Over the past years we have been asked on many an occasion if we would build a new single shot falling block rifle but have refrained and directed the customers to Hartmann & Weiss who make this model frequently. I have this .303 model which is in very good general shape and just needs a bit of care and attention to the finishes. Alternatively this is a great starting point for someone looking to have a Farqharson in a more modern calibre and in the more rare take down format. The rifle is priced at £4000 ($6250) and lies in UK currently.
For detailed information about the Farqharson rifles made by Westley Richards look for a copy of Wal Winfers British Single Shot Rifles, Volume 4, Westley Richards.
Leslie B Taylor (1863-1930) was a great pioneer in sporting guns, rifles and ballistics during what many consider to be the Golden Age of Gunmaking. He spent his entire working life at Westley Richards and amongst other things saw the titanic transition from black powder to nitro powder which in itself revolutionized gun and in particular rifle ballistics and development.
Of Taylors many inventions, designs and patents one of the most famous must be the development of the ‘Capped Bullet’. What might look simple today was in fact a complex bullet design that allowed for both maximum shock effect whilst ensuring maximum stability and accuracy. This design really came into its own in the ‘Explora’, ‘Super Magnum Explora’ and ‘Fauneta’ guise which was intended for gauge guns. Only a short length of rifled choke at the muzzle had to stabilize the bullet with groupings from both barrels of 3″ at 100 yards the norm! The fact that this was achievable rests very much with Taylor’s ingenuity.
Today such guns are collectors pieces with original ammunition even rarer still. One day we hope to pay tribute to Leslie B Taylor by re-introducing both his bullet design and the fine guns to go with them.
A selection of ‘LT’ Capped ammunition
A stunning 12g ‘Modele de Grande Luxe’ Super Magnum Explora completed in 1925
Our leather shop continues to manufacture oak & leather cartridge magazines of all shapes and sizes. These items are made on a bespoke basis with the client choosing the configuration of the partitions, the size of the magazine and the colour of the leather. Our cartridge magazines are made by the same craftsmen who make our gun cases and are constructed and covered with materials which are designed for the product to last for generations.
For anyone getting ready for the Pheasant season and looking for a pair of nice vintage guns, this pair of Purdey’s is well worth a closer look. This pair has 30 inch barrels and 14 3/4 inch stocks. The barrels are in excellent condition and the guns have very nice patina with good traces of colour over nice crisp engraving. Cased in a more modern leather motor case with outer cover. Further details on this fine pair are available from our UK factory and shop whom you may contact here.
A recent post I made referred to the 39 double barrelled .476 rifles we had made. I think this raised surprise, (“only 39?”) at how few we had actually made. Whilst I was researching for the bicentennial book, I actually sat one weekend and counted through all the modern gun books and compiled a list of how many rifles we had made since 1900 in each calibre.
My findings were, that we have made a total of 947 best double rifles, in various calibre’s since 1900. Perhaps it doesn’t sound a lot, but it is 3 times more than the 300 odd that Purdey have made and I don’t know how many compared to Holland & Holland. 947 rifles would take a craftsman about 350 years to make, so that puts it into some form of context! We have made doubles in 51 different calibre’s.
I am sure these numbers will be of interest to many of you who own one of our doubles and I will make a point of making the information available to anyone who wants to ask. In brief though for now, the 5 best selling calibre since 1900 in order, calibre/quantity are: 1st. .470/109, 2nd. .500/104, 3rd .577/85, & .318/85, 4th. .400/74, 5th. .450/69.
Coming out of the workshop today is a very nice early Westley Richards stalking rifle in .7mm Mauser. The rifle is built on an Oberndorf commercial short action which makes for a very nice light rifle in this calibre. The rifle is in it’s original full leather case and has been fitted with a Zeiss 6 x 42 telescope on EAW pivot mounts.
I am very tempted to keep this one as Trigger sold my very similar rifle which was the first rifle I used in Africa! I have no doubt though that you will find it on the used gun site tomorrow with a very attractive price! The only work we have done in the factory is check over, clean, replaced the trigger and polished the stock.
A couple more photographs here.
Original Advertising Material at Launch of .476 Nitro Express Cartridge.
