Access to, and the availability of, game shooting has never been more egalitarian than it is today. Whether you’re a single gun looking to join a team, a group of friends from overseas wanting your first taste of British game shooting or you are a collection of experienced shots seeking sport on a variety of different estates around the country, there are numerous sporting agents and websites that offer shooting, in all its forms, in every part of the British Isles. And, should you want to be involved in the day without taking part in the shooting; wives, children and (very) well behaved dogs are welcome.
Your actual time on the peg; pulling the trigger, is, in fact, but a small part of the overall day. While it is the sport that brings people together, for many, it is the enjoyment of spending a day out in the great British countryside with like-minded people that brings the real enjoyment. The camaraderie between the guns, beaters, pickers-up and gamekeepers is second to none.
There is more to a day’s shooting than merely reaching the bag as Westley Richards former Gunroom Manager explains.
The cold morning chill; fluorescent, autumnal colours; the smell of gunpowder hanging in the mist; the gentle whimpering of over-excited dogs, the first sip of soul-warming sloe gin; pre-drive nerves followed by an injection of adrenaline at the first flush; the majesty of a towering cock pheasant, wings set, effortlessly gliding across the valley; the quiet admiration of the stylish single shot that folds a super-high bird; and the belly-laughs at that unfortunate friend who can do nothing but clean miss. Just a few emotions that I conjure-up, when thinking about a great passion of mine: driven game shooting. Not only a sport but a way of life for many; a sport deeply ingrained in the history and landscape of the British Isles.
Mixing elegance, exuberance and subtleness is something Westley Richards has mastered the art of like no other gunmaker. The skill of producing a fine pair of exhibition grade guns that possess all the qualities of ‘collection grade’ with the attributes and modesty of ‘field grade’ is evident in our latest creation, this superb pair of hand detachable lock 20 gauge shotguns.
Quite where this year has gone, I am not sure and it’s hard to believe that tomorrow marks the start of the red grouse shooting season here in the UK, famously known as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’. However, I find it near impossible to describe anything that 2020 has given us so far as glorious! If 2020 was a gun it would be a left handed, short stocked, double discharging, weak ejecting, thin walled, out of proof piece of junk made in London. And sadly, she’s not done with us yet!
At the end of July we would have attended the annual Game Fair and the excitement for the coming season begins from there. So quite what the season has install for any of us, is as unknown as the pandemic itself. Each estate and shoot will have carefully planned social distancing measures in place and I’m confident they can keep us all safe and well, of course, it won’t be like any other season and we will undoubtedly see a small reduction in enjoyment but any shooting is better than nothing, right? We will need patience and more importantly, flexibility which I appreciate is not that easy for the scores of international sportsmen and women who travel to our shores to wing shoot. But fingers crossed the virus is temporary, the shooting industry will weather the storm and we look forward to welcoming back teams of guns from all over the world next year.
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.
As another busy week draws to a close, we’ve brought you a selection of photos from the Westley Richards factory floor. Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, in accordance with government guidelines and strict social distancing measures, the gunmakers have not stopped working and the factory has been running full bore! A steady flow of new guns have reached completion and we are very grateful to our gunmakers and outworkers who have kept the wheels turning through such a difficult time. Fingers crossed we are through the worst of this virus and we are pleased to say the showroom is now open and the majority of WR is business as usual. So please feel free to drop us a line to discuss anything gun, clothing or hunting related!
The traditional gun making skills, which are unchanged for the last 100 years, are still very much common place in the factory. A smoke lamp is used by each gunmaker on a daily basis to identify the bearing parts of two adjacent surfaces.
Two superb pre-owned Westley Richards shotguns are the latest additions to our already comprehensive list of used guns and rifles that we offer here at WR.
The first is a classic 20g hand detachable lock, single trigger shotgun. Originally built in 1912 the gun was returned to us in 1992 for a complete rebuild. We fitted new 27” barrels with 2 3/4” chambers, choked 1/4 & 3/4. A new, beautifully figured, straight hand stock and splinter forend measuring 15 1/8” to the centre of the chequered butt, with a drop of 1 1/2″ at the comb and 2 1/2” at the heel, cast off 9/16” at the heel, 3/4” at the toe and 1/2” at the face which is slightly swept.
The scroll back action features our patent hand detachable locks with a single selective trigger, snap lever work, model C dolls head and beetle back automatic safety. The action was re-colour hardened and the cover plate and trigger guard re-engraved with a game scene and dog on the trigger guard bow by Dave Hudson. The rest of the action has the traditional house scroll and WR name in gold banner. The gun weighs 5lbs 11.5oz and comes in a lightweight leather case with accessories. Although not original, the gun is a beautiful example of a 20g droplock, the exhibition grade wood and upgraded engraving make for a very attractive gun. Not only that but it is, effectively, a modern gun with as new barrels capable of shooting modern 2 3/4” loads. It points and handles extremely well.
