Leather has always played an important part in the history of guns. Belts, cases, holsters, pouches, bags and all other kinds of shooting accoutrements have been crafted from leather in order, to compliment the gun and the sporting experience, ever since guns were introduced.
Westley Richards is not unique in that it sells and provides leather goods to compliment our best guns but we are perhaps unique in the fact we take great pride in our cases and shooting accessories, and believe the best way to match the quality of these products to our guns, is to make the items ourselves.
Our small leather department has thrived for many years manufacturing a small bespoke array of products from oak and leather cases to firing pin wallets. In the early years of the department we supplied, amongst others, J. Purdey, Boss & Co. and Ralph Lauren with fine quality leather goods, today the leather department concentrates on fulfilling our own ever increasing demands and line of goods.
By having our Leather department ‘in house’ we have been not only able to offer the very highest quality products but also a very bespoke service to our clients. We regularly make one off items for customers, cases in game skins, special cleaning kits, travel bags, handbags, belts, dog leads and ‘whatever’, we will always have a go. Many of our new products stem from this type of work, we make a one off, people like it and we make it a more general offering.
Our range of leather goods can be found on line in our shop and please, don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything special you would like to have made.
Some years ago now, in 2006, my brother in law commissioned this gun for his Norwegian business partner. The gun has just arrived back here at the factory for a service and it gives me the opportunity to both photograph it and also to remember what a very generous gift it was!
The gun is a 12g round action sidelock which was scroll engraved by Shaun Banks and had the cameos engraved by Peter Spode. The sides of the action have traditional pointing scenes and on the bottom there is a portrait of Minot’s Light, a lighthouse which sits off the coast off Cohasset, just south of Boston, where 40 years ago I would have been found courting my wife!
This is a very nice example of putting a small personal touch to a gun making it special and memorable for the owner.
Here are some more shots of the take down rifles that we continue to produce here at our factory. The first two images show a rifle that we built in .416 Rigby calibre which has every best feature that you would expect from a Westley Richards; quarter rib, patent combination foresight, exhibition wood, quick detachable scope mounts and exhibition engraving.
The real beauty in these images is that you get to see the actual profile we give to our rifles and you can clearly see that they maintain traditional English lines. Many of today’s makers have slipped into making heavier, bulkier rifles in the belief they will be more comfortable to shoot. The truth is that a well balanced, proportionate rifle, stocked to sensible measurements will always be more pleasant to shoot than a poorly configured rifle. This is evidenced by the vintage collection of rifles that we have here, all of which maintain great lines and balance regardless of calibre.
It is worth noting on the .416 that we built it on a left handed magnum Mauser ’98 action. We have always believed in building the correct calibre on the correct action size as this undoubtedly helps with the handling characteristics of the rifle.
This photograph can be pulled off the blog, rotated and enlarged.
The rifle below is an exhibition grade .300 WSM complete in a deluxe oak and leather case with ivory handled tooling. The photo does not do the rifle justice and we have been fortunate enough to have it here at the factory where many a client has been awed by its quality!
Quite some time ago now I posted some photographs of these 16g guns when they arrived back from the engraver Frederique Lepinois. For some reason they missed being photographed in their completed state. It was only this week whilst we were putting the second edition of our book to bed which included the unfinished versions to illustrate the work that they were rushed up to be photographed.
These guns speak for themselves, a superb, useful and underrated gauge gun, combined with truly unique engraving by a wonderful new talent!
In hindsight, I should have put something in the photograph to scale these guns, alas, it is too late they are back on the bench! Please believe me when I tell you that these are the largest hand detachable lock guns we have ever made and by quite some margin. When they are ready I will photograph them with a .410 to show the scale.
This pair of guns have been on a long journey, from the drawing board to this point, case hardened and ready for final finishing, has been nearly 3 years. I am not sure if the new owner will be taking them on an intense, double gun goose hunt, but if he does, I want to be there with a video camera!
The summer issue of Shooting Sportsman has two articles which feature Westley Richards. A well deserved article on the extremely talented engraver Paul Lantuch by Doug Tate and a very fine insight into the gun apprenticeships ‘Then and Now’ by Vic Venters who is to many peoples minds, the most understanding and knowledgeable author on technical English gunmaking today.
The Shooting Sportsman is one of the foremost magazines on Wingshooting and Fine Guns and should certainly be on every gun enthusiasts subscription list. Westley Richards has been proud to advertise in this magazine for nearly 20 years now.
For Christmas 2014 Trigger very kindly found and gave me an original poster for the Film “King Solomon’s Mines” which starred Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr and which we used to illustrate in our bicentennial book. There was much delay in getting the very fragile poster to London on my behalf but finally on my return to UK yesterday, Graham Harrison framers had returned the poster and it now hangs proudly, filling the last vacant piece of wall space in my apartment on top of the factory. It makes a wonderful addition to all the ephemera covering the walls.
Whilst filming “King Solomon’s Mines” Stewart ‘Jimmy’ Granger visited the Westley Richards Conduit Street shop and purchased a .577 which he then took on various Safari’s which he made both during and after the filming. Granger’s rifles are notable in that they have the game killed on Safari inlaid in gold into the stock
Stewart Granger on Safari.
Stewart Granger’s .577 Single Trigger Droplock Westley Richards
In 1996 we started this pair of guns for a regular client of ours, they were to be a gift. However a few years later when the guns were ready, the recipient of the gift was ‘no longer deserving’. So for 17 years, this pair of game guns have been waiting to get out of their case and into the field to do what they were made for!
Whilst these guns are standard scroll back hand detachable lock guns with our traditional pattern engraving, they have in addition, single selective triggers and two particularly nice game cameos executed by Rashid Hadi whilst he was in residence at Westley Richards. The guns are cased in a traditional Westley Richards pattern oak and leather guncase with outer canvas cover and will be available shortly on our used gun site.
A pair of Westley Richards 12g Single Selective Trigger Droplock guns.
Besides the ammunition posted earlier I have also picked up whilst here in USA, these 2 very nice ‘unused’ David McKay Brown 28g over and under guns which are consecutive numbers and matching in dimensions but with different engravers and wood. The 2 guns which have 28 inch barrels, 15 inch LOP and weigh 6lbs 1oz., will be up on the used gun site shortly
The variety of old cartridge boxes has always fascinated me, I enjoy finding them and always aim to keep them for display at the factory but end up selling them. It is very nice to have an original pack of ammunition with an old rifle, much like the old tools and the case it is all part of the story.
I have picked up a very nice assortment of ammunition in a variety of calibre’s, some of which I illustrate above. I have 8 original bricks of Kynoch and many individual boxes. Over the next few days I will try and add to this post with some more shots of what is available.