Destined once again for a good client of ours in the USA is this sweet 20g droplock shotgun. As the client is based in Texas it was only natural to engrave the gun with some nice scenes of dove and Bobwhite quail set amongst some of the cactus brush country familiar to his own ranch.
The scroll is a slightly finer version than we usually use on the larger frame guns and rifles, but we feel that everything should be scaled and in proportion with the frame size. You’ll also notice some rose bouquets which we think add a tasteful look and break to the overall engraving design.
One final feature that always works well with these small bore guns are the carved fences which always add a touch of masculinity to an otherwise delicate gun.
Flushing Bobwhite quail in Texas brush country.
Carved fences always add a nice touch to our delicate bird guns.
Classic dove game scene on the right side of the action.
Undoubtedly two of the most iconic cartridges to ever come from the British gun making trade must be Rigby’s .416 and Gibbs’ .505 Magnum. Steeped in safari legend, the mere mention of these two big bore rounds evokes images of big tuskers, old dagga boys and the larger than life characters that used them. Both cartridges have been around for well over a century, and remain two of the most popular cartridges among dangerous game hunters today. It goes without saying that the original rifles chambered for these rounds are among the most coveted rifles out there.
The first rifles chambered for these cartridges were ground breaking developments for Big Game hunters. The rifles themselves were built on the new magnum length Mauser ’98 bolt actions that were very well made, extremely reliable and far more affordable than double rifles. Secondly, these big rifles shot cartridges that matched the ballistics of cartridges like the .470 3 ¼” NE or the .500 3” NE.
This was power previously only available in a double rifle and these new big bore bolt action rifles could carry up to 4 rounds. Furthermore, the two cartridges were similarly shaped and their “big” designs offered ample case capacity that made for low chamber pressure. The cases also had long necks for tightly holding the big bullets, a benefit for the rounds in the magazine of heavy recoiling rifles. All these characteristics were, and still remain, reliable combinations for pursuing the World’s most dangerous game.
Original Gibbs .505 Magnum built in 1927.
Safe to say the British trade hasn’t made “many” of anything, but even when put into perspective, original .416 Rigby and .505 Gibbs bolt action rifles are not only some of the most desirable, they’re also some of the rarest. Less than 200 .416 Rigby rifles were produced between its introduction in 1911 and the beginning of WWII. In the case of the mighty .505 Gibbs, somewhere between 70 to 80 were only ever produced. Low production numbers by any standards and, in rifles that were very much intended for hard use, one must wonder just how many survived much less stayed original?
Being that the rifles are so rare, I’ve encountered very few in my career, and to have one of each offered for sale at the same time, is an even rarer moment still.
The J.Rigby & Co. Mauser Sporting Big Game rifle in .416 calibre shown here was shipped in 1913 and must have been among some of the first made. It is built on the original magnum length action made for John Rigby and his new .416 cartridge. The rifle has a 24” barrel with a sleeved front sight and sling swivel and Rigby’s pattern quarter rib, a cocking piece flip up peep sight, two folding leaf rear sights and the classically shaped Rigby stock. Even though the rifle is 105 years old, I am sure it feels as sturdy and sound today as it did the day it was finished.
The George Gibbs rifle chambered in .505 Magnum was made in 1927. A hulk of a rifle also built on an original magnum length Mauser action with a 26” Vickers barrel, island rear sight and banded front sight with a folding sight hood. The massive size of the action and barrel are appropriately scaled for the equally large cartridge that propels a bullet, one-half inch in diameter, at 2200 fps. This rifle was built for one purpose and it serves this purpose very well.
Original .416 Rigby built in 1913.
The long single square bridge magnum length Mauser ’98 action of the .416 Rigby.
These are two rifles that are not only an iconic representative of a bygone era but they still remain very useful tools for the pursuit of dangerous game or as a cornerstone of a fine gun collection.
Both rifles have been sold prior to the posting of this blog. These are indeed rare and desirable guns and, as it goes with items like these, they are quickly sold. Our method of selling such guns is much more discreet than most other dealers. If these are the types of investment grade firearms you might be interested in, please contact us. We would like very much to know you and add you to our list of discerning clients.
