A Unique Little Westley Richards .22-250 Takedown Magazine Rifle

Westley Richards is a name synonymous with rifles; double, magazine and single shot. Over the years the reputation of the company has been founded on large calibre rifles that have proved effective on all the worlds big game. The list of big game calibres built by the company reads like a who’s who of the very best the British gun and rifle makers could produce, ever since the introduction in 1898 of the first .450 3 1/4″ nitro express metallic cartridge.

With such a reputation for large calibre rifles it is a genuine pleasure to get to build the first and probably only .22-250 Remington calibre take down magazine rifle in the history of the company. This fine little calibre can trace its ancestry back to the 1930’s and the boom in wildcatting that our good friends in the USA were running with. In essence the .22-250 is the .250 Savage case necked down to take the .224 bullet. It was officially adopted by Remington in 1965 and has been chambered in production rifles by most of the major rifle manufacturers ever since.

Principally a varmint (sorry ‘vermin’ for us Brits!) calibre it is also a devasting Roe deer calibre north of the border here in Britain. Unusually and much to our gratification, this rifle is intended for use here in the Uk which makes this an extra special build for the factory as most of the guns and rifles we build head overseas.

A Swarovski 1″ Z3 scope in old school claw mounts sits well on the rifle making use of the original rear square bridge.

When building a rifle of this scale in British terms the key to the build is in the action. You need something small and being a British riflemaker that traditionally has to be a Mauser ’98. Now modern small ‘Kurz’ (short) actions are available, but with a project this unique you really need to look for something special. So it was that we pulled from the depths of the factory an original Mauser Oberndorf Kurz action with a rear single square bridge still retaining its original factory fittings for a quick detachable scope system.

Taking things a step further it was decided to build the rifle as a takedown, the smallest of which we have built. This in itself was an interesting excercise as we opted to review the takedown release catch traditionally found on the right side of the forend, to use a revised underside catch fashioned in the shape of our famous Deeley forend catch so giving the rifle that classic Westley Richards touch.

Case colour hardening predominates tthe finish of this rifle enhancing the unusual ‘Byzantine’ design.

Engraving wise the client requested a design based around ‘Byzantine’ motifs. The Byzantium period in history is said to span over 1000 years so clearly there was a lot to chose from so with the aid of the client, a geometric border (found commonly on gold jewellery of the period), combined with a floral motif was used as the basis for the engraving with the family crest set in the centre of the floorplate surrounded by a design that was taken from an architectural feature. To cap it all of the clients initials for both the stock and case disk were engraved from the Uncial alphabet!

Looking down on the rifle the elegant lines are enhanced by the rich black, electric blue and vivid case colours of the final finish. 

In its finished state with the addition of a case colour hardened floorplate and magazine box the rifle is a wonderful mixture of the old and the new. The original Mauser ’98 Kurz action was without doubt the right way to go with such a project and we trust that complete in its traditional lightweight canvas case this unique little rifle will give its owner decades of fun and pleasure.

A close figured exhibition grade piece of walnut furnished with heel and toe plates sets the rifle off.

Pair of Westley Richards 16g Holster Pistols

I am just returning from a trip in which I visited one of America’s oldest and most historic cities. A fitting place to find this pair of cased Westley Richards 16g Percussion Holster Pistols made in the first half of the 19th Century.

Originally ordered for stock, this pair of pistols was shipped, in their ‘box”, on May 16, 1839 to the London Agency at 170 New Bond St. Now, 180 years later, these pistols are being offered for sale by this firm. Only this time, at Westley Richards’ U.S. Agency.

A “boxed” or cased set of pistols like this were a sign of status and they were finished to a very high standard. The locks, hammers, trigger guards and breach blocks are decorated with a traditional acanthus scroll engraving and the maker’s name is engraved on each lock plate.

The small sized, bar action hammer locks have flat plates and are fitted with flat faced serpentine hammers with stylized dolphin heads and back sliding safeties.

