I am sat here at the weekend contemplating hunting as perhaps ‘the last great adventure’. In this modern world of super communication and internet many of the worlds once wild places have become easily accessible and where once there was great adventure getting to them, most have become easy to get to and ‘no great wonder’.
As hunters we are the very lucky few who really get to see some of the last remaining wild places on earth. They are often very difficult to get to which requires a determination I have really only seen in sportsmen. By way of example two very good friends who also happen to be clients of mine have just returned from a memorable trip in British Columbia where they both managed to achieve through true hard work 2 magnificent trophy Stone Sheep and 2 great Mountain Goats. What I found most interesting in listening to their story is that the valley they actually took their trophies in had not been hunted for 18 years! The whole area was remote and still very much untouched by man.
In the last year I myself was lucky enough to hunt in South Africa, Tanzania, Alaska and the USA, whilst also visiting India. All were adventures in their own way, but Tanzania and Alaska stand out as truly wild places.
As another good friend and client heads out to Mozambique with his fine collection of vintage rifles we should count ourselves lucky that we have the interest, passion and will to pursue game in the wildest of places. It is in our interest to share the stories of our adventures with the next generation so that they might pursue game in these places, for to remain remote and wild they need to be appreciated and more often than not real passion only comes from the sportsman.
Images from one of our Safari’s in remote Mozambique by Mark Hall.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to our readers of the Exlpora. My name is Ricky Bond and I am the gunroom manager here at the Westley Richards & Co. factory and showroom and have been in this role now for 2 1/2 years, previously working as gunroom manager for William Powell under the guidance of Peter Powell.
I now consider myself fortunate enough to work under the guidance of both Simon Clode and Anthony Tregear ‘Trigger’, my path into the trade has been an enviable one and I’ve been lucky enough to gain some great experience and knowledge from some of the very best in the business. I spent most of my early career farming at home in Devon and when people ask how or why I ended up here, the answer is simple, my love of guns and hunting. I have been fortunate to hunt all over the UK, as well hunting in New Zealand. So I share the same passion and interests as most of our clients and am always on hand to offer advice or arrange shooting here in the UK or overseas where we have a huge network of contacts we know personally and trust.
Ricky is a keen and very competent shot, winning the last Westley Richards team event.
My role is very much a varied one and the main reason why I enjoy my job. No two days are the same here at Westley Richards, one minute I’m visiting outworkers in the trade, blackers, hardeners, engravers dealing with new gun and repairs, the next I’m conducting a factory tour for a team of visiting hunters and then I’m out field testing a new shotgun before it passes to the next stage of production or completion.
While my title is gunroom manager, on my first day at WR Trigger made it clear that the company didn’t really believe in being tied to job titles and that here we just get on and get things done, whether it is specifically in our job roll or not, the important factor being to make sure our clients are always serviced quickly, efficiently and politely, something that we as a company believe very strongly about. Therefore my role encompasses pretty much everything we do here at Westley Richards, from new gun and rifle production, the buying and selling of used guns, historical enquiries, dealing with the import and export paperwork, and even helping out with Teague Precision Chokes our sister company when needed.
In addition to this I manage the collection of over 200 best guns and rifles that we have on display here at the factory. This is possibly the finest individual collection of best guns in the country and covers both vintage and new guns by most of England’s premier makers. We have an excellent range of classic bolt actions from original .500 Jeffery’s to modern day Hartmann & Weiss, we have old Holland Royals in most calibre’s and new ones also, Boss’s, Purdey’s, Fabbri’s and many other wonderful examples engraved by the modern masters, Browns, Coggan’s, Lantuch, Crowley, Spode and even Italian masters. In Westley Richards own make we have a very wide variety including the unique Boutet Gun, Africa and India rifles through to our vintage Ovundo’s single shots and other unique examples. The knowledge to be gained from this collection alone is invaluable.
The personal favourite part of my job is the used gun dealing, something which Simon is very passionate about and which he has enthused me to pursue and shares his intimate knowledge. The used gun dealing has always kept Westley Richards alive and helped us continue to trade to this day. From Mr. Walter Clode’s dealings in Inida and then Simon in more recent times, acquiring some of the finest English guns and rifles made to ever come to market has been their passion and has made Westley Richards the place to buy from if you’re a serious collector. I would think 70% of this business is done discreetly and privately as many clients don’t want it known they are either selling or buying. As a result we’re always on the look out to buy used guns individually or as collections either outright or to be sold on a commission basis competitive to the auction house terms. I love to see old guns put back through our workshops, given a new lease of life, knowing the enjoyment the new customer will have with them will be probably as much as the person who first bought them 100 or so years ago.
To contact Ricky please call at the factory (44) 121 333 1900 or via our email.
