I’m not sure we all imagined 2020 would be the year of the staycation, but that has been the world we’ve been thrust into. As we emerge positively from lockdown, everybody is in pursuit of making the most of the summer in their home or host nation – and I’m sure like myself, discovering some hidden gems along the way.
Here in the UK we are blessed with a unique and spectacular countryside, especially in the summer months, offering surprises at every turn. Whether you’re an explorer, adventurer, culture vulture, gastronome, antiquarian, naturalist or fieldsports enthusiast, there is literally something for everyone.
The latest guns to be offered for sale at our UK factory is this fantastic pair of 20g droplock shotguns. Completed in 2000 they feature scroll back actions with our patent hand detachable locks, Westley snap lever work, beetle back safety and double triggers. Expertly engraved by Peter Spode with bold floral scroll, Westley name in gold banner and numbered 1&2 in gold in the usual places. Both sets of 27″ barrels have 1/2 choke in them, with 2 3/4″ chambers, engraved in gold ‘Westley Richards England’ on both ribs. Highly figured, handsome walnut stocks measures 14 3/4″ to the centre of the chequered butt, a bend of 1 3/8″ at the comb and 1 7/8″ at the heel, cast off 1/4″. Straight hand grips and gold stock ovals, splinter forends with horn tip and Deeley catch release. The guns weigh 5lbs 10oz and come in their mid tan leather case with tools. They will be on the used gun site shortly.
It’s rare for us to have a pre-owned Westley 20g for sale and even more so a pair in such great condition and specification. The 1/2 choking in all barrels makes the guns a great pair of all rounders and 1/2 choke is ideal for pretty much any type of game shooting, open enough for grouse and early season partridge but tight enough for January pheasants. Many shooting instructors recommend having the same choke in both barrels as often driven targets are shot at the same distance and it also helps to focus your mind on your shooting rather than thinking about what barrel is what choke and the inevitable blaming of the gun for your poor shooting! The stock measurements are ideal for driven shooting with a slightly higher than average comb height, this enables you to see more of the top rib which encourages lead on straight driven birds, helps you keep sight of your target throughout and also enables you to keep your cheek glued to the stock to maintain a proper gun mount, aim and a consistent line on your target.
It’s morning frost on the hood of a land cruiser that crystallises a complex layer of thorn scratches, lacerations and claw marks from decades of exploration; a cool breeze on your face as you drive around for hours in the hunting rig, blissfully daydreaming until you’re ripped from the reverie by cat-claw thorns tearing through two shirt layers and drawing blood.
It’s the smell of parched topsoil getting its first drink of rain as the monsoons precipitate their arrival; the taste of a hand-rolled cigarette after lunch, lit by the same match that sets an early-season management fire, which in turn brings a chaotic hurricane of birds to devour the winged insects fleeing from the climbing flames. Or it’s a midday nap under the shade of an acacia tree with pant legs tucked into your socks to prevent soldier ants from biting ankles tender from tracking buffalo, only to be woken by a lion’s call a few hundred yards away, then not being able to fall back asleep because it might’ve been closer.
There are some things in this world that defy conventional description, where language can fall short of communicating these experiences or the complex meanings behind them. In the same way that an inspiring dream or revelation can evade articulation, I’ve always found it difficult to describe my love for Africa to someone who has never been. However, that has never stopped me from trying to understand the root of this passion that has inspired so many artists, writers, adventurers, hunters and conservationists over the centuries.
In my experience there is little sentimental middle ground; one either can’t endure the harsh elements, relentless insects, and logistical chaos, or one absolutely loves it and the charms sink deep into one’s bones, never to leave. Africa becomes a calling that must be answered and many have pursued it relentlessly even to their demise. But what is it exactly that we love so much? Ask anyone who’s spent an extended amount of time in the bush and they’ll probably tell you that it’s small observations of the senses that provide the vibrant source of what we know Africa to be. These are things you often don’t realise until later, having to reflect on the source of mild melancholy that creeps in once you return home.
Here at Westley Richards we are proud to be developing some of the world’s finest gunmakers, engravers and leather workers. None more exemplify this than our recently appointed foreman Stuart Richards, who at 29 has seen over 300 guns and rifles pass through the factory.
In September 2020 he will celebrate 12 years with Westley Richards, rising through the ranks of the company, capping it off with his instrumental role in the creation of our new exhibition rifle “The Forest Rifle”. It is clear that our dedication to working with young talent, giving them unique opportunities and watching them thrive is at the very heart of the Westley Richards DNA.
Single shot rifles have always held a fascination with rifle shooters. From earliest times they were the benchmark for accurate shooting and held sway for decades as the rifle of choice for serious competitive shooting. Most of the major British sporting arms manufacturers have at one time supplied single shot rifles from flintlock through to the centre-fire breechloading era.
Westley Richards referred to its rifle as a ‘sliding block’ rifle whilst other makers and modern literature refer to it as a ‘falling block’ action.