From the 22nd to the 24th of April 2016, Westley Richards will be making our annual trip to the Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition at Deep River Sporting Clays in Sanford, North Carolina. The show, expertly organised and run by Bill and Mary Kempffer and now in its 17th year. It is one of the principle shows on the East Coast and a personal favourite of ours.
The Spring Classic, held on Deep Rivers’ 65 acre site, features two courses, eight stations and 5-Stand fields of varying targets designed to accommodate all gauges and types of side by sides and with the emphasis being on friendly competition! There are many competitions and cups to be won in small gauge, hammer guns, Compak Sporting and several other such categories.
Aside from the shooting there are multiple tents with the industries top gun makers and dealers offering a wide variety of guns for sale, appraisals and advice, clothing, accessories and also gun fitters and shooting instructors advising and teaching. But just as important is catching up with old friends and making new ones in this relaxed, beautiful setting.
Westley Richards will have a good selection of used guns, both shotguns and rifles, as well as some examples of our new guns which we will bring from the factory for you to view. Please do stop by our stand for a chat and we look forward to seeing you all there!
Whilst taking the photographs of this pair of 12g guns yesterday, I hadn’t really considered the story, purpose or title of the post that I would use them for. I could talk about the stock blanks and finding a perfect matching pair, or about the condition and upkeep of guns and how it is possible to maintain a heavily used gun, in near new condition, with relatively little work along with the value of that. I could talk about the fact these are The classic ‘standard’ Westley Richards 12g Hand Detachable lock model, the only extras being tip and toe plates, extra locks and the engraving, in the traditional pattern with cameos, was executed by Rashid Hadi at a little extra expense. Any of these ideas could make for a relative and interesting post based on the guns.
After considering them and recalling the history of making them, I think the nicest story is the actual story and how it fits in with our philosophy for making our guns, so here goes.
Making a pair of guns at Westley Richards is a partnership, here we don’t have any new stock guns for sale, only guns and rifles that we have in storage which can be used to demonstrate what we make. Everything we make is bespoke, we aim to deliver a customer exactly what he wants. In a stroke we eliminate any customer who doesn’t have the patience to wait the 2+ years it takes to deliver what we make, but with that said, our order book has never, in my time here, allowed us to build any stock guns anyway. If I was ever building guns for stock I would actually be nervous, it only means you don’t have enough customers for the bespoke guns you make and that you have turned to ‘speculative’ build to keep the workers busy.
In late 2004 what I like to call a ‘bear of a man’ (big, strong, jolly and totally focused) contacted me to discuss building a pair of guns which he could use on both sides of the Atlantic both for game and sporting clays. This is a man who is totally dedicated to his shooting, when not working, he is in the field with his guns. He is a genuinely talented and admired shot and one who will compete and win against all the regular over under users, those who insist upside down is the only way to go, until they are in a shoot off with him perhaps. I have always admired the man who shoots game with a side by side as I believe that to be the ‘traditional gun’ of this ‘traditional sport’ and when I see a man winning a round of sporting clays with a side by side against all Over Under a smile always appears on my face.
Specifying the guns was quick and easy, he knew exactly what he wanted from the technical side, the barrels, bores, chokes, cartridge, pattern, stock measurements, trigger pull weights, point of balance, weight of guns and everything else was detailed, I recognised a lot of thought had gone into this and there was very little for me to do or suggest other than price the guns and pitch for the order, which I duly received.
Making the guns was a matter of following the detailed instructions exactly and delivering a pair of guns which the customer knew he could shoot well if the details were followed. From my side I knew that if I make the guns, he shoots them well and they look good a lot of people will be watching and then looking at the guns. A perfectly matched pair of blanks and the nicest quality, beautifully shaded, traditional scroll and cameos were about the extent of my input, ‘the looking good bit’
The guns were delivered for Christmas in 2006 and this year, 10 years on, we will deliver 8 more guns both to him and his ‘shooting buddies’ these in 20g, 28g and .410. I asked for the pair to come back for service and so that we could ensure the stock layout and fit is absolutely perfect for his new 20g this on the simple basis that if he continues to shoot well and is proud of his guns they will continue to attract more attention and then further orders will possibly come.
The Philosophy, Build super guns, work with the client closely, go that extra mile in the finishing and the guns will sell themselves!
The perfectly matching pair of stockblanks.
Game cameo’s of shot game and shaded scroll by Rashid Hadi.
