Unusual Westley Richards Single Barrel 20 Gauge

At Westley Richards we take real pleasure in displaying rare and unusual guns for the readers of the Explora and we certainly handle more than most gunmakers. Sadly not all of these guns are for sale and it’s more of a case of ‘you can look, but don’t touch’. Luckily though, from time to time, we do get those rare and interesting guns come through that are for sale and you can by all means look, touch, shoot, own, admire and adore.

One such gun is this very special and neat little single barrel 20g non ejector shotgun, a model we very seldom see. Completed on the 17th of December 1926, built for stock and sold through our Bennetts Hill, Birmingham city centre shop, it features a 28” ribless barrel with a 2 ½” chamber, choked 5/8 and proofed for 7/8oz loads. Built on an Anson & Deeley fixed lock action with a tang top lever, automatic safety, with name and border engraving, it retains some lovely original case colours. A highly figured, straight hand stock measures 14 ¼” to the centre of the chequered butt, complemented with a silver oval, snap forend and horn tip. The gun weighs 5lbs 10oz and is a real beauty to handle.

This gun would bring a different type of enjoyment to hunting. It’s not about how many you can shoot, or how high, it’s the simplistic, no frills, bare roots of the single barrel and action coupled with its rarity, classic looks and quaint demeanour which would make for some very special and memorable hunting.

A similar gun which featured in our pre-war catalogue was the Single Barrel Top Lever Pigeon Gun at a cost of £25.

I couldn’t think of a more fitting Christmas present for your son, daughter, wife or more likely, yourself. The gun will be advertised on our used gun site shortly.

Westley Richards 20g Tallett Engraved Droplock

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

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

Flushing Bobwhite quail.

Beautiful fine scroll with rose bouquets.

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

Pretty W.W.Greener Double Rifle

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

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

‘Alexander Henry – Rifle Maker’ By Donald Dallas

For those eager gun enthusiasts among you the name Donald Dallas should need no introduction. He has almost single handedly written the history of many of the great names in British gun and rifle making including that of Holland & Holland, James Purdey & Sons, Boss & Co., David McKay Brown, John Dickson & Son and now with his latest publication, Alexander Henry.

Alexander Henry was unquestionably one of Scotlands finest rifle makers, posts on this blog testifying to the outstanding quality of the rifles built by him. What makes this book so special is the access Donald had to family archive via the great great grandson of Alexander Henry himself, one Richard Brown. Between the two of them they have put together the most complete history on the maker which is long overdue.

In Donald’s own words:

“It isn’t often that a gun or rifle maker is known to the general public, but Alexander Henry is with the Martini-Henry rifle. Although Henry was in business for a short time between 1852 until his death in 1894, he became a very well-known rifle maker not only in Great Britain but throughout the world. Henry was of a clever, inventive mind with his 1860 rifling and drop block action of 1865 and in addition, he was also astute in promoting this riflemaking ability. He attended all the major competitions, gave his rifles as prizes and was an early enthusiastic founder of the burgeoning Volunteer Movement.

By the 1860s Alexander Henry was the most well-known and pre-eminent rifle maker in Great Britain and the Empire. Orders flowed in from all parts of the world, with the customers in his Dimensions Books reading like a veritable Who’s Who of the period. He received Royal Warrants, unusual for a gunmaker outside London, and was on personal terms with the Prince of Wales.

Such were Henry’s achievements and fame that he featured regularly in The Scotsman and The Times newspapers in their records of shooting competitions, new inventions and military development. This contemporary documentary evidence is quite unusual for a gunmaker and was a great benefit in writing this book. He was a very public figure with not just self-interest driving his ambition, he was very patriotic and was keen to strive towards the greater good for his country.

One fortunate element in writing the Alexander Henry history is the existence of his complete records in the form of two Dimensions Books dating from 1852–1950. These books belong to John Dickson & Son and record in great detail every single firearm he constructed, making it possible to build up a very accurate account of his production.

Yet, for all his undoubted success in business and his contribution to rifle development, his personal life was marred by immense sadness and disappointment. However, he seemed to rise above this despondence and right to the end of his days strove constantly for perfection in all his works. The history of Alexander Henry is one of the most interesting histories of a gunmaker that I have encountered, an amalgam of worldwide success, yet tinged with disappointment and tragedy.”

The book contains around 200 full colour photographs, including the trade labels, patent drawings, photos of Henry’s personal shooting medals, with all 8000 guns and rifles listed by serial number. No gun library should be without a copy!

To purchase Donald’s latest book and for information on his previous publications, please visit http://donalddallas.com/

Charles Lancaster ‘Nizam’ Rifles – Part Two

A couple of weeks back we posted images of a very nice rifle formerly belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad. Well here is another and it is certainly one of the most unusual percussions rifles that we have seen!

Built in four barrel format, the rifle is in truth a double barrel rifle that revolves once you have discharged the first two shots. There is a very simple sliding top lever that you pull back with the locks on half cock, so allowing you to rotate the barrels and prime them in preparation for the next two shots. Each side by side configuration of barrels has its own set of open sights as well as a sling swivel attachment.

