A Weekend Wild Boar Hunting in France.

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Here at Westley Richards there’s really only one or two topics of conversation that consumes the lunch breaks or after hours chat between work mates and it’s not who is playing football at the weekend or what you’re buying your girlfriend for Christmas, it’s hunting! Where we want to go next, what’s left on the bucket list, what rifle you would take and what trophy is most desired. While having this familiar yarn several months back the discussion of driven Wild Boar shooting came up and featured highly on several of the guy’s ‘must do’ hunts. Fortunately for us, Romain Lepinois, one of our stockers here is French and kindly offered to organise three driven days for myself, Jason Morris, Sam Banner and Stuart Richards in his home region of Bourbonne Les Bannes, which is roughly 3 hours drive east of Paris.

IMG_7827Safety briefing before the afternoon stalk.

As we were all completely new to shooting things on the run with a rifle and having had no previous experience of Wild Boar, the first day was spent stalking the hunting area on foot to get an idea of what game there was in the area as well as identifying what we were allowed to shoot. They have a strict policy on what size boar could be taken. Only females up to a size of 50kg could be shot, to conserve the larger, prime breeding females. Although large males were fair game too, our identification skills were not good enough to be able to determine the sex of the pig as it passed you at 30mph on a woodland ride no wider than a pickup truck, so we decided to stick to shooting the smaller ones.

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The hunting area was a fenced 250 acre block of mixed broadleaves, commercial spruce trees with some clearfell areas and tall grasses, with several strategically placed high seats to shoot from. We saw a good deal of pigs in the afternoon and had a few small ‘practice’ drives. A couple of the lads got some shots off but the pigs were too good for them on this occasion. The evening was feast of wild boar meats, locally produced cheeses and superb wines. The excitement was high for tomorrow and our first proper driven day.

IMG_7842The guns heading to their pegs.

A cold but dry day greeted us and after a hearty breakfast we drew pegs and headed out for the first drive. Around 20 people were shooting and about 6 or so beaters with dogs, split into two teams, planned to keep the game moving through the drives. Having drawn peg one I was a little anxious I wouldn’t see much as peg one, in pheasant shooting terms, tends to be the worst out of the bunch. This turned out not to be the case and fortunately for me right at the start of the drive one of the beater’s dogs marked some boar around 50 yards from my peg. A beater ran over to me, shouted something in French which I could only guess was ‘get ready’ and they flushed a group of 20 boar, 15 of which headed down the wood towards the other guns and 5 came out past me onto the clearfell. Too far away at first but not wanting to be out in the open, the boar turned and headed back towards the cover of the wood. As they headed closer to my position, I measured them up through the scope and managed to take a nice 40kg male with my 6.5×55. Two of the beaters joined me to make sure the boar was retrieved and I was duly blooded and congratulated. A fantastic experience I shall never forget. The excitement of the drive continued with a volley of shots further down the wood, hoping it was my colleagues also joining in the action. There were plenty of game around with some larger females crossing the clearfell and the odd Roe deer and occasional fox passing by too quick to get a shot off. Just as I thought the drive had nearly ended, I decided to take a seat on a tree stump, no more than 5 minutes had passed when out of the corner of my eye I spotted another 40kg pig was headed straight for me, again trying to head back into the wood, on rising to my feet and aiming the rifle it took off at a rate of knots and I luckily managed to catch it up and shoot it before it made the thick cover.

IMG_7873Congratulated by the beaters on taking my first wild boar.

Sadly my comrades had not had quite such good fortune, only Romain had shot one, although they had seen plenty of game, a suitable shot did not present itself. Such is hunting.IMG_7845Stuart Richards keeping watch from his high seat.

After another fantastic feed we set out again and Romain and I decided to join the beating to line to see the action from the other end. After a few frantic hours following the dogs and flushing boar to the waiting guns, the day came to a close, not before Romain and I shared a nice, larger male boar. We met up for the final count and to exchange stories. Luckily Stuart had been successful and managed to bag himself a brace of boar from a large wooden highseat using his over & under double rifle also in 6.5×55. Total was 11 Wild Boar and a Roe deer.

IMG_7864The final bag on the first day.

The next two days hunting were done in much larger blocks of unfenced mature broadleaf woodland, extending to several thousand acres, about an hour from where we hunted on the first day. Hopes were high after an amazing first day. Red deer and Sika were both present in the area and should a large stag present itself we had permission to shoot it, adding a new level of trepidation. Around 30 people in total each day joined the hunt which was made of up of French, English, Belgium and Portuguese nationalities.