The word nice can be a pretty boring word to describe something you like but sometimes a gun arrives at the factory and the minute you open the case and first lay eyes on it, you think to yourself ‘yep, this is a nice gun’. More often than not you take it out of the case, inspect it in closer detail, spend 10 minutes pretending to shoot driven grouse with it in the showroom and the ‘nice gun’ quickly turns into a ‘damn nice gun’. When Trigger phoned me to ask about the latest preowned gun that had just arrived, before I’d even had chance to take it out of the case, handle it, or enjoy some imaginary grouse shooting, my immediate response to him was ‘this is a damn nice gun’.
That damn nice gun I’m talking about is this rare Westley Richards droplock 20g shotgun. Completed in 1906 for C.S. Somervile Esquire, it’s a fine example of a best quality shotgun, featuring our patent hand detachable locks, single selective trigger, snap lever work, Model C dolls head extension and a removable cover plate. The scroll back action has our classic Westley scroll engraving, which extends a couple of inches down the barrels and the trigger guard is engraved with a dog on point. The beautifully shaped and scaled action retains some lovely case colours and the engraving is superbly executed and crisp to the touch.
The gun was returned to us in 1988 for a full refurbishment and we rebarreled the gun with new 28” chopper lump barrels with 2 3/4” chambers, choked 1/2 in the right barrel and 5/8 in the left. The stock is stunning and has a lovely straight grain through the hand which then flows down to the toe. Rich and dark in colour the original length of 13 7/8” was extended to 14 3/4″ by a leather covered recoil pad. The splinter forend matches the stock perfectly and has the usual Deeley catch release and horn tip. The gun weighs 6lbs 4ozs and is well balanced. Weight in the barrels encourages a steady, controlled swing, which is often an issue with lightweight smaller gauges. The gun comes in a lightweight green canvas case with accessories.
The gun is really in superb condition and I can’t stress enough how rare it is to find a best quality 20g droplock, in this condition, from this era. I’m probably doing the gun an injustice by simply calling it a damn nice gun and there are numerous superlatives one could describe this gun with, but I feel this is a gun that speaks for itself and from the images, I think you’ll agree.
It is always nice to see when one of our guns or rifles returns back to the factory after many years of service in some distant place. They often come back bruised and battered with many a great story to tell.
The rifle illustrated here is not particularly old by our 200 year standard, having been completed in 1990 for a Swedish businessman who’s passion was moose hunting. His calibre of choice was the trusted .30-06, a calibre of great versatility and with the heavier 200 grain loadings a capable calibre for Europe’s heavier game.
An interesting part of this story is that the rifle was acquired by a client of ours who we recently built a .505 Gibbs bolt action rifle for. This rifle came up for sale in his native Sweden and being a Westley Richards fan he jumped at the opportunity to own it and pair it up with the .505 Gibbs. Quite a combination!
This particular rifle was engraved with a Norse theme in mind and amongst other things depicts in raised gold the former clients favourite quarry. These more unusual and very personal engravings are always nice to look at once again, even though no-one can quite remember the story behind them.
The rifle was returned to us for a gentle refurbishment of the wood, a good service and a test for accuracy with modern ammunition. We have left where possible all the original finish on the metalwork as the client (quite sensibly) wanted to maintain as much originality as possible, as much out of respect for the former owner, as for his own benefit. The wood will certainly age back nicely over time, developing its own unique patina with the odd scar to remind the client of a day (hopefully successful!) in the field.
The rifle will shortly be returning to Sweden where without question it will have the opportunity to hunt moose later in the year, a sport we are told is not for the lover of sunshine and warmth!!!!!!!
Norse theme engraving throughout the rifle.
Original wear showing on the metalwork.
Westley Richards patent combination foresight with flip over protector.
We make no apologies here at Westley Richards for showing you some of the finest guns and rifles built by some of the worlds greatest craftsman. Included in this list of master craftsman are without doubt Gerhard Hartmann and Otto Weiss, founders of Hartmann & Weiss, gun and rifle makers of Hamburg, Germany.
For many years, perhaps decades, they set the standard for excellence in gun and rifle manufacture so encouraging a whole new generation of craftsmen both in Europe and the Uk, a benefit to us all and the industry as a whole.
This set of three take down bolt action rifles in .300 Winchester Magnum, .416 Rigby and .500 Jeffery, are testament to their continued skill. What makes them even more special is the fabulous engraving executed by master engraver Alain Lovenberg. The detail and precision of work is without compromise and explains why Alain has forged such a reputation in the engraving world. It is great to see his level of workmanship on these three fine rifles.
