Winchester Commemorative Rifles at Westley Richards

Being the token redneck in the English gun trade, certain duties fall to me that my British counterparts are either unqualified for or, more likely, are unwilling to do. When it comes to American guns and rifles, especially Winchesters, Ricky and Trigger call on me when they come across our threshold. Being that I also fall subject to the stereotype that all Americans have a portrait of John Wayne on the wall and a Winchester under the bed, I guess I am somewhat qualified to comment on the collection of Winchester Commemoratives Ricky recently acquired.

Starting in 1964, Winchester released different series of commemorative rifles based on the Model 94 platform. Each series was made to recognize or honor an iconic person, place, event or organization in American history with fancy wood, metal finishes and engraving and highly illustrated boxes. The different series were usually made in limited numbers with special serial numbers. The commemorative rifles were intended to be instant collectibles and they enjoy a sort of cult like following in the gun world.

While this is not the normal kind of discussions we have on The Explora, these rifles represent a fun chapter in the American gun trade and the five examples we have are some of the more iconic ones, so we thought they worth mentioning.

1969 Golden Spike Carbine Commemorative. This series features a brass framed Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in North America. The rifle’s engraving and box illustrate when two locomotives from the two railroads met nose to nose on May 10, 1869 in Promontory Summit, Utah. 69,996 rifles produced in this series, this rifle is #GS25538

1980 Oliver F. Winchester Commemorative. This series features a brass plated Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester with engraving scenes of the Winchester factory and the box is illustrated with Oliver F. Winchester’s portrait. 19,999 rifles produced in this series; this rifle is #OFW730

1981 John Wayne Commemorative. This series features a Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester with a silver receiver and an engraved scene of a stage coach being chased by bandits and titles of movies John Wayne starred in engraved around the outside of the action. The rifle also features the large “Trapper” lever loop, made famous by John Wayne. 49,000 rifles produced in this series; this rifle is #JW28502

1983 Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative. This series features a Model 94 chambered in .38-55 WCF with a case color finish and the engraving and box illustrations depict Native Americans hunting bison from horseback, the portrait of the famous Lakota War Chief, Crazy Horse. The stock is decorated in a Native American theme with brass tacks. The outside of the receiver is engraved with various tribe names. 19,999 rifles in this series and this is #CCH4867

For any interest please contact Ricky or LD:

ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

ld@westleyrichards.com

A Stunning Original Westley Richards 8 Bore Wildfowl Gun

I am always looking for good second-hand guns to sell and every now and then I find a rose among the thorns.

That idiomatic expression is a bit deceiving though, as the most recent gun I’ve found is nowhere near as delicate or dainty as a rose. Quite simply, it’s a magnificent beast of a gun from an era that has long since passed.

In Westley Richards’ landmark 1912 Centenary catalogue, there is a section devoted to Wildfowl Guns stating:

“The term Wildfowl Gun is very comprehensive. With regard to portable guns fired from the shoulder it includes the 12 bores taking the long cartridge, the 10 bores, 8 bores, and 4 bores…the three larger calibres here mentioned may be particularly regarded as suitable for killing the largest wildfowl, for these guns discharge considerably increased charges of both powder and shot, and so with large shot, the wild geese, ducks, etc. may be killed at the most extended ranges possible.”

Original load data accompany’s this amazing wildfowl gun.

To that measure, that is exactly what I have recently come across. This Westley Richards 8g A&D Fixed Lock was finished in 1909 and, just as the 1912 catalogue states, this gun is a “Double Hammerless Wildfowl Gun, in an 8 bore with a plain finish and anti-recoil heelplate” and these models were built on special order, to the customer’s specifications.

Accompanying the gun are three pages, clipped together, of beautifully handwritten notes showing the guns serial number, gauge, load data and pattern results at different size circles and distances for three different shot sizes. No doubt factory notes recorded when the barrels were regulated. Looking back at the ledgers, the gun was “sold to” one F.W. Lanchester who would, no doubt, have to be one Frederick W. Lanchester (Oct. 23, 1868 – March 8, 1946) who was an English automotive engineer and founder of Lanchester Engine Company and The Lanchester Motor Company in Birmingham, England. Certainly, the type that would be obsessive with data from test results.

Condition is king and this gun has it all. One of the finest 8 bore guns we have ever seen.

