As a bespoke gun and rifle maker one of the most fundamental aspects of the manufacture of any gun is the actual ‘fit’ of the gun to the client. Up until the time we left the Grange Road factory we conducted our gun fittings on site on our outdoor range and pattern plates there. With the move to our new factory we have lost the ‘in house facility’ and now go to a select few gun fitters around the country and world to obtain these measurements.
Here at the factory today we still have three of the original Westley Richards try guns, two 12g a single and double trigger version and one 20g single trigger, these are the guns we used before our departure from the old factory in Bournbrook. Fittings were done by Roy Hill who was the ‘one armed’ foreman of the gun factory, fondly remembered by many of our clients whom he started shooting to this day. Roy lost his arm during Field trials of the Westley Richards whaling harpoon gun in the early 1950’s.
I have always found such guns an intriguing mechanical work of art with their concealed universal joint in the hand allowing adjustments. The gun had to be a fully functioning firearm but with the added benefit of a fully adjustable stock capable of taking length of pull, cast and drop measurements. The work that went into making such guns was clearly quite considerable, I have asked about making a new stock for many years but am yet to find anyone take on a modern version.
Westley Richards also had a barrel length try gun set so the various length barrels from 25″ – 30″ could be tested on the gun also. I have never seen this in the flesh but only in photographs. I have also fancied making a repeat of this but hard to justify at the cost of 7 pairs of new barrels today!
I seem to be having quite a lot of luck on the miniature item front recently, the very nice small 1890 vintage .410 cartridge magazine of a few weeks past and now a very small version of our Perfecta cartridge bag, again something I had never encountered before. I was actually very surprised and pleased when the package was opened as I thought it was just a normal size bag when I bought it online.
This will certainly now head for the leather shop and a faithful reproduction! It will make a nice ladies purse size bag too, for Christmas in crocodile!
Gunmaking is clearly in the blood of Oliver Greener who after only a few weeks into his apprenticeship stands confidently in front of our new £150,000 CNC turning center on which he produces our range of Teague Precision Multichokes.
We are very pleased to welcome Oliver Greener to our company. Oliver has started an apprenticeship at Teague Precision Chokes where he will satisfy his engineering interest in the gun making world.
Oliver is the 7th generation of Greener’s to be involved with gun making, William Greener (1806-1896) being the founder of the company and 1st generation.
Although W W Greener did not invent choke boring he most certainly did perfect the method as the results of ‘The Field Trials’ testify. I am sure some of this knowledge has been passed down in the genes and will prove useful in future developments at Teague!
We wish Oliver every success with his apprenticeship with us.
‘Choke Bore Guns’was W W Greener’s second published book in 1876. The book contains a detailed description of the gun trials of 1875, in addition to the earlier gun trials of 1866 which took place in `london and the trials of 1874 which took place in New York.
Original Westley Richards retailed Mauser C96 ‘Broomhandle pistol complete with walnut holster/stock.
Whilst Westley Richards has always been a manufacturer of its own guns and rifles, during the heady days of Empire there was a huge requirement for general sporting and military type arms for personnel serving in the armed forces. To fulfil their needs (and budgets) and to capture its share of the market Westley Richards often turned to other manufacturers including Mauser, Mannlicher, Colt, Smith & Wesson, etc.
One of the more interesting firearms sold by the company was the Mauser C96 ‘Broomhandle’ semi automatic pistol in 7.63mm calibre. Retailed exclusively by Westley Richards between 1899 – 1904. It was one of the most deadly weapons of its day and found favour with officers serving in the British Army due to its rapidity of fire. One notable user was W.L.S.Churchill who used one during the battle of Omdurman and the 2nd Boer War.
Rare instruction pamphlet for Westley Richards Mauser C96 pistol
As you would expect with Westley Richards several improvements were made including an interchangeable wind gauge peep and v sight for fine shooting, along with a new bullet called ‘the all range destructive’.
