How nice is this! Ricky Bond, our gunroom manager, purchased this super little cartridge magazine a few days ago and then stupidly went on holiday for the long weekend holiday allowing me to intercept its arrival. I will of course credit him with the sale, ‘the profit’! It is now safely amongst all the previously mentioned ‘junk’ in my apartment! A fitting piece, I have never seen this Westley Richards label before and I have never noticed a vintage magazine which takes 27 boxes of 2.5″ .410 perfectly, it is a gem!
I think in all honesty, it would take of course any 2.5″ cartridge in limited numbers but the fact that our old .410 boxes fit so perfectly makes me think it was made for this job.
Another little project for our case maker and leather shop!
The cartridge magazine is photographed on the ‘blotting pad’ from my desk here, this is a piece of natural coloured leather which has aged over the last year, it starts life a very light colour and ages beautifully and I believe this is what the original case here would have been made from.
These thick leather desk pads can be made to any size required, with hand burnished edges, edging lines and branding they make a nice feature on any desk and gain character over the years as you spill your ink and of course your drink!
This particular gun, with the unusual looking detachable locks, has surfaced on about 3 occasions in my career here, it is one of very few assisted opening hand detachable lock guns we made. If a gunmaker makes ‘a few’ there is normally good reason but I am not going to be the one to own up, or admit what that reason may be! The technical people amongst the readers can draw their own conclusions, Vic Venters can possibly elaborate and I seriously considered sending him the photos with a request ‘can you do a technical description of how this works’!
However I decided to present the locks to 3 of my gunmakers this afternoon, firstly to disassemble and clean so I could take some photos, I also asked if they would mind writing a technical description of how they worked, a challenge they embraced and for which they stayed behind late this evening in order for me to complete this post. I am grateful for both their interest in figuring it all out and the enthusiasm to do so!
When the gun is closed, it is in the fully cocked position. When the trigger gets pulled it lifts the sear out of bent which allows the hammer to fire forward (firing the gun) which in turn takes the mainspring into its semi cocked position, as the bottom of the mainspring comes lower. The forward movement of the hammer pushes the ‘ejector trip rod’ forward and engages the ejector work.
Opening the Gun.
When the gun gets opened the barrels are forced open by the pivoting action of the ‘dog’ under pressure from the ‘assisted opening limb’ and the power of the ‘mainspring’. When the gun reaches full opening the hammer returns to the cocked position, so in ‘bent’ and the ‘ejector trip rod’ fires the ejector work so ejecting the spent case. The gun is now in a half cocked position (as shown in the lock above).
Closing the Gun.
As the barrels are closed the ‘assisted opening limb’ brings the mainspring into the fully cocked position. This pivoting action returns the bottom half of the mainspring to its original position while the top half moves higher creating the assisted opening.
This is one of those gunmaking oddities, practically a one off, that just happens to still be in use to this day, it was never a practical idea to put into production. I am sure it would have been the companies reaction to the Purdey and Holland self openers.
My thanks to Sam, Stuart and Josef for working this out and all intelligent questions will be passed to them… I end this confused!
I first met Terry Allen in 2010 when he visited to photograph our new factory and guns whilst on an assignment for Sporting Classics magazine. The resulting pictures led me to offer him, in 2011, the commission to photograph in a ‘singular style’ the main content of our bicentennial book ‘In Pursuit of the Best Gun‘. I never wanted the book to have photographs of guns from many sources but rather a consistent look from one camera and eye, backed up by vintage photographs only as needed to tell the story.
During early 2011 Terry and I spent about 5 weeks together, taking 1000’s of shots of 100’s of guns. We worked both here at the factory and at the homes of generous collector friends in the USA who kindly opened their homes and vaults to us. These were not days of taking one or two careful gun photographs, rather ones where I would say ‘we have an hour to get this shot’, if we failed we moved on to the next gun and returned later if we had time. It was a case of ‘we could only impose on the generous hospitality for a couple of days’ and we had about 40 Westley guns to photograph at each location, we needed 2 an hour ‘in the can’.