Westley Richards .476 Detachable Lock Double Rifle Made 1929
There is one double rifle I have expended a huge amount of energy attempting to ‘buy back’ during the last 20 years. One which I sold and wished I never had, it was a keeper and should have been kept, but perhaps I could say that about a lot of rifles which have passed through our hands.
I actually could never have kept it as I only just managed to buy it. George Caswell had the rifle for sale at Safari Club many years ago, I think it was in Las Vegas during the early years of the show. He in turn had it on the arm from Hank Williams Jr, whom I wish, as we were making him new rifles at the time, had offered it to us! The rifle was priced at $45,000 and George wasn’t going to budge an inch on this, he could no doubt see the spark in my eyes! It was a huge amount of money at that time for one of our doubles! So in an effort not to loose track of the rifle, I managed very quickly to convince (“you will never see another one like it”) one of my customers it was essential for him to buy it and he luckily did. So I still know where the rifle is carefully looked after but each time I try and get it back I am told “I will never see another one like it, so why would I sell it”!
The rifle in question is a single trigger, detachable lock .476 in beautiful original condition. Made in 1929 and with the very unusual (for our rifles) scroll back action it is one of only 39 double rifles we ever made in this calibre and the only one with this action type.
Having given up on ever getting the rifle back, on my last visit to its current home I took many photographs and many measurements. The rifle has since formed the basis of our Bicentennial series of 12 double rifles each having the scroll back design and rounded body of this original version.
It really does make a difference to a gun if it is housed in an original case. It is a matter of presentation, the gun itself won’t be any better, it will just make for a much nicer package overall. Personally when I look at second hand guns for sale, I always feel those in original cases will have been much better looked after, that they have been protected from the ravages of time. If the gun is English, I think the case needs to be English also, they, like the guns have a certain, distinctive look.
If you are looking for a case for your gun or rifles a good place to start is always with your local gun dealer. We all tend to stash away cases as I found recently when asked by a long time customer for a case for his newly acquired secondhand Westley Richards 318.
For the gentleman involved, the search turned out with a very happy ending. Looking for a case to suit his rifle which we had built about 15 years ago, I went to our storage and came up with a selection, photographed them and sent the shots to him. He chose a green canvas case in near new condition, which was then wrapped and sent. Due to a courier error the case got lost. Whilst I was apologising for the delay in delivery, I mentioned that I had a hunch that the case I had sent may actually turn out to be ‘like Cinderella’s shoe’ and fit the rifle perfectly. I seemed to remember, vaguely, making a case for the 318 and it then not being wanted. Sure enough once it arrived the case turned out exactly correct, the rifle, scope, everything fitting perfectly. The case had sat untouched on the shelf for 15 years!
This sort of luck is rare and most used guncases require completely refitting. With our own case-maker and leather department this is something we do frequently, from minor repairs and refitting of lengthened stocks to complete new interior fit outs. We also normally have a selection of good cases available for double rifles, bolt rifles and shotguns which are ready to be adapted. Please let us know if we can help.
Westley Richards 470 Droplock Ejector. $ Now Sold. Sept 4th ’13
Westley Richards 500/465 Droplock Ejector $35,000.00
Joseph Lang 450/400 3.25″ Ejector. $26,000.00
These are 3 used double rifles which have just been completed this month in our workshops. They will be up on the used gun site shortly and in future I will be showing the best new rifles and shotguns we get in, here first. Each rifle has been fully checked and regulated to modern ammunition and as such are ‘Safari Ready’. The rifles are currently in England and will be shipped to USA shortly.
If anything typifies Westley Richards’ gunmaking design, then it must surely be the Hand Detachable Lock or ‘Droplock’ action. Discovered as much by accident as intention the removable (hence detachable) seven part lock mechanism was, and still is, gunmaking in its very simplest form. Patented in 1897, only the look of the lock has really evolved to distinguish that of the shotgun from that of the double rifle. The shotgun lock has an integral hammer with striker (illustrated above) whereas the rifle lock uses a separate striker.
The ease with which the lock can be removed and cleaned has made it a stalwart amongst big game hunters from the dawn of the nitro age. Today, it remains our most popular action design in both double rifles and shotguns. As you would expect every lock is proportionate in size to the relative calibre or gauge all the way through from .410 to 4 gauge, and .243 to .700/.577 nitro express.