One of the highlights of my annual trip to the Las Vegas Antique Arms show is visiting with Alex Andreoff. Alex in his spare time, is a both committed and very knowledgeable gun collector, a practising conservationist and a passionate squirrel and pheasant hunter.
Alex was my first ‘new gun’ customer at Westley Richards and for quite some years I was building him shotguns in various formats. Most of these guns had the benefit of being engraved by those we now recognise as the leading engravers of our times, Brown Bros, Coggan, Hunt etc. A wise investment it turns out to have been!
I hope you enjoy this article which demonstrates his life of putting back into hunting as much or more than he has taken out, leaving a both productive and well managed hunting area for the future generations of squirrel and pheasant hunters.
Of all the vintage catalogues and paperwork in our archive, my favourite has always been this small 52 page, 7″ x 4.5″ pocket size catalogue from C1908. This catalogue must have been the forerunner to the large scale and comprehensive catalogue of 1912, celebrating the firms centenary.
Half of this pocket catalogue is taken up describing in detail the key and unique design elements of the Westley Richards guns, namely the Single Selective Trigger and the Hand Detachable Locks. Detailed descriptions are given on their construction, operation and maintenance and these are complimented by both drawings and photographs.
We are pleased to announce that we will exhibit at the 2014 Safari Club International Convention, starting in Las Vegas on February 5th, two of the most famous 577’s ever built by this company. We will showing the Westley Richards 577 used by Ernest Hemingway in Africa alongside, and for the first time, the single trigger Westley Richards .577 belonging to the infamous elephant hunter James Sutherland. These two large rifles bring with them a lot of history, and with each of them in the same condition as when left by their owners, many stories to tell. Please take this rare opportunity to see the rifles whilst you are at the show.
As well as these rifles we will also be exhibiting some our recently completed work which includes the highly praised India Rifle, a highly embellished sidelock 600NE, new drop lock rifles in 600, 577, 500 and 470. We will have our take down models in 416 and 300 win mag and some super 12g round action sidelock guns.
I sincerely hope some of you will be able to visit our stand, say hello and see these historical old rifles along with our current production guns and rifles.
For many years now Westley Richards has run a gunmaking apprenticeship program, one which we were able to scale up once we moved to our new premises in 2008. Every year since we have started (and intend to continue to start) 2 new young people on this 5 year programme to becoming a skilled craftsman in our trade.
Westley Richards runs possibly the only remaining true gunmaking apprenticeships in the country, here we do not teach how to assemble a box of finely machined parts but rather the time honoured skills of the craftsman wishing to build the finest guns and rifles available.
As we enter a new year we now have a further 2 positions to be filled in our apprenticeship program and invite applications for these positions. Here you will join a team of young, enthusiastic and determined craftsmen aiming to build simply better and better guns.
For full details please send a CV and cover letter stating your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
While the cats away the mice play the old saying goes. So whilst I was sitting at the Las Vegas Antique Arms show taking orders for new work, most of the team of gunmakers went to Kempton in Shropshire to shoot some late season Pheasant courtesy of the workshop slush fund. The team enjoyed a fantastic 200 bird day of sport which was arranged for me by Will Criddle who at the end of this month is starting his own sporting agency. My thanks to everyone at Bettws Hall and Kempton for giving our boys such a great day out.
The Antique Arms Show in Las Vegas this year combined with the International Sporting Arms Show, the Las Vegas Custom Knife Makers and also the American Engravers Guild, it is the largest event of its kind in the world. There are literally, miles and miles of guns of every sort from cased duelling pistols to modern production best guns. I have been attending this show now personally for 27 years and have met many of my long term customers here. As a company I think we have been exhibiting for most of the shows 50 odd years of existence as I recall my father telling me he had seen Elvis and Fats Domino one year when he visited.
The show fills 2 halls, one is focused on the original basis of the show which was Antique Arms, and here you will find rows upon rows of tables exhibiting, Colts, Winchesters, Antique Western & Indian artefacts, European antiques and many many other things, it takes hours to walk the aisles. A second hall houses the “modern” guns meaning sporting weapons as well as the knife show and the engravers exhibit. The major dealers in USA all show here and you will never see as many Hollands, Purdey, Boss and other guns for sale in one place anywhere at any one time. I am not saying there are any bargains but the guns are here and it is down to the buyer to work the deal, just as you would do in a market or bazaar in the east!
Ludo Wurfbain. CEO of Safari Press & Sports Afield Magazine.
Safari Press is the most prolific publisher of books on hunting and also has an excellent vintage book department for those of you looking to find that rare book for your library. Ludo is the ‘go to’ authority on anything to do with books and is currently trying to convince me to re-publish our book “In Pursuit of the Best Gun” and to work with him on a book on our photograph collection of Indian hunting and the Maharajah’s.
The big freeze of USA luckily stayed away from Dallas this week, allowing the Dallas Safari Club convention to proceed without interruption. After a slow build up on Thursday and Friday the show reached a magnificent crescendo on Saturday with an amazing turnout of visitors. I am not sure of the exact figures but I heard 25,000 visitors mentioned and quite believe such a figure, the aisles were literally “bursting”.
This convention has certainly lived up to its growing reputation of becoming the largest and most well attended show of its type in the world, and must be very close on the heels of the main Safari Club International show which will be in Las Vegas in February.
From an exhibitors point of view this is certainly a much easier and friendlier venue from which to do business, with everyone involved organising the show going out of their way to make it a success for the exhibitors. The last hurdle for the organisers is to pull in the international visitor and I think it is only a matter of a few years for that to be achieved.