At SCI this year I had the pleasure, along with several other gunmakers from both the Uk and Europe of sharing Otto Weiss’s company at the bar for a few beers. Whilst you might take him for an unassuming and quiet old man, he can still hold his own at the bar regaling many a fantastic tale of yesteryear. Later this year Otto celebrates his 80th Birthday, a landmark by anyones reckoning, even more so when you consider he still turns up for work every day!
Elegant lines in keeping with vintage British rifles.
Fantastic design and execution by master engraver Alain Lovenberg.
Highlighting rare guns and rifles, regardless of the maker or the price, is one of the great features of this Blog. A wonderful high condition small bore double rifle has recently come through our doors and it is certainly one worthy of being highlighted here. A rifle that checks all the boxes for the collector of fine guns and one that has caused quite a stir at the factory.
Made in 1927 this J. Purdey & Sons Self Opening Double Rifle is chambered in the company’s .246 caliber and remains in remarkable original condition. Retaining nearly all the original color hardening and barrel black as well as the original pad and untouched wood, this is one of the highest condition between the War Purdey rifles we have ever encountered. Built on the famous Beesley Patent Self Opening Sidelock Ejector action it is strengthened with a bolstered frame, third bite and sideclips. The rifle is a pleasure to handle being very slim and appropriately sized for Purdey’s smallest proprietary cartridge. Adorned in Purdey’s house Rose & Scroll this is yet another example of the between the Wars quality that, in my mind, makes this engraving pattern and this era of gun making so famous.
Introduced in 1923 the .246 Purdey hurled a 100gr bullet at just under 3,000 fps and was described in Purdey’s advertising as “one of the most up-to-date small bore rifles for deer, buck and wild boar it is one of the fastest double rifles made…”. While the .246 Flanged matched the ballistics of cartridges that are exceedingly popular today, the same as the .369 Purdey, it never reached much popularity. Still available in the 1940’s the cartridge was simply ahead of its time and very few rifles were made by Purdey’s in this caliber; just 13 according to Donald Dallas’ book.
Finding such a rare rifle in such high original condition is a rare feat in and of itself, but this little gun had a few more stories to tell. Stuck to the right side of the butt stock is a tattered label from Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional that administers and manages the assets ceded to the Spanish State by the Crown. In a call to our colleagues at Purdey’s, we were told the ledgers state:
Completed 12th July 1927 for the King of Spain
Barrel length: 25 1/2″
Stock length: 15 5/8″
Weight: 9lbs 13oz
While the ledgers are a bit vague stating simply the “King of Spain” King Alfonso XIII, who reigned from 1886 to 1931, was a well-known patron of Purdey’s and known to be a very keen shot and avid hunter. +
One can draw their own conclusions from these clues but nevertheless, it only adds to the mystique of such a rifle. Simply put this is an excellent example of a very rare rifle, from a storied time period, by a World-renowned maker, in extremely high original condition and with royal provenance. There’s really nothing else a collector of fine guns can ask for.
Although by no means prolific, it is always great to see a new bolt action rifle in Westley Richards signature .318 calibre reach completion here at the factory. Once the medium bore calibre by which all others were judged, like so many of the great British calibre’s, including .333 Jeffery and .350 Rigby, it slipped into semi obscurity after the Second World War.
In truth the .318 Westley Richards cartridge shooting a 250 grain bullet at 2250 feet per second is still a great and fun cartridge to use for general plains game hunting and even driven boar in Europe. The long torpedo bullet has phenomenal sectional density and with its moderate velocity (by modern standards) proves a deep penetrating round, at one time capable of tackling every type of big and dangerous game on the planet.
Peep sight located on the cocking piece.
The rifle you see here was built to a very traditional lightweight format with the addition of Westley Richards take-down system. The client had requested the rifle to be built primarily for open sight use, hence the sleek lines of the rifle. Westley Richards signature patent combination foresight was a given as no true Westley Richards magazine rifle is complete without one. It was then decided to fit a very traditional island rear sight base with one standing plus three leaf express sight regulated to 200 yards. A peep sight fitted to the cocking piece was also utilised so creating a very classic style of rifle.
As with all our guns and rifles a super piece of Turkish walnut was selected with which to stock the rifle. We came to the conclusion some time back that with the comparatively small number of guns and rifles that we build each year, we may as well use the very nicest wood that we can obtain.
Certainly destined for Africa, we are looking forward to hearing how this classic round performs in this new rifle.