Westley Richards is now actively looking for an an assistant to join our team in Florida USA. A person with a passion for guns and hunting with great admin and customer skills and a desire to learn our business. Please email me via the Explora for details.Simon
When discussing vintage nitro Westley Richards rifles there are three in particular that always end up dropping into the conversation somewhere along the line. Not only were they used by three very famous individuals, but all were of the same calibre – .577 3″ Nitro Express.
These rifles were owned by professional ivory hunter Capt James Sutherland, hard man actor Stewart Granger, and legendary writer Ernest Hemingway. All three men suited this iconic calibre as their personalities were certainly of the larger than life variety.
Captain James Sutherland’s .577 now on display at our factory.
Sutherland’s rifle resides here at the factory and although well used it still has crisp rifling and great condition. Luckily we have the case and spare locks to go with it. This rates as my own all time big game rifle particularly as it has all the great Westley Richards features, including our single selective trigger!
Stewart Granger’s .577 with tallies of game hunted inlaid in stock.
The Granger and Hemingway rifles now reside in private collections and are both cherished by their respective owners. Each is a great historical rifle in terms of our own legacy and that of the two men who owned them.
Ernest Hemingway’s .577 complete with original case.
Both of these rifles retain lots of original finish as they were ‘client’ as opposed to ‘professional’ use rifles. I always like Grangers inlaying of Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo in the stock with the tally of each hunted, those marked with a ‘c’ having charged him!
I was lucky enough myself to hunt buffalo with a brand new Westley Richards .577 hand detachable lock double rifle last year in Tanzania with Danny McCallum safaris. Not only was it a privilege to hunt my buffalo with Danny himself, but I was able to take one at under 15 paces in typically long grass. Whilst there are many that would deride the use of such a heavy calibre rifle I have to say that it was certainly very comforting in the thick stuff and as Danny himself said ‘it speaks with authority’. Need I say more!
Two months ago when Paul Lantuch visited the factory after completing the finishing of the Africa rifle we discussed at length the next projects that were on the cards. These included a pair of round action 12g guns, a .577 Hand Detachable lock rifle and a further .600 NE sidelock double rifle in the Africa, India series.
I was in 2 minds whether to post these drawings of the fist project up, the pair of 12g round body sidelocks, initial thoughts of people plagiarising a practise rife in this area. Perhaps it is a bit premature, but then I felt they are such nice drawings why not!
The drawings also show nicely the process of designing an exhibition gun so that a concrete theme can be executed. So many guns are engraved with minimal, if any, layout and composition work being done in advance. Paul and I have been bouncing drawings and thoughts back and forth across the Atlantic for the past 2 months and these are now the working drawings for the guns. There will of course be additional engravings and carvings but the “theme is set”.
The pair of guns will be executed in the Rococo style, carved steel relief figures and decoration with a gold background. I am afraid you will have to be very patient to see the end result but we are off and running now as they say!
One of the greatest experiences in the hunting world has to be approaching dangerous game with a large calibre rifle intent on using only the open or ‘iron’ sights to aim. The need to stalk in really close, as quietly as possible, often under tough conditions really adds a physical and mental element to the hunt and certainly heightens all the senses of the hunter!
Long before man had perfected the telescopic sight the majority of big game was hunted with open sights. Long range target competitions were shot with open sights, as were nearly all military weapons. As the telescopic sight improved for sporting arms so man learnt to shoot his game more accurately and humanely, often at more extreme ranges. Where dangerous game was concerned, buffalo in particular could be shot out to longer distances.
At this point the question of ‘sport’ raises its head. Dangerous game was traditionally hunted very up close and personal. As those of you who have hunted dangerous game will know, part of the sport in this type of hunting is the element of danger associated with being in close proximity to such game and that if all goes wrong then you really may be required to shoot your way safely out of a very tight situation.
Hunting with open sights may not be for everyone, but for a growing number of keen enthusiastic hunters it is. Certainly, say when hunting one buffalo on a safari it is better to enjoy the days with stalking and chase than taking a long distance shot on the first day that doesn’t even get the adrenalin flowing. I would prefer a ‘shitty’ buffalo and an exciting hunt any day, as opposed to a long distance better quality one. If of course a monster comes out a different decision may need to be made!
Hunting with a double I have always felt puts a different perspective on the hunt, it does force you in closer where you can take a safe accurate shot, practise with the rifle being the key here. Similarly with smaller game, hunting with say a classic .318 or .275 with open sights is immense fun and I always take greater satisfaction from taking a trophy in this manner.
For any PH’s out there wincing at these words, sorry, I know it makes you have to work a little harder but even you’ll agree it makes for a far more exciting hunt. Ultimately this is one of the very reasons for a hunter coming to Africa and the reason so many return.
Based on an old 1912 period small pocket catalogue, of which I have only ever seen one copy, the one above, our 2016 pocket catalogue has been very well received and I hope many of them are kept and reveal themselves in 100 years time.
As many people will not have had the opportunity to pick one up at the various shows we do, or at the shop here in UK. Here is the full content of the catalogue which I hope you enjoy.