Westley Richards ‘Gun Archive’ – The Droplock Shotgun

Firstly, thank you to all of your for your kind comments and unilateral support for all during these unusual times. Whilst no-one knows for sure how long this is all going to go on for, it does give us plenty of time to reflect on past adventures, pick up a good book and plan our future adventures and projects. As promised here is the next instalment of Droplock Shotguns which we hope you all enjoy.

  Two pairs of ‘Modele de Luxe’ 12 bore guns executed by the same engraver that at first appear the same yet on closer scrutiny demonstrate the individuality asked by the owners. The aim (no pun intended!) at Westley Richards, is to always produce something unique for the client, so that no gun or rifle can ever really be considered the same. Thankfully individual engravers have their own idiosyncrasies which distinguish them from one another. Over time and with a lot of handling you begin to recognise the work of particular engravers.  

An exceptional pair of 12 bore ‘Model de Grande Luxe’ shotguns engraved by Rashid Hadi. Rash was without question one of the finest engravers ever to put a cut to steel and his vivid imagination came up with some of our finest designs and creations.

 A classic pair of 16 bore shotguns built for traditional game shooting. The 16 bore remains one of the anomalies. We always seem to have one or two in production but it has never had the popularity of either the 12 or 20 bore. Interestingly it is considered one of the perfect bore to pattern guns and in its usual 6lb weight, makes a fantastic driven grouse gun. 

  The ‘Arab Horse’ guns were another interesting design concept, in this instance executed by Frederique Lepinois. 

 The quintessential ‘Gold Name’ gun, a model synonymous with Westley Richards since the advent of the hand detachable lock shotgun in 1897. As previously discussed, the ‘Gold Name’ rendition of a Westley Richards is gunmaking in its purest, perhaps most perfect form. There is nowhere to hide in the simplicity of the execution. 

 The flow of the elaborate etched scroll on this 20 bore shotgun demonstrates how visually important it is to work with the shape of the gun. The scrolls and leafs roll off from one another filling the space cleverly. This gun was bordered and lettered in platinum a departure from the more usual fine gold.

 The ‘Texan’ 20 bore featuring fine rose and scroll engraving and Texan game scenes.This gun has a very nice balance to the engraving that suits a traditional game gun.

 A 28 bore gun that combines elaborate scroll design with fine game scenes. 

 A magnificent pair of 20 bore ‘Model de Grande Luxe’ shotguns engraved by Vince Crowley. These guns show the influence of Rashid Hadi who was mentor to Vince for many years. The use of varying engraving techniques and materials on one project has become a signature of Vince’s ‘art gun’ executions.

 Another highly detailed execution by Vince Crowley in this instance a 28 bore, complete in alligator skin case.

 One of a pair of 28 bore shotguns utilising the etched technique of engraving. In this instance the main engraved surface is masked off with a ‘resist’ made from beeswax, aspheltum and turpentine, and a nitric acid solution is applied to the surface, the unmasked area being etched away. The background is then carefully textured and the main surface area engraved in the traditional manner. The etched background when executed cleanly gives a great contrast.

 A stunning little .410 engraved with fine rose and scroll, Bobwhite quail and carved leaf fences. One of the original modern production .410’s from the 1980’s this gun re-launched the droplock design into the collectors market and paved the way for subsequent bores and model introductions. 

   Two pairs of .410/28 bores built for friends. These guns illustrate very clearly how different peoples tastes can be. On the one hand you have a very Italianate design and yet the other shows bold English design.

  An interesting trio of guns consisting of a .410, 28 and 20 bore. Obviously intended for the USA, the scaled action frames mean that each gun has subtle differences in the final layout and execution. They are often an engravers nightmare!

 A wonderful little .410 executed by the Tallett family. The whole specifics of this gun were determined by its owner including the game scenes that were reproduced from William Harnden Foster’s ‘New England Grouse Shooting’. 

