A Very Merry Christmas from Westley Richards & The Explora.

The Explora, Christmas Tree, Westley Richards

 

Another few hours and we will close the gates, lock down the factory and be off home to sit back, drink some whisky and eat ourselves stupid for a few days. I know that this is a very well earned rest for everybody here at Westley Richards, it has been a very busy year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked both within the company and those who work alongside the company, helping us to produce the guns and rifles we offer. I can say without hesitation that the product gets better by the year and I am sure the best is yet to come. So a very big thank you to all the gunmakers and craftsmen who have put up with both Trigger’s and my criticism, complaints, demands, despair and praise, yes occasionally we do praise! Thank you for making some truly great guns this year under our name.

I would also like to thank each and every person who has visited this blog, hopefully gaining some insight into the company, what we do and how we do it. I hope most of all that the information we share is of some value and interest and  I hope you will keep coming back to see what is new from time to time.

Please help me in the coming year by suggesting things that you would like to know that perhaps I can shed some light on. I am sure that on a daily basis there are many things staring me in the face which would interest readers, but which I take for granted. Please let me know and I will do my best to explain and illustrate any of the process’s or workings of a gun factory of this type.

Again my sincere thanks to all and I wish you and your families a Very, Very Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

Simon

Westley Richards, Double Rifle, 600NE, Sidelock Rifle.The Last Rifle to leave the workshops this year, A Westley Richards .600NE Sidelock.

A Scott Brown Hand Crafted Saddle.

Scott Brown, Saddle, Craftsmanship

It is always nice to admire true craftsmanship and saddle maker Scott Brown is certainly a master craftsman, one who splits his time between making saddles and making violins. I know precious little about saddles and I don’t have a horse but I certainly appreciate the long hours of labour and painstaking detail that has gone into making this ‘fully engraved’ version! It makes a nice addition to the accumulated ‘stuff’ I have gathered here at the factory.

The Reata is of 6 strand rawhide, braided by Randy Rieman

‘Nice Rig’ as they say in Texas!

W. R. & Co. Open Ammunition Wallet. By Gary Duffey.

The Explora, Westley Richards, Leather

Like most hunters and outdoors folks I am somewhat of a gear nut, but in a traditional sense. I like leather, waxed cotton, and wool that have a more traditional design.

Sometime in the mid 90’s at the Dallas Safari Club Convention I noticed these small ammo carriers in the Westley Richards booth described as ‘W.R. & Co. Open Ammunition Wallet’. I bought all that were left and have purchased more over the years and now have them for all of the cartridge ranges. They are very secure and very minimalist is design. I particularly like to carry them in a shirt pocket or the side pockets of cargo shorts, pants, or jacket. They work well to segregate ammunition as well, i.e. soft point from solid in a bag or backpack. They are not much bigger than the ammunition when filled and hold it separated and dead quiet.

If you are hunting dangerous game your extra ammunition is on your belt most likely and that is probably the place for it. If you have a light or medium rifle along this is a great way to carry extra for it and the heavier rifle also.

Having access to a couple of large properties, and lots of targets, I always have a bolt action .223 with me (or something else, but always something). I developed two loads for this particular rifle: a heavier soft point striking at point of aim at 100 yards and a lighter hollow point load sighted +1.0” at 100 yards. This rifle serves as a Pig and Coyote rifle with that slightly heavier soft point for a neck shot and the magazine is loaded with the lighter HP’s for shots at crows, for which I am unable to resist. The crows are very unhappy with this setup. I use these wallets to segregate these two different purposed loads and they are available in different leather colors so that makes separating even more convenient.
They are the most inexpensive leather item among all the leather products offered by W-R and are extremely practical. In this instance and for this purpose, less is more. The only two negatives with these are that if you give one to a friend they will only want more, if you lay them down unattended, your best friend will steal them.

The Westley Richards Pocket Wallets can be seen online here.

W. J. Jeffery 600NE Sidelock Snap Action Double Rifle.

W J Jeffery, Sidelock, 600, snap action, The Explora, Westley richards,

You think you have seen everything in the rifle world, then suddenly something totally  unusual pops up!

W. J. Jeffery made one sidelock .600 snap action rifle in their history, (to date), it is number 22368 and was an ejector model made with Joseph Brazier back action locks. The rifle has 24 inch barrels, 1 + 4 folding leaf sights to 500 yds. The rifle is stocked with original Selous grips which are the steel reinforcement plates you see on the pistol grip. The rifle is engraved with Indian game.

