A TINY WORK OF ART. Guest Post by Peter Spode.

I doubt if much attention is ever given to the small gold inlaid word SAFE positioned at the front of the safety catch.This sequence shows how this can be achieved on a Westley Richards gun.

blog11.The letters are marked out lightly in the correct position on the top tang, making sure that the safety catch covers it completely when pushed forwards.

blog2 2.The letters are first engraved and then deepened further so there is plenty of depth for the gold.

blog3 3. Next, each letter is undercut so that the bottom of the cut is wider than the top.This is necessary so that the gold will ‘key’ into the cuts and be held firm.Without this step, the gold would not be secure and may well fall out at a later date.Good deep undercuts are absolutely essential.

blog4 4. The gold is then hammered in with a punch. Often various diameters of 24 carat gold wire is used. The punches can be brass or nickel silver, which being softer than steel will not mark the steel surrounding the inlay.

blog55. When complete, the whole area is hammered well to ensure that the gold has spread into the farthest corners of each letter.

blog66.Using progressively finer grades of abrasive paper, the excess gold is removed and the whole area smoothed until free of any blemishes. This is the point that the engraver holds his or her breath as it is only now that the quality of the job can be assessed.

blog7 7. A quick application of gun blue reveals any faults in the lettering, and highlights where any modifications/corrections need to be made.


8.The steel around the area of the inlay is gently relieved to improve contrast and also to remove the possibility of unsightly wear underneath the safety catch when in use.After a little final fettling and polishing, the job is done !

Next time you handle a gun , why not pause for a moment to consider the work involved in this this tiny work of art under your thumb.

A Guest Post by Peter Spode. Peter has been engraving Westley Richards for 27 years. Please vote for Peter to win the deluxe book by posting a comment below!

This is the first “guest post” I have used which was sent in response to my earlier post to win a limited edition book by submitting your posts! Send to theexplora@westleyrichards.co.uk

A HARTMANN & WEISS 20g Over and Under Engraved by Alan Brown.

Hartmann & Weiss 20g Over Under

Two things you would have to wait a very long time for, a Hartmann & Weiss over and under shotgun based on the famous Boss design and engraving by the renowned Alan Brown. Together they are the perfect match and here you see the result. In this case a client had given up the wait after many years so a lucky person was able to jump at the opportunity and take up the contract at the last minute, getting the gun in 2 years not 12!

Hartmann & Weiss 20g Over Under

Hartmann & Weiss 20g Over Under 3

Hartmann & Weiss 20g Over Under 2

Hartmann & Weiss 20g Over Under


Marzio Tamer, Park Walk GalleryOrice – Antelope by Marzio Tamer, Watercolour on Arches paper, 114.5 x 85.5cm

The Park Walk Gallery in London’s Fulham has long been a favourite of mine. Jonathan has an amazing eye for young talent and is always exhibiting some very fine artists. A small selection of work by the gallery’s artists, including the fabulous watercolour above, will be shown next week at the Masterpiece Exhibition in London 26th June – July 2nd.

Vicky WhiteLioness by Vicky White. Another spectacular piece by Vicky who I met first at this gallery. Vicky has subsequently moved north and can be contacted at vicky-white.co.ukLarge as Life Gary StintonLarge as Life. Gary Stinton. Pastel on Museum board.


Anson & Deeley Cut away

I think today, making a best gun, completing it and then cutting it up to show how it works would be an unthinkable practise, as such I am grateful that I have left over from the days of greater production and a larger workforce, an example of such a gun. My next venture will be to see if this can be filmed in action to demonstrate the interaction of the parts and cocking of the gun.


Roald  Amundsen, The ExploraRoald Amundsen who took a 12g Super Magnum Explora on his Polar expeditions.

It is hardly believable to me that almost a year has passed since we first launched this blog last July. 209 posts later and before I head to USA next week for a road trip to find more guns, I wanted to take the oppertunity to thank everyone who has visited the blog, especially to those who have commented on posts and sent me messages of encouragement privately. We have all been surprised at how well it has been received.

Certainly The Explora is quite hard work and was always intended to be a “shared duty” here at the factory, however a year later, we stand with a current score of Simon 200 posts, Rachel 5 posts and Trigger a measly 2 posts! Shared duty my …….!!

In order to generate some guest contributions to the blog and to add some other items of interest for visitors I would like to award a prize for the best “Guest Post” over the next 6 months. The First prize will be one of my 2 copies of the 1 – 50 limited edition Leather bound bicentennial history “In Pursuit of the Best Gun”. This edition sold out within weeks and originally cost £750 a copy.  There will be 4 runners up who will get a copy of the 1 – 200 limited edition book.

Limited edition leather, westley richards, bicentennialThe Limited Edition Copy  ” In Pursuit of the Best Gun” and sample spreads. 

In Pursuit of the Best Gun In Pursuit of the Best Gun

This first prize limited edition book is beautifully hand bound in goat skin with a checkering pattern emboss. The book is signed by The author Jeremy Musson, my father Walter Clode, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani  (who kindly wrote the introduction to the book) and myself. The prizes will be sent out in December after judging on 10th December so the winners will have in time for Christmas.