Westley Richards ‘all range destructive’ bullets in 10 round clip
Examples of the pistol can still be found today bearing the ‘Westley Richards & Co’ name on the left hand side of the action. Many came supplied with a walnut holster which doubled as a clip on stock for long range shooting. I have always wondered how many saw active service fighting the Germans in WWI, the ultimate irony!
All the Mauser pistols retailed by Westley Richards during our licensed period are recorded in one bound book which we still retain.
As you have seen with the various ‘gun junk’ I scatter around my photographs, I like picking up bits and pieces relating to our sport as I travel around, they all add to the collection of interesting, nicely made items, each with a story to tell, that I keep in my apartment here in England for use as photo ‘props’.
A few weeks ago I made a quick trip to Florida to meet contractors and shop-fitters for our new offices in Gulf Breeze. With the shop being next door to Gulf Breeze Firearms I spent quite some time in there. Duke McCaa has amassed over his years in the trade a treasure trove of little bits and pieces. ‘Cutlery’ is a large part of their business besides firearms and I have always enjoyed picking up simple and useful types of hunting knives and wing shooting knives so I thoroughly enjoyed picking through his collection and trying to pry the rarer pieces from his private showcase.
I had never seen or heard of these ‘Hobo Knives’ before and ended up getting the three here which I am very pleased with. I see them as a very useful ‘campaign’ type accessory, nice to have in your pocket when deep in the bush for a picnic.
This interesting article about the history of the Knives is for anybody else who has yet to discover the Hobo. Each page can be clicked on to enlarge and read.
This is the first of our modern take down rifles that I have noticed come to the market. A package we produced in 2010 for a client who was a regular African and worldwide hunter. The rifle has made some trips and has the knocks and bruises to tell the stories which I am not going to remove at this point in time. People have different opinions, some like their rifles immaculate and clean whilst others relish the patina gained by use in the field. I tend to fall into the latter category myself and will leave the final decision to the person who first feels he can’t live without it!
Mechanically totally sound, the rifle will be fully serviced, shot and tested. The only work decisions to be made are the refurbishment of the stock and blacking of parts. The Westley Richards bespoke case is a later addition and was made 2 years ago and is in immaculate condition, I also feel these canvas and leather cases are the most appropriate for this type of ‘working and travelling’ rifle.
Westley Richards Take Down Bolt Action Rifle No.43617 in .375 H&H Magnum – Completed 2010.
22 1/4″ barrel with Quarter rib, one fixed and one folding leaf rear express sight regulated at 100 and 200 yards. Westley Richards combination foresight. Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10×42 scope on Smithson QD mounts.
Very well figured stock with 14 1/2″ LOP, full pistol grip with grip trap cap, cheekpiece, leather covered recoil pad.
Weight of rifle – 9lbs 13oz – with scope on 11lbs 3oz
Westley Richards Bespoke Canvas and leather border case with accessories.
Two years ago I was fortunately able to ‘take over’ from one of our clients for another of our clients, a pair of Hartmann & Weiss 20g sidelock game guns which were booked for many years to be engraved by Alan Brown. The original engraving booking was for traditional fine game scenes which were drawn and offered by Alan. I asked if given no time constriction, we could do something a little more elaborate. I did this on the basis that if you have an engraving slot with whom are considered the best engravers of modern gunmaking, go for the most time as you possibly can and the if at all possible carved scroll and gold work. Alan generously agreed and the pair of guns are now, 20 or so months later here at the factory and looking fabulous.
Eating game is not everyone’s cup of tea but I suppose like many aspects of life, it’s how things are done that is important. A succulent dish of venison prepared by an expert chef is not out of place in the finest restaurant, while an overdone fillet of beef tastes like leather, so it must be a case of preconceptions overriding our taste buds. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got friends who can really cook game and ‘Blighter’s roast bushpig’ rates up there with one of the best, especially when served with good company and quaffing wine.
Similarly, not everyone appreciates stuffed animals and a lot of women seem to have a strong aversion to the whole idea. The end result is that many hunters proudly take home their spoils and then have to eat it themselves, or hide the ‘poor dead things’ away in the attic to keep the peace.
