Super ‘Modèle de Luxe’ Westley Richards 20g Droplock

Elaborate scroll designs have featured more and more in the engraving of Westley Richards droplock shotguns in recent years.

Over a century ago, such guns were promoted by the company as ‘Modèle de Luxe’ featuring the ‘highest quality and finish’. These guns compared very easily and often surpassed in both quality and price the very best guns being built in London at the time. The general demise of the gun trade post World War Two, combined with the worldwide financial ravages of war saw the rapid decline in the ordering of such guns from the Westley Richards books.

Westley Richards 1912 catalogue describing the ‘Modèle de Luxe’ droplock shotgun.

Fast forward to the 1990’s and from the USA came a renewed interest in the British gun trade signalling what would become a renaissance in the hand made gun and the craftsmanship associated with it. A modern age of collectors started to push the gunmakers for models and a quality of product not built since the war.

At the same time a new generation of engravers were coming to the scene capable of executing some extraordinary designs. Thus saw the re-birth of high art guns and the first of a new generation of Westley Richards ‘Modèle de Luxe’ and ‘Modèle de Grande Luxe’ guns and rifles. Though originally few in number, recent years have seen a big shift in the production of these very individual guns and rifles.

The gun shown here is a 20g droplock featuring elaborate etched back scroll with carved fences and a Setter flushing two Bobwhite quail. Inlaid in gold the Setter is integrated within the scroll design so adding a realistic feel of being stood within the cover.

Exquisite Westley Richards .410 Droplock

Happy New Year to you all! What better way to start the new year off than with this exquisite little .410 droplock that was completed just before the Christmas break.

Beautifully engraved with Bobwhite Quail scenes, the gun was fully case colour hardened and then the two game scenes carefully brushed off to highlight the detail. The elaborate scroll with gold bordering is not something we have done for the best part of 25 years now and this updated version reminded us just how good it can look on a small frame scroll back action.

Once again the gun is stocked with a fabulous piece of Turkish walnut which has stunning figure and depth of colour, unquestionably complementing the full case colour hardening.

We are now about to hit the show circuit in the USA and very much look forward to meeting with our clients both old and new, perhaps discussing that special little gun that you are sure is missing from your armoury!

Delicate Bobwhite Quail game scenes decorate the action sides.

Stunning Turkish walnut complements the case colour hardening.

Full case colour hardening.

 The devil is in the detail!

Westley Richards ‘Modele de Luxe’ 28g Droplock Shotgun

Just completed and in time for Christmas delivery is this exquisite little 28g droplock shotgun. Built as a modern version of our ‘Modele de Luxe’ grade gun, it features a specially commissioned elaborate scroll design incorporating beautiful shell motifs on the fences and top lever.

The gun is a special project commissioned by a father for his son and it is always a pleasure for the team here at the factory to bring such a project to fruition, especially for the gift of a life time. As a ‘Modele de Luxe’ gun it features Westley Richards model ‘C’ dolls head fastener, single selective trigger, drop locks, scroll back, exhibition wood, heel/toe plates with a slim horn centre, and a hand painted enamel oval with family crest. Teague multi chokes were fitted from the guns inception to give it real versatility in the field, for a lifetime of use.

Exquisite elaborate scroll design with carved shell features.

Teague multi chokes contained in a hand made pocket case.

The whole package could only be complete with a super bespoke made case, covered in black antique finish alligator skin. The interior has been tastefully lined in blue alcantara, with inset case label and an assortment of functional tooling. The extra drop locks have been French fitted into one of the compartment lids under which sits a hand made choke box.

Merry Christmas from us all here to one very lucky new owner!

Westley Richards 20g Tallett Engraved Droplock

Just back from engraving is this very nice little 20g droplock shotgun which as you can see from the pictures is destined for the bird hunting fields of Texas. The engraving of the gun is a collaboration between David and Bradley Tallett who are a father and son engraving duo who have worked on various projects for Westley Richards over the years. Dave who is now semi retired has contributed significantly to the British gun trade having engraved for most of the fine gunmaking houses.

The gun features a fine scroll design executed by Dave, with small rose bouquets set within it. This slightly tighter layout of engraving works very well on the small gauge droplock shotguns that feature prominently in our order book. Bobwhite quail and dove were the choice of bird for the game scenes, which along with the carved fences were executed by Brad. All in all a very nice design for a great little gun.

Flushing Bobwhite quail.

Beautiful fine scroll with rose bouquets.

Flighting dove, a popular quarry in the southern states of the USA.