I put Terry under a lot of pressure during those weeks but we developed both a great rapport and lasting friendship, also a great style of shot. The shots were a variation of what I would call his ‘silk, tweed and feather’ look, familiar I am sure, to readers of the Shooting Sportsman magazine. This was developed into a more stripped back version, showing the guns at their best and supported only by appropriate bits and pieces as and when needed.
The results and praise for Terry’s work on the book speak for themselves.
So it was with great pleasure that I welcomed Terry back to the factory this evening for a quick cocktail and supper, as he passed by working an assignment for Covey Rise magazine in London and Scotland. No pressure this time for Terry and the opportunity for me to put a ‘face to a name’ for those of you who have never met him, but have seen and admired his work, here on the blog, where it has been used extensively, and of course in our book.
‘Let’s do another book’
No, Let’s not! but you can have another refill though!
Terry’s work is featured often in much of the international sporting press, Shooting Sportsman, Sporting Classics, Covey Rise to name just a few. Terry can be commissioned for work in USA and worldwide via his websiteTerry Allen Photography
One of my daily chores is updating our Instagram account where we have 57,500 followers, this requires a constant feed of new photographs which we take on a daily basis here at the factory. Visitors to my apartment here at Westley Richards always enjoy all the (what I call) ‘gun junk’ which covers all the tables, shelves and window ledges here. I thought I would put some of it in order and show those unable to visit the bits and pieces I like to gather in.
Of course any additions are always welcome – I am a keen buyer for anything WR or other similar associated gun junk!
A few weeks ago I did a post featuring an old sling for vintage rifles with only eyelets, the sling was on an original .505 Gibbs. That post led to a kind introduction in Australia, to a source of these sprung and toughened hook eyes.
After a few days carrying a heavy rifle around as part of the “Proof Test” to ensure all is secure, Joanna in our leather shop has made me the first off sample, again a faithful reproduction of the original sling I showed. I asked for this to be in natural coloured leather which, in the sun will go the colour of the background as it takes on a tan and grease.
This beautifully hand made rifle sling with even the brass buckle covered, on this occasion, in thin leather from the same hide, (which took hours!) will be a useful sling for those hunting with old rifles with sling eye lops only.
There will be some delay in offering these but if anyone would like to order one please let me know. We will make the sling in our normal colour range.
Would I like to clean up a rusty old double rifle for him, Ray McKnight had casually asked over the telephone. Aware that ‘cleaning’ can easily go too far, I replied that I’d like to see it the next time he came up to his summer home in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. His summer home is on the edge of the Mogollon Rim which is also home to a very large herd of elk. Perhaps a little judicious application of elbow grease would give me an opportunity to hunt elk with a real elk rifle.
Ray arrived in late spring with a percussion double rifle by Thomas Kennedy of Kilmarnock, which is a bit southwest of Glasgow, Scotland. A previous owner of the rifle had inquired about Kennedy and had gotten the following reply from Susan Boothroyd via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org):
“1834, 27 July Splendid Rifle Shooting. On Wednesday Week four gentlemen belonging to the Kilmarnock Rifle Club met at Southdean near Glasgow, to try the feat lately performed by Captain Ross and Count D’Orsay, for 1,000 guineas, viz, 50 shots off hand, at a target 150 yards distant. We have great pleasure in reporting the day’s sport, as winner of that match has been beat by 93 3/8 inches. The numbers were as follows: Mr. Kennedy, gunmaker, 304 3/8 inches….To the sporting world we can with the utmost confidence recommend our friend Mr. Kennedy, all the guns in the field and that day being of his manufacture.”
“1834-1849. Frequent similar reports of the activities of the Kilmarnock Rifle Club and the skill of Thomas Kennedy both as a Gunmaker and rifle shot in those years. From 1841, he is described as ‘rifle maker to his Royal Highness Prince Albert.”
“Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 1822-1866. Joint founder of the firm of hydraulic engineers, Glenfield and Kennedy Ltd.
