Carrying on from our story a few weeks ago concerning the 3 sets of composed .410 & 28g droplock shotguns, we are delighted to show this week the 2nd pair of guns now finished and ready to dispatch from the factory.
Once again there is a real contrast in both the engraving and wood. This pair have deluxe bold scroll with gold naming and detailing, complimented by a gold bordered game scene of Bobwhite Quail and Red Grouse respectively. The actions have been ‘brushed’ which really highlights the detail in the scroll and obviously the game scenes.
The wood is truly exceptional and in all honesty was taken on as a bit of a gamble by the client. Both stocks came from very highly figured blanks that under normal circumstances are difficult to visualise on the finished gun. In this instance even we were surprised to see just how well the raw blanks formed into stocks and how the figuring contrasted throughout. The photos really don’t do them justice!
Earlier this month we posted a composed pair of droplock shotguns consisting of a .410 & 28g. These were the first of three pairs with the others following in the coming months. Well to add a little variation to the mix and obviously not complete yet, we thought to share the images of the last pair on return from the engraver.
As you can see they really do vary from the norm! Whilst the client is no big game hunter he thought the subjects an interesting alternative to the more conventional scroll and bird game scenes you might expect to find on such guns. Here at the factory the normally conservative gunmakers thought the engraving an interesting variation on a theme although they were concerned how a .410 might perform on a buffalo!
Regardless of anyones liking for the subject on these shotguns (and yes we can hear the groans from the traditionalists), the work has been beautifully executed and certainly after hardening, brushing and finishing the completed guns should look beautiful and undoubtedly make for interesting conversation pieces!
Last week saw another of our signature ‘droplock’ double rifles finished from engraving. In this case we have a classic .500 3″ nitro express with our traditional full scroll coverage, gold naming and an elegant gold border around the breach ends with scroll pyramids extending forward. This particular rifle has an extended tang or ‘strap over comb’ which can often be a nice touch. This rifle is going for full case colour hardening of all parts, which should make for a very nice looking version of a traditional format rifle.
For those of us in the gun and outdoor industry, we find ourselves in the thick of the show season. My colleague, Ricky Bond, and I returned to the U.S. Agency after the Dallas Safari Club convention only to unload and re-pack for what will be a month on the road attending the Antique Arms Show and the Safari Club International Convention, both held in Las Vegas. Westley Richards has been a mainstay at both shows for many, many years and it is always a time of year that we look forward to. While Simon owned and operated one of the best gun makers in the World, he was a gun dealer at heart and he always spoke fondly of the Antique Arms show. Recalling a blog post of Simon’s where he asserted that at no other time, anywhere in the world, is there a larger gathering of fine guns under one roof, this is quite obvious as I walk the isles of the show. It is a cast of colourful characters, historic and collectible firearms and it remains one of the few, and really the best, of the true gun shows left in the U.S. Safari Club International’s convention is two weeks later and it is the largest outdoor show on U.S. soil.
For those of us who are in pursuit of the outdoor lifestyle there is really no other place where one can meet outfitters, taxidermist, gun makers and equipment companies from all over the World in one place. It truly is a spectacle to behold and the four days the show runs is barely enough time to take it all in. Prior to my employment with Westley’s I would notice how many people frequented the Westley Richards booth and I am looking forward to meeting these faithful clients as well as catching up with old friends.
One other aspect of this time of year that Ricky and I are looking forward to is the week between the shows that allows time for visiting clients. Simon and I often discussed being accessible to our customers not only in the Agency but to travel to see them as well. To that point, we schedule time to visit our clients and offer showings in the comfort and privacy of their homes or offices. This also provides an opportunity to pick up items for our used gun inventory. This is a service we offer year round and we are happy to schedule such visits at the convenience of our clients. I encourage any readers of The Explora to make it a point to visit both the Antique Arms show and the SCI convention and this year is as good a time as any. I would also encourage the readers of the blog to feel free to contact us to schedule a visit and private showing on their home turf. This is a great way to see, up close, what Westley Richards offers as well as to discuss their personal collection and how Westley Richards might be able to assist in buying and selling guns for their firearms portfolio.
Antique Arms Show: Jan 20th – 22nd, 2017
Westgate Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
We are always amazed by the diversity of products that seem to have left the Westley Richards factory in the last 200 years. Take for instance this rather unusual .410 over and under pistol.
Completed circa 1935 the pistol is based on a design that was originally patented to Charles Lancaster who used the design for their Howdah and Officer pistols. It was available from them in various pistol calibres up to .577 and came in both 4 and 2 barrel versions all operated with a single trigger. The single trigger could also be extended and when cocked act as a set trigger which was handy for precision shooting.
This Westley Richards version is proofed for the .410 2 1/2″ cartridge shooting a 7/16 ounce load which suggests that it could really only have been intended for use either as a vermin control pistol, or more interestingly a specimen collectors pistol. The idea of facing a wounded tiger with it or some hostile native seems definitely out of the question!
Amazingly it comes presented in a lightweight leather case with cleaning rod and brushes all certainly made at the time it was supplied. Seeing such a case always fills us with anticipation and yet again we were not disappointed. A nice fun item to see bearing the Westley Richards name, one we may even use as a template for a new ‘compact’ .410 over and under quail gun!
Just returned last week from engraving is this fabulous .600 sidelock double rifle engraved by Vince Crowley.
I remember fondly the first time I met Vince when in truth we were both kids just starting out in the gun trade. He approached the door at the old Westley Richards factory in Bournbrook like a scrawny Oliver Twist and rather quietly asked ‘Do you have any engravers that can help me? I would like to be a gun engraver.’ Lucky for Vince we had one of finest of the day Rashid El Hadi on site who took Vince under his wing and as the saying goes ‘the rest is history’.