Pretty W.W.Greener Double Rifle

Hammerless black powder rifles, particularly in the smaller calibres like this .400 Express are always a pleasure to look at and handle as they are so often more delicate than there nitro express cousins. Double rifles built in the period between the box lock hammerless design of 1875 and the first reliable smokeless powder cartridges of the 1890’s can be some of the most elegant rifles built, with slim action file ups and long gently tapering barrels.

Aesthetics aside, this very nice little double rifle by W.W.Greener has some wonderful game scene engraving depicting animals appropriate to European hunting fields. Retaining lots of its original finish the rifle has clearly been well looked after and was a prized rifle to its former owner. It is great to see dogs featuring in the engraving layout as they have always featured heavily in big game hunting traditions, particularly in Europe. It is easy to picture this rifle on a classic driven hunt, once the sport of Kings, nobility and heads of state.

Deluxe Game Scene Westley Richards .577 Droplock Double Rifle

WR Rifle #20328-10853-Edit

It is interesting to see that we have now built over one hundred .577 double rifles and that the calibre continues to be a favourite of our clients. This particular rifle, finished last week, was built to complement a .500 3″ droplock double rifle that we completed for the client several years ago, which has seen regular use in Africa.

He always fancied ordering something larger, but initially wanted to start with a calibre that was more manageable. Once he got used to the .500 3″, the .577 3″ seemed a natural progression, although in real terms it really is a step up from the .500 3″, delivering serious horsepower!

The rifle has the more square bodied action file up which was requested by the client. We offer this style and the more rounded body with the scroll back, found traditionally on our droplock shotguns. Featuring scenes of the ‘Big 5’ the rifle embodies all that is classic in a Westley Richards dangerous game double rifle.

WR Rifle #20328-10929-Edit WR Rifle #20328-10908-Edit WR Rifle #20328-10905-EditWR Rifle #20328-10872-EditWR Rifle #20328-10818-Edit

Westley Richards .600 ‘Exhibition’ Sidelock Double Rifle

WR Rifle #20204-9159-Edit

Well here it finally is. A treat for the weekend. Several years in the making and several thousand hours later and our latest creation is ready to show to you complete in all its magnificent splendour.

Back in January we posted some pictures of this rifle fresh back from engraving with a promise to show you the finished article. Well perfection takes time and when you see the whole package as presented here you can understand why it has taken so long.

WR Rifle #20204-9200-Edit-2

Whilst we are sure the rifle and its embellishment will not be to everyones taste, the level and variety of skills necessary to put a project like this together are the real challenge, particularly in this day and age. It is not every day that you get to see rifles completed like this and whilst we are continuing our legacy for such pieces, they are on the whole rare.

Highly embellished from muzzle to butt, the rifle depicts various hunting scenes from the great continent of Africa along with an assortment of flora and fauna. The execution is breathtaking, exhibiting carving, gold inlay, raised gold work and fine scroll, the actual finishing process after case colour hardening, adding to the character of the work. Strikingly the stock is inlaid with solid silver scenes of White Rhino and a pod of Hippo below a thundering waterfall.

WR Rifle #20204-9405-EditWR Rifle #20204-9357-Edit

Complete in a black alligator skin case with silver fittings, full complement of ivory handled tools french fitted into blue goatskin, with a pure gold leaf detailed lid interior, it certainly makes a statement. The lid is actually fitted with slide off hinges so that the rifle can be displayed in the lower case section only, should the new owner wish.

Not only are such pieces a credit to the craftsmen in Westley Richards very own workshops, but all those smaller tradesmen who contribute in their own unique way to the finished package that you see before you. The rifle and case embody all that makes British craftsmanship so special,and why patrons from around the world travel to these shores to commission such fantastic pieces. More importantly consider that such quality is still being produced here in the City of Birmingham.

WR Rifle #20204-9221-Edit WR Rifle #20204-9244-Edit

New Westley Richards ‘Heavy’ .500 3″ Droplock Double Rifle

WR Rifle #20372-8638-Edit

The .500 3″ nitro express continues to be a firm favourite among the large bore double rifles that we build here at Westley Richards. We are often asked what are the most popular calibres for a big game double rifle and the .500 3″, along with the .470 3 1/4″, .577 3″ and .600 are certainly the leaders.

The droplock double rifle illustrated here is a little different to the .500’s that we normally build in that it has been built on a larger action frame. In recent decades the .500 was built on a trimmer frame which led to a final weight in the 11lb to 11lb 8oz region. This suited clients who wanted the firepower of a .500, without the extra weight in the rifle.

Records indicate that .500 double rifles built by the firm pre-war tended to be more in the 12lb to 12lb 8oz range. This particular client wanted to revert to that original weight specification and so it was that we built this very elegant .500 droplock rifle for him.