All that came from Susan Boothroyd. Subsequently I received even more on Thomas Kennedy through the kindness of Christopher Penn (email@example.com):
“…an Ayrshire Directory published in 1837 by Pigot & Co. lists a Thomas Kennedy under Watch & Clockmakers with the annotation (and Jeweler and gun maker). He was trading from 1 Portland Street, Kilmarnock.”
“The earliest Scottish Census I have access to is that for 1871. This includes a Thomas Kennedy, age 72, at 7 Portland Road. However, he is listed as a Water meter manufacturer. I am pretty sure this is the same man as I found the following on a University of Glasgow site covering their holdings of the papers of the firm Glenfield and Kennedy. ‘Kennedy Patent Water Meter Co Ltd was formed in 1863 from a syndicate with four partners and marketed the water meter patented by Thomas Kennedy, senior, a local clock maker.’ Thomas Kennedy dies on 6 September 1874.”
The obituary that Chris sent along later contained the following: “…Having married the daughter of Mr. John Hunter, saddler, he again began business (jeweler, watch and clock making) on his own account and added to it the trade of gun making, for which he acquired a great reputation, and through the influence of Mr. Wallace of Kelly he received the honorary appointment of gunmaker to Prince Albert…The rifles of his manufacture were held in high estimation both in this country and in India, where a ready market was found for them and high prices obtained.”
Gold medal made and presented by Thomas Kennedy.
A look in Col. Robert E. Gardner’s Small Arms Makers showed only “Kennedy, –Maker of sporting rifles Kilmarnock Scotland 1837-1841.” Having at hand a copy of David Baker’s lovely The Royal Gunroom at Sandringham I hoped to find mention of Kennedy therein. However, the only gun makers I could find associated with Prince Albert were George and John Deane; J D Dougall; William Greener; Charles Lancaster; John Manton and William Moore. A friend has recently obtained a percussion gun by Moore and Harris of Birmingham, who also had a Royal Warrant of Appointment as gun makers to the Royal Family and who are not included in David’s book, but who were in business 1840-1860, well prior to the Prince Consort’s death on December 14, 1861. I remain curious to know how many other makers had MAKER TO HRH PRINCE ALBERT on their top ribs as does the Thomas Kennedy double rifle. Readers with such information are encouraged to contact me via the Double Gun and Single Shot Journal.
Queen Victoria had this handsome statue of her beloved Prince Consort Albert placed in Edinburgh City Park.
Sir Edwin Landseer was commissioned by Queen Victoria to chronicle Prince Albert’s stag hunting in the highlands. He produced a preliminary sketch with colored chalks in 1850-1, known as ‘Study for Royal Sports on Hill and Loch’ (also titled ‘Queen Victoria Landing at Loch Muick’).
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the Royal Exposition which he supervised, in 1851. The statue of Albert which is in the Edinburgh City Park is visible over his right shoulder. Painting in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Landseer was commissioned to do a scene with ‘Prince Albert at Balmoral’, also titled ‘Death of the Royal Stag with the Queen Riding up to Congratulate His Royal Highness’. Finished in the period 1865-7 after the Prince Consort’s death, it was a memento of happier times.
Prince Albert liked Landseer’s ‘The Drive’, of which only a portion is shown here, so much that in 1847 he persuaded the Marquess of Breadalbane to cede it to him.
Stalking red deer in the Scottish highlands was a very popular theme for Landseer’s clients including the artist’s great friend, the sportsman and photographer Horatio Ross of Rossie, shown in a painting similar to this one, which actually portrays “Poachers Deerstalking’ also titled ‘Getting a Shot’ ca. 1831. It was this Captain Horatio Ross who was previously mentioned in the target shooting event at the Kilmarnock Rifle Club in 1834.
When Ray uncased the eight pound double, it looked as if it had been on many a red deer hunt in the damp Scottish highlands and needed some gentle cleaning inside and out. Following Ron Peterson’s instructions in the Society of American Arms Collectors Bulletin 59 (1988), removal of surface rust showed a fierce tiger engraved on the left lock and a stag on the right. Most of an hour invested on the bores revealed them to have what is generally known as Forsyth rifling: wide shallow grooves, very narrow lands, a twist of 1:120 inches. This rifle would hunt elk if I could be blessed to draw yet one more permit in Arizona.