We are often tasked with finding a good quality English side by side ejector, in tidy condition, by our clients for the upcoming season. Something to use on smaller days when double guns are not required or as a more traditional alternative to the modern over and under, a gun they may shoot well with, but lacks the passion and character of a proper English side by side. Finding an English side by side is easy, I hear you say, but not, as our discerning clients would expect, in superb original condition, ready for the season.
The latest used gun to arrive at WR UK is exactly that. A superb W.J. Jeffery No. 3 Model, 12g sidelock ejector in, what can only be described as, first class condition. Completed around 1930, the gun is built on a 7 pin, square body, sidelock action beautifully engraved with two bouquets of roses on each lock plate, both fences, forend iron and a single large bouquet on the bottom of the action, all surrounded by a fine scroll coverage. The action retains nearly all its original case colours and the file up and shape is of real quality. The 28” barrels feature 2 1/2” chambers and are choked 1/4 in the right and 3/4 in the left. The bores read almost as proofed and the wall thickness is .025″ at the thinnest point.
The stock measures 14 5/8” to the centre of the leather covered recoil pad and has a bend of 1 1/2” at the comb and 2 1/8” at the heel. The cast measures 1/4” off at the heel and 3/8” at the toe. The splinter forend has the Anson push rod release, forend diamond and engraved tail pipe. Weighing 6lbs 7.4oz the gun comes to the shoulder with ease and is as delightful to handle as it is to look at. Cased in a lightweight, compact, leather case with a set of cleaning rods, snap caps and cleaning accessories. A very beautiful but perfectly usable sidelock for a variety of game shooting.
The trade label reads 9, Golden Square, Regent Street, London W1, which matches the engraving on the rib. William Jackman Jeffery died in 1909 and the company was taken over by his brother Charles. His nephew F. Jeffery Pearce took over the company in 1920 when Charles died and saw it through till 1957 when the company was sold to Malcolm Lyell who at that time, also owned the Westley Richards London agency and fishing tackle specialist, Farlows.
The No. 3 model sits between the No. 1 and No. 4 sidelocks that were offered by Jeffery’s at the time. Costing £52 for a single gun and £105 for a pair and came in 12, 16 or 20g.
While we would normally associate the name W.J. Jeffery more with rifles, their shotguns, and sidelocks in particular, were of superb quality and this gun would rightfully hold its own against the other London makers of the time. To quote the Jeffery catalogue of the 1930’s:
“The excellence of our Guns and Rifles is known all over the world, and we claim that for accuracy, soundness of workmanship, durability, and style of finish, goods of our manufacture are unequalled. We make every effort to keep the price of our weapons down to the lowest possible limit consistent with sound workmanship. We can confidently invite a comparison of our prices with any other firm doing the same class of business, feeling sure that this comparison will result in our favour”.
The gun will be on our used gun site shortly. Please contact me direct for any initial inquiries at email@example.com
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; firstname.lastname@example.org
Although repairs and refurbishments have always been a part of the Westley Richards repertoire, in recent years, following record numbers of new gun and rifle orders, we have sadly had to reduce the amount we take on. Repairs can be disruptive to the steady flow of new gun manufacture and often, on vintage guns of various makes, can be time consuming when machining and fitting new parts. Even the small amount we now do results in our production manager pulling his hair out trying to work out quite how he’s going to fit it in his extremely busy new gun and rifle schedule and without wishing the poor chap to be bald before his time, we have to be selective on what we take in. On the odd occasion I do manage to sneak a few into the workshops and one such rifle we have recently completed is this superb Rigby .450 Nitro Express Farquharson rifle. I thought the readers of the Explora would enjoy a few before and after photos of this stunning rifle.
In summary, our initial task was to re-regulate the sight work and sort the issue of faulty extraction. The rifle was shooting high and struggling to extract the spent cartridge. Once the rifle was back into working order it could be stripped down and we could then begin the cosmetic works. The wood work was put into the stock finishing shop and the many coats of oil were carefully applied to build the finish up to our normal best quality, high gloss finish. The action was annealed and we then recut and picked up all the engraving, bringing back to life the elaborate scroll work, Rigby name, double line border and sight work. Any pins that were tired or chewed were replaced and engraved. Once done it could be polished and prepped for hardening. The barrel was then polished and best quality re-blacked, topped and tailed, ready to be reassembled. The action, lever, safety button, grip cap and forend diamond were re-colour hardened, the trigger and pins were blued, sight worked and sling stud were blacked. The rifle was then freed up and fully reassembled before the final checks and finishing coats of oil on the stock were applied, ready for final inspection.
I think you’ll agree the rifle has turned out quite superbly and we are proud to have restored this wonderful rifle back to its former glory.