The rifle was made for C Larsen.

Jeffery Catalogue

Jeffery, sidelock, 600, the explora, westley richards

Losing the Patina. Refinish or Not?

Purdey 12g, shotguns, Westley Richards, The ExploraThis pair of J. Purdey guns have had a very sympathetic and light refurbish.

I feel a good ‘follow on’ to the excellent post about patina, is a message about restoring guns and deciding if they are not ‘better off left alone” thus retaining their Patina.

I have always been very much against refurbishing guns for the sake of it. It actually takes a great deal of skill to work the finish of a gun and most of the guns I see at gun shows have suffered more financially as a result of a bad refinish, than if they had just been left alone.

Two weeks ago one of our clients came in with a .375 take down rifle which we had made for him several years ago. It was a bit bashed around, had some scratches at the muzzle, bruises and dents in the stock and general wear on the blacking where the rifle had been carried. To me it looked great, it had been to Africa several times and had started to bear the scars and stories from those travels.

The client wanted the stock refinished and the blacking all redone to ‘as new’, £1800 of work, thank you very much!  However, in honest Westley Richards style I persuaded him not to refinish the rifle in anyway at all, but rather to give the rifle a thorough service, whilst retaining the wonderful patina the rifle had acquired.

A gun or rifle can only withstand so much refurbishment, If you polish and re-black the barrels you lose steel, if you polish the stock you lose wood, it is really as simple as that. The more you refinish the more you lose of the original finish and the original finish is the best finish in most cases.

The client was pleased to hear this and that if the bruises were not bothering him that they were doing no harm. He also understood when I explained that if his stories and scars ever had to be wiped off, it was best done once,  just before he sold it or whatever.

You will notice on a new gun that the wood is always left a little proud of the metal edges, it looks best and will allow for refinishing the wood at some point. I emphasize this ‘some point’ meaning not continually. By leaving the wood alone as long as possible, you retain this reserve of wood.

It is very hard to convey how important original finish and patina is. It is also very hard to explain how much damage some gunsmiths can do when not experienced in the task of refurbishment and not familiar with how the original gun should look.

My initial advice would always be to leave well alone, or at best seek expert advice before considering any form of refurbishment.

Boss ou 12g, The exploraThis Boss OU has light wear and has not been touched since new in 30’s.

The Explora, gun refurbishmentThe excess wood on the wood to metal fit of a new gun. Use it wisely!

 

The Westley Richards 2014 ‘In Pursuit of the Best Post’ Prize.

Limited edition leather, westley richards, bicentennial

The turnout of submissions for guest posts to win my last remaining, leather bound, limited edition of 50 copy of “in Pursuit of the Best Gun” was, if you don’t mind my saying, pretty pathetic! We seem to register 1000’s of visitors but only managed to get 4 contributors!

The contributors were, in no particular order, Peter Spode, David Brown, Gary Duffey and Vic Venters, all of whom I thank very much.

Vic Venters contribution was an article written for Shooting Sportsman on our old foreman Ken Halbert, so that one is disqualified, even though I know he had not intended it submitted to this competition.

Peter Spode did 2 very nice posts ‘A tiny work of art’ and ‘How Long does it take to Engrave a gun’ Thank you Peter.

David Brown submitted 3 very interesting posts on Gunmaking ‘On The Circle’, ‘Straight Lines and Phantom Curves’ and ‘Thoughts on Fences’ Thank you David.

Gary Duffey has submitted ‘A Practical approach to Hunting’, ‘Free Hunting Confidence’, The Westley Single Trigger’ and lastly ‘Patina’. An excellent variety of subjects. Thank you Garry.

The winner of our competition, after careful consideration, is Gary Duffey and the overwhelming comment of the judges ( Simon, Trigger, Rachel, Ricky, Lloyd ) was the diversity of the posts. Congratulations Gary! Your book is on the way.

Peter and David a copy of the limited edition 1-200 is on the way to you both, thank you very much indeed for your efforts.

Ephemera. The Selvyt Lock Preserving Pad.

Westley Richards, The Explora, Selvyt Pad,

I have guarded this little piece of ‘Westley Richards Ephemera’ very closely for many years. I have only ever seen one other example, that one we fitted to the Gorilla Gun case in 1989.