I phoned Jamie Andrews at Dixie Gun Works and requested that he make a .665 round ball mould. Next I phoned Ross Seyfried and asked where to start with a powder charge. Ross surprised me with the answer, 2.5-3 drams! What, in a young cannon that conventional wisdom says surely ought to want 4-5 drams? We’re talking Forsyth, slow twist, 16 bore patched ball, in a gun with one standing and three leaf sights. Well, why ask his advice if you don’t take it? I started with 4 drams of Cleanshot, an over powder 16 bore .135 hard card wad, ‘Bore-Butter’ lubed .015 patch, and I couldn’t hit the 2 foot square target only 50 yards away! Backing off to 3 drams I got one ball from the left barrel near the right outside edge of the 6” black and the right barrel 6” high and crossed 11” to the left. OK, Ross we’ll try it your way. I loaded 2.5 drams of Cleanshot and got snake eyes one inch apart out to 75 yards! A dozen more groups shot off cross sticks never landed over three inches apart. This rifle would hunt alright, but not loaded like I expected a Forsyth to be loaded. Perhaps all those extra leaf sights had a purpose, for shots at game beyond 75 yards….Once again black powder guru Ross Seyfried came through with the right load.
The Kennedy was equipped with a cap/patch box that held components for a reload.
Permit 388 of 425 bull elk tags for November 24-30, Unit 1 in eastern Arizona arrived in the mail and I began to query other elk hunters about where to set up an ambush. One friend shared information on a ‘honey hole’ that would be suitable. Several scouting trips showed no recent use by any elk, much less tree scraping by a bull. Long time friend Jack Husted suggested a place where several trails funnel down into a saddle near the Sipe White Mountain elk refuge managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Jack, his son Garrett, and I had all taken cow elk on the refuge several years previously. Mine was taken with a Sharps chambered for the .40-65 black powder cartridge. Scouting here showed lots of traffic. My 26 year old son Ty helped me build a blind two weeks before opening day. His account of the activity was that actually I helped him.
We erected a tent 1.3 miles from the blind and settled in Thanks Giving evening. I was thankful for Ty’s company, an opportunity to hunt with a fine antique rifle, an elk permit, and good health, all three days after my 64th birthday. Leaving camp at 5:25 AM in lightly insulated camo clothing, I was quite warm after walking to the blind, which I settled into at 6:05. By 7:30 I had cooled off a lot. By 8:05 I was shivering, but I dared move no more than my eyes when I heard the telltale clatter of hoofs on rocks as two large animals moved up the steep hillside toward the saddle. The lead bull looked like a keeper. He was followed by a large bodied spike, and although “we don’t eat antlers”, as the country song has it, “size matters”, so I opted to try for the lead bull. It stepped up into sight, paused for breath, looked right at me, and then bent down to graze. I squeezed and held the trigger on the left lock, eased back the hammer and aimed just behind his right shoulder. I had practiced this movement of aiming and firing offhand many times, knowing full well that the gun would shoot high at close range, which later measure showed to be only 33 paces. But, in my excitement I shot higher than I wanted to, about six inches below his spine, a very high lung shot. Even so, the 448gr., .665 round lead ball collapsed him in his tracks. He fell over on his right side with his feet uphill, bled out and died. Then the work began.
I tagged and eviscerated (gralloched in Gaelic) the bull, walked back to camp and found that Ty already had it packed up and was waiting to know if I’d been successful. We were able to back my little pickup close enough to tie onto the bull and pull it up over a very large Ponderosa pine limb, tie it off and then back under it. God is very good to me!
This was our first opportunity to hunt together since Ty was about four and he is excited to apply for a permit for himself. He wants to get a bull with antlers even larger than mine of course, and he might even let me help him build another blind.
The animal is shown where he fell, 33 paces from the blind. In honor of the Kennedy rifle’s Scottish origin, the author wears his ‘Celtic camouflage’ flat cap.
The Kennedy was loaded from an original Hawksley flask.
