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!

Interview with Westley Richards Engraver – Léo Lambert

Here at Westley Richards we are proud to be developing some of the future’s finest gun makers, engravers and leather workers in the world. None more exemplify this than the exceptionally talented Léo, who at 22 has already played an instrumental part in the creation of our new exhibition magazine rifle “The Roebuck Rifle”.

In June 2020 he will celebrate 2 years with Westley Richards and has certainly come a long way since he sent a chance letter to the company, all the way from Belgium, to enquire about an apprenticeship. 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.

Léo, where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Belgian countryside, in a little village outside of Liège.

Did you always want to be a gun engraver?

Not exactly. I did always want to have an artistic job but in fact only started to think about the engraving profession a few months before my studies began in this subject. The idea first came to mind when my father took me to a hunting show where my soon-to-be teacher, Pierre Dôme, was performing a demonstration for the Léon Mignon School of Liège.

What did your education/apprenticeship entail?

At Léon Mignon School I learnt the two key areas of engraving both the handcraft and drawing. This included traditional techniques of hammer and chisel and the hand-chisel as well as technical drawings of ornament composition and game-scene sketches. Thereafter I taught myself how to use the pneumatic chisel and stereo zoom microscope, which I use today.

Who inspired you to become an engraver?

My family principally, but I do have two very special people who really inspired me to become the person I am today. My two best friends, Laëtitia Copine and Nicolas Braud. Laëtitia taught me about the world of the arts and greatly influenced how I now consider, analyse and understand art. Nicolas helped me to appreciate unexpected challenges and importantly how to remain stoic in front of them, an incredibly vital quality in the practice of engraving.

Who would you count as mentors in the field of engraving?

I am fortunate to have a few master engravers that I have had the privilege to meet and call mentors. The first are my two teachers from the Léon Mignon School, Master Lucien Gironi and Master Pierre Dôme, who I regularly keep in touch with. Others who I have had the chance to cross paths with who need no introduction, who very much like my school teachers, shared their work, ideas and knowledge with great kindness. Masters Paul Lantuch, Alain Lovenberg and Bram Ramon.

How long did it take to learn the art of engraving?

I began learning the art of engraving in September 2015, with my background in the arts and the first class education I received, I have had a rapid rise. But when you ask “How long did it take to learn the art of engraving?”, it is a difficult question as like others, I’m sure, consider that I will never stop learning (and  that’s a great thing).

Indeed the continual learning is the most exciting part of the job, always amazed by the masterpieces of great engraving masters, past and present, who have work for Westley Richards. Holding their works in my own hands is always such a privilege.  Spending many an hour researching I discover talents across the globe who produce such technically impressive works with skills that are out of this world. Knowing this drives me to keep experimenting and push boundaries with this historic craft.

Tell us about the ‘Roebuck Rifle’ that you recently completed for Westley Richards?

The Roebuck Rifle is my very first grand-scale project in engraving. At first, embarking on this project made me acutely aware of my level as engraver and how long still the path of apprenticeship really is. To be honest in the beginning I was very nervous about such an important artwork, but with the fantastic team around me at Westley Richards, and the nerves subsiding, I began to have fun and enjoyed the entire process.

The ornamentation was my first challenge, the client had decided upon a carved leaf design using a technique I had only used once before at my school in Liège. At that time I used the traditional hammer and chisel method, however with my new pneumatic tools this was a completely fresh experience and one I threw myself into. Fortunately the path of this level of engraving I was able to begin on the smaller elements, like the roebuck head on the safety shroud, to build confidence.

On the advice and information kindly shared by older masters I moved into the larger game scenes, for example the roe deers seen on the floorplate. When Trigger and I decided on the pair of animals we wanted to capture for the scene, from a picture where we see the male chasing the female, my next big challenge emerged. Trigger had selected an image where only the top of their bodies were visible due to high grass covering their chest, undersides and legs.