Each pistol has 8” twist octagon barrels that are engraved with the maker’s name on the top flats. They have V-notch rear sights on the breach irons and small brass beads at the muzzles. The barrels are fitted with bridled steel ramrods that still operate flawlessly.

Lightly figured European walnut stocks have “bag” shaped grips and forends that extend to within 5/8” of the muzzle. The stocks have very nice flat top checkering, are iron mounted and have rectangular crest plates engraved with a “rising eagle”.

Overall the pair’s condition is excellent and the guns remain completely original. The locks and hammers display strong amounts of their color hardening and most of the original brown is left on the barrels that have excellent bores. The stocks are also sound, crack free and in superb original shape retaining almost all their original oil finish. The forearm wedges and triggers still show a vivid charcoal blue and almost all the original black remains on the trigger bows.

The pistols are paired in the original mahogany case that is also in very nice original condition still retaining the original trade label and well preserved green baize.

This pair of pistols is another great example of the high-quality arms Westley Richards has produced and sold for over two hundred years.

A Stunning Original Westley Richards 8 Bore Wildfowl Gun

I am always looking for good second-hand guns to sell and every now and then I find a rose among the thorns.

That idiomatic expression is a bit deceiving though, as the most recent gun I’ve found is nowhere near as delicate or dainty as a rose. Quite simply, it’s a magnificent beast of a gun from an era that has long since passed.

In Westley Richards’ landmark 1912 Centenary catalogue, there is a section devoted to Wildfowl Guns stating:

“The term Wildfowl Gun is very comprehensive. With regard to portable guns fired from the shoulder it includes the 12 bores taking the long cartridge, the 10 bores, 8 bores, and 4 bores…the three larger calibres here mentioned may be particularly regarded as suitable for killing the largest wildfowl, for these guns discharge considerably increased charges of both powder and shot, and so with large shot, the wild geese, ducks, etc. may be killed at the most extended ranges possible.”

Original load data accompany’s this amazing wildfowl gun.

To that measure, that is exactly what I have recently come across. This Westley Richards 8g A&D Fixed Lock was finished in 1909 and, just as the 1912 catalogue states, this gun is a “Double Hammerless Wildfowl Gun, in an 8 bore with a plain finish and anti-recoil heelplate” and these models were built on special order, to the customer’s specifications.

Accompanying the gun are three pages, clipped together, of beautifully handwritten notes showing the guns serial number, gauge, load data and pattern results at different size circles and distances for three different shot sizes. No doubt factory notes recorded when the barrels were regulated. Looking back at the ledgers, the gun was “sold to” one F.W. Lanchester who would, no doubt, have to be one Frederick W. Lanchester (Oct. 23, 1868 – March 8, 1946) who was an English automotive engineer and founder of Lanchester Engine Company and The Lanchester Motor Company in Birmingham, England. Certainly, the type that would be obsessive with data from test results.

Condition is king and this gun has it all. One of the finest 8 bore guns we have ever seen.

Along with the paperwork the gun is complete in its original lightweight canvas case, with the original oil pot, two-piece rosewood cleaning rod (that is massive) and original mop, jag and brush

Weighing in at just under 14 pounds with 34” barrels and “extreme choke” in each barrel, this is a long range shotgun of note. A true Westley in every sense built on the venerable Anson & Deeley Fixed Lock action and fitted with the patent Model “C” doll’s head bolting and snap lever work and an automatic “beetle” back safety. The gun was offered with ejectors, however, this is a non-ejector with two triggers. The gun stock has a Silver’s type pad, a capped pistol grip with a full-length trigger guard and a splinter forend with a Deeley latch and horn forend tip. The gun displays almost all its original, and very vivid, color hardening, blacking, and stock finish down to the original anti-recoil heel plate.

The rarity of this gun is off the charts (Trigger and I know of only three other 8g WR guns) but the completeness of the package and the super high, original condition is something not often if ever, encountered in a vintage gun of any sort. But to consider that a gun like this was intended to be exposed to the harsh environments where waterfowl are hunted, it is nothing short of a miracle that this gun has remained, all these years, in such phenomenal shape. While the gun does show a few tell-tell signs of being 110 years old, don’t we all wish we could age this gracefully?