Over the years, I have seen really well presented trophies that have enhanced the ambiance and atmosphere of a study or bush camp and one day, I had to decide whether to take a bird to the dining table or the taxidermist…
Ring-necked pheasant were introduced to New Zealand during the 1840’s and go under the scientific name of Phasianus colchicus. Not being a Latin scholar, I reckon this probably means ‘Clever bugger’, because in the off-season you see them sunning and preening themselves on the side of the road or in the paddocks. Come opening day however, they instantly become alert, secretive and unbelievably cunning and stay that way till the season ends.
A lot of people here consider them a delicacy and I began thinking I was forever doomed to only appreciate them at great distances, because I had been chasing them around unsuccessfully for a few seasons. Then on one rainy day in May, my luck changed when a friend and I ambushed a cock bird that took off like a red-faced rocket from a small ridge above me. Zipping past from right to left it faltered at my second shot but I had to subdue my self-congratulatory thoughts because it then rallied and headed strongly for a huge patch of gorse way down a steep gully.
Gorse is one of the worst imports this country ever made as it is difficult to control and can quickly choke up vast areas of productive land. It also has an impenetrably vicious armory of thorns, so I gloomily negotiated the steep, slippery decline anticipating a fruitless search, but the day suddenly turned shiny bright when I found that it had fallen dead, just inside the gorse patch. I staggered up out of that donga to stand in the drizzle and admire my first ever ring-necked pheasant. It’s a bit difficult to describe those feelings of elation and remorse but gazing awestruck by its beauty, I decided there and then to forego the gastronomic side of things and have it immortalised and to hell with the cost.
Merv modestly would never admit it, but he was a master taxidermist who worked entirely alone, specialising in bird and wild pig mounts. He would not be rushed when practising his craft, telling you up-front that ‘It will take a while’. The eventual cost and the wait of three and a half months were worth it in the end, because he faithfully followed my request to “Please mount the bird in an alert pose”. In fact to me, it looks like it could take off with a clattering of wings and a hoarse cackle at any moment. Spending some time with Merv in his workshop was fascinating and made me appreciate what an art taxidermy really is. It’s hard to believe that the bedraggled bird I dropped off with him was the same one that emerged from his shed looking like a dazzling jewel. Even my wife was impressed and it now stands in the lounge.
The final product of the taxidermist’s trade belies the messy, finicky and sometimes smelly work that goes into transforming your trophy into something to treasure and rekindle those memories. Apparently, how the animal is treated or handled before it reaches him is very important and Merv at times had to try and make a ‘purse out of a pig’s ear’, so when I asked him what tips he had for ensuring a good quality bird trophy he said “Try not to shoot them too much and get them into a freezer as soon as possible”.
Now that good advice really got me thinking as it also applies to eating gamebirds, because when birds for the pot are ‘shot too much’, they are either pulverised or your guests complain when breaking their expensive dentures on shotgun pellets. It is logical therefore, that preparing birds for the table (or the taxidermist), starts with squeezing the trigger, because how you shoot the birds will affect your meal or mount. Considering myself a minor expert on these matters, I’d like to pass on some tips on the all-important process of shooting gamebirds for the table:-
Every biltong hunter knows that shot placement is vital and that a clean kill using a minimum of shots (preferably only one), results in the most useable meat. Using a rifle of suitable calibre for the quarry plays a big part, because not much of an impala is left over if shot in the shoulder with a .458 soft nose at close range. The same goes for gamefowl, because being hit with too many pellets really spoils the meat – have you ever tried to eat a gamebird that was shot with 8’s at fourteen meters using a full-choked 12 bore? So choose your shot size to suit the bird.
