Recently we were privileged to have a two-week visit from master engraver Paul Lantuch as he completes the finishing on a pair of ornate guns that had just returned from case colour hardening. As those of you may already know, Paul is the mind behind the elaborate ‘India’ and ‘Africa’ .600 sidelock double rifles that were completed in recent years. These were some of the largest engraving commissions undertaking here at Westley Richards and Paul continues to execute on our behalf projects of outstanding quality, creativity and technicality.
During his visit, we took many photos that we thought would be worth sharing with you as they show part of the process involved in the careful removal of the case colour hardening and subsequent re-working of the gold inlay as executed on this pair of shotguns. It goes without saying that the work was both time consuming and delicate. We will share the final results with you when the entire project is complete.
The component parts as returned from case colour hardening.
Re-detailing the top lever and sharpening the edges of the carving.
Re-matting (or stippling) the goldwork was a labour of love.
The gold edges needed careful blending.
One side of the action as yet untouched.
The horsemen now gently brushed back and the sculpting highlighted.
Once again the guys at the factory here have produced another gem of a magazine rifle in the venerable .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Developed originally for US military use the .30-06 cartridge soon caught on in the hunting world and has since been chambered in the sporting rifles produced by just about every major manufacturer in the world.
Our own example is built in take down format and the rifle speaks of elegant simplicity with each detail executed to the highest standard. We have always said that some of the least embellished of our guns and rifles have the most to say, as so little can be hidden under the disguise of the engraving. Beautiful wood and sharp clean lines are the order of the day.
A post war brochure detailing the best quality magazine rifles being built by Westley Richards. The .30-06 features as one of the calibres and suggests a move towards the American market for new guns and rifles.
Elements of case colour hardening and light bluing add to the overall elegance of the rifle.
Post war the .30-06 was offered by Westley in three versatile bullet loadings. The calibre remains a favourite among hunters today.
The 16 bore gun is one that presents a real anomaly. Never produced in any great numbers by the British gunmakers it has maintained a unique niche in the hearts of sportsmen around the world for some very simple reasons.
The 16 bore is considered one of the finest patterning guns, particularly with the original 15/16 oz loads that were developed way back. Cases then were paper and the loads of more moderate velocity which produced very consistent patterns for traditional driven game shooting. Thankfully British cartridge manufacturers have continued to load in the paper case for the older guns, whilst adding plastic cased cartridges for the more contemporary built guns. Modern loading components mean the 16 bore can be loaded to more current velocities whilst maintaining a smooth recoil.
Weight wise the standard 28″ barreled 16 bore can be built at a trim 6lbs. Taking into account that a 12 bore shooting a 1oz load would traditionally weigh at least 4-6ozs more, it is amazing that the 16 bore never took a greater hold on the best gun market. Interestingly on the continent, many drillings combine a rifle calibre with the 16 bore cartridge so allowing for a sensible weight to a versatile weapon.
Today the 16 bore rolls out of the various British gunmaking houses in rarefied numbers. Westley Richards gets to build a few in a decade which makes them quite unusual and certainly worth paying attention to if they come onto the pre-owned gun market.
Multicolour game scene of the clients favourite hunting companion.
It seems the appetite for new guns and rifles being built at Westley Richards continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Orders for double rifles, shotguns and bolt action rifles is the best we have seen for a decade, as collectors and sportsman from around the world continue to invest in the best that we have to offer.
Westley Richards remains the largest gunmaking house in the City of Birmingham and has a proud heritage which the company is keen to maintain, develop and promote into the coming decades.
A feature of this long-term plan is our recruitment every year of the next generation of gunmaker. As one of the few privately owned gunmaking houses we run a comprehensive 5-year apprenticeship programme that leads to a qualification in one of the traditional gunmaking trades. The emphasis of the apprenticeship is on absolute quality and building the ‘very best gun that can be built’.
The ‘Gunmakers Certificate’ awarded after the 5-year apprenticeship has been completed.
As we enter a new year we now have a further 2 positions to be filled in our apprenticeship program and invite applications for these positions. We are looking for young, enthusiastic individuals with a keen interest in guns, rifles and sporting shooting. You will be joining a team of talented and determined craftsmen whose aim is to build simply better and better guns, so upholding the great traditions of Westley Richards.
For full details please send a CV and cover letter stating your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
For those sportsmen and women with a genuine passion for the outdoors and the pursuit of fish, fowl or game, no home or office is complete without some object of art. A great piece of artwork whether on canvas, board, paper or sculptured, pick your medium, brings back fond memories of a frequently pursued species and often transports us to a place where we wish we could be or may shortly be going.