 A modern interpretation of the gun seen at the end of this posting. A beautiful little .410 built purposefully for quail shooting, it exemplifies the highest qualities expected of a modern Westley Richards shotgun.

 A very unusual set comprising of a .410 and 28 bore shotgun, embellished with scenes of elephant and buffalo! Not your usual choice of scenes for a pair of shotguns, but certainly very interesting! Once again these guns illustrate just how important design is in order to pull off a unique design.

 Another .410 quail gun. In this instance the game scenes on the action sides were close ups of the quails head, rather than full bird game scenes. It lends a more unusual look to the gun which works really well.

And finally an old masterpiece engraved by the legendary ‘Brown Brothers’. In recent decades they set the standard for ‘high art’ gun engraving producing some of the finest work ever seen. Self taught, they have mastered every technique of gun engraving and embellishment. 

 

Westley Richards ‘Gun Archive’ – The Droplock Double Rifle

Well it seems that these are desperate times and so with the majority of us ‘non essentials’ on ‘lock down’ or similar, we decided to look through the Westley Richards archive and give all our followers a genuine reason to tell the wife why they are spending so much time in front of the computer!

Over the coming weeks we will publish weekly a selection of images specific to the models of guns and rifles that Westley Richards produce to remind you all that when this is all over we still have plenty to look forward to.

Our gunmakers are still in the factory as we speak, credit to them, continuing to produce the magnificent guns and rifles that the name Westley Richards has become synonymous with.

All stay safe and enjoy.

 A pair of ‘Modele de Luxe’ 7 x 57R double rifles with etched back elaborate scroll, carved fences and gold naming. The rifles were fitted with Westley Richards own take on the claw mount system with custom rings and bases scaled to suit the calibre. Small calibre double rifles are far less common in modern gunmaking than their larger cousins so it is always nice to have a couple coming through production.

 A beautiful single selective trigger, special lightweight double rifle in 9.3 x 62 depicting various scenes of Roe deer with deluxe scroll, raised carved steel and gold naming. This calibre is a classic for driven big game hunting in Europe as it has moderate recoil, yet still shoots a heavy bullet. 

 An exhibition .470 double rifle engraved by Paul Lantuch with carved game scenes, elaborate relief scroll and gold naming. All parts of the rifle were vividly case colour hardened to accentuate the engraving. Paul has since completed other masterpieces for Westley Richards which you will see in the coming weeks.

 A partly engraved .470 ‘Modele de Luxe’ double rifle, the pattern for which was based on an original Westley Richards shotgun as depicted on page 12 of ‘In Pursuit of The Best Gun’ the 200 year old history of Westley Richards. This rifle was one of the ‘Millennium’ series of guns and rifles all of which were commissioned for one patron.

A superb heavy frame .500 double rifle with a subtle variation on the traditional Westley Richards ‘house’ engraving format. This rifle has carved fences and a carved buffalo on the cover plate which add a personal touch of individuality. When the commission for this rifle was given we were asked to build it on a heavier frame so that a weight of 12lb to 12lb 8ozs could be obtained.

 Another very traditionally engraved double rifle in .500/.416 calibre. This rifle we scoped and regulated at 100 yards, making it a super buffalo gun for those trickier long shots.

  A ‘Modele de Luxe’ .500 double rifle that has never appeared on The Explora. When originally completed we were not in a position to photograph it, but thankfully the rifle passed back to us and we able to obtain some nice images. The rifle has elaborate scroll with game scenes in both traditional and carved format, the whole rifle accented with gold detailing.

 A fully carved side plated, single selective trigger .500 double rifle. Sadly one of the only images we have of this rifle which was part of a larger collection built for one client.

 This mighty .500 Jeffery calibre sideplated double rifle is one of only two built by Westley Richards since the introduction of the cartridge. It is a formidable round that at one time held the status of being the most powerful magazine rifle cartridge. 

