The Gunstock Blanks become Gunstocks.

The Pair of Gunstock Blanks at time of Purchase.

The past few years after the IWA show I have posted articles in 2014 on buying the wood there from the Turkish dealers, followed last year by the wood arriving at the factorwhich is the time you see how you have actually done with your buying.

The next stage in the whole wood process is getting the chosen blanks on the guns! This in itself may sound simple but actually often disaster can happen at any stage. The wood can develop ‘shakes’ as it adjusts to the ambient humidity, (these are small cracks which can render the blank useless) the stocker can cut the rough stock shape out and reveal a massive hole or a flaw in the wood, there are a number of things that can go wrong and the blank is then relegated to the scrap heap, expensive firewood!

So it is always a relief when the wood you choose and had high expectations for is actually on the guns, shaped up, sanded and with a first coat of clear oil on. This is the point you can actually judge how you did with your selection.

Above are a set of 3 blanks I purchased from one of the dealers in IWA in 2015 and below are a pair of new sidelocks guns fresh from the stocking shop for which I used the best of the 3 blanks for. Relief indeed, they worked out well!

Over the next months, whilst the guns are being engraved, the true richness and colour of the wood will be released by endless coats of oil and hours of hand polishing. We will show them again after that!

A Pair of Sidelock Westley Richards just our of stocking shop.

The Shooting Man’s Walking or Thumb Stick.

Carved Shooting Sticks

The thumb stick or walking stick is always a useful addition to throw in the back of a car when off for a days shooting. This is especially the case when shooting on the wet, slippery and undulating terrain in England, where your legs can literally shoot out from under you unexpectedly.

There are many stick makers in the country, all developing their own style from simple to very elaborate. The sticks may be all wood or be topped with stag horn or something similar, it is common to have a V or a crook to rest your thumb for extra grip. The sticks are tall and come up to about your under arm height, in the case of the bottom one above, you can place it under your arm and comfortably lean on it.

On Friday I travelled to a country show to see some of the countries best carver/makers, unfortunately I was a little late and sales had been brisk, but I was able to get a handful I liked and was able to place an order for a further selection to be made over the coming months. Grey and red partridge, grouse, pheasant and a woodcock with the beak stretched out are some of the choices. These sticks are made by arguably the best carver in the country and the delivery, such is the demand, falls right in line with that of one our guns.

To many people, these are perhaps just too fancy to take out in the field but as an example of the craft they make a wonderful addition to any pile of sticks you may have waiting by the back door.

Gun Stock Ovals – A Small place to make things personal.

Traditionally the gun stock oval is a place where you will find the gun owners initials or family crest, it is a sort of signature spot for the owner, a message that ‘this is mine’!

The gold or silver oval can be treated in many ways and here I show a few examples of what can be achieved. From simple block lettering, elaborate engraved script, detailed engraved family crest, a full owners name and date, multi colour enamel crests and a single engraved item of game. Each and every one of these is individual and personal to the owner and my message is that whilst this is a simple and small area on the gun, do please give it consideration when asked what should go on it, we will always submit designs and help with ideas you can see what it will look like in advance.

The Story of A Set of 3 James Purdey & Sons Hammer Ejector 12g Game Guns.

Set of 3 Purdey 12g Hammer Ejector Guns at Westley Richards.

Just over a week ago I attended the IWA show in Nuremberg, IWA, for those unfamiliar, is a massive trade only show for the gun industry where manufacturers show their wares, guns, optics, clothing in fact anything and everything hunting related. It is the European version of SHOT which is held in Las Vegas in January. My annual pilgrimage to Nuremberg is for wood, for it is here that all the Turkish and other international wood dealers congregate to show their annual findings, something I have posted about previously on Explora.

Every year at IWA I am generously hosted along with other wood buyer in the trade by Ralph Katzenmeier (the foremost German dealer of fine stock blanks), to a traditional German dinner of slow cooked pork shoulder with a dumpling the size of a large baseball, washed down with Bavarian Pils and followed by apple fritters. It is essential not to forget to pack your anti acid!

This years meal was attended by the Purdey wood buying crew, the Boss & Co crew, including their new owner, and Chris Batha. I was sitting next to the boys from Purdey and at some point asked how their new ‘used gun’ department was doing, the response being well, but that stock, like for us all, was hard to come by.

This in turn prompted me to ask how much they thought a trio of Purdey Hammer Ejectors  would be worth in the current market. They didn’t know that a trio liked this existed and asked where they were, “in my safe” I replied, this response was followed by “where did you get them?” “from your safe I replied”!

A good 15 years or so ago, I bought a couple of guns from an American who was selling up, from memory there was a 500/465 Holland and a pair of Boss shotguns. When the deal had been executed swiftly and correctly I asked him if he had anything else he wished to sell. He told me yes, that a year ago he had sent some guns to Purdey to be sold but had heard nothing back from them. I asked if I could go and see them and make an offer and he was happy for this to happen. I made a B line to Purdey and asked to see the guns and was duly shown them, I decided a price, walked onto the street outside and called the client. We agreed a deal and I asked him to call up Purdey and let me take the guns which he agreed to do immediately. I then walked back in to speak with the salesman who was muttering ” I really must do something about this, I had forgotten” I let him know that it was now too late and that all he needed to do was please help me out to the car with all the guns, if he didn’t mind.

So, just in case my story at the table sounded too far fetched, here are the set of three Purdey hammer Ejector guns….taken from right under your nose as they say!

Set of 3 Purdey 12g Hammer Ejector Guns at Westley Richards.

After One Year ‘The Africa Rifle’ Returns to the Factory Engraved.