British three barreled guns are rare. During the golden age of the shotgun Boss & Co in London built two, while in Edinburgh John Dickson & Sons made only nine. These modest numbers testify to the superior balance of the traditional two barreled side by side but also hint at the mechanical difficulties in designing triple barrel guns that shoot with the ease of doubles.
Volume II of The Encyclopædia of Sports and Games edited by The Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire which appeared in 1911 acknowledged exactly this; “… greater success has attended the Edwinson-Green three-barrel hammerless weapon for grouse, partridge, pheasant, and rabbit drives. The objections concerning complications of mechanism incidental to the introduction of the third barrel have been ingeniously overcome, and there is no doubt but that among a certain class of sportsman the three-barrel weapon will have a successful vogue.”
Green, who occupied retail outlets in Cheltenham and Gloucester plus a workshop in the heart of Birmingham’s gun quarter, built eighteen three barrel guns. His patent specifications of July 1902 outline an ingenious mechanism combining a single trigger with a three barrel configuration in which the right and left tumblers are cocked in the usual way by cocking rods while the central hammer is cocked by a pin protruding from the right hand hammer.
The Boss and Dickson designs are better known only because Green sold his triple barrels within the gun trade where the retailer took most of the credit. Some went to Charles Lancaster in London others to Lyon & Lyon in Calcutta but two were made up and sold as barreled actions to Westley Richards. The first, a 12 bore, left the Green factory in late February 1911 then early the next month a 16 bore was delivered. Both were given serial numbers in the Westley range 17340 and 17272 respectively and the Green records tell us Westley Richards paid 35 guineas for each.
The 16 bore, a sidelock ejector, was beautifully stocked and engraved and sent off to an international exhibition in Turin where it won a gold medal. Frederick Courtney Selous, who had recently squired Teddy Roosevelt around British East Africa wrote to Westley Richards saying, “Yours was far and away the best exhibit of Sporting Guns and Rifles (British and Foreign) in the whole exhibition.”
Both Green and Westley’s promoted the relative success of three barrel guns in their advertising literature. Green’s Gloucester trade label mentions only that they were makers of “three barrel guns with one trigger” while Westley’s catalogue offered the “new treble barreled game guns” at 80 guineas while echoing the sentiments expressed in The Encyclopædia of Sports and Game, “This weapon represents the highest development of this system, and now that reliability can be guaranteed it is confidently hoped that sportsman will appreciate its great advantages over the two-barreled gun for certain conditions of sport.”
For a number of personal reasons recently, I have been unable to keep up with a regular post update to The Explora, I am sure the regular visitors have noticed! This quite frankly annoys me and so I feel the best action is to own up and ask for some help!
I know that many of the readers have very interesting stories to tell and information to share and I hope that you will take this opportunity to help me keep the blog up to date and interesting for the readers at this difficult time for me.
I am not sure why I put Great Bloggers on the photo above but cannot change it, I mean actually any Guest Writer or storyteller!
Stories of travel, places and great destinations that have been experienced would I know be of interest to the readers. Reflections on hunting trips and shooting destinations that people have fond memories of and feel people should try. Anything about the use of the guns we enjoy in the field.
There are the technical people, those who have knowledge of strange guns and obscure developments in the history of the making of fine guns. Please share your knowledge, you may be a gunmaker or engraver or associated with our trade and share some of the skills needed to put the finished best gun in its case. There is a wealth of subjects here so please share your personal expertise.
As a small gift of appreciation I will send a personally signed copy of our new book thanking each individual person for the post or posts they supply to help me at this time.
We have a very large library of photographs and we will illustrate any post to the very best of our ability as we do with all our posts, we will even take specific photographs as needed to help illustrate a point as needed.
Thank you very much in advance for sharing with me and the rest of the visitors your words!
Completed in the factory this week is this scroll back, hand detachable lock double rifle in .475 No2 Eley, a rifle which is now heading to its new home in Northern Europe and then later in the year to the hunting grounds of Africa.
This is a very traditional format rifle with the addition of the scroll back, this I think has been a very nice recent ‘old’ addition to our offering, we did make rifles filed with scroll back like this in the past but it was dropped for many years. I have only seen very few pre war rifles with the scroll back and took the shape and file up we use from one such rifle, a .476 which features in our history book “In Pursuit of the best Gun”.
This rifle is supplied with a pair of cased extra interchangeable locks and is all cased in lightweight leather travel case made in our leather department with accessories.
The .475 No 2 Eley has a 480 grain bullet travelling at 2200 FPS.