   A .577 double rifle expertly engraved by Vince Crowley depicting various African scenes. The cover plate design on this rifle is unique in that it shows a pair of bull elephant as seen from the air in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. 

 A stunningly executed .500 double rifle. The original concept for this rifle was designed by Rashid Hadi and then executed by both he and Brad Tallett. Collaborations amongst engravers has become a feature of Westley Richards guns and rifles, taking the very best of skills and moulding them into singular masterpieces.  

 The .600 remains along with the .577, .500 and .470 nitro expresses, the bulk of the double rifle orders going through the Westley Richards factory. Double rifles are synonymous with the name Westley Richards and have remained in constant production since the development of modern smokeless powder. This rifle combines carved scenes with elaborate scroll and gold lettering.

 The only pair of .600 nitro express double rifles built by Westley Richards. Pairs of large calibre double rifles are rare by anyones standards, a pair of .600 even more so. These rifles have genuinely been used and are working tools as much as works of the gunmakers art.

A .243 Winchester and .600 nitro express double rifle original but as a consecutive pair to demonstrate the gunmakers ability to build scaled rifles at the extreme ends of the calibre range. Each rifle was fully carved and came in individual black alligator cases.

 The mighty .700/.577 one of only 3 ever built by Westley Richards. The cartridge was developed by Westley Richards and shoots a 900 grain .577 bullet. Each of the three big rifles completed depicted either elephant or pre-historic creatures, as quite frankly thats all you would really hunt with one!

A Vintage Holland ‘.30 Super’ Here At Westley Richards

Hollands ‘.30 Super’ cartridge is without doubt one of those all time classics that spurned a modern generation of .300 magnums. Introduced in 1925 it was developed to fill the gap between Hollands .275 and .375 Magnum cartridges, at a time when the British gunmakers were competing incessantly to cater for a booming worldwide hunting market. India and Africa were the principle hunting destinations of the time where the topography and native big game species allowed for the use of these ‘modern’ long range magnum cartridges.

Interestingly the .30 Super does differ from the .300 Holland & Holland Belted Magnum so care must be taken when loading for this particular cartridge. As a cartridge the .30 Super was capable of handling 150, 180 and 220 grain bullets all of which respectively proved devastating on medium to large game. Elmer Keith the famous American gun writer, editor and hunter was a big fan of the cartridge and built several rifles up which he used to take numerous North American big game animals including several trophy class sheep.

Complete in original canvas case with accessories, the rifle has an honest pedigree.

As the .300 Holland & Holland Belted Magnum the calibre won world acclaim in 1935 when it was used to win the Wimbledon Cup at 1000 yards. Such was the success of the calibre that it led to a new generation of American magnums including the .300 Weatherby Magnum introduced in 1944 and the .300 Winchester Magnum introduced in 1963.

This particular Holland & Holland take-down rifle was built in 1928 and so can claim to be one of the early .30 Super’s. In pretty much original condition, the rifle has a used look about it yet the bore is still sharp and the rifle a slick shooter. Contained in its original canvas case the rifle makes for a great usable vintage rifle.

Hollands side mounts with a period scope appear to be a later addition to the rifle.

Hollands take-down magazine rifle has always been a classic in the sporting rifle world.

Further details on the rifle can be obtained from Ricky Bond ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

We’re On The Cover Of Shooting Sportsman

This month we’re extremely pleased to be on the front cover of Shooting Sportsman, the leading wingshooting and fine guns publication in the US today. Do pick up a copy because inside you’ll find our collaborative article with the legendary Vic Venters, wonderfully discussing the unique bespoke journey and finer points of ordering a new best-quality English gun.

He eloquently takes the reader through seven key areas that each Westley Richards patron will usually experience on their path to receiving their very own prized best gun. From the gun’s purpose, selecting the right gunmaker, the process and relationship, letting the gunmaker lead, heritage & house style, the eventual waiting game, and how handmade delivers a gun of such rare beauty and handle that it is truly one of a kind.

