A New ‘English’ Westley Richards 28 Bore Droplock Shotgun

Westley Richards has a very International reputation for building best quality guns and rifles. So much so in fact that 90% of our order book will head overseas a year, leaving very little to be seen here in the Uk shooting field.

In fairness Westley Richards is very much a niche brand here in the Uk, staying under the radar building great guns and rifles for true entusiasts who get what we are about and appreciate superb quality and attention to detail.

So it was, rather ironically, that at the SCI Convention in 2016 we took an order for a 28 bore droplock from an Englishman who was attending the show to book a couple of hunts.

Now to the US market a 28 bore does not appear too unusual, but here in the Uk they appeal to either the experienced shot or the eccentric, take your pick. You see over here most game shooting involves shooting high driven birds which require the firepower of the 12 bore or for the more ambitious a choked up 20 bore. 28 bores are used by very few, although in truth (and the right hands) they can be deadly.

Should you wish to make things even tougher on yourself, decide (as engraved on this gun) to tackle the Common Snipe with your gun. Now this tiny dart of a bird is hard to shoot in most instances, as they either spring away zig-zagging in front of you, or if driven, appear but a mere speck in the sky, often resembling a mosquito in size. Both targets are equally difficult to shoot, the shots to hits ratio rapidly spiralling out of control. It genuinely requires a seasoned shot to tackle such game and thankfully this is exactly who this gun is going to. We are looking forward to a few fabled stories about this gun as the shooting season here in the Uk gets into full swing.

The clients favourite game bird the Common Snipe adorns the cover plate.

A tight and highly figured piece of walnut suits the diminutive nature of this ‘English’ droplock. 

Fine B. Halliday & Co. .470 Boxlock Double Rifle

The latest pre-owned rifle to land at WR UK is this fine .470 boxlock ejector double rifle by retailer, B. Halliday & Co. Ltd. Not a gunmaker in their own right, they had guns and rifles made for them in the Birmingham trade and were then retailed through their 63 Cannon Street, London address. Records for Halliday are hard to come by and it is thought they have either been lost or were destroyed during WW2. It is believed that Halliday was employed by W J Jeffery & Co. but then left to start his own business in 1921 at 60 Queen Victoria Street and in 1925, moved to 63 Cannon Street. Cannon street is located in the City of London itself, centrally located between St Pauls Cathedral, the Bank of England and the Tower of London.

The rifle is built on an Anson & Deeley, fixed lock, double trigger action with Tigers and Indian Elephant scenes engraving with a nicely executed scroll surround. The game scenes are typically naive, a common feature on guns from the interwar period destined for the Indian market.

The 26” barrels have tidy bores and the rifle shoots a very respectable group (see target below). They feature a file cut quarter rib with Dolls Head Extension. A rear express sight with one standing and two folding leaves regulated at 100, 200 & 300 yards and a single bead ramp foresight.  The target was shot at 50 yards using Hornady 500 grain soft nosed ammunition and was shot with a 6 o’clock hold due to the rifle being regulated at 100 yards. The pistol grip stock measures 14 ¼” to the centre of the traditional recoil pad with an extended tang, grip cap and silver stock. The splinter forend features the Anson push rod release.

The rifle weighs 10lbs 9.5oz and is neatly presented in an oak and leather case with cleaning rods, snap caps, oil bottle and leather sling. The case would appear to be a later addition and features trade labels from London Guns of Victoria, Australia. The rifle was acquired by Walter Clode from India via Australia sometime in the 1980’s, during the height of Mr. Clode’s used gun dealings. It was sold to a local hunter by Mr. Clode in May 1987 and in the last 32 years has hunted on 3 different continents and has been a much trusted companion on a wide variety of hunts in East Africa, Canada and has even been back ‘home’ to Australia’s Northern Territory.

It really is a super rifle with a good deal of character. It remains in original condition and would have a had a light refurbishment by Mr. Clode in the 80’s. There are the usual handling marks on the stock as you’d expect but the stock is sound and the rifle functions perfectly. This rifle is ready and waiting for its next safari and offers someone a fantastic opportunity to acquire themselves a great English double, in one of the most popular big game calibres ever made.