Beautiful Turkish walnut stock.
The new rifle compared to a vintage example. Either rifle would be fun to use today in Africa.
Page from Westley Richards ‘Centenary’ catalogue detailing the .318 Westley Richards.
An interesting rifle completed this week, is this lovely scroll back droplock double rifle in .500/.416 calibre. The round so it goes was developed to replicate the power of the legendary .416 Rigby, but in a flanged case that could be used successfully in double rifles. Developed by Kriegoff in the mid 1990’s, the round was based on the tried and tested .500 nitro express case in 3 1/4″ format. In Norma ammunition, the cartridge propels a 410 grain Woodleigh bullet at a very respectable 2325 feet per second so generating 4922 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. All round a great cartridge for general African use, from the larger plains game all the way up to the largest of the most dangerous game.
Only the second rifle in this calibre to be built by us, we have to say that the lines of the rifle are only enhanced by the profile of the barrels which have a very nice and gentle sweep tapering down to the muzzle. The rifle weighs in at 10lb 6ozs which makes it extremely comfortable to shoot. The rifle has been regulated at 100 yards, hence the fitting of a scope, the whole package complete in a dark green canvas and leather trimmed lightweight case.
Vivid case colour hardening complements the traditional house scroll engraving and gold details.
The rifle comes complete in a dark green canvas and dark tan leather trimmed case.
Every now and then you get one of those great guns come through the door that you just have to stop and admire. This week we had the opportunity to look at a fabulously original Westley Richards 12g ‘Pigeon’ gun that retains nearly all of its original factory finish. Guns in such condition really are hard to find these days and one in this configuration even rarer still.
Completed in 1931 this Westley Richards was built as a ‘special quality’ gun intended for the live pigeon circuit, a pursuit still undertaken in hushed corners of the world. The Anson & Deeley fixed lock action has a wonderful depth and presence that genuinely and perfectly puts the weight at an impressive 8lbs 7ozs. The gun is supremely steady in the hands with a muzzle forward pointability that makes the gun swing with ease.
Vivid case colour hardening dominates the action.
The large breech ends, side clips, cross bolt and high shoulders add a real distinctive look to the gun which is only enhanced by the 30″, 3″ chambered barrels with distinctive flat top ventilated competition rib. Choked 3/4 and Full the gun packs some serious ‘out there’ capability!
The 14 3/4″ pistol grip with horn cap continues the flowing lines of a formidable gun that has wonderful engraving of pigeons, the metalwork itself retaining all of the original vivd case colour hardening and charcoal blueing of the furniture.
Here in the UK, it would make a fantastic ‘high bird’ gun capable of handling some of the more punchy cartridges favoured for this discipline. Alternatively it could just as well return to the live pigeon arena, the environment for which it was originally intended.
The name David McKay Brown should need no introduction to readers of this blog. Scotlands premier gun and rifle maker, David is still building guns at his factory in the village of Bothwell, near Glasgow, Scotland. From an early age David was always a keen gun and rifle enthusiast as well as an avid bird shooter, stalker and fisherman. After an apprenticeship with Alex Martin (Gunmakers) of Glasgow, David set out on his own producing his very first round action gun in 1974. Since then David has specialised in round action guns in both side by side and over and under configuration with an occasional and small output of double rifles over the years.
The double rifle here is one of only a handful built by David in .470 3 1/4″ nitro express calibre, built on his round action design with double triggers, auto ejectors, automatic safety, 25″ barrels, 14 3/4″ pull over an exhibition walnut stock, weighing in at 11lb 5ozs. The rifle is engraved with full traditional scroll coverage and an elephant game scene, all executed by English engraver Martin Smith. The rifle was completed in 1999 and appears pretty much as new and unfired retaining nearly all of the original case colour hardening. The barrels have a wonderful, almost stepped breech which is not uncommon on Fraser double rifles and even early small bore Rigby double rifles.
For any David McKay Brown aficionado who fancies a tussle with the big game of Africa, this would make a great addition to the armoury. Few double rifles of his come to the market, especially in such a useful African calibre.
One of the nicest features of this .470 double rifle is the revolving combination foresight bead. Speaking with David earlier this week, it appears the concept was presented to him many years ago by none other than Simon Clode, Westley Richards former Managing Director! David thought the design was a good one and for “a not insignificant sum” acquired the prototype from Simon and adopted it for his own rifles. In truth a stroke of genius as it really is a very neat design!