New England Grouse Shooting by William Harnden Foster.

New England Grouse Shooting by William Harnden Foster

Receiving a book as a gift is always a special treat, receiving an old out of print book which one should have discovered years ago is even more of a treat. So it was with very great thanks that I received this week, a copy of William Harnden Foster’s book ‘New England Grouse Shooting’ from a friend in Texas.

This gift came about as a result of discussions on what engraving we should put on a new .410 hand detachable lock shotgun we are building for the said gentleman. A conversation on engraving a small bore gun for an American will undoubtably lead to discussing native birds as happened in this instance.

I was able to recount to him my few efforts of hunting the American ruffed grouse in Michigan. My first ruffed grouse hunt made me finally understand why so much blaze orange is worn by hunters in America, I had always thought it was solely for protection against being shot, which to a great degree it is. However once in the thick forests of Northern Michigan, in driving snow, I quickly realised that if my neighbouring gun and guide didn’t have blaze orange, I would probably still be wandering around Canada now, some 15 years later.

Our discussion turned to artwork for engraving which depicted both the native birds and hunting scene. Artwork is an essential ingredient for engravers and I have always felt that drawings are a better source than photographs, they use a similar technique to engraving with the added benefit that a good artist will capture the mood and the moment  much better visually, than a photographer ever could.

New England Grouse Shooting by William Harnden Foster

I am not going to review the book here, I have yet to read it properly. My message is more  for those of you considering new guns and engraving, a message to even the engravers themselves. Search out these types of book on the subjects that interest you, try and find material such as this, material which strikes a chord with you and which you can imagine on your gun. There are many wonderful books on our sport and many wonderful drawings. Don’t hesitate to show them to your gunmaker as he will always be delighted to have reference as will the engraver and it will no doubt lead to them offering more similar examples from their own libraries once they know what is liked.

New England Grouse Shooting by William Harnden Foster

I think any of the illustrations above would look very fine on a gun, each can be adapted to the metalwork canvas or certainly in the case of our guns, be used on the lock cover plate underneath. There are many more in this book to choose from also.

I myself never did manage to shoot a Ruffed Grouse in Michigan, I visited 3 times, heard them flying away but never saw them when with gun in hand. Hopefully after reading this book I will be better equipped to get a result should the opportunity arise again!

New England Grouse Shooting by William Harnden Foster

 

Westley Richards .700/.577 Our largest droplock double rifle,….. to date.

Westley Richards 700/577 Droplock Double Rifle.

When Holland & Holland sold what they called “the last .600″, a royal double rifle, sometime in the ’80’s, it left them unable to fulfil the needs of the hunting man who wanted the ‘very biggest rifle calibre’ in a Holland & Holland Royal, a position held by the .600 since the turn of that century.

Bill Feldstein was one such man, and when he found he was unable to get Holland’s to make him a .600 he decided to get them to make an even bigger calibre, the .700. This order was filled by Holland’s I believe in the late 80’s and they have been offering the rifle ever since.

The world of rifle ammunition has always been based around certain brass cases, these being used for a multitude of different calibres, the brass necked down for certain bullets and powder charges. The 500, 470, 476, 500/450 and 500/465 for instance, all use common brass, as do the belted cases. The .458, 375 H&H, 300 H&H, 300 Win Mag 300 Weatherby etc. are all based on the .375 belted case.

When we were asked to build a .700 we said no, be we will do a variation on it. Taking the 700 brass case, necking it down to .577 and using a 950grn. bullet.

Here is the most recent rifle we have built in that calibre, a hand detachable lock rifle, extra locks and carved engraving by Peter Spode. The rifle is cased using the clients Elephant skin and the ivory for tooling.

Westley Richards 700/577 Droplock Double Rifle.

Westley Richards 700/577 Droplock Double Rifle.

Westley Richards 700/577 Droplock Double Rifle.

Westley Richards 700/577 Droplock Double Rifle.

Footnote. Holland & Holland were able to purchase back “The Last .600″ and have subsequently started offering the calibre again.