The art bug can be very addictive turning many a sane person into an avid collector. Some chose a particular style of art, certain species, perhaps are patrons to a particular artist, or in my own case a collector of several artists, each representing in their art a particular period in my life when I pursued one family of bird or species of animal.
And so it is that I first came across the sculptures of David Mayer a year or so back when I was looking for an artist whose work accurately portrayed the two animals that have featured so much in my own experiences, namely the African Elephant and the diminutive European Roe Deer.
The real beauty of David’s work is that it captures the animals anatomically correct and for those of us who have been lucky enough to regularly be in the vicinity of both species, you will certainly see this. Not only that, but there is a real genuine movement in David’s work, the swift-moving away of the startled elephant and the hesitant steps of the Roe buck are all too familiar.
Based in Herefordshire, England, David himself, he is a very normal, humble, unpretentious individual. I have met many a great talker in the sporting art world but those with real talent don’t have to say too much, they let their art do the talking. He works predominantly in bronze and is currently undertaking full-size commissions and projects that he feels need exploring. He has been surrounded his whole life by wildlife which shows through in his work and he has an unbelievable passion for the outdoors and the animals he sculpts. If you get a moment look him up, you’ll not be disappointed by what you find.
Anatomically David’s Roe Buck is beautifully proportioned. Each set of antlers is unique to each casting, a wonderful touch.
Further details of David and his work can be found at:
Just back from engraving is this latest interpretation of the Westley Richards ‘Ovundo’ model 20g shotgun. The Ovundo project was reintroduced in 2004 after an absence of 60 years and it must be admitted that it has turned into a real labour of love. The gun is complex to say the least as it incorporates Westley Richards famous hand detachable locks and single selective trigger. The best grade guns and rifles had the side plates with side opening ports as shown here.
The British over and under shotgun has always been a complex affair and the Ovundo probably pushes the boundary of what technically can be built into an over and under gun whilst remaining faithful to the companies unique patents and designs. The Ovundo is a technical marvel (perhaps anomaly?!!!) and in the sleek lines of a 20g it is contrary to popular belief a very elegant gun.
This particular gun has a modern take on an elaborate scroll design that was first seen on a Maharaja Ovundo rifle that resides here at the factory. The fences have been carved in a suitable scroll design which carries forward onto the barrel breech ends before turning into an almost Celtic design along the barrel bar. Interestingly with vintage Ovundo’s there seems to be a lot of variation in the engraving pattern from gun to gun, certainly more so than the house scroll droplock sides by sides that the company built during the same period. So it goes that all the Ovundos built in the modern era have varied in engraving design, so carrying on the tradition of individuality.
Carved fences and bars is a feature of all the modern Ovundo.
The elaborate scroll design carries well across the hinged cover plate and trigger guard.
Delivering a new double rifle to a client always has a good feeling, not least because it has probably been in production here at the factory for the best part of three years! The craftsmen have spent considerable time and effort slowly building the rifle through its various stages of production, the finished article an accumulation of many hundreds of hours of work.
Whilst many things can make the rifle special or unique to the individual owner, one of the very first considerations is the choice of calibre, something that may have taken many months to initially consider, often consulting trusted friends and even more trusted professional hunters!
From Westley Richards own perspective what makes this rifle so interesting is the fact that it is built in our proprietary .425 calibre. Now to those of you unfamiliar with the round, the .425 was introduced in 1909 by Leslie B Taylor former Managing Director of Westley Richards and one of the foremost ballistics experts of his time.
What makes the .425 so special is that it was designed as a short round to fit into a standard length Mauser 1898 action. Longer rounds like the .416 Rigby had to be built into magnum length actions which were of course more expensive to manufacture. Many today would argue that the .425 was the first of the ‘short magnums’, with its short, fat case there is certainly a strong argument for this title. Firing a 410-grain soft nose or solid bullet the round became a firm favourite of none other than Captain F.C.Selous shortly before his death in World War I.
Wonderfully, this rifle is the first to be produced in a double for the best part of 15 years and whilst we have put a couple of modern magazine rifles through the books it really is great to see this double go out. It will without question see use in the field these next few years and if its magazine rifle predecessors are anything to go by then it should be a great success. The calibre is notoriously accurate and pleasant to shoot, making it ideal for all round dangerous game hunting. We wish the new owner much luck and fun with this modern take on a great calibre.
Vintage examples of Westley Richards .425 ammunition sit next to this modern production rifle. The rebated rim of the cartridge is a distinctive feature.
The completed package now ready to leave the Westley Richards factory.