IMG_7912The view over a clearfell from a high seat.

Although we didn’t see a huge amount of game passing our stands, by the noise of the dogs and sounds coming from the woods there certainly was a good number of boar in the drives, but like any game we hunt, they are totally unpredictable and knew all too well how to evade the hunters. Although the Westley team didn’t shoot any boar in the larger hunting areas, a few of the local French hunters managed to take a few nice pigs and we shot a few equally challenging Roe Deer. The whole experience of the hunt and hospitality shown to us by our hosts and fellow hunters was superb and it was very special to be able to share their hunting heritage.

The excitement and anticipation of each drive is something none of us had experienced before and we’re certainly hooked on driven rifle shooting, something which is pretty much absent from the UK. The lunch break chats are still full of our boar hunting tales but will soon turn to planning the next adventure.

IMG_7880 Westley Richards gunmakers Jason Morris, Sam Banner and Stuart Richards.

A Fine Collection of Used Guns at Westley Richards.

LD Manager of Westley Richards USA

My father has been a gun dealer for as long as I can remember. In turn, I sold my first gun when I was only 11 and by the time I was out of high school I had made the gun business my career choice as well. As my career moved on and I was buying, selling and trading guns, I became enamoured with Best English guns, in particular  those made by Wesley Richards. Through a mutual friend I met Simon Clode and I was happy to help him with his logistics during the Safari Club show season, help he was glad to accept. More and more I bought and sold fine guns and more and more I found myself calling on Simon for advice. What started as some friendly help became a mentorship that eventually evolved into a job offer, and really the only offer that could lure me away from the family business.

When Simon broke the news of my new position of manager of the Westley Richards Agency back in July, I was somewhere between Bozeman, MT and Gulf Breeze, FL as I was moving shops. Simon had wanted to keep the move quiet and seamless and announced the move only when we were packed out of Bozeman and on the way south.

The drive was a precursor to the long days ahead as we started to remodel our new space in Gulf Breeze and my training would start on how things get done the Westley Richards way. While new gun making has always been the hallmark of the firms two hundred year history and remains the core focus of the business, the buying and selling of rare and fine guns has also always played an extremely important role in the company’s success. Westley Richards offers a quiet, discreet and personal service for its clients offering a unique ability to acquire and sell fine and rare guns based on many years experience and many ‘little black books’ recording what guns are where.

There are two chapters from our company’s history book “In Pursuit of the Best Gun”, that are most interesting to me, they cover Walter Clode’s and Malcolm Lyell’s tenures with Westley Richards. Each of these chapters highlight their contributions, not only to the English gun trade, but to the American gun market as well, by dealing in high quality firearms, widely from India, to the American gun collector. Today that same tradition is carried on by Simon Clode, who has been quietly selling the World’s finest guns for 30 years.

Here at the Westley Richards Agency, I will be doing what I feel I do best, and that is finding and selling fine guns. I will be available to assist in making new gun orders and answering questions as well as help with receiving orders that are imported from the U.K. But one aspect I am most excited about is the handling of the select and very high quality second hand guns that come through the agency.

The dealing of used guns is an important part of Westley Richards’ history and I’m looking forward to carrying on that tradition to the very high standards set.

Today, I am very pleased to introduce a very nice, small collection of guns and rifles which we have recently received these are new to the market and will be available on our used guns site during the coming week. These guns and rifles are all based here in USA and I would welcome any calls of interest.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (1 of 27) James Purdey & Sons .375 H&H Magnum Express Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (2 of 27) James Purdey & Sons. 12g Over and Under 2 barrel set.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (3 of 27) Holland & Holland Royal .500 3″ Double Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (4 of 27) Holland & Holland Royal 500/450 Double Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (5 of 27) Holland & Holland Royal .375 Flanged Magnum double rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (6 of 27) James Purdey & Sons. A Pair of 20g 28″ game guns as new.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (7 of 27) As Above.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (8 of 27) James Purdey & Sons. 12g Over and Under two barrel set as new.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (9 of 27) As Above

Used Guns at Westley Richards (15 of 27) John Rigby & Co. .470 double rifle. (Not Rising Bite)