A Pair of Westley Richards 20g Hand Detachable Lock Guns with single selective triggers. Engraved by Rashid Hadi.

Pair of Westley Richards 20g Droplock Shotguns

Pairs of our 20g hand detachable lock guns come on the market very infrequently, pairs of our guns engraved by Rashid Hadi have never come on the market to date. I actually think this is the only pair that exists which are engraved in his unique and very beautiful super fine scroll.

I think I have mentioned before on this blog how special it was to watch rash execute fine scroll, it was literally a joy to watch the speed and confidence with which he worked when ‘on a good day’. The scroll on this pair of guns is particularly fine as you can see below, these are 20g guns and small frames, the scroll is very delicate and all perfectly shaded. I can assure you there are not many people who can execute this type of scroll with such flair and character. Rash never relied on a compass and other drawing instruments but solely by eye, penciling in a rough design and then attacking it with vigour, the engraving vice would swirl and spin rapidly when he was at his bench, the final result of the work was always so worth the wait.

I think this is a superb opportunity for someone who is considering a pair of 20’s. The guns are as new, cased and priced less than our standard guns now, so the deluxe engraving by Rash, single triggers and exhibition wood all come in with the price!

The guns can be found here on our used gun site. Pair 20g Hand Detachable Lock Guns

English Fine Scroll

Pair 20g Droplock Pair 20g Droplock Guns

Pair 20g Droplock Hardi Top Levers

Two .410’s and a 28g Westley Richards Droplock. Which one would you choose?

Westley Richards .410 &  28g droplock guns

By offering a ‘free 25 year service’ I have been lucky to repatriate, if only for a short time, three of the small bore guns we made in the early 90’s. I am very grateful to their owners for allowing me to include them in the next edition of our book but also for the opportunity to generally show them off a bit whilst I have them at the factory.

The guns are from the top a .410 Hand Detachable engraved by ‘The Brown Brothers’, a 28g Hand Detachable engraved by Phil Coggan and lastly a .410 Hand Detachable  engraved in the classic style of Westley Richards, with cameos and scrolls, by Alan Brown.

Everybody has different taste, so if you were faced with an offer to be able to ‘keep just one’ I wonder which gun you would choose?!

Westley Richards .410 &  28g droplock guns

Westley Richards 28g Droplock

Westley Richards .410 Droplock

Westley Richards .410 Droplock

The Gunstock Blanks arrive from my IWA, Nuremburg buying trip.

Gunstock Blanks at Westley Richards

The most agonising thing about buying gunstock blanks is the 2 week wait for their arrival back to the factory when at last  you can ‘see how you have done’. The process of buying wood is usually quite pressured, you let go of an excellent pair and someone else grabs it. You get distracted, always looking at what other people are picking and thinking their choice is better than yours, you then wait for them to let go and grab it yourself! The wood dealers know this and love it, the more people on the stand the better for them, it becomes a feeding frenzy.

Once you have made your selection the haggling starts, none of the wood is priced and all the wood you pick is always ‘the best they have’, without fail this is the argument from the Turkish side “you have picked all my very best wood’! The Turkish like to deal and are very good at it. I was taught by my Arabian friends that you needed to be firm, insulted, disgusted, almost always resorting to verbal abuse, despair and whatever else needed to bring the price down. The process can take hours but after awhile agreement is made, hands are shaken and the deal is sealed. Smiles appear all around, you go from mortal enemies to lifelong friends in a split second. The wood is then signed so you know it is yours, taped together, and put in a room out of sight. The next time you see it will be in England back at the factory.

So my wood arrived today and here is a small selection of it, about half of it, the best half of course!

Gunstock Blanks at Westley Richards

Westley Richards Overnight and Safari Travel Bags.

Westley Richards Leather Lyell Overnight bagThe Lyell overnight bag in full leather. Also available in canvas and leather.