Raw back from the skilled engraving hands of Vince Crowley comes this stunning little .410 droplock shotgun. It is often difficult with an image to appreciate just how small these guns are and so for a change we decided to add a little sense of scale with a 10 pence coin rightfully showing the Queen face up.
As with scaling anything, so the scroll engraving itself must be scaled to fit the finer proportions of the .410 action body and parts. This finer scroll concept was started many years ago at Westley Richards by Rashid El Hadi who many of you will know was one of the most talented engravers of his generation. Whilst Rash may be remembered for his exceptional creative designs and execution of such masterpieces as the ‘Hummingbird Gun’, it was some of his finer work that really showed the skill of the man.
Thankfully these skills were passed on to Vince who has carefully and very skillfully carried this concept forward with the gun you see before you.
In this particular instance the client had seen an earlier example of this fine work and requested a revised version with carved fences, a staggered name banner and an elegant Woodcock in flight game scene. We hope you will agree that Vince has captured everything the client wished for magnificently.
The gun will now go for full case colour hardening of all parts which should add another dimension to the overall look of the gun. Subject to how the case colours complement the gun, will determine the final finish. We will post pictures once back from hardening and perhaps put the question to you.
Absolutely stunning Woodcock game scene!
Staggered banner proudly bearing the Westley Richards name.
Super fine detail on a small frame gun cannot be beaten.
Once again the team here at the factory have put together a super two rifle battery of magazine rifles destined in this instance for Africa. In .375 H & H Magnum and .500 Jeffery, these two rifles are capable of handling all that Africa has to throw at them from its diminutive plains game right through to the heaviest dangerous game.
Both calibres have formidable reputations and really should need no introduction. The .375 has been regulated to shoot 300 grain loads, whilst the .500 shoots its classic 535 grain bullet, in this instance Woodleigh Weldcore’s, from modern Kynoch ammunition.
As is becoming the norm with our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ guns and rifles, only the very best walnut has been used as this makes such a statement when viewed by even the most casual of observers. We take great care in sourcing only the very best and like to think that the clients expectations will be more than surpassed.
Full deluxe scroll, gold lettering and game scenes complemented by deep black, case colour hardening and light blue finish.
Engraving wise the client had asked for our deluxe scroll with gold naming throughout and the addition of a Cape Buffalo game scene on the .375 and a Bull Elephant on the .500. With our classic combination of blacking, case colour hardening and light blue finish the overall look of the rifles is subtle and classic.
Heading south of the equator shortly, these rifles will be sure to get a lot of use, with the team here at the factory keen to see the results of all the hard work. It is one thing to build beautiful rifles, but as the saying goes ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ or in this case the shooting!
Spectacular matching wood for the rifles.
Cape Buffalo and Bull Elephant adorn the floor plates of the two rifles.
With a bank holiday approaching this weekend we thought it would be good to let you ponder this magnificent little 28 bore droplock shotgun that has recently been finished and is out for delivery to the client today. Completed to our ‘Modele de Luxe’ standard this pretty little gun once again typifies the quality of workmanship that is being painstakingly produced here at the Westley Richards factory. No detail has been overlooked from the elegant lines of the gun, to the stunning engraving, through to the hand made tools, case and cartridge magazine.
The classic hallmarks of the Westley Richards hand detachable lock (droplock) action, scroll back, hinged cover plate, wide top lever with model ‘c’ dolls head fastener, single selective trigger and distinctive safety button.
The real beauty of this project was the patience and trust that the client showed in Westley Richards. What originally started out as a ‘test’ piece for his relationship with the company, developed into a ‘well clearly you know what your doing, I’ll keep out of it now’. And so with that kind of trust placed upon us we set out to deliver a unique piece of work that we very much hope surpasses all of his expectations!
Exceptionally fine detail in the engraving of this gun continues to raise the bar here at Westley Richards. This particular work was executed by Vince Crowley.
Beautiful French fitted lightweight leather case with hand made tools.
Projects such as this really are great fun for all involved as they develop into much more than delivering ‘just another gun’. Talking through our own ideas with the client turns this into something very personal and as you will have seen from blogs posted in recent months, every gun and rifle we now build has some individual twist, in our opinion the very essence of having a ‘bespoke’ gun or rifle made in the first place. To those brave enough to trust us we say thank you and to this particular client we say ‘wait until you see your next project!’
Glorious Turkish walnut finished with a Woodward grip and heel and toe plates once again demonstrates Westley Richards commitment to producing the truly ‘bespoke’.
Bespoke leather upright cartridge magazine made to complement the gun case and complete a fantastic all round package.