Along with the paperwork the gun is complete in its original lightweight canvas case, with the original oil pot, two-piece rosewood cleaning rod (that is massive) and original mop, jag and brush

Weighing in at just under 14 pounds with 34” barrels and “extreme choke” in each barrel, this is a long range shotgun of note. A true Westley in every sense built on the venerable Anson & Deeley Fixed Lock action and fitted with the patent Model “C” doll’s head bolting and snap lever work and an automatic “beetle” back safety. The gun was offered with ejectors, however, this is a non-ejector with two triggers. The gun stock has a Silver’s type pad, a capped pistol grip with a full-length trigger guard and a splinter forend with a Deeley latch and horn forend tip. The gun displays almost all its original, and very vivid, color hardening, blacking, and stock finish down to the original anti-recoil heel plate.

The rarity of this gun is off the charts (Trigger and I know of only three other 8g WR guns) but the completeness of the package and the super high, original condition is something not often if ever, encountered in a vintage gun of any sort. But to consider that a gun like this was intended to be exposed to the harsh environments where waterfowl are hunted, it is nothing short of a miracle that this gun has remained, all these years, in such phenomenal shape. While the gun does show a few tell-tell signs of being 110 years old, don’t we all wish we could age this gracefully?

Set next to a .410 droplock the 8 bore is an impressive beast!

A Beautiful 28 Bore Westley Richards Rose & Scroll Round Body Shotgun

It has been over 25 years since we last built a 28 bore sidelock shotgun and probably even longer still since we built a round bodied version. This particular gun has been a real labour of love here at the factory taking several years to get to the point you see before you. The majority of the gun has been built old school from forgings with many of the components made individually by hand as quite frankly we had no reference with which to work from!

Truth be told the gun has turned out beautiful and as it reaches completion we will obviously share further images with you. All credit must go to all of the gunmakers so far involved and also the engraver who has developed a beautiful take on the traditional rose and scroll engraving design. Cut delicately by hand this gun harks back to the pre-war days of gunmaking, yet demonstrates what can be achieved today.

  A modern take on a classic engraving pattern.

 A quail sits in raised gold on the top lever.

  It was decided to use Westley Richards signature ‘Deeley’ catch on this small bore gun. Previous sidelocks have used the ‘Anson’ push rod to secure the forend to the barrels.

New Westley Richards .450/.400 3″ Fresh Back From Engraving

Back from engraving this last week is this fabulous sideplated, single trigger, droplock double rifle in .450/.400 3″ calibre. Decorated with elaborate scroll, gold naming and game scenes depicting three of the ‘Big 5’ this rifle has been built to our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ standard.

As double rifles go this one might be considered slightly unconventional with its Westley Richards single selective trigger. Controversial in the eye of many double rifle enthusiasts, the great ivory hunter James Sutherland had one fitted in his .577 3″ way back in 1906 and used it until he died in 1932.

Another interesting aspect of this rifle is the calibre. The .450/.400 3″ has seen a resurgence since the introduction of modern factory ammunition. At one time the calibre was an industry standard appearing in rifles manufactured by Manton, Holland & Holland, Watson Bros. and Westley Richards to name but a few. Introduced in cordite version by W.J.Jeffery it was considered the all-round calibre prior to the introduction of Hollands lethal .375 Magnum.

Whilst sometimes bulky in vintage rifles which used generic action sizes, in the modern era this calibre makes for a very sleek and fast handling rifle which is still more than capable of taking all of Africa’s dangerous game.

 

Traditional Westley Richards 28 Bore Droplock

A traditional Westley Richards droplock in 28 bore was completed this week and due to head out to the USA. Whilst a greater portion of the guns and rifles being built at the factory today are of a more fancy engraving composition, it is always nice to see the care that goes into a traditional ‘house’ engraved gun.

These guns will always stand the test of time as they are the bench mark gun for the company. Quail hunters in the US simply love the small bore guns that the guys here build and the actual ‘droplocks’ always make them a talking point on a hunt.

It goes without saying that we enjoy using the very finest of figured walnut and having just returned from a recent buying trip there are going to be some truly epic guns and rifles coming out of the factory in the next couple of years!

Gold naming whilst subtle adds an elegant touch to the gun.

Super deluxe wood is the standard now with Westley Richards.