I spent many an hour studying deer anatomy and movement through reading veterinary books and watching live action video in slow motion, to finally deduce the exact musculature positioning to achieve a true to life visual. Seeing as I have rarely been near the animal in real life I relied on my colleagues to add those final touches to the end result.

A special thanks to the Westley Richards patron, who commissioned such a fabulous artwork, and to my colleagues and mentors for their critical advice and encouragement. Without them I would not have reached the new heights of technical and artistic excellence I have dreamed to achieve and will continue to strive for.

Head to our engraving section, to discover the incredible variety of engraved artworks that patrons have commissioned over the years.

Making The Bournbrook Leather Collection – Pt. 2

A couple weeks ago we featured the first part of “Making of the Bournbrook”, giving you a behind the scenes look into our creative exploration from collection concept to design. In the second and final part, we continue our journey through the rigorous detailing of material selection, production sampling, tests out in field and ultimately the delivery of our final bags.

To meet the dedicated high standards of quality that the Westley Richards name is globally recognised for, ever since our founder coined the mantra – “to be the maker of as good a gun as can be made” – we put no time limit on these stages to achieve the pinnacle of end results.

First critical decision came in the form of material selection. Westley Richards has had a long relationship with both its leather and canvas manufacturers, however we felt this an ideal opportunity to research new partners. After much time spent sourcing, meeting and testing new options nothing compared to our existing relationships… I’m sure there is an old adage for that.

All our leather is supplied by the incredible Tarnsjo Gaveri tannery in Sweden. It is amongst the last remaining 5% of tanning houses worldwide who still employ the tradition of vegetable tanning, in favour of the more time and cost-efficient chrome method.

Their sustainable approach helps respect the environment – using bark extracts, water and water-based finishing – and delivers a leather that feels both luxurious, ages beautifully over the generations and has unparalleled levels of endurance.

With our canvases, we have long been pleased to partner with Halley Stevensons. A fantastic British company regarded as the world’s leading waxed cotton fabric innovators of weatherproofed canvas. Based up in Dundee, Scotland, the regions hard weather inspired workers to experiment with applying oils and greases to cloth to make it more durable and protective to the elements. 150 years on, not much has changed except the science behind the coatings, which are now engineered to be virtually impermeable and incredibly long lasting.

Unlike our heritage gun and rifle designs, which have remained largely untouched for centuries, creating a new travel bag collection fit for our clients required countless amendments, technical drawings and samples. In fact the new fine leather goods collection you see in-store today is the summation of 50+ full-scale technical packages and bench-made samples. Our overriding focus was to deliver the finest in English style, handle and strength, with no superfluous detail.

Once the collection aesthetics were correct, befitting the truly discerning traveller, each of these samples were then rigorously tested out in the field. Taken by Ricky and Trigger on shooting trips in the UK & Spain, business trips to Paris, London & Florence, and personal vacations to Canada, Italy & US, the collection got to experience a plethora of outdoor scenarios.

On their happy return, adventures were shared and final improvements to the proto-samples were made. And in late October the Bournbrook range was signed off for production to appear in our inaugural winter brochure – Westley Richards: Collections 2020.

The Bournbrook Travel Bag Collection reflects the height of luxury and is now available to buy in-store and online in a range of vegetable tanned & exotic leather, buffalo hide and strong canvas combinations. Like all our fine leather goods we offer bespoke initialling to add that very personal touch.

westleyrichards.com/bournbrook

Making The Bournbrook Leather Collection – Pt. 1

At the end of last year we launched the first members of our new Bournbrook travel bag collection. Conceived, designed and importantly hand-fabricated by our expert leather department here at the Westley Richards’ Pritchett Street headquarters.

Unlike our fellow gunmakers we uniquely manufacture all our fine and exotic leather goods, both sporting and travel, in-house and side by side with our gun making. For myself and others alike, it is a great pleasure to witness English craftsmanship at its zenith within these four walls; and of particular importance, that Westley Richards continues the Midlands’ proud heritage as the centre of England’s leathermaking since time immemorial.