Used Guns at Westley Richards (14 of 27) Holland & Holland Royal .500 Double Rifle, cased and unfired.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (13 of 27) Westley Richards Hand Detachable Lock ‘droplock’ .470 Double Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (12 of 27) Holland & Holland Royal .500/450 double rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (11 of 27) Holland & Holland Royal .375 Flanged Magnum Double Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (10 of 27) James Purdey & Sons. A .375 H&H Magnum Express Double Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (16 of 27) James Purdey & Sons. A Vintage .369 Purdey Express Double Rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (17 of 27) Holland & Holland. A Pair of 12g ‘Sporter’ Over and Under guns.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (18 of 27) Pair of E. J. Churchill 12g sidelock game guns.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (20 of 27) Westley Richards .300 WSM bolt action rifle built in Kurtz action.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (21 of 27) Asprey, London. A 300 Win Mag Carbine rifle.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (27 of 27) Fabbri 12g Over Under.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (26 of 27) Fabbri 12g Over Under

Used Guns at Westley Richards (25 of 27) Fabbri 12g Over Under Shotgun

Used Guns at Westley Richards (24 of 27) Holland & Holland .375 H&H Magnum Bolt Action.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (23 of 27) John Rigby .416 Bolt Action rifle on Magnum Mauser.

Used Guns at Westley Richards (22 of 27)Westley Richards .375 Bolt Action rifle built on original Oberndorf Magnum Mauser.

My thanks to Emma who came over from England to take the photographs and teach me some more tricks with the camera.

The Damascus Droplock Pair have a first day in the Field.

Damascus Pair in Field (1 of 1)

I think this is a nice and fitting conclusion to the story of the pair of Damascus Barrel guns, which both I and new owner Gary Duffy have both posted about, to show that they have made their way through the restoration and on to a new life in the field doing what they do best!

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-8

 A Needle in a Haystack. by Gary Duffy.

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to all our American Visitors.

Vintage Turkey Hunters

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to you all, we hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends!

Turkey Hunting has always fascinated me, I have heard so many hilarious stories from people sat for long hours, dressed in cammo under trees and whistling in Turkey’s to no avail, but always highlighted by a magnificent tale. It is a hunt I always wanted to try but just never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

I know in Iceland at Christmas it is the man’s job to go into the hills and shoot Ptarmigan for the Christmas table, a task that is getting harder and harder as you need one per person. I assume in USA at one point, perhaps a similar duty fell for the preparation of the Thanksgiving feast. So for all those who managed to serve up their own hunted turkey today, congratulations! Probably the wild turkey are as tough as old boots and the market version is preferred!

Over the coming weekend we have a variety of offers on our website shop. Today 10% off the whole shop, Friday 20% off our History book, on Saturday the beautiful range of Faliero Sarti scarves at 20% off making a perfect gift, on Sunday a free Westley Richards Tweed cap from our range of 20 styles with any piece of Cashmere knitwear ordered, on Monday a free tie with any W R & Co. shirt. These will be coming through on our email newsletters.

The discount codes for the weekend are;

Thursday – Thanksgiving – WR10TG

Friday – History Book – wrbook20

Saturday – Faliero Sarti – sarti4xmas

Sunday – Cashmere & Tweed – wrcashcap16

Monday – Shirt & Tie – wrshirt&tie16

A New Pair Of Westley Richards .600 Deluxe Droplock Double Rifles

Westley Richards .600 Pair 1

In the shooting and hunting world the necessity for a ‘pair’ of guns is really only ever associated with the driven game shooting scene as practised primarily in the UK and Europe.  It is therefore of great fun and interest to actually build a pair of double rifles and if you are going to do it then you may as well go big!

In this case we are proud to present our very first pair of .600 droplock double rifles!  You really don’t get much bigger.  When we first embarked on this project a few years ago, my client a young and enthusiastic hunter of big and dangerous game came to me with the request for a new .600 droplock double rifle. Nothing out of the ordinary really until I suggested ‘why don’t we do a pair?’

Westley Richards Pair .600 3

I am sure many of you, just like my client did at the time are asking ‘why do a pair?’ the reason was really quite simple, because we could!  The client thought it a great idea and this is not somebody who wants them just to look at.  We have hunted before with single .505’s, .577’s and .600’s, this new pair of rifles are going to get used and that was really in many ways the stimulus for the project in the first place.

Westley Richards .600 Pair 2

Now to the rifles themselves.  A matched pair of deluxe .600 droplock double rifles with 24″ barrels, extra hand detachable locks, deluxe scroll engraving with full case colour hardening, complete in a buffalo skin oak & leather case with full complement of horn handled tools.  Matching grained leather slips made to measure for transporting the rifles in the hunting truck.  Overall a lovely package and unquestionably a very unique one!