Pattern utilisation is also usually totally overlooked but extremely important and too many wingshooters don’t know what spread and pattern their gun produces with the different size shot available. Do you ever see a biltong hunter going into the veld before taking some practise shots and checking his rifle’s grouping? Shotgunners would do themselves a big favour if they followed suite, but to really get it right, you need to practice a bit more intensively than the rifle shooters have to. What you need is a good supply of large sheets of cardboard, draw a 60cm diameter circle on all of them and then pattern both barrels of your gun, separately on these sheets, at a distance of 15 and 30 metres. For those with very choked bores, another patterning at 40 metres is a good idea. This should be done a number of times with the same make of cartridge and shot size that you plan to use on the chosen gamebird species. Having done this, take very careful note of the diameter of the pattern from each barrel, at each distance.
You must then go to a clay pigeon range and shoot at clay’s, letting them fly out to 15, 30 and 40 metres before pulling the trigger. It does take some practice, but here the idea is keeping the pattern diameter of each barrel in mind and to get the edge of your pattern to break the clay birds. ‘Dusting’ them may look impressive, but is not what you want to achieve because if they were real gamebirds they would then be inedible.
It’s just about now that I imagine anyone reading this will start rolling their eyes or snorting cynically, so I’m going to stop while I’m ahead. It’s just that my own wingshooting skills so often result in relatively few pellets hitting the mark that I’d like to put it down to my deliberate ‘pattern utilisation’, but that’s a fantasy and is being rather economical with the truth! So to redeem this story and to make up for pulling your leg, here’s a guineafowl recipe that takes a while to prepare, but which some of my friends seem to enjoy. It should work well on pheasant too.
2 guineafowl 250g bacon
4-6 cloves garlic 125ml milk
3 large onions 125ml cooking oil
1 can mushrooms 1 egg
200ml dry white wine (not more) 100g cake flour
15ml Worcester sauce 10ml baking powder
10ml mixed herbs 1 pinch salt
10ml dried parsley
5ml curry powder
2 whole cloves
salt and pepper to taste
200ml fresh cream
1 packet brown onion soup
Joint the birds and then boil until tender. Bone and flake the meat. Shred bacon, chop onions, garlic and fry together until just cooked. Drain mushrooms and stir into bacon mixture together with meat. Add wine and Worcester sauce, herbs, parsley, tumeric, curry, cloves, salt and pepper. Stir until blended. Mix soup powder and cream and stir into meat mixture. Spoon into large casserole dish.
Pastry:- Beat together milk, oil and egg. Add flour, baking powder and salt and beat again until just mixed. Pour this over the top of the meat filling and bake at 180 deg C for 20-25 minutes until golden. Ideally, the birds used in this recipe should be a couple that I have shot (or someone else’s who shoots like me), because that way you’ll have minimum meat damage.
Oh yes, Merv also said my pheasant only had two pellets in its neck, which made his job much easier. He was pleased about that.
Here we are again! The colour on colour off question! I know that 99% of people who have seen the previous post of this rifle before it went to case colour hardening will say “take it off”. A seemingly easy answer as the engraving obviously stands out so well when silver and will stand out even more now that the colour is on, the steel will be grey and retain a deep back ground.
I have mixed feelings as I do like the case colour and I started this project with the client based on the old case colour hardened R.B.Rodda rifles which I have always admired. The engraving has great depth and so it does stand out and with a little careless use in the bush the rifle will slowly polish off, come to life and shine out!
Once you have your Tweed shooting suit and your green waterproof jacket there are little areas left to create your own style. To that end I have always been annoyed at the lack of choice of caps and shooting stockings when you visit shops.
In an effort to change that for this season we have had made a wide variety of hand knitted shooting stockings which will add a splash of colour to every outfit. I would like to think people will now be spoiled for choice with this range beautifully designed and produced stockings which are each hand knitted on 4 needles by home based workers in England using the finest Cashmere and other high quality wools.
Each pair of Westley Richards shooting stockings is presented in a specially designed tube package which makes for an easy to wrap, perfect gift!
Our range of caps now has 20 different tweeds in 3 styles. All our Tweed comes from the Lovat Mill in the Scottish Borders and are made in England by one of the countries oldest hat makers.
These new products will be online in our web shop later this week and I hope that you will find something you like!