards, Fences, percussionTwo percussion guns showing the original Fences which provided a spark barrier.

In the days of external ignition, fences did indeed serve a real purpose. The prospect of burning black powder, sparking iron and hot gas being blown back into the shooter’s face was cause enough to develop some sort of protective shield. The solution was to leave a protective barrier between the flash and the flesh and, over time, these barriers or “fences” became beautiful examples of the actioner’s skills. In some instances the carving of the more ornate fence work was the job of the stocker. Something not often considered is the fact that on double guns two fences are required. Two identical but mirror image fences. With a single fence a bit of ‘artistic license’ might be gotten away with, if things got a touch off pattern. No such option when the two are side by side just inviting comparison.

Westley Richards, Fences on guns Westley Richards, Fences on guns

Among the various styles, ball and bead was and is the norm on modern guns for such firms as Westley Richards, Boss, Purdey, Holland and Holland and many others. However, makers such as Woodward, Grant, Greener and Rigby to name only a few, developed signature looks, often with great elegance. Woodward and Greener with their distinctive arcaded or umbrella fences along with Greener’s clam shell effect and Rigby and Grant with their sculpted leaf fences all vied with one another. Fleur de Lys and grape and vine leaf were among special styles. The American Parker gun had an arrangement of ball and bead with the number of beads increasing as the grades ascended from “B” to “A One Special”.

Westley Richards, File Up, FencesThe first strokes of the file at the start of the filing up process.

Today’s CNC machines can and do generate fences but the very best work is still done by men with files and chisels and, by definition, best work is what a best gun is about. When asked about the difference between making guns and making best guns, Tom Wilkes made the observation  ‘it all comes down to time and control of the tool, doesn’t it’?

Westley Richards, Fences, File Up.

 

To sum up, while of no particular use today, these interesting examples of gunmaker’s skills are part and parcel of what a best gun stands on to the present day.

The next time you hold a really fine British gun you might take a moment or two to carefully look at these little exercises in iron, consider why they’re there, where they came from and what it took to produce them.

My Thanks to David Brown for this guest post and I hope I have illustrated it correctly!