Shooting Sportsman is a US-based brand with a 30-year history of presenting some of the best wingshooting and fine-gun content found anywhere—their January/February issue’s cover and feature article on Westley Richards being exemplary. The magazine and its social pages dig deep into an array of topics ranging from gunmaking to international shooting travel—all featuring great writing and spectacular images.

Subscriptions are available on shootingsportsman.com and their social media pages can be accessed via facebook.com/shootingsportsman/ and @shootingsportsmanmag

A Westley Richards .450/.400 3″ ‘Modéle de Luxe’ Side Plated Double Rifle

Once again the team here at Westley Richards have delivered yet another stunning example of our classic hand detachable lock, nee droplock double rifle, this time in the venerable .450/.400 3″ nitro express.

The rifle is built to our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ standard with extra finish engraving, side plates, single selective trigger and exhibition grade walnut. As one of the pre-eminent English gunmakers the team here continue to deliver individual and unique guns and rifles, every one of which displays the finest English craftsmanship.

 A mean old bull buffalo looks out from the left lock plate.

When the first example of a side plated droplock appeared nobody is quite sure. From our own point of view we first really encountered it on a vintage .303 double rifle built in 1913. This rifle is illustrated on page 167 of Westley Richards 200 year history ‘In Pursuit of the Best Gun’ and was built for a middle eastern potentate. One logical reason for the addition of side plates to the droplock design was to give the rifle more coverage for engraving. It seems unlikely the plates were added to make the rifle look like a true sidelock, as the company would certainly have been able to supply one should it have wished.

In more recent times the side plated droplock has become slightly more regular in our order book having been built in both double rifle and shotgun format. In fact we have just taken a commission for a pair of 28g side plated droplocks which should really be quite beautiful. Today the sideplates tend to be more rounded giving the gun or rifle a smooth flowing shape to the grip. That said we are in the throes of designing a side plated action that will have the characteristic look of a true sidelock whilst in fact being of the droplock design. This particular beast will be in the .577 nitro express calibre, so giving us a large area to work with!

A magnificent male lion holds centre stage on the right lock plate. Cats of any description are difficult to engrave, many looking notoriously ‘cartoon like’.

From an engraving stand point, the side plates really are a bonus. The rifle shown here has been engraved with elaborate bold scroll, chevron border, gold naming and three game scenes of bull buffalo, bull elephant and a male lion all looking equally impressive in their respective environs. The traditional and uninterrupted lines of the side plated droplock allow for an organic engraving design that can flow along the action sides and underneath to the cover plate.

The sleek proportions of the .450/.400 3″ rifle can be seen clearly in this photograph. The relatively small nature of this classic big game cartridge allows for a scaled action and wonderfully tapering barrels.

Now in the USA, the rifle is travelling with us on the show circuit and may be seen at Safari Club International in Reno from 5th to 8th February. We look forward to seeing you.

The rifle is complemented with a best oak & leather case covered in brown buffalo skin, fitted with a full set of horn handled tools.

The Finest Westley Richards .425 Magazine Rifle Ever Built!!!

Without really realising it we are a very lucky bunch here at Westley Richards. We get to spend our time building some of the worlds finest sporting guns and rifles, all in the name of work. Every single gun and rifle that we build is unique to the individual and as such genuine ‘one of a kind’ items that allow both the patron and the gunmakers here at Westley Richards to indulge themselves.

Now the level of individuality expressed in an individual gun or rifle can be either heavily influenced by the patron or more hands off, left to the spirit of the gunmaker. It was with this latter attitude in mind that one of our long standing patrons put to us ‘build the best damn .425 magazine rifle that you have ever built!’

