The small frame single shot rook rifle alongside the larger brother .360
Discussion from the recent post on the choice of 28g versus Single shot have been lively and one point which was raised was the size of the single shot I placed with the 28g droplock. To throw another choice ‘in the pot’ I have now photographed the only 2 single shot rifles ( which will be remaining here also!!) I have here together, a wonderful little rook rifle that I have shown before and the .360 from the previous photograph with the 28g.
The copper plate at top right is a printing plate from a vintage catalogue we produced.
Two 4 Bore 4″ Rifle Cartridges, 1 Kynoch and 1 Eley. The projectile is most likely 1800 grains with a 14 Dram Black Powder Charge. Alongside is a .22 Hornet for comparison.
The .600 Nitro with 110 Grains of Cordite and a 900 grn. projectile has a muzzle velocity of 1950 F-S and 7,600 ft lb energy. At 100 yds velocity of 1,676 and 5620 ft lbs.
This may seem like a rather dull post to anyone but the ammunition collectors! But if you were actually to go out and try to find to buy these cartridges, you would find it extremely difficult! They are indeed very rare. For me the interest is the sheer scale of the ammunition and the rifles that the first explorers had to carry around for their defence, during the days before the advent of cordite powder.
I think what prompted the post was the fact that in the last James Julia auction, a box of 10 Holland & Holland 4 Bore Nitro Rifle Cartridges estimated to sell at $3-5,000 realised $27,700.00! Naturally I cleared out the cupboard to see if I had any!
Drawing from ‘African Rifles and Cartridges’ Taylor.
A new arrival to our inventory and workshop this week is this pair of damascus barrel, 12g Hand Detachable Lock ejector game guns with desirable 30 inch barrels. Made in 1907 these guns have served a life of work in the field, but have been clearly well and nicely maintained over their shooting career so far. They are worthy candidates for a full mechanical service and nice light refurbishment, following that returning back to a working life once again, in the hands of a new owner and further adventures.
The pair of actions showing locks and cover plates removed. The cover plates have a very nice, fine and detailed variation of the traditional scroll patter. A dog cameo sits on the trigger guard.
Cased pairs of Westley Richards damascus guns in this condition are not a frequent occurrence. Most that do enter the market do not have the basic requirements to justify the expense of full refurbishment, a decision we base on the condition of the barrels.
The very nice matching 2 1/2″ chamber damascus barrels are in good condition but will be fully serviced, any dents removed, bores, chambers and chokes honed and polished. The guns will then be re-proofed.
The 14 1/2 inch stocks with tip and toe plates and forends have no major damage and will be stripped, dents and scratches raised, checker cut up as existing and the whole then oil finished,
The actions of the guns which are engraved with classic Westley Pattern scroll with name in banner will be degreased and lacquered and will have a full internal service. These are the loose cover plate model of pre 1911. Triggers will be adjusted, ejectors timed and any parts replaced which are seen to need to require that.
The pair of guns are cased in their original Westley Richards oak and Leather pattern case with the studded lid edge and 3 locks. The case will not be relined but all compartments will be made good and the original dark oil stained labels reattached.
After a final re browning of the barrels the guns will be ready for delivery in time for this years shooting season, at which time they will go on our used gun site.
Should anybody be interested in the guns in advance and would like other specific personal work carried our in this period, stock measurements and oval engraving for instance, please contact me to discuss, firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks ago, an old friend, client and supporter of our company for many years, contacted me and told me he wanted to order himself an 80th birthday present for himself, he had worked hard all his life and deserved the treat! The only problem was he didn’t know what he wanted most, a 28g shotgun or a small bore single shot rifle use on his ranch in Texas. Of course he needs neither, it is just a desire to have something bespoke made as a treat for oneself as he reaches the 80th year, something to look forward to receiving ‘on the day’ .
We make, on a quite regular basis, the 28g hand detachable lock shotgun, it is a very popular gauge and one that I am particularly found with, the size, scale and handling is superb if I say so myself! The single shot rifle is something we have never actually made under my tenure here, I have always wanted to, but have never actually pushed the ‘go’ button, there were other projects taking up the R&R budget or whatever!
I decided in the end to photograph the two possible choices together and send them to him, ones that I had in safe and that were not examples of what he may have wanted but would invite comment. I suggested that I should put them on The Explora for a vote of confidence and see what the people say, he agreed, so here they are!
A single shot vintage Westley Richards rifle in .360 which is a larger frame than we would want but can be scaled down and made hand detachable lock, together with one of the favourite 28g hand detachable lock guns we have made over the years.
I look forward to hearing the advice our readers can give! Single or Double?!
It is always nice to complete an African Safari rifle in what I might call hunting format, all best features but no frills, a rifle destined to hunt. Especially nice is that this rifle is going to a client in Africa, to a man who hunts regularly and has done since childhood, a man who has chosen our brand for his adventures, something we appreciate very much.
A two barrel take down rifle rifle built on a modern magnum Mauser 98 action with the Westley Richards take down lever assembly. Swarovski telescopes on quick detachable mounts, quarter ribs with express sights and Westley Richards patent front sights. The whole cased by our leather shop in a motor case with extra compartments for ammunition and slings. Put the case in the hunting car and off you go!
These are what Ken refers to as screw plates, we are not sure what date they hail from, only what they are used for. They are plates which have a variety of screw die cut sizes for making pins for guns from small to large. These are the forerunner to the modern screw thread die you see at top right. Joseph Whitworth standardised thread sizes in 1841 so these probably hailed from earlier days than this and were continued to be made and used in the trade for when old guns with bastard or non standard threads came in for repair.