I think are all familiar with the Selvyt Cloth, the cleaning cloth that most all the English gunmakers supply with their trade label embossed in the middle. This version is a small Selvyt pad, soaked in preserving oil and contained in a small painted tin measuring about 3 inches square. It is an item which I have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to have reproduced at a reasonable cost.

The Princes & Chiefs of India.

Maharajah of Jodhpur, Westley Richards, The Explora

It has taken me a year or so to persuade my Father to sell me his three volume set of “Princes and Chiefs of India”. As soon as a deal was agreed this morning I despatched Rachel, my PA to his house to collect them, before he could change his mind!

Some of you will have seen that we used some of the plates from this book to illustrate the princes in our history, “In Pursuit of the Best Gun’ and others, who have bought ‘Maharajah’ guns from us in the past may well have had the accompanying photograph to show what the original owner looked like.

The Indian Maharajah’s played an extremely important and pivotal part in the life of the English gunmaker and it is with that in mind why I have always wanted this volume on the Princes as a reference, many of whom I will be introducing to you in the months ahead!

Princes & Chiefs of India, The Explora, Westley Richards, Maharajah.

 

My father, Walter Clode has been collecting rare photographs from India for the past 20 years and offers them for sale on his website Rare Indian Photographs, please visit the site to see if anything interests you!

Patina. by Gary Duffey

; a shiny or dark surface that forms naturally on something (such as wood or leather) that is used for a long time; the sheen on a surface produced by age and/or use; the sheen on a surface that is caused by much handling

Droplocks, westley richards

To the collector, a firearm is a possession that he may own or desire to own because of the rarity, the history, association or an attribution to someone or something, a period in time, artistic qualities, the design and complexity, or perhaps it is a store of value, or any combination of any or all of the above and even more. To another it may be a means to an end; to simply use for its intended purpose. This is a broad brush look on this, but there is no limit to the possibilities.

For many, and I count myself among them, it is a combination of both broad categories.

Our eyes and brain draw us to certain objects through an individual context and background that is different and unique to each of us and peculiar to the object. We have an appreciation for some objects with a respect for the art, simplicity, mechanical achievement and/or an appreciation of the labor and skills that it represents. For another it may appreciation of the utilitarian or functional aspects of a certain gun or rifle or that they perceive it is ‘the’ tool for the job at hand.

Millions of dollars have been spent in very sophisticated research studying the Stradivarius and other 16th and 17th century instruments. It is very interesting reading but in short, the wood was very old growth at the time of use, slowly cured, and the finishes all organic, and in the hands of the finest maker. These have been cared for over years, used, and have improved with age.

Much money and resources are spent making things that are new that appear used and old. I am a dinosaur in so many ways but please do not cheat me out of the pleasure (and discomfort) of breaking in my jeans! When they are finally ‘right’ they are just so perfect. I find myself looking at something new and at the same time seeing it in the future. Guns, gear and all of the associated other things are so connected in this way to my thinking.

Westley Richards, 577, Droplock Rifle, Sutherland,James Sutherland’s .577, many miles and many stories to tell.

That is what we see in best guns when they are brought back to life, stocks re-hydrated with oil and metal cleaned. One hundred year old guns, never fired, yet have a beautiful age to them, or patina. Some not touched at all but cared for exhibit this patina. New guns because of the organic elements of wood and oil, will also have this someday. There are old and used guns that show much wear and patina, checkering and edges worn down. For me personally this is why a rifle such as the James Sutherland W-R .577 is such a significant rifle or object, as it embodies so many of these elements that appeal to me. It represents a supreme mechanical achievement, of high quality, created for a noble purpose. Carried for miles and for days and years by hardworking, dedicated and focused people in equatorial sun. No rifle made to duplicate it even exactly can go where it has been, and have such a story. There are other rifles with the same or similar attributes but this one certainly is a great example and particularly because it embodies so many of the qualities mentioned above. When I see something with these qualities, my mind immediately jumps to the story and I only wish I could know the details. We say this often, “if only this rifle could talk”. I hope that my Son and Grandson will want singular rifles and equipment from among my things for these very reasons.

Patina is created by aging, by use, the touch of human hands, purposes and pursuits noble. It is a beautiful thing.

droplock, 470, westley richards. This new .470 rifle is shortly to leave the factory to start obtaining its very own patina.