Well here is just that rifle. What you see before you is unquestionably THE FINEST Westley Richards .425 detachable barrel magazine rifle ever built by the company, one that exemplifies the very meaning of ‘excellence’ in a modern British sporting rifle. Not only did we get to build a rifle how we wanted to see it, but what better way is there to reward someones faith than by producing something truly exceptional.

Black Rhino feature on the inset panel of the left side of the unique Westley Richards extended magazine.

The basis for this ‘special project’ started several years ago when we were approached to build a ‘Model de Grande Luxe’ detachable barrel magazine rifle in our own iconic .425 Westley Richards calibre. At the time nothing of the wood or engraving was discussed, quite simply we examined all the features that might go into making this rifle something special, a platform from which to build a rifle the likes of which we had never had the opportunity to do. We naturally began with a modern Mauser ’98 action with double square bridges, a side safe and traditional interchangeable flag safe, strap over comb, extended guard tang and a peep sight.

The action would be of our detachable barrel configuration, variants of which we have been producing since pre-War days. The detachable barrel was an important feature of this project as it would allow us later down the line to fit the rifle into a neat more ‘balanced’ case.

Almost unique to Westley Richards the action was also hand fitted with our ‘side clips’ and radius lifter which appear on many of the higher quality .425 calibre rifles built by us over the years. These combined features help with the feed of the cartridge which has a rebated rim and so needs a controlled and positive pick up and feed into the chamber.

No piece of the rifle has gone without some form of engraving ornamentation. Carving, elaborate scroll, intricate gold line work, checkering and beautiful flush gold inlays feature throughout the rifle.

Another interesting feature of this rifle which has probably not been picked up on before is the extended magazine release catch inside the trigger bow. Whilst widely used on British Mauser ’98 based rifles (and now most modern rifles) older .425 rifles tended to have the earlier lever release mechanism as seen on many original own brand Mauser ’98 rifles. Several years ago we built a classic .425 and at this point machined our own extended magazine boxes with the ability to release through the trigger bow. Whilst only a minor modification, aesthetically it makes a huge difference where a rifle is likely to be heavily engraved. Not only that, but the lines of the rifle with the big magazine look more trim.

Traditional open sights sat on our house style quarter rib, with the classic Westley Richards combination foresight, all of these features complemented on the barrel with the addition of a traditional ‘hook eye’ sling swivel base.

Cape buffalo in a savana setting sit within the inset panel of the right side of the unique Westley Richards extended magazine. 

Turning to the engraving of the rifle this is where the patron of this rifle took the ultimate ‘leap of faith’. He left the decision entirely to us. At this point you know that you have to produce something really quite outstanding and in our mind was to execute something of a classic yet extravagant nature, befitting of a ‘Model de Grande Luxe’. We looked to the era of the maharajas who had a penchant for gold work, elaborate scroll and game scene engraving. Engravers of that time had only ever seen animals in books and perhaps zoos if they were lucky and so game scenes of that time were more often naive in execution. Today we have the finest photography and to a degree time. With this in mind it was decided to bring together the skills of three engravers so bringing the very best of each element to the rifle.

Stunning, stunning walnut with Westley Richards traditional ‘kidney’ cheekpiece and checkered side panels reflect the heritage of this rifle.

A stunning East Africa bull elephant strides from the base of the magazine. A bongo adorns the trigger bow and a leopard the door of the grip trap cap.

So it was that the engraving began with the most careful of fine gold border inlay. This task in its own right is a difficult one as against the bright of the steel the gold lines can look deceptively neat. It is only in the final finishing that the true straightness and sharpness of execution can really be seen. At this point the animals were decided upon and whilst the Dangerous game or ‘Big 5’ of Africa were a natural choice, warthog, bongo and waterbuck would add a little novelty. Once again these were executed in flush gold with fine detailing, the bull elephant on the base of the extended magazine looking particularly impressive. Elements of carving were then added to features of the rifle, the remaining space being filled with a beautifully delicate, yet masculine scroll. No area of the rifle went un-noticed including the swivel bases and trigger.