The procedure for cutting the threads was much the same as with modern die cutters. A piece of silver steel was turned to the correct size and run through the chosen slot in the screw plate. The increments in size were small and many on these screw plates fall between the now standard BA sizes.
To make a corresponding tap for the female thread for the pin made another largest diameter piece of silver steel is run through the die and then small slots are ground vertically up the cut thread, the whole then hardened and tempered to cut the female thread size.
This item is for testing the force of the blow on the striker and cartridge cap of a gun lock. Made by ICI, no doubt as an assurance that the cartridges they were supplying were getting the correct ‘blow’ or ‘strike’ from the makers gun or rifle. We have above 12g and .577 testers. A weak blow/strike to the cartridge cap will result in a misfire.
Instructions For Use.
(1) Insert a copper crusher between the two steel pads in the tester body.
(2) Place the tester in the gun chamber and snap off the trigger.
(3) The striker blow is satisfactory that is at least 3.5 ft.lb., if the crusher is shortened sufficiently to pass freely through the slot in the base of the tester body.
(4) The pad receiving the blows of hardened steel but if the striker is of correct hardness no damage should result unless too frequent tests are made. If the point of the striker is found to be flattened after the test it is probably too soft.
Contents of Box.
(1) Tester Body
(2) Three steel pads, one spare.
(3) Pad extractor
(4) Fifty copper crushers in metal container.
Please direct any questions on use to the resident expert in its use, Ken Halbert care of this blog!
Here is a nice old jig which I think you will find of interest. Yesterday, I did an informal deal with my old foreman Ken Halbert, we traded ‘gun ephemera’ for ‘fishing ephemera’. I like the gun stuff and he is now into salmon fishing in his retirement. A ‘win win’ situation and always a fun deal, one which he normally wins! My end of the deal involved getting back some bits which were under ‘admittedly questionable ownership from his bench’ along with some other very nice bits and pieces from his collection, in return I equipped him for the salmon rivers!
Once the standing sight of an Express sight assembly has been cut after shooting it is necessary to mark and cut the remaining leaves in a straight line. This is the jig used for the job. I think it is self explanatory how it works but incase.. The blade is put in the shot V notch and then the part with the ‘top strap’ looking can be lifted and moved over the next blade of the sight (which at this stage would not be V’d) and marked in a perfect line with the first. This would continue until all sight blades are marked.
For those of you who have seen the old Westley Richards rifles with 5 or 6 leaves on the rear Express sight you will see immediately the advantage and accuracy of this jig. The Brass knob on the side of the Jig will position the blade over the V moving it left to right.
Some more bits and pieces from the deal will be shown over the next few days.
Bob Francis and Rich Cousins in Africa together with the Westley Richards .318
At the beginning of April you showed a beautiful .475 no.2 Eley Droplock rifle on the blog. As I read through the comments, one of the respondents had asked how long a set of drop locks would last. This rather intrigued me as I did not know the answer. I think the reason I did not know was because I have never had a problem with any of the Westley locks.
Then I realized I did have an answer of sorts. I currently own a Droplock .318 WR, this rifle was made in 1908, and shipped to India. Unfortunately I could find no history of the rifle in India. However, the rifle surfaced in Australia sometime after the end of WW2. The rifle was owned by a rancher in the northern territory. I have some second hand verbal history regarding its use on kangaroos and buffalo. The rifle was later sold to another gentleman in Australia, and I have some first-hand verbal history of its use at that time.
Sometime in the early nineties, the rifle ended up in the U.S. A gentleman from Montana bought the rifle and used it to shoot at least one elk. It was then traded or sold back to Westley Richards, and I was delighted to buy it at that time. It is a plain, non-engraved action with a tropical nickel finish. C type dolls head and a stalking safety, nicely engraved 26″ barrels, patent foresight and very nice French walnut. Q/D talley rings and bases were added at this time. The rifle has been re-blacked, the wood cleaned up and a new silvers pad installed. The rifle is on face, very accurate and shows no sign of ever being messed with. It has the original serial numbered locks.
I have taken the rifle to Africa seven times, and shot a wide variety of plains game, from steenbok to eland with this rifle.
In 2008, a friend of mine made a nice one shot kill on a lovely 8 x 6 elk with this rifle, on its one hundredth anniversary!
Now I have been a little long winded about this rifle, but it is very seldom that you can get some history albeit verbal, other than the story from the dealer who you bought it from. And some basic information from the maker.
The indications are that all the previous owners were hunters or shooters. The rifle was used, cleaned and cared for, otherwise it would be in a lot worse condition than it is now. It was not a safe queen, or used a couple of times and put into storage. The rifle has been used on four continents, and seen some constant use for over a hundred years.
Now for an answer. If you take care of a Droplock Westley, clean it, take reasonable care of it and cherish it, a Westley Richards rifle will last you a lifetime, or in the case of my .318, both the rifle and lock mechanism have lasted 108 years.
Bob Francis managed our first independent USA Westley Richards shop in Springfield, Missouri. This we opened after the Tulsa Gunshow in about 1995 and it was the formal brick and mortar start for me of what have been 20 wonderful years dealing in USA, from where I have been fortunate to meet so many enthusiasts who remain friends to this day. Rich Cousins is one of these people who over the years has given me good advice and always remained a Westley Richards flag bearer. I will always look upon the days in Missouri as some of the most exciting in my career, the heady days of gun dealing! Simon
I was really pleased to be shown and then able to buy this piece of Leather ephemera, a vintage etched mirror which was an award of some kind. It seemed an entirely appropriate and irresistible prop for the photography we do. Whilst I cannot and do not wish to take credit for the actual award, we did not make leather at that time. I do think it is appropriate for our small leather workshop and feel they would have given the competition a good run for their money, had we been making our leather goods then!