The rifle has all the usual hallmarks of a Westley Richards droplock double rifle, the subtle difference being the engraving which has carved fences in keeping with the scroll design, gold naming and a mean looking Cape Buffalo carved on the cover plate. We hope in the coming years it gets to add a few buffalo like this to its tally!

WR Rifle #20372-8507-Edit WR Rifle #20372-8523-Edit WR Rifle #20372-8558-Edit WR Rifle #20372-8563-Edit WR Rifle #20372-8592-Edit

Charles Boswell .303 Single Shot Rifle

Scan001

Above is the portrait of Mr. Charles Boswell (1850-1924) and no doubt his name will be familiar to readers of the Explora. From relatively humble beginnings and a love of shooting his entry into the gun trade, age 14, was through an apprenticeship to Mr. Thomas Gooch and two years at the Royal Small arms factory at Enfield as a sight filer. In 1872 he started his own gun making business, initially carrying out repairs and general gunsmithing. A much admired gun maker, he was popular with the ladies and a talented live pigeon shot, frequenting Hornsey Wood and Westley Richards’ very own Hendon shooting ground, North London, where his skills were noticed by the trap shooters of the time. Boswell would impress and schmooze these shooters, converting them into clients which was common practice for gun makers of the time, James Lang and Harris Holland to name a couple.

16-8The Westley Richards shooting school at Hendon, North London.

Considered to be no great inventor, he preferred to use other makers’ patents under licence but made a of variety guns including large bore fowling pieces, hammer and hammerless actions, muzzleloaders and pistols. Live pigeon guns proved to be Boswell’s specialty and took up a good deal of his production until the prohibition of live pigeon shooting in the UK came about in the early 1920’s. His 126 Strand address in the West End of London is his most famous and the majority of his guns in existence today bear that name.

An active member of the gun trade, in 1906 and 1907 he was elected Chairman of the Gunmakers Association and served it for many years. Around 1914 Boswell changed from having his guns proofed in London and instead moving them to the Birmingham Proof House. One train of thought is he was buying barreled actions in from the Birmingham trade, or another reason is he or his son, who was involved in the business, fell out with the London Proof Master. Hence why it is not uncommon to see his guns with Birmingham proof marks.

One such rifle built by Boswell, which is evidence of his skills as a gun maker, is this fabulous little .303 single shot rifle we currently have at the factory. Completed around 1905, it has the most superb and rare engraving, not commonly found on a rifle such as this. Featuring a selection of African plains game such as Eland, Bluewildebeest and Impala surrounded by intricate scroll work. The name C. Boswell gently rolls around the hinge pin on both sides of the action, the raised panel fences with their bold scroll fold round to the top of the action where I can only guess it to be a 1905 gun engraver’s idea of a Duiker, which stands alert on the top of the tang top lever. The engraving is though, beautifully executed and the three Eland on the right hand side of the action are very accurate and have to be my personal favourite.

C.Boswell .303 #15008 Rifle-7402-EditC.Boswell .303 #15008 Rifle-7443-Edit C.Boswell .303 #15008 Rifle-7425-Edit C.Boswell .303 #15008 Rifle-7420-Edit C.Boswell .303 #15008 Rifle-7409-Edit

The rifle features a 28″ octagonal barrel with matted rib, ramp foresight, one fixed 100 yard express sight and six folding leaves regulated to 700 yards with the 126 Strand address engraved at the breech. A 14 1/4″ pistol grip stock with grip cap, cheekpiece, oval and Silvers recoil pad. The rifle weighs 7lbs 5oz and we think it’s a very cool little rifle and a great example of early 1900’s craftsmanship, imagination and flair.

Game Scene .577 Droplock Double Rifle

WR #20328-4002-Edit-Edit

Just off to case colour hardening is this .577 3″ nitro express droplock double rifle which combines bold scroll and classic game scenes of the ‘Big 5’. Whilst talk of late has centred around the decline of big game hunting in certain African countries, we have to say from our own point of view that double rifles continue to be a mainstay in our production, so guys are undoubtedly getting out there in the field.

This particular rifle is going to the next generation of hunter who has already built up a strong affair with the great safari tradition of Africa and is very much determined to continue the pursuit. Truth be told Africa has always been volatile and unpredictable which is probably one of the attractions. To still have the privilege to hunt in some of these great countries is something that no-one should take for granted and all keen hunters should be encouraged to undertake in a fair and sporting manner.

Africa is one of the last great wilderness’s on earth and the ultimate destination for a big bore double rifle such as this.  Long may the tradition continue.

WR #20328-4044-Edit-EditWR #20328-4026-Edit WR #20328-4066-Edit WR #20328-4051-Edit