Fresh back from engraving is this super .500 droplock double rifle with bold scroll engraving, gold naming and a game scene of a hunter being charged by a bull elephant.
The game scene is an interesting and not unusual concept which always poses the question ‘What happened next?’ For anyone who has ever been in such a situation there is nothing more exciting! A large bull elephant with ears spread wide, kicking up dust is a truly intimidating sight, one that makes even the largest of double rifles seem small in the hands of the hunter.
More often than not the tension is relieved by the mutual backing off of both parties, each content to go their separate way. Then again, should it all go wrong…………………..!!!!!
Highlighting rare guns and rifles, regardless of the maker or the price, is one of the great features of this Blog. A wonderful high condition small bore double rifle has recently come through our doors and it is certainly one worthy of being highlighted here. A rifle that checks all the boxes for the collector of fine guns and one that has caused quite a stir at the factory.
Made in 1927 this J. Purdey & Sons Self Opening Double Rifle is chambered in the company’s .246 caliber and remains in remarkable original condition. Retaining nearly all the original color hardening and barrel black as well as the original pad and untouched wood, this is one of the highest condition between the War Purdey rifles we have ever encountered. Built on the famous Beesley Patent Self Opening Sidelock Ejector action it is strengthened with a bolstered frame, third bite and sideclips. The rifle is a pleasure to handle being very slim and appropriately sized for Purdey’s smallest proprietary cartridge. Adorned in Purdey’s house Rose & Scroll this is yet another example of the between the Wars quality that, in my mind, makes this engraving pattern and this era of gun making so famous.
Introduced in 1923 the .246 Purdey hurled a 100gr bullet at just under 3,000 fps and was described in Purdey’s advertising as “one of the most up-to-date small bore rifles for deer, buck and wild boar it is one of the fastest double rifles made…”. While the .246 Flanged matched the ballistics of cartridges that are exceedingly popular today, the same as the .369 Purdey, it never reached much popularity. Still available in the 1940’s the cartridge was simply ahead of its time and very few rifles were made by Purdey’s in this caliber; just 13 according to Donald Dallas’ book.
Finding such a rare rifle in such high original condition is a rare feat in and of itself, but this little gun had a few more stories to tell. Stuck to the right side of the butt stock is a tattered label from Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional that administers and manages the assets ceded to the Spanish State by the Crown. In a call to our colleagues at Purdey’s, we were told the ledgers state:
Completed 12th July 1927 for the King of Spain
Barrel length: 25 1/2″
Stock length: 15 5/8″
Weight: 9lbs 13oz
While the ledgers are a bit vague stating simply the “King of Spain” King Alfonso XIII, who reigned from 1886 to 1931, was a well-known patron of Purdey’s and known to be a very keen shot and avid hunter. +
One can draw their own conclusions from these clues but nevertheless, it only adds to the mystique of such a rifle. Simply put this is an excellent example of a very rare rifle, from a storied time period, by a World-renowned maker, in extremely high original condition and with royal provenance. There’s really nothing else a collector of fine guns can ask for.
Although by no means prolific, it is always great to see a new bolt action rifle in Westley Richards signature .318 calibre reach completion here at the factory. Once the medium bore calibre by which all others were judged, like so many of the great British calibre’s, including .333 Jeffery and .350 Rigby, it slipped into semi obscurity after the Second World War.
In truth the .318 Westley Richards cartridge shooting a 250 grain bullet at 2250 feet per second is still a great and fun cartridge to use for general plains game hunting and even driven boar in Europe. The long torpedo bullet has phenomenal sectional density and with its moderate velocity (by modern standards) proves a deep penetrating round, at one time capable of tackling every type of big and dangerous game on the planet.
Peep sight located on the cocking piece.
The rifle you see here was built to a very traditional lightweight format with the addition of Westley Richards take-down system. The client had requested the rifle to be built primarily for open sight use, hence the sleek lines of the rifle. Westley Richards signature patent combination foresight was a given as no true Westley Richards magazine rifle is complete without one. It was then decided to fit a very traditional island rear sight base with one standing plus three leaf express sight regulated to 200 yards. A peep sight fitted to the cocking piece was also utilised so creating a very classic style of rifle.
As with all our guns and rifles a super piece of Turkish walnut was selected with which to stock the rifle. We came to the conclusion some time back that with the comparatively small number of guns and rifles that we build each year, we may as well use the very nicest wood that we can obtain.
Certainly destined for Africa, we are looking forward to hearing how this classic round performs in this new rifle.
Beautiful Turkish walnut stock.
The new rifle compared to a vintage example. Either rifle would be fun to use today in Africa.
Page from Westley Richards ‘Centenary’ catalogue detailing the .318 Westley Richards.