Westley Richards .600 Pair 4

The Bishop of Bond Street, The Westley Richards Manager Who Oversees the Holland & Holland Gunroom.

The Bishop of Bond Street Oil Painting

On my ‘Bucket List’ for the past 20 or so years has been the re-patriation, to where it rightfully belongs, of the original painting of The Bishop of Bond Street which currently hangs in the Holland & Holland Bruton Street gunroom.

When Malcolm Lyell left Holland & Holland in the late 80’s and the company was sold to Chanel, the painting had been hanging in an office at Holland’s with little attention paid to it. Malcolm when he had bought the Westley Richards agency in the early 50’s had use of much of the contents of our Conduit Street shop. These included, furniture, signs, record books, William Bishop’s Clock (which I now have back), his portrait and many other items from our past.

Roger Mitchell who took over as MD of Holland’s approached my father with an offer to buy the painting and one which my father accepted. He blames the fact that he didn’t really know what he was selling as hadn’t really seen it that much. Whatever, the painting passed into Holland’s hands and has remained there since.

In its own right the painting is a very good portrait executed by Henry Barraud in 1848 and one that shows the character of the Bishop very well, a man who was never caught without his Top Hat off! As a painting that hangs in another gunmakers gunroom I have never quite understood the relevance and why they would not rather promote their own history, founders and managers. It has always seemed strange that they allow the ‘good management’ of a Westley Richards gunroom to be displayed with such importance in their own place of business.

Over the years, I and many other of my good customers have tried to get the painting back, alas to no avail. I tried again once more last week and asked the current MD Daryl Greatrex if there was any chance to buy or exchange for money and a painting I have of a notable Holland client shooting and was told ‘no’ he thought there was no chance! I don’t believe in all these years that the question has ever been asked of the man who could or would actually make the decision to let the painting return to the company it rightfully belongs but perhaps one day that will happen.

I think now I have to expose the painting and ‘link it’ permanently in peoples minds to Westley Richards so that when anyone visits the Holland & Holland gunroom they immediately think Westley Richards. Perhaps in the end this is better advertising use than having it myself!

Obviously any help from a ‘well connected’ person in getting the picture back would be most appreciated!!

BishopOfBondStreet3 The only photograph of the Bishop that I have ever come across and probably the one used for the portrait.

The entry lobby at Westley RichardsThe William Bishop Clock and the Tombstone of ‘Tiny’ his dog who features in the painting sitting on the chair.

Bishop of Bond Street in H&H (1 of 1)The original painting hanging in Holland & Holland’s showroom.

A Westley Richards .460 Weatherby – A Beast for A Professional Hunters Rifle

WR & Co .460 Weatherby-45903-Edit

At Westley Richards we are lucky enough to build a multitude of large calibre big game bolt action rifles.  All of these tend to be in the classic British calibres, .318 WR, .375 H &H, .416 Rigby, .500 Jeffery, .505 Gibbs, with the odd European classic for driven big game hunting.

Whilst hunting in Africa a few years back, a very good Professional Hunting colleague asked if we could put together a stopping rifle for him.  Naturally the answer was ‘yes’ and so then came the classic question of calibre?  At the time he was using a .505 Gibbs that he had borrowed and found to be adequate and so this was the immediate choice.  A fine and reputable calibre, capable of stopping the largest of big game.

The order was raised back at the factory, but then later on a phone call came ‘can you build the rifle in .460 Weatherby?’  Well those of you in the know are very aware of the ‘brute’ introduced by Roy Weatherby in 1958.  At the time it was the most powerful commercially loaded big game cartridge, capable of pushing 500 grain projectiles well over 2600 feet per second. Its reputation was formidable and whilst the idea of the power impressed many, the ability to shoot it was quite another!!!!!

So, back to the rifle in question.  Yes it is a .460 Weatherby and yes it is a beast!  That said knowing the history of the calibre we were careful to make sure that the stock was slightly thicker at the forend to obtain more grip, the open sights you will see are unusual style for our rifles and were manufactured specifically as wrap arounds so that the bearing surface on the barrel was the absolute maximum. The rifle is set up specifically for open sights so the stock is shaped specifically for this and set the foresight bead to hit point of aim.

The final result is  a very handy and quite frankly devastating stopping rifle made to the PH’s exact requirements ‘bespoke’, like all our guns and rifles.

Just be sure to stand behind it when the ‘beast’ goes off!