The lines of the rifle speak only of elegance. Even a large calibre rifle can be built to look attractive to even the untrained eye.

With such a unique rifle it was only fitting to finish the project off with a suitably matching case. So it was that a brown buffalo skin best quality oak and leather case was created, the internals fully French fitted in green goat skin. The external would be protected by our signature outer cover with patron detailing. The hand made tools, sling and pouches add a further refinement to the internal fitting, all finished off with a gold leaf impressed lid insert, all once again carried out by hand. All in all the rifle and its case has consumed hundreds and hundreds of hours, utilising the finest crafts men and women. Ultimately that is what it takes, along with a generous and visionary patron, to produce the finest .425 magazine rifle ever built, in fact one of the finest rifles ever built in our history.

This rifle will be on display with us at both the Dallas Safari Convention and Safari Club International in 2020.

Capt F.C.Selous’ Iconic Westley Richards .425 On The USA Show Circuit 2020

There can be few greater names in the history of big game hunting than that of Captain Frederick Courtenay Selous D.S.O, soldier, explorer, big game hunter, scout and adventurer. Born in 1851 Selous’s intention from a young age was to be a naturalist and ultimately one of the finest big game hunters ever to set foot in Africa.

By the age of 19 Selous was in Africa where he was granted permission by Lobengule, King of the Matabele to hunt within his vast domains. This was still the era of the large bore muzzle loader and Selous came to typify the young, tough individuals who sought a very dangerous trade hunting elephant and other game for ivory and meat.

The coming years saw Selous hunt extensively throughout central Africa attaining many specimens for private collections and the British Natural History Museum. He was held in such high regard that in later life a bronze bust of Selous was mounted in the NHM where it can still be seen today as you walk up the grand stairway.

His knowledge of Africa led to his appointment as ‘guide’ to the British South Africa Company which was mounting an expedition into Mashonaland. He would fight in two Matabele wars during the 1890’s before his much celebrated visit with none other than President Theodore Roosevelt during his epic safari of 1909-10. The two would become great friends, as they were equally keen on conservation as they were hunting.

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 Selous joined up to serve in East Africa as a Captain in the 25th Royal Fusiliers. Having distinguished himself in 1916 receiving the DSO for his actions, he was killed by sniper fire a year later at a place called Beho Beho in what is now the Selous Game Reserve.

Selous was unique in that he saw the use of large bore muzzle loading rifles, through black powder breech-loaders, to the ultimate in modern cordite repeating rifles.

The .425 purchased by Selous was most likely the last rifle ever acquired by him. He wrote a testimonal for Westley Richards on 4th July 1912 stating:

“I can only give your .425 Magazine Rifle the highest praise. Had I only possessed such a rifle in my old elephant hunting days I am sure that I could have killed three or four times as many Elephants as I actually laid low.”

The rifle remains in exceptional condition to this day retaining most of its original finish. How the rifle came to be in the hands of its current owner is one of those great pieces of fortune and outright luck, a story we will tell another day. In truth the rifle could not have gone to a more dedicated fan of the company or a more genuine hunter.

The ‘Selous’ rifle has been very kindly loaned to Westley Richards to display at the 2020 Safari Conventions in the USA. Please pay a visit to our stand to view one of the most iconic rifles owned by without doubt one of the greatest big game hunters of all time.

Dallas Safari Convention 9th To 12th January 2020

Safari Club International 5th To 8th February 2020

 

 

A Twist In The Tigers Tail – Westley Richards .577 ‘Gold Name’ Double Rifle

The Westley Richards Gold Name model of gun and rifle is something long synonymous with the company. Back in the pre-war era of gun and rifle manufacture, a gun or rifle was fundamentally a tool that needed to perform flawlessly either out in the covert shooting driven game or tackling dangerous game in the thick jungles of India and Africa. Tastes back then were more subtle and a gentleman did not openly display lavishness.