Set next to a .410 droplock the 8 bore is an impressive beast!

New Westley Richards .450/.400 3″ Fresh Back From Engraving

Back from engraving this last week is this fabulous sideplated, single trigger, droplock double rifle in .450/.400 3″ calibre. Decorated with elaborate scroll, gold naming and game scenes depicting three of the ‘Big 5’ this rifle has been built to our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ standard.

As double rifles go this one might be considered slightly unconventional with its Westley Richards single selective trigger. Controversial in the eye of many double rifle enthusiasts, the great ivory hunter James Sutherland had one fitted in his .577 3″ way back in 1906 and used it until he died in 1932.

Another interesting aspect of this rifle is the calibre. The .450/.400 3″ has seen a resurgence since the introduction of modern factory ammunition. At one time the calibre was an industry standard appearing in rifles manufactured by Manton, Holland & Holland, Watson Bros. and Westley Richards to name but a few. Introduced in cordite version by W.J.Jeffery it was considered the all-round calibre prior to the introduction of Hollands lethal .375 Magnum.

Whilst sometimes bulky in vintage rifles which used generic action sizes, in the modern era this calibre makes for a very sleek and fast handling rifle which is still more than capable of taking all of Africa’s dangerous game.

 

Traditional Westley Richards 28 Bore Droplock

A traditional Westley Richards droplock in 28 bore was completed this week and due to head out to the USA. Whilst a greater portion of the guns and rifles being built at the factory today are of a more fancy engraving composition, it is always nice to see the care that goes into a traditional ‘house’ engraved gun.

These guns will always stand the test of time as they are the bench mark gun for the company. Quail hunters in the US simply love the small bore guns that the guys here build and the actual ‘droplocks’ always make them a talking point on a hunt.

It goes without saying that we enjoy using the very finest of figured walnut and having just returned from a recent buying trip there are going to be some truly epic guns and rifles coming out of the factory in the next couple of years!

Gold naming whilst subtle adds an elegant touch to the gun.

Super deluxe wood is the standard now with Westley Richards.

The Rake Magazine – Featuring Anne-Sofie, 8th Countess of Lucan And Her Westley Richards Guns

Not our more typical blog post, but this month Westley Richards was privileged to feature in ‘The Rake’ magazine with Anne-Sofie, 8th Countess of Lucan. Not only is she a fabled shot on these shores, but the Countess also runs a luxury country fashion brand ‘Lucan’ which focuses on producing limited runs of very high quality clothing all manufactured in the Uk, all with a gentle twist.

Originally a student of the arts, her true passion has always been shooting and she has pursued both feathered and furred game worldwide building a strong reputation as an elegant and calculated shot. Her guns of choice as featured in The Rake are a pair of Westley Richards round body 20 bore sidelocks, sporting elaborate scroll and gold inlaid flowers. The perfect bore for a lady, these guns were built totally bespoke for the Countess and have by all accounts served her very well!
T
he Countess of Lucan’s Westley Richard guns “are my little lovely babies; I just think they’re so elegant and so smart. I think you’ve got to have something that reflects you.” 

It is this passion for shooting and the finer things in life that has transferred into her clothing line with many of the pieces designed exclusively for the shooting field. Her early experiences found that little was available to suit her own needs and tastes so in 2017 she began designing her own clothing line based on vintage styles, moving it into the modern game shooting era. At the recent Great British Shooting Awards she won Gold for best ladies garment with her ladies vest featuring fur trim. Need we say more.

For further details on the Lucan range of clothing visit: https://houseoflucan.com

For further details of The Rake Magazine visit: https://therake.com

A Visit From Master Engraver Paul Lantuch

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.

New Westley Richards .30-06 Take Down Magazine Rifle

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.

Simple yet effective engraving details.

 

Beautiful New Westley Richards 16g Droplock Shotgun

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.

New Gunmaking Apprenticeships At Westley Richards – 2019

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 apprentice@westleyrichards.co.uk