The Kennedy shown on an average sized Arizona six by six. A bull that green scored 458 was taken in the White Mountains this past September!
With considerable imagination, I visualize myself as the old codger on the left and my son on the right, happily fetching the game home after Thomas Kennedy of Kilmarnock has done his work.
Thomas Kennedy portrait and shooting medal courtesy of Chris Penn.
Landseer paintings from The Monarch of the Glen: Landseer in the Highlands. Richard Ormand, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh 2005.
Daughter Amanda Lane for technical assistance.
Postscript: a version of this article appeared in the Winter 2010 Double Gun and Single Shot Journal
We are very honoured and grateful to have two covers showing our guns this month in the two premier English shooting and country magazines. My sincere thanks to Jonathan Young who has been the editor at the Field for 25 years now, I think another 6 years is needed to become the longest serving editor in the magazines 163 year history. My thanks also to editor Marcus Janssen of Fieldsports who has in his short tenure of the magazine transformed it to be, in my opinion, the most exciting, well produced and illustrated publication in the shooting industry today.
The Fieldcover features a Pair of 16g Hand Detachable Lock shotguns engraved by Frederique Lepinois with fine ornamentation and Arabic horses. Frederique is the sister of our superb stocker Romaine Lepinois, a family of great gunmaking talent.
The Fieldsportscover feature a pair of 20g Round Action, assisted opening, single trigger, sidelock ejector guns which have been beautifully relief scroll engraved by Paul Chung.
When making a rifle like this there are for me certain periods of anxiety. The first is when the engraving is completed, in this case after over a years dedicated work by Paul Lantuch, and the gun has to be shipped across the Atlantic and entrusted to brokers, customs and airline handling. An anxious few days – will it arrive.
The second, possibly worse period is when the rifle has been prepared for hardening and leaves our shop for the careful hands of Richard St Ledger and the case colour hardening process. At this point I loose all control and I have been called a control freak on more than one occasion!
I am not sure how long the rifle has been at the St Ledger shop but for me it has seemed forever, months, it has probably only been weeks.
Case hardening a rifle with this level of embellishment is a huge responsibility, so of course it is going to take time. Time to understand all the different alloys that have been used for the rifle, time to prepare the work carefully and time to consider how to pack in the charcoal, the heat, the length in heat all the other mysteries of case colour hardening. On my end anxious days thinking will the colour work, will all the alloys stay in and whatever other drama I can think up in my mind awaiting the return!
Yesterday evening I was able to breath a huge sigh of relief, the work returned and I was able to slowly unpack the parts and see the results of St Ledgers work. I can honestly say I had a grin wider than a cheshire cat as I unpacked the parts and saw the magnificent colours that had been achieved for the background of the rifle. A truly spectacular job and I show it below in a raw, lightly oiled state. This is done as next step is to patinate the alloys and refine the gold work prior to sealing in lacquer for protection.
My Sincere thanks to Richard St Ledger for such a magnificent job. One that these shots don’t do justice to but I hope future ones will!
My cap, coat, bags and sticks waiting for the season!
It is funny what gets rolled into a gun deal on occasions. Recently, I took on a variety of guns and rifles, books and other things. The final item was a box of Schoffel shooting coats, their first model Ptarmigan which led to their success in the shooting field which just happened to be my favourite coat for shooting, I was as pleased to get these as the guns! The Ptarmigan has sold in its 1000’s, it was designed specifically for shooting in UK, is light, warm and waterproof with plenty of movement. In the many years since this coat was introduced no other company has made a better replacement and it is almost a ‘uniform’ amongst game shooters here!
The first model is the one I have always liked and continue to wear for all my shooting in UK, the colour is perfect, the trim is right and fabric handle is very nice. Like all clothing products it seems, if it gets popular cost then comes out of the make so profit goes up. They say the new models are more technical, but I have not had issue with mine.
So for the lucky few, in my opinion, we have online just 29 of these coats in random sizes, for both ladies and gents. A really great coat, new with original tags at a much reduced price than the current models! Have a look, click on the images below!