We are often asked if we make sidelock game guns, the answer is yes we do, mostly today in the format seen above. The guns are round bodied guns and have assisted opening using the Holland & Holland system. The guns are available with single or double triggers.
I have finally broken away from the factory and had a few days shooting down in Devon, long overdue, if I dare say so myself. We took 2 days at Chargot and Molland estates which are owned and managed by Bettws Hall with the days hosted by the consummate professional Caleb Sutton and Philip Wolstenholme who always manage to produce a magnificent days shooting.
We have had some teams of clients shooting here this year, one of which decided against having loaders as they were shooting single guns. After the shoot when they visited the factory they asked if they should have had loaders, I said they should have. The loader is your partner for the day, he will of course do his job which is to prepare your guns, come fully laden with cartridges ( it is a sin to run out), load your guns be it a pair or ‘stuff’ if you use a single gun ( you open and eject the cartridges and he will put 2 more in, much quicker than fumbling for your own ), after the drive is over he will collect the spent cartridges and leave your peg clean and tidy and finally at the end of the day he will thoroughly clean and pack your guns.
On top of all these jobs, your loader will be your companion for the day. He will be doing his very best to ensure you have a great day, he will be quiet if you want and just get on with the job or he will give some advice, where the birds will come from, how high they will be and other knowledge from having been on the drive many times before. If you are having a poor run he is possibly be able to give advice and encouragement ( many are very keen and proficient shots ) and if you are doing well he will certainly be congratulating the great shots that he does see between loading the guns.
The cost of all this service is the same as 2 birds so is realy not worth thinking about, a no brainer as they say. You have a better shoot and there are more enthusiastic people employed by our sport. So if you come to shoot and are offered the option, I suggest you take it!
Last week, as the sun was going down, a visitor to the factory quietly launched his drone and took some video of the factory. From his footage, he has kindly grabbed a few stills for me. For those who have never visited these give a nice perspective of the factory and its location in the city.
Inside the building you will discover vaults full of guns to interest you.
My sincere thanks to Ryan Belanger for use of his shots.
Coming from a man who does his Christmas shopping on the afternoon of the 24th December, this post may seem a bit ‘rich’! The purpose though is to remind our customers that our in house production here at Westley Richards is very small, with most items being made to order. As such, the months before Christmas become very busy and late shoppers are often disappointed. So this is a post to help you earn some bonus points on Christmas Day!
Nothing shows you actually thought about a present more than having it actually made for someone, initialed, so it is actually theirs and not something you yourself actually wanted and would slowly manoeuvre into your hunting wardrobe.
With our range of fonts and colour foils we are able to initial every item we make in the factory and every product is available in a diverse range of leathers or canvas-leather combination.
To encourage your early consideration we are offering free initialing for 30 days on any item in our leather range and If you don’t see what you are looking for, please ask, as we undertake many bespoke commissions in exotic skins and also customers own tanned game skins.
In a way I feel it is appropriate, that as we publish our second edition of the Bicentenary book, we are also in a position to finally deliver our Bicentenary ‘Ovundo’! This is gunmaking deliveries at their very swiftest! I regret, I can’t actually remember if this gun ever had a remote chance of making the Bicentenary year, if it did it has certainly failed miserably!
With that admission made, I would like to thank the client both for his most generous commission and also for his patience whilst we made the gun, I know his fuel bill for visits during the period were huge that I even, at one point, offered him an apron and full access to the workshops to supervise the job!
The ‘Ovundo’ is a special gun for us and we only ‘give one out’ very rarely. The gun is a hand detachable lock, single selective trigger gun which has been engraved by Paul Chung.
The Opening side ports of the gun, showing the single trigger working parts.
The ball vice is probably the most important basic tool for engravers without which fine hand engraving would be impossible. Basically it is composed of a rotating vice on top of half of a steel ball about 6 inches in diameter.The critical characteristic is that when the jaws close, they are always central to the axis of rotation.These vices come in various sizes and weigh in the region of 20 to 30lbs in weight.
The weight is necessary to give stability when working on heavy pieces of steel..They typically sit on a rubber ring with nylon inserts to lessen friction and to allow the ball to be moved in any direction whilst maintaining stability.
When engraving, the left hand controls the angle and also turns the vice into the cut being made.The right hand holds the engraving tool and steers it across the work. Both hands work in conjunction to make the cut in the steel.
On the continent and elsewhere,some traditionalists still use a fixed vice mounted on a post and walk around the work whilst using a hammer and chisel.This method however does not allow the extremely fine work carried out under high magnification that discerning clients currently demand.
Today,most British and American engravers use some form of ball vice,and the most popular being those made by GRS in the USA.They are extremely well made and with care should last a lifetime. They come with a kit of holding fixtures and jigs for gripping oddly shaped pieces, and fit into the holes on top of the vice.
The encrusted vice shown the the recent blog ( and above ) was used by the British engraver called Rashid el Hadi whilst working at Westley Richards.
It is an example of the largest and heaviest vice currently available, and has seen many years of considerable hard usage.
The decoration on the top is the result of testing tools, techniques and designs- just ‘doodles’ but done with a definite purpose in mind. Engravers often test out ideas on scraps of steel, but these often get lost or discarded over time. It is much harder to lose a ball vice which is a thirty pound lump of steel with these ideas fixed on the top.
We can see ‘tests’ of inlay techniques using different colours of gold and other precious metals. This could be a ready reference to gauge how the different colours of gold sit together and contrast with each other. There are samples of silver, platinum, white gold, green gold,18c gold and 24c gold.These are all used in decorating Westley Richards guns.
There are also examples of small scroll and various shading tests using cuts and punches and stippling methods. Some of these techniques and examples of inlay can be identified on the fabled Hummingbird Gun, which incidentally took over ten years to achieve
The top of this vice remains as a testimony to the extraordinary skill and creativity of one of the UK’s most celebrated engravers.
Thank you Peter for sending me this post. I have sent you in return a copy of the second edition, as thanks! Simon
I am pleased to advise that the new edition of our book, In Pursuit of the Best Gun is now available for immediate shipping. The new edition has an additional 32 pages of recently completed work at the factory and additional text written by Jeremy Musson to bring the story up to date.
The second edition is in every other respect the same as the initial printing, we have used the same printer, paper and binder as before and only distinguished the copies by the new dust wrap and colour of the binding cloth.
The book comes in its own protective shipping box as before and makes an ideal and easy present for yourself or for someone at Christmas!
We certainly hope that you enjoy it!