The time has now come for Westley Richards to once again find a home for this great rifle and it will be on our used gun site shortly. Please contact me for any enquiries; ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

Holland & Holland Pair of 12g ‘Royal’ Game Guns

With Red Grouse shooting now officially underway, the game season in the Uk can now be looked forward to with real vigor and excitement!  The anticipation of a busy season will see shots progress from grouse, to partridge, to pheasant as the season works on through the autumn and winter.

Double gunning, perhaps the pinnacle of driven game shooting will feature throughout the season on many of the larger estates and so it is no surprise to see a spike in the demand for pairs of guns. With this in mind it could not have been a better time to have gotten the most recent addition to the second-hand gun inventory here at the Westley Richards U.S. Agency.

This pair of Holland & Holland 12g ‘Royal’ Model game guns are in excellent, original condition and one of the finest pairs of Holland & Holland guns to come to market in some time.

Signature hand detachable sidelocks.

Finished in 1953 this pair of guns represents, in my mind, one of Holland’s finest periods. I know the guns made prior to the World Wars and between the Wars, are often thought of as the bench mark for overall quality in a gun, but lay this pair of post war guns by a comparable Holland, of any era, and I think you will be surprised. The bold Royal engraving is wonderfully cut and well executed, the fit and finish of the guns is superb and remains in high original condition. The barrels were expertly struck and bored. The guns showcase all the hallmark features that made Holland & Holland such a notable name in gunmaking.

The guns are built on the H&H patented Royal model bar-action sidelock ejector with hand detachable locks and treble grip action bodies. The guns have two triggers, the front ones hinged, and rolled trigger bows. The guns also have automatic safeties with “SAFE” inlaid in gold as well as gold lined cocking indicators. The square bar actions have beautifully shaped beads and fences and the actions are engraved in the classic house or Royal engraving pattern of bold foliate scroll surrounding the Maker’s name. The bottom of the action is engraved “Royal Model” and each gun is appropriately numbered in gold “1” or “2” on the top lever, top rib and forend iron.

Superb original condition is a highlight of these guns.

The guns have their original 28” chopper lump barrels with Holland’s hidden third fasteners and raised matted game ribs. The barrels have original 2 ¾” chambers (1 1/4 oz proof) and carry Holland’s patent self-opening assembly. The barrels are engraved with the maker’s name and the “98 New Bond St.” address (ca. 1858-1960). The bottom rib is engraved “Made in England” and “Royal”.

The straight grip walnut stocks have Holland’s classic diamond shaped hand. The stocks have a dark contrasting figure and match nicely, both having 14 3/4″ length of pulls over checkered butts. The splinter forends have Anson push rods and Holland’s patent ejectors. Stocks and forends are checkered in a very well-cut point pattern checkering with borders and traditional drop points. Each gold stock oval has the previous owner’s initials D.J.M.

The guns come complete in the maker’s two-gun motor case with its canvas cover and the original owner’s name and hometown on the initial patch.

These guns remain in near new condition as they were used very little and were well cared for. It is hard to imagine a pair of vintage guns in a more relevant configuration for today’s shooting. The bonus is they are from wonderful period in this venerable maker’s history. This is a very special pair of guns.

  A typed letter to the original owner of this pair of guns was found inside the gun’s case. The letter quotes a few days shooting on the grouse moors of Scotland and is dated 1960.

 

A Rare Westley Richards .22 LR ‘Best Quality’ Bolt Action Rifle

In all my years selling guns, I don’t think I ever met anyone who didn’t have a .22 LR of some kind. Probably one of the greatest cartridges ever invented, it can be used as a precision target round or a highly effective hunting tool. It is very inexpensive to produce and good reliable firearms, in both handguns and rifles, can be made and sold at very reasonable prices. Not surprisingly, the cartridge is one of the most widely used in the World and I would imagine most readers of this blog have at least one rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle.

The American firm J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. first introduced the .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) in 1847. It has a rimfire case (based on Louis-Nicolas Flobert’s .22 BB Cap cartridge) and shoots a 0.22” calibre 40 grain bullet at around 1,200 fps producing virtually no recoil. Being cheap, plentiful and easy to shoot, the cartridge also makes a wonderful round for teaching and practicing the fundamentals of shooting.