The basis for this exhibition project is our .600 sidelock ejector double rifle action, with extended tang, back action locks, model ‘C’ dolls head fastener and snap action lever work. These heavy action .600’s really do make a statement and they provide a huge canvas upon which to work. The gunmakers here at the factory put many hundreds of hours of patience and skill into building and preparing this magnificent rifle for Vince.
The theme of the rifle is classic hunting scenes from the ‘Dark Continent’ combined with a general feel for the flora and fauna. Vince himself estimates that he spent somewhere in the region of 3000 hours engraving this monster. Hard to believe? Just take a look. Practically every single inch of the action has been embellished and what you find on closer inspection is a delicate mixture of fine scroll, sculptured scroll, carving, flush gold inlay, raised gold, and game scenes. The grip trap you saw in an earlier post (‘A singular piece of engraving skill’) and we have yet to show you the butt plate!
Some of the most outstanding workmanship is on the barrels where a combination of flush and raised gold work along with fine game scene detailing and carved animals is pretty spectacular. Once complete the rifle should make quite a statement about the level of gunmaking and craftsmanship achievable today.
On our travels we are always on the look out for any interesting ephemera, photos and journals that may have a link to either the history of Westley Richards or the sport of hunting itself.
Last week in the US we picked up several vintage postcards that certainly make for fascinating viewing. Published in 1910 they depict various hunting scenes from the epic safari of Theodore Roosevelt’s which was conducted from 1909-10. At the time this was the largest safari ever conducted in Africa and involved some of the greatest hunters of the day including F.C.Selous and R.J.Cunninghame.
Over 500 animals and birds were collected by the former US President and his son Kermit, all of which were carefully skinned, prepared and shipped to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. This huge safari set the standard for the luxury safaris that were to follow and clearly put East Africa on the map for the dedicated US hunter.
Today Africa remains a magical safari destination where sportsmen from around the world can still participate in one of the last great adventures. Whether or not you would be able to send postcards such as these today is another matter altogether!
Just passing through our workshops and on its way to the Safari Club Convention in Las Vegas is this fabulous pre-owned .577 3″ NE droplock double rifle.
Completed in 2003 and having done only one safari, the rifle is built to deluxe standard with bold scroll, gold lettering and game scene engraving by Peter Spode. It has 25″ barrels, 14 1/4″ length of pull, deluxe Turkish Walnut stock, cheek piece, gold oval, extra locks and all the other classic features you would expect of our droplock double rifle.
Presented in a stunning Alligator skin oak & leather case, with full complement of tools it is a great opportunity for anyone who does not want to wait the three years it takes for a new rifle to be built. Happy hunting!
Firstly we would like to apologise for the delay with our blog posts, but as you will appreciate we have been super busy preparing for the show circuit and were air bound as soon as January hit. The Dallas Safari Convention is the first of our regular shows and this year was filled with the buzz of a new US President.
There was unquestionably a ‘feel good’ factor that was certainly reflected in the interest in both new guns and pre-owned. The safari and general hunting outfitters were noticing an upturn in interest particularly for the 2018 season which is fantastic news all round. Dallas itself is a great venue which sees growth year on year without getting so huge that you cannot get around it all in a couple of easy days.
From our own point of view it was great to catch up with clients old and new. Many came to see us in person to express their condolences at the passing of Simon last year, but to a man they were all as excited as us about the future of Westley Richards. Simon’s legacy here will continue unabated. There are a lot of new young clients coming into the best gun making sector and it is unquestionably in all of our interests to make sure that they are looked after properly. Whether you are selling guns or hunts the reality is that we are all selling ‘fun’ and this should never be forgotten.
The English gun and rifle makers were certainly out in force although as one good friend said ‘one of London’s best is suspiciously absent!’ Whilst it is a great opportunity for perspective clients to see all the fine guns and rifles offered by the English Gun Trade, it is also a nice time for all of us makers to catch up and encourage (rather ridicule!) one another so that we all keep pushing the boundary’s of best gun and rifle making.
The next show on the circuit is the Las Vegas Antique Arms followed by Safari Club International. We will of course be attending both of these and very much look forward to catching up with those who can make it. In the meantime we will have some great new posts to keep you all enthused.
We would like to thank Larry Blunk for taking the photos that accompany this post.
A few years ago a group of shooting friends decided to place three similar orders with us for a combination pair of guns comprising a .410 and a 28g droplock. Whilst they all agreed on the same gauge combination, other elements of the guns would become far more personal.
The two most obvious distinctions which you are going to seeing other the next few weeks are the style of engraving and the figuring of the wood. Take for instance this first pair of guns that we have just completed.
The engraving has been executed by Frederique Lepinois whose work you are now familiar with from this blog. She has her own distinctive style which to our mind falls into the modern ‘Italian’, naturally a product of where she is based. This work comprises beautiful elaborate scrolls with fine game scenes wrapped in ornamental borders. There is always a delicate nature to this Italian style and it works really well with these small frame guns.
The wood on this pair is naturally rich in colour and has that fabulous contrast that we so often like to see here at the factory. It has always been our goal to provide our clients with the very best selection of wood from which to make their choice. Lets face it, we only build around 35 guns and rifles a year so we had best make each one very special. What better starting point than a fabulous piece of wood!
As the other guns come through, you will see just how diverse peoples taste can be which is why building bespoke guns and rifles is so much fun.