Engraving on guns was confined to traditional scrolls, each company designing its own unique ‘house’ pattern. Westley Richards had its own version which remains faithful to the original design to this very day. The unblemished lines of the droplock action allowed for a beautiful ‘name in rolling banner’ which formed the centerpiece of the main action body design. Thousands of guns and rifles were built with this ‘best’ scroll design, the first examples being the fixed lock guns from 1875.

The vividness of the case colour hardening can make all the difference with a ‘Gold Name’ gun or rifle. The checkered side panels is a feature from the very earliest fixed lock guns.

How and why the Gold Name model came about is certainly open to a little debate. The most obvious reasoning is the discount offered by not having the full engraving. Early literature describes the ‘Westley Richards Hammerless Ejector Gun – Plain Quailty’ at a cost of 55 Guineas, the ‘Westley Richards Best Quality Hammerless Ejector Gun’ at 70 Guineas. For the absolute purest looking for nothing but mechanical perfection the difference in cost would certainly have made a difference. Interestingly, later literature made a more positive point of having the droplock gun without all the engraving. Handled correctly and from a pure marketing point of view, Westley Richards was able to capitalise on a larger market share capturing what we might term today the ‘aspirational buyer’.

That all said, how do we really perceive the Gold Name model? Truth be told an absolute masterpiece! Whilst some may think the lack of engraving suggests a cost saving, in real terms the unadorned weapon actually requires a higher level of finish as there is nowhere to hide any imperfection.

Many, many years ago when Roy Hill (former workshop foreman and harpoon specialist) was around and paying us a visit I asked him why were the majority of British built guns fully engraved, considering we were well known for the Gold Name model? In Roy’s usual matter of fact way he responded ‘Well where do you hide a tree? In a forest. Where do you hide a scratch? Among other scratches!!!’

Not the most subtle of answers I grant you, but to this day it has stuck with me and in fairness every Gold Name gun or rifle that we have completed since, of which I seem to be the biggest advocate, has a level of critical perfection that drives the gun makers here crazy.

The original sketch for the ‘Tiger’ as executed by Paul Lantuch.

The actual ‘Tiger’ executed in the Japanese style with carved steel and inlaid gold.

Turning to the Gold Name rifle you are looking at here, this is anything but a simple rifle. When originally ordered the specification was for a pre-War configuration Westley Richards best quality hand detachable double rifle in .577 3″ Nitro Express. This specification meant extra cased hand detachable locks, Westley Richards patent single selective trigger, patent combination foresight, hinged cover plate, bolted safety, model ‘C’ dolls head fastener with patent lever work, scroll back action, extra foresight beads contained in brass tin, checkered side panels, traditional WR cheekpiece…………….The only modern(ish) twist was the extended strap over comb.

Initially the engraving was going to be a full on exhibition piece but as the years ticked by the client developed a hankering for something more pure. Hence the idea of producing a Gold Name rifle with a gentle twist came to mind and so as the rifle reached the engraving stage a few basic concepts were thrown our way with only two provisos. Firstly, what engraving there was had to be as near perfect as possible. Secondly, that master engraver Paul Lantuch had to design and execute a tiger in whatever style he saw fit for the rifle. The client would have no further involvement or decision making.

After a brief discussion, Paul came up with the idea of executing a tiger in carved inlaid gold, a style familiar to students of Japanese arms. Certainly unique in this instance, the design would act as both a centerpiece, whilst simultaneously complementing the other gold detailing found on the rifle.

Beautiful exhibition grade walnut counters the simplicity of the engraving.

Now complete, cased and ready to go, the rifle without doubt highlights the skills of many talented craftsmen and women. It has tested all those involved in putting this unique project together and confirmed that not everything simple is as easy to build as it looks. The rifle has an understated grace backed up with some considerable firepower and we would like to think that the gunmakers and hunters of 100 years ago would approve of this Gold Name ‘Tiger’ rifle.