Please get out your pens and send in any short articles on guns and gunmaking, wing shooting and big game hunting, gear and destinations. Anything that you feel will enhance the blog. I will post all relevant submissions but not promotions! Judging will be by a combination of a Westley Richards panel and comments received for the relevant posts!

Submissions can be made please, to theexplora@westleyrichards.co.uk 

Thank you and Good Luck!



BOSS & Co. 20 & 28g. OVER AND UNDER.

Boss & Co., Round Action, 20g Over Under

Boss & Co, 28g, Over Under,

Boss & Co., 20g Over Under

Boss & Co. 28g Over Under

It’s not often you get to see a pair of recent Boss over and under shotguns. These 2 pairs were built during the transition of Boss & Co to their new owner Keith Halsey. The guns were ordered in Dover Street from Tim Robertson survived the brief ownership of Boss by Ken Finkin and finally completed under the Halsey tenure. I supplied the wood and was very relieved when they made it out of the factory, they are super guns. The 20g pair are on the round bodied actions.


Game Bag, Westley Richards A Game & Cartridge bag.

Game Bag, Westley Richards A Vintage Game Bag

Perfecta Cartridge Bag, Westkey Richards A Westley Richards Perfecta cartridge bag from 1920’s.

Vintage Rucksack, Westley Richards The Guide Shop haversack.

3 Buckle Pouch. Westley Richards The influence for the Westley Richards 3 buckle cleaning pouch.

Vintage Brady Bag, Westley Richards.Brady Gelderburn Fishing Bag from 1960’s.

Vintage shooting bags have always been an influence behind the products we make in our leather shop. Unfortunately finding these bags is not easy, much like old guns with stories to tell, these bags tend never to get sold or given away as they carry fond memories of past hunting trips for their owners.

Bags like the ones shown above were all really well made and have stood the test of time. They were made to last and attention was paid to the details and quality of materials which is how we have always approached the products we make in our leather shop. Making products that last and look better and better every year as they gain patina.

The Brady fishing bag has been copied by practically every bag maker in existence but I have never seen one to match the quality and character of this 50 year old one and guard it possessively. I have examples from the 70’s 80’s and 90’s and none have aged as well.

I would be very interested to see (or buy!) any nice shooting specific leather or canvas and leather goods, if anyone has any please let me know!




Holland & Holland, 500 NE, Double Rifle Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe .500 Double Rifle. Engraved by P. Coggan.

James Purdey, .470, Double Rifle James Purdey & Son .470 Double Rifle. Engraved by Flohimont Cecile.

Westley Richards, .470, Double Rifle Westley Richards & Co. .470 Double Rifle. Engraved by Vince Crowley.

Boss & Co. .500, Over Under, Rifle.Boss & Co. .500 Over and Under Double Rifle.

There are currently four gunmakers in England producing sidelock double rifles for dangerous game, an example of each of the companies models are shown above. All are rifles are built in recent times, by which I mean within the last 15 years. The first three are photographed from the same angle and in the same position as each other so a visual comparison can be made.


Westley Engineering, Pressings      A view down the Westley Engineering building towards Westley Richards.

Next door to the new Westley Richards & Co. gun factory, sits our sister company Westley Engineering. About 15 years ago we split the original Westley Richards company into the 2 distinct business’s they had become. At the time we were all housed in the old Grange Road factory with a shared management team. When we moved in 2008 it was into 2 distinctly different buildings, each built specifically for the individual business’s needs.

Westley Engineering started life as a Tool & Die maker which was a natural progression and method of harnessing the quite considerable machining skills the company had when we came out of the War in 1945. Gunmaking had been put aside during the war, our machine shops had been passed over to whatever was required for the war effort.

The company had the excellent reputation of being one of the foremost precision tooling companies in the country, staffed by people who had making highest quality guns, in their blood, machinists who were used to working to exacting tolerances. We designed and produced progression tooling for the pressings industries (stampings), selling to engineers who wanted the very best tooling which would stay in the presses running, not being constantly serviced. In the 80’s the purchasing of such tooling was passed to ‘buyers’ who were then only concerned with cost, the fact that tooling would only achieve minimal runs was irrelevant to the buyers as the running/repair costs would fall into another buyers budget! Most the tooling was sourced from that point in China and the Far East.

It was at this time we diversified into running the tooling ourselves and started a pressing/stamping shop which we branded Westley Engineering. We would design and build quality tooling which we would then run for clients ourselves, thus benefiting from making quality tools. The adjoining factory at Grange Road was acquired and filled with presses and by 2003 we were feeling the squeeze to expand, there was no more space available to buy as we were surrounded by the university.

My Father had fought the city council and I had fought the city council about moving out for about 25 years in total. They wanted to make a bypass for easier access to the University and hospital which we resisted on the basis of the factory being such a part of Birmingham’s history, but it was at this point that I gave in, we needed more space and it was time to move on from the old factory. It was a good move, Westley Engineering now sits within a modern, large open plan factory and continues to build and run tooling for a diversified array of business’s.

Throughout these years the engineering side of the company, now Westley Engineering, has been responsible for supplying us, with all the machined components for the guns and rifles that we have made  to date during my tenure here.

Westley Engineering, Pressings.The Westley Engineering Factory seen from our factory entrance at Westley Richards.