The Bournbrook’s journey begun early in 2019. With aims to expand our leather offering through a new luxury lifestyle collection, the team’s initial focus centred on ‘town and country’ as a territory. Many patrons of the company split their time between their residences, the city and the field, and therefore a collection that travels with them at every moment revealed itself as an ideal place to begin.

To inform the initial concepts we fought hard to ensure that this new collection exemplified the finest in English style, hand craftsmanship and quality, and ultimately for it to be delivered through the distinctive lens of Westley Richards and its heritage.

Being a gun company, synonymous with Africa and safari, our key ideas for the collection rightly stemmed from there. The principal twin pocket concept, seen on the front, takes the form of bellows pockets, which is drawn directly from our safari sporting attire. A great example of this can be seen on the Westley Richards Bushveld Safari Jacket.

Further inspiration comes from our celebrated bespoke gun cases, visible on those front pocket strap closures. These straps are hand-stitched together using traditional saddlery techniques, also reflecting the ancestry of the region. Another key detail arrived in the form of a repeat diamond embossing. A clear reference to gun stock checkering and originally used, at this large scale, on a hand-embossed copy of our bi-centennial book “The Pursuit of the Best Gun 1812-2012”.

Finally, and I’m sure most pertinent for The Explora reader, is the introduction of the exclusively designed lining by master engraver Paul Lantuch, used across all our travel bag collections. This wonderfully illusory illustration reveals, within its decorative design, a different face-like apparition when held in opposing directions. An ingenuous idea, absolutely befitting of such a legend.

Once the concepts were agreed the designs were established into four key bag types, catering for a classic gentleman’s lifestyle. A soft briefcase for professional life, a 48hr weekend bag with wash bag for recreational life, and a rucksack for everyday life.

In the next part – Making of the Bournbrook: Part 2 – I will share the exciting task of selecting the eventual materials, producing countless samples, hours of testing out in the field and the final presentation of the collection you see today.

The Bournbrook Travel Bag Collection is now available to buy in-store and online in a range of vegetable tanned & exotic leather, buffalo hide and strong canvas combinations. Like all our fine leather goods we offer bespoke initialling to add that very personal touch.

www.westleyrichards.com/bournbrook

 

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.

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’.

Stunning Westley Richards .375 Sidelock Double Rifle

So here it is finally finished, the first .375 H & H calibre sidelock double rifle that we have built in modern times. Scaled onto the appropriate frame and incorporating Westley Richards unique model ‘C’ fastener and top lever work, the rifle has its own distinctive look and elegant lines. Without any form of bolster the sides of the action provide a clean canvas on which the engraver can indulge their art.

Richly coloured exhibition wood once again sets Westley Richards apart.

This rifle pays homage to three of the famed ‘Big 5’ and it is only now that the rifle has been hardened, brushed and lacquered that all the detail really stands out. The darkened cut away back ground contrasts wonderfully with the elaborate scroll, motifs, gold work and finely depicted game scenes. The scenes were intended to be more animated with fighting bull elephant and buffalo on the respective lock plates.

Westley Richards unique model ‘C’ dolls head fastener with wide pivoting snap action lever work makes a great area to elaborate and embellish.

Fighting bull elephants in clouds of dust with cattle egrets highlight the right hand lock.

Built in Hollands iconic .375 belted magnum cartridge this calibre remains to this day a firm favourite on safari and we continue to build both magazine and double rifles in this calibre. The addition of quick detachable scope mounts and a Swarovski Z6I scope not only adds versatility to this rifle but also helps those whose eyes are not quite as sharp as they used to be!

Now brushed the detail in the engraving is even more spectacular. Such detailed work is time consuming but certainly worth all of the effort when finally finished.

Complete in a buffalo hide lightweight leather case with a classic complement of horn handled tools the final package is simple yet stunning!