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Last night when I received The Africa Rifle back from Paul Lantuch my plan was to keep it under wraps until completely finished. At the time it seemed a good plan but this morning I have decided it was probably a bad idea. For one, it is only fair to allow Paul to show his fellow engravers what he has been working on for the last year, I know they always enquire and I know he lets nothing out! Secondly I can get quite a few posts for this blog during the process of completing the rifle, and that helps me out. Finally, I really just can’t resist!

The Africa Rifle is the pair rifle to The India Rifle which has featured on this blog a few times. The Rifles are in .600NE and built on a sidelock action with Westley Richards ‘Model C’ bolting and lever work.

The rifle is engraved using a wide variety of techniques which I will elaborate on in another post with more detailed pictures. Multi coloured gold and other rare metals have been used for the inlays and will be treated with special patination, there is relief carving, fine gold inlays, stock inlays, barrel inlays, I think actually about every technique available to engravers has been used, and then some!

In the same way as the India Rifle was telling a story about the hunting days in India the Africa Rifle tells the story about the early days of hunting in Africa. Certainly Paul Lantuch has done another magnificent job with the engraving work, I cannot tell you how nice it is to work with an artist who is always up for pushing the boundaries, trying new things and developing new styles rather than knocking out the same old stuff year after year! I hope you will enjoy watching this rifle coming to its completion in the months ahead and to eventually seeing the pair of rifles together for the first time.

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3 Happy Customers and 4 New Westley Richards Completed.

500 3" Double Rifle and 28g Shotgun, both Detachable Lock. Westley Richards .500 3″ Droplock sits above a 28g Droplock. A rifle for Africa and a shotgun for Quail, the wait for this customer is over!

It is always nice to get the finished guns and rifles in front of the camera and send the clients some pictures of the guns or rifles they have been waiting so patiently for. They can finally see the wood in all its glory and their order as a whole. This week we completed these 3 rifles and a single 28g gun and I managed to photograph them without scratching them!

500 3" Double Rifle and 28g Shotgun, both Detachable Lock. The same guns with a selection of gunmakers tools.

Westley Richards .505 Gibbs Safari Rifle. A Westley Richards Bolt Action dangerous game rifle in the mighty .505 Gibbs. This plain finish rifle is made for the African bush and many adventures.

Westley Richards .375 Bolt ActionThis Westley Richards .375 Bolt Action rifle is also in a plain finish and ready now for the bush or wherever the hunting will take it.

The English and German Gunmakers. Hartmann & Weiss and Boss & Co.

Hartmann & Weiss GunsHartmann & Weiss .375 Over Under rifle on Boss action with Holland type reinforcement.

One thing about doing this blog which I occasionally find amusing is the comments from the ‘trolls’, the disgruntled, mostly spiteful, gun critiques who hide behind alias email address’s. Every comment on the site has to be approved and I appreciate all the ones we get. Todays post on the Mauser rifles generated a comment I found particularly amusing, it was from Baron Radu von Goldman and read “theres no rifle in history that can compare to mauser m98 there english thiefs like jeffrey rigby holland&holland purdey westley richard have all stolen german rifles and cartridges since early 1900, now you tell me whats english?” The answer by the way is everything except the action!

So in response, as I cannot respond (to the alias email) on the merits of the Mauser vs Lee Enfield I thought I would take a few pictures of Germany’s most respected maker Hartmann & Weiss’s products.

As always fabulous guns and rifles, built with pride in Germany on the Boss & Co. over and under system which was of course designed and perfected by the firm in England..

Now you tell me what’s English, Baron Radu!

Hartmann & Weiss GunsHartmann & Weiss .375 Bolt Action Take Down, .375 Over Under Rifle and 20g Shotgun.

Hartmann & Weiss and Boss & Co. Over under rifles Hartmann & Weiss .375 Over and Under Rifle and a Boss & Co. .500 3″ Over Under.

Hartmann & Weiss and Boss & Co. Over Under Shotguns.Hartmann & Weiss 20g Over and Under and a Boss & Co. 28g Over Under.

NB. If you click on an image it will enlarge in a new window.

The 2 Must Have Mauser Rifle Books for Collectors.

2 Books for Mauser Enthusiasts

Every now and then we have a request for a special rifle project. Historically over 90% of the bolt action rifles we have built, have been done so based on one of the variations of the Mauser 98 action. There are 4 variations of the Oberndorf commercial Mauser action, the Kurtz (small), Intermediate, Standard and Magnum. For special projects it is always a consideration for us to use, if available, an original Oberndorf action. I am sure many will cringe at the thought of breaking up a really good example of an original Mauser rifle but my thoughts are that unless they are in very special condition they can have a better and new lease of life, if made into something new.

The 2 ‘Bibles’ for checking what you have before you break up a really rare example are shown above, together with an original Kurtz action Mauser, a rifle which is ‘currently under consideration’ for the new life process!

Any of you with an interest in English sporting rifles should consider adding these books to your library.

Olson. Mauser Bolt Rifles.

Jon Speed. Mauser. Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles.

Westley Richards Round Action Sidelocks. A Set of Three 20g Game Guns.

Set of 3 20g Westley Richards sidelock

I didn’t want the makers name so big on the actions, I remember that being my first thought when they came back from engraving, that it could have been half the size it was, just there but subtle. Besides that point I have always thought these to be a superb set of guns, traditional engraving and case colour, beautiful matched wood with superb figure and colour all combined with the sleek and racy lines of our round action sidelock.

This set of guns with their single triggers would suit me very nicely and I think if I had my time again I would probably start to make myself a set. I imagine though, that like every other rifle or pair of guns I have started over the last 30 years my customers would come first and I would never actually get them!

Trio of Westley Richards Sidelock Guns