This rifle will be on display with us at both the Dallas Safari Club Convention and Safari Club International in 2020.

Stunningly Classic Westley Richards .404 Now Complete

Due out the factory in the New Year is this stunningly classic .404 Jeffery calibre detachable barrel Westley Richards magazine rifle. Images of this rifle appeared a couple of months back fresh from engraving, the ‘Rose & Fine Scroll’ engraving creating quite a stir among our more traditional clients.

As mentioned then, classic rose & fine scroll engraving is a tradition of the London gunmaking houses so it was a very nice departure for the team here at Westley Richards. Our intention (which we hope we have attained) was to build a classically featured, classically engraved and classically finished rifle that would fit comfortably with the guns and rifles built during the pre-war era. This era is considered one of the finest in the history of British gunmaking, where the actual build quality and final execution mattered more than fancy embellishment.

The careful use of case colour hardening, blacking and light blue, is an important element of this rifle, as with the exception of the platinum engraving the rifle is intended to be very understated.

As a calibre the .404 Jeffery is one of those great work horses, once the preferred cartridge of the East African game departments. The rifle is set for a big safari next spring, rightfully out where it belongs in the great hunting fields of Africa.

The contrasting case colour hardening, blacking and light blue makes for a classic finish to the rose and fine scroll engraving.

The more liberal use of case colour hardening harks back to guns built in the pre-war era.

The balance of rose and scroll is best observed looking down onto the rifle. Small pockets of fine scroll allow for a ‘fuller’ coverage. 

New Westley Richards 20g ‘Ovundo’ Just Completed

Through the works and looking quite stunning this month is one of our Westley Richards 20 bore ‘Ovundo’ shotguns. As previously mentioned this gun is one of the original 13, a project that was originally commissioned in 2004. Even by modern gunmaking standards the renewed ‘Ovundo’ project has been a long affair!

Historically speaking, the first ‘Ovundo’ patents were registered in 1914 as the scramble among British gunmakers for something new and exciting in the world of guns, took Westley Richards, Boss, Woodward, Edwinson Green and others in the direction of the over and under shotgun. The concept itself of the over and under was not a particularly new one as British makers had been making over and under pistols and rifles since the flintlock era.

During the next two decades the Westley Richards over and under was driven to its own level of perfection with models based around the two key actions associated with the company, namely the ‘boxlock’ and ‘hand detachable lock’. Looking to the under hook barrel design for the rotation of the barrels on the action Westley Richards ‘ovundo’ was unquestionably a deep actioned gun compared to the Boss design of 1909. However the depth of the action allowed for the fitting of components based around the boxlock and hand detachable lock design and it has to be noted that making the ‘ovundo’ a hand detachable lock really took some doing. The gun really is a mechanical masterpiece.

Variants on these two actions included double and single triggers, non-ejector and ejector, scroll back, side plated and availability in both shotgun and rifle calibres as well as the ‘Faunetta’ and ‘Explora’ rifle choked formats. These variations make the ‘ovundo’ genuinely collectable as you never quite know what might turn up in the market.

Vivid case colour hardening adds impact to the bold etched scroll design. The gold lettering stands out crisply against the colours. The ‘ovundo’ features Westley Richards signature top lever shape and safety button.

Vintage Westley Richards promotional material showing the exact format of gun as built today. Whilst the ‘ovundo’ project has been a long one it highlights the level of skill required to build a gun that has unique features in the over and under market. 

The side opening ports on the dummy lock plates are a unique feature of the ‘Ovundo’. Simple maintenance of the single trigger was achieved through these ports, whilst also adding a little novelty to the design. Westley Richards has always had a knack of outdoing itself!!!!

The etched background to the elaborate ‘acanthus’ engraving design adds a sharpness to the engraved coverage.

  A beautiful green goat skin lined lightweight leather case complements this modern ‘ovundo’.