The Westley Richards leather department is unique amongst the  English gunmakers. This small shop which started with my desire to make our own cases in house, now makes a diverse range of hunting inspired leather goods to the exact same demanding criteria we use when making our guns. Our philosophy is quite simple, we want the gun, the case, cartridge bag, gun slips, cartridge belt, cleaning roll and travel bag, everything, to be handed down to the next generation. We want the patina of your hunting days and journeys telling stories to your children and grandchildren.

In order to achieve this we use a very simple formula, the finest components we can buy combined with all the time required to make a product as well as can be made. Hand burnishing edges is both hard work and a time consuming business, but it is that time and effort which makes a difference and ultimately sets our leather goods apart from any others found currently in any volume in this industry. I am sure you can source individual products from some very good small craft makers, if you have the time.

The Westley Richards range of Safari and Overnight bags.The range of Sutherland travel bags in full leather and canvas and leather.

Our leather shop operates in much the same way as our gunmaking, as such we are pleased to entertain bespoke orders. We are able to use a wide range of materials from our superb organic veg tanned Swedish leathers through to exotic skins from ostrich and alligator. We also often convert customers game skins into products, cape buffalo being one such example and one which makes a beautiful  product, always full of character.

For information on our bespoke orders please contact a member of our team at sales@westleyichards.co.uk to submit an enquiry or shop our leather goods online at westleyrichards.com

 

 

101 Parts. The Machine Shop, the starting point of every gun.

The Westley Engineering Factory seen from Westley RichardsThe Westley Engineering Factory

Lloyd at the CADLloyd Fox at his Solidworks CAD.

The starting point for each and every gun we make  is on the CAD, the Computer Aided Design system. On this computer we keep a live model of every gun we produce, any alterations to the machinings and parts we require are updated here on an ongoing basis, this way, every different size action produced always incorporates these latest changes. This system is run and kept current by Lloyd Fox, a young, enthusiastic designer with a passion for both guns and fieldsports. It is Lloyds job to keep the gun workshop filled with actions and parts, his job also to keep the gunmakers happy with the quality of the parts he delivers, this, I can assure you, is no easy task, the gunmakers being notoriously grumpy and demanding about these items!

From the CAD drawings the components are then individually directed to the various machines we use for their manufacture. We primarily use 4 types of machines, CNC milling, Wire Erosion, Die Sink EDM and surface grinding. Some parts use one machine and others all four. There is a total of between 220 and 260 hours machining, both manned and unmanned on a full set of parts for our guns and rifles, a considerable amount of time perhaps, but when you take into account there are 90 or so parts perhaps not. We do not, actually never have, batch produced our actions. We could with no doubt produce them much more cost efficiently in batches, but being a bespoke gun business it has always seemed preferable to have control of the action sizes from the very start and I have no desire to stock 100’s of different size, perhaps obsolete, action bodies.

So armed with a set of parts from the engineering shop, our next stop will be the barrel filers bench where we will see the barrels made and continue the process of making a best gun.

Wire Cutting Machine

Wire CutMartin McKee arrived last year with the new Sodick Wire Cut EDM machine which we use alongside a Charmilles wire cut.

Andy Hudson at CNC ControlAndy Hudson on his CNC Mikron milling machine. Andy has been working on the gun parts since we started with the .410 droplocks in 1990.

CNC MillingMikron CNC Mill working on a double rifle action.

Die Sink EDMCharmilles Die Sink EDM machine which is run by Ian Ball.

Paul Richards, Westley Engineering  Quality ManagerPaul Richards has been the Quality manager at Westley Engineering for 15 years, seen here inspecting an action on the CMM. The company holds ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949 and we are currently renewing our Aerospace quality standard AS 9100.

Westley Richards set of shotgun components

Westley Richards & Co. Ltd. In Pursuit of the Best Gun 1812-2012. The second edition starts to take shape.

Cover Design 1

A week ago Colin Townsend and I started work on the second edition of our bicentennial book, ‘In Pursuit of the Best Gun 1812 -2012′.