Due to the popularity of the cartridge, the rifles and handguns chambered for the .22 LR must be in the tens of millions. British companies such as BSA certainly contributed their fair share and even the best gun and rifle makers of England offered rifles chambered in .22 LR. I have seen .22 rifles from makers James Woodward, James Purdey, Holland & Holland, William Evans, and of course, Westley Richards. Most were single shot rook and rabbit rifles, but I have also encountered more than one Best Quality double rifle chambered for the cartridge. However, as popular as the .22 LR is, it is more often associated with a child’s gun or small game hunting. Finding any kind of .22 rifle made to the standard of a best quality big bore rifle, is something that will rarely happen.

You can imagine my surprise when I first heard of the rifle that just came through the U.S. Agency. Made in 1983 to match a customer’s big bore Westley Richards, the rifle pictured here is the only best quailty .22 LR bolt action rifle Westley Richards has ever made.

The history is fuzzy on how this rifle actually came to be but, the story goes, it started out to provide the client with a rifle to practice his shooting, in a chambering more economical and fun to shoot than his big bore rifle, yet having a similar style of sights, size and weight. The current owner had told me about this rifle but seeing it in person, it was clear this project took on a life of its own becoming much more than just a rifle to practice with.

The rifle is best quality in every way. Based on an action of Mauser design, the MAS .22 LR Training Rifle. After WWII, the Mauser factory fell into French controlled territory and during this time, the French had the factory design a .22 calibre training rifle for their military. The Mauser people drew on a previous Mauser 22 design, the KKW, and made some slight modifications. The first ones were produced in the Mauser factory but, production was moved to Manufacture d’armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS) or the Saint-Étienne Arms Manufacturer. MAS was a French state-owned manufacturing company located in the town of Saint-Étienne, where weapons have been manufactured since the Middle Ages. The rifles were assembled until the existing supply of parts were used up.

The metal is engraved in a full coverage ‘House’ pattern scroll common to Westley Richards bolt action rifles from the 1980’s. The rifle is fitted with a highly figured, full-size walnut stock complete with raised beaded cheekpiece, full pistol grip, a very fine point pattern wrap checkering and the traditional horn butt plate, pistol grip cap and forend tip. The rifle also features full size one-piece bottom metal with an inside-the-bow release straddle floor plate. The floor plate opens and reveals the 5-round detachable magazine the MAS 45 rifles were originally fitted with.

For the original MAS 45 magazines to work, the gunmakers hid the magazine under the floor plate and milled a magazine box, from a solid steel billet, to accept the magazine. This allowed the original magazines to work in a standard center fire rifle stock that is far deeper than the original training rifles.

The rifle has a 24” barrel with the same contour as a standard centerfire rifle and the muzzle’s crown is recessed ¼” with a diameter of about .330”, hiding the small .22 calibre bore and further adding to the rifle’s disguise. The barrel was also fitted with Westley Richards pattern island rear sight with one standing Express sight and three folding leaves (50, 75, 100, 150 yds) and Westley Richards patent combination foresight. The rifle was also made to accept a scope and has handmade grooved mounts that replace the original receiver sight the MAS 45 rifles were fitted with. The bases are engraved to match the rest of the rifle and accept American scope rings intended for .22 rifles with ¾” grooved receivers.

As with any best quality gun or rifle, the devil is always in the details. This rifle is certainly not short on any details. I also imagine the rifle comes with plenty of heartache, frustration and disdain from the men who had to make it. While it is hard enough to build a gun or rifle to best quality standards on a model of gun the makers are familiar with, applying that same standard to something the makers have never built brings a new host of challenges to its manufacture. Being that the factory had never made a .22 bolt action before, there were no plans, notes or examples to reverse engineer, so the project started with a blank sheet of paper. Add all of this with an overarching theme to deceive the viewer into thinking it is a larger calibre rifle than it is, I can only imagine the turmoil this little rifle’s creation caused.

Its rarity notwithstanding, the amount of thought, ingenuity and attention to detail that went into this project is quite astounding and, I guess, that is part of what makes this rifle so alluring.