Westley Richards Traditional Fine Scroll. A New Engraver Joins the Team.

Traditional Westley Richards Scroll

We have to be quite secretive about who we work with in this field, especially in the area of engraving where quality work is competed for. Hence I am afraid this will be a ‘no names’ given out piece of writing!

A year or so ago, I was approached by a man determined to get into gun engraving as a second career, I invited him to the factory and  he came to visit me and showed me his practise plates. He had done a wide variety of work, scroll, game scenes, inlay and I think even perhaps a little relief work. All the work had been done with only a little advise and help from one of our more regular engravers who had steered him over a period of months. The work was very impressive considering mainly self taught and the dedication to doing the work even more so. There was however the confusion of too many subjects and techniques being used, none of them mastered, very nice work but not ready to put on one of our guns.

Over a period of months I handed out various practise and unpaid projects which were taken on board and executed as carefully as possible. I emphasised, as I tend to do, that the basis for all engraving is getting the design and execution of fine scroll down and looking great before trying to move on to the more elaborate work. There is always a tendency with people starting to engrave, to race in and try and compete with the master engravers in the game scene and relief work arena, an area I have always felt best avoided until the scroll is mastered, why run before you can walk! After all who wants a game scene surrounded by badly executed scroll? There is scroll, be it fine or bold on every gun, but by no means do all guns have game or other fancy engraving work specified. Scroll and perfect lettering are the fundamentals as far as the gunmaker is concerned.

This 20g hand detachable lock gun is now the 4th gun the engraver has executed on commission for us in the traditional Westley Richards pattern. My message in this post is to thank him for his work, for listening and staying with the programme to get the fine scroll nailed. I know for both him as an individual engraver and for us a company the method will pay dividends and for my part it will be a great pleasure watching his work develop over the coming years into what I am quite sure will be something very special indeed, after all I have seen the practise plates and what is to come!

Westley Richards fine scroll.

A Vintage Westley Richards ‘Ovundo’ 12g Shotgun.

WR & Co Ovundo #1577-46041

The Westley Richards ‘Ovundo’ is a very distinct over and under shotgun that was developed and retailed in various formats between 1913 – 1937.  Recently we acquired this vintage 12g version that was originally completed in 1936 which was towards the end of production.  The gun has a very lively feel and balance and quite interestingly weighs in at a mere 6lb 8ozs which for a 28″ sideplate over and under is surprisingly light and makes for a great game gun.

WR & Co Ovundo #1577-45924

WR & Co Ovundo #1577-45955

WR & Co Ovundo #1577-45998-Edit

The design has been oft-maligned over the years as an often cumbersome looking gun, which is why several years ago we produced a very small batch of guns in only 20g as this appeared the most aesthetically pleasing.

Picture00712One of the modern pairs of 20g Ovundo with elaborate scroll engraving.

Picture02054One of the modern pair with full case colour hardening.

People have often questioned why Westley Richards opted for the deep action design of the under hook lump as opposed to the bifurcated system so typical of the shallow bodied Boss and Woodward design.  Well you have to go back to the time this gun was being designed and considered that Westley Richards as a company had introduced in side by side format both the fixed lock gun design and then shortly afterwards the hand detachable lock (droplock) design.  Both models were absolute signatures of the company and remain so to this day.

Now if you put these designs into an over and under gun, matters become a lot more interesting!  Clearly the company was trying to work out its own way of building the over and under format gun in both a fixed lock and droplock format and quite simply the under hook design was the only way they saw fit to do so, allowing for the respective firing mechanisms.

What really amazes me and is so often forgotten is the actual number of variations built in ‘Ovundo’ format.  There are fixed lock actions with square back, scroll back and side plates, there are droplock with scroll back, side plates and side plates with inspection ports.  Some fixed lock versions have hinged cover plates as in the example shown here.  Obviously there were single and double trigger versions and they were built in 12g, 16g, 20g and a multitude of rifle calibres from .425 WR down to .240 Flanged.  The are even rifle/shotgun combo’s in one set of barrels and we have a Super Magnum Explora here at the factory.

From left: Vintage 12g Super Magnum Explora, .240 & .350 Rifles, Close up of .240 Rifle.

Much maligned?  Well clearly not at the time as it was unquestionably one of the most produced British over and unders. Interestingly the recent 20g examples we built continue to create lots of interest and we are always asked when will the next generation of ‘Ovundo’ be released.  With the modern move towards heavier guns shooting bigger loads I am certain it is something in our not too distant future.