I first met Colin 20 years or so ago whilst he was creative director at Zappia & Zappia, a design group here in the Midlands. Colin has worked with me now for most of my time at Westley Richards, time he has spent casting his superb eye over most of the things we do. I have heard whispers that he cannot understand why on earth he continues to come in to work with me under the ever increasing demands, criticism, general abuse and disappointment when his ideas are summarily dismissed. I guess it is a sort of love hate relationship we have endured over the passage of time! Certainly from my side I rely heavily on his judgement and the quiet polite manner of his telling me ‘no Simon’, it doesn’t actually require words, it is a look.

Colin was responsible, amongst many other things, for the design, layout and production of our bicentennial book, a book which received widespread acclaim and was certainly unique amongst the histories of the gunmakers so far. It was certainly a publication we were very proud of.

A designer of the ‘old school’ Colin is barely able to use a computer, certainly when we started the book he couldn’t and I have always thought that a good thing. We have always put everything we have worked on together based on his wonderful, traditional, felt tip ‘scamps’, such as you see here. Each and every ‘scamp’ is a little piece of artwork, one which immediately conveys a mood and message so much better than the computer generated versions of the modern designer ever could.

So today Colin brought in these 8 designs for the 2nd Edition book cover, they had no doubt taken him some days to produce and it took 10 minutes to decide which direction we would go from these.

I hope you like seeing the process behind the design and that you like our choice when you see it. The new edition of the book which we aim to release later this year will have an additional 32 page chapter, one that will show the guns we hadn’t quite finished when we went to press last time and will discuss entering our third century as we exited the great recession of 2009!

Of course you still have time to influence our choice so please do so in the comment box below! Me may listen…..!

Cover Design 2

Cover Design 3

Cover Design 4

Cover Design 5

Cover Design 6

Cover Design 7

Cover Design 8

Westley Richards .375 H&H droplock with QD Lyman scope.

Westley Richards .375 H&H droplock rifle with telescope

This Westley Richards .375 double is fitted with a QD Lyman scope. These were a perfect size optic for a double and it doesn’t look too out of place. The new 1 inch or 30mm scopes we get today are so big for the rifles and stand off so high, not very attractive at all. This size vintage optic is getting harder and harder to find now, you used to be able to pick them up at the Las Vegas Antique arms but this year I couldn’t find one!

A Rare Pair of Westley Richards .470 Droplock Double Rifles.

A Pair of Westley Richards .470 Droplock Double Rifles

The first pair of .470 hand detachable lock double rifles that we made were for George Eastman in 1925, those were for his 1926 & 1928 Safari’s and which were documented in his book Chronicles of an African Trip (1927). Our second pair was made in 1992 for an Italian gentleman whose order I took over a long and liquid fuelled lunch at the then infamous Langan’s Brasserie in London. The deal for 2 pairs of double rifles was detailed out on the paper table cloth during lunch, after a long negotiation the price was agreed and signed by both parties on the cloth and this the waiter kindly folded and gave me on departure.

This latest pair of 470 rifles were commissioned as a gift for the 2 sons of a long standing customer of ours, a customer who had hoped his 2 boys would one day accompany him to Africa. Alas, their interests have taken them in a ‘non hunting’ direction and with father being a total .500 3″ afficiando for his doubles, I have been asked to find a home for these rifles.

Pairs of double rifles are a rare item to find and they are something I have always enjoyed making as a result, there being a very special feeling about a person needing a pair of rifles to hunt with in Africa, it is a sign of true enthusiast .

This pair of detachable lock rifles is made for hunting, a deluxe gift but not too precious for the bush. 2 rifles with extra locks, elaborate scroll, fine cameo’s of large elephant all cased in a fine alligator skin case with outer cover.

Anybody with 2 sons to spoil or a big hunt planned?

A Pair of Westley Richards .470 Droplock Double Rifles

 

A Pair of Westley Richards .470 Droplock Double Rifles

 

A Pair of Westley Richards .470 Droplock Double Rifles

 

A Pair of Westley Richards .470 Droplock Double Rifles