Probably the most unusual feature of the whole rifle package is the fact that it has two stocks and actions. The only discernible difference is that one has a straight hand grip and the other a conventional pistol grip, more common to a double rifle. We have never come across this double stock and action configuration before and can only wonder at the difficult and considerable cost of construction!

As with the previous rifle, this one is fully gold washed and comes complete in its case with numerous accessories in an unfired condition. It has to be said that Charles Lancaster really did build some truly outstanding and unique rifles, this one in our humble opinion being one of the finest.

Two stock configuration certainly unique!

Gold washed action parts.

Sliding top bolt to lock the rotating barrels in place.

E.M.Reilly & Co. Royal Presentation Combination Gun

A name we don’t see too often these days is that of E.M.Reilly & Co, of London, another of those semi forgotten names from the golden age of British gun and rifle manufacture. It is therefore a pleasant surprise when something special by the maker passes through our factory and reminds us once again that the gun industry has a long tradition of producing magnificent guns and rifles.

This fabulous combination 12 bore rifle and shotgun was built for King Alfonso XII of Spain (1857 – 1885) and displays all the fine qualities in a firearm built for a king. True to the time, the late 1800’s, the gun focuses more on wood to metal fit, graceful lines and functionality, than it does to fancy embellishment. Surprisingly it has a piece of wood that by modern standards would be considered ‘exhibition’ grade, something uncommon at the time. Engraving wise the royal coat of arms sits nicely in gold on the action tang, whereas E.M.Reillys own business name seems to dominate the rest of the gun!

The magnificent case was manufactured and fitted out in the French style with no lack of imagination where tooling was concerned! All of the handles are made from ivory with many of the pieces engraved by hand for that extra unique finish. The interior lining is in a striking blue velvet that has been gold leaf embossed with the makers name and address. Interestingly the exterior has a fantastic brass frame, fully engraved, with the central crown of the King sitting above his monogram.

Taken as a whole, this is a package in every way fit for a King……………..

Gold inlaid coat of arms for King Alfonso XII.

Presentation case in the French style fitted with full tools and accessories.

Brass framed case exterior, unusual for a British cased gun.

Charles Lancaster ‘Nizam’ Rifles – Part One

Last year we were lucky enough to have through our hands some magnificent Charles Lancaster percussion weapons built for the Mahrajah of Jodhpur. Well by another struck of lets say luck, several more items have surfaced, this time built for the Nizam of Hyderabad, once the head of one of the richest families in the world.

Clearly the nobility of India was infatuated by the guns and rifles being built by the great British gun houses and all credit must be given to Charles Lancaster for producing such superb examples of the gun and rifle makers craft. Founded in 1811 in the City of London, Charles Lancaster Snr was renowned as a barrel maker and soon established himself as one of the capitals premier makers. With the expansion of empire so followed the expansion of the company and in particular an association with the Indian continent. Royal patronage both at home and abroad was very much a part of the company’s history from the mid 1800’s up until the 1930’s when the company amalgamated with Grant & Lang.

This particular percussion rifle is a 6 bore single barrel big game rifle with all furniture and lock work gold washed, as much for display of wealth as for protection from the Indian environment. Certainly unfired to this day, the rifle in its original case with every tool necessary to keep the rifle in service, is a wonderful time capsule and probably more valuable today than when it was originally built.

Stunning gold washed lock work and furniture.

 

Wonderful array of tools to keep the rifle in service.

Deluxe Game Scene Westley Richards .577 Droplock Double Rifle

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

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

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

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Pre-Owned Pair of 20g Droplock Shotguns

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The latest guns to be offered for sale at our UK factory is this fantastic pair of 20g droplock shotguns. Completed in 2000 they feature scroll back actions with our patent hand detachable locks, Westley snap lever work, beetle back safety and double triggers. Expertly engraved by Peter Spode with bold floral scroll, Westley name in gold banner and numbered 1&2 in gold in the usual places. Both sets of 27″ barrels have 1/2 choke in them, with 2 3/4″ chambers, engraved in gold ‘Westley Richards England’ on both ribs. Highly figured, handsome walnut stocks measures 14 3/4″ to the centre of the chequered butt, a bend of 1 3/8″ at the comb and 1 7/8″ at the heel, cast off 1/4″. Straight hand grips and gold stock ovals, splinter forends with horn tip and Deeley catch release. The guns weigh 5lbs 10oz and come in their mid tan leather case with tools. They will be on the used gun site shortly.

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It’s rare for us to have a pre-owned Westley 20g for sale and even more so a pair in such great condition and specification. The 1/2 choking in all barrels makes the guns a great pair of all rounders and 1/2 choke is ideal for pretty much any type of game shooting, open enough for grouse and early season partridge but tight enough for January pheasants. Many shooting instructors recommend having the same choke in both barrels as often driven targets are shot at the same distance and it also helps to focus your mind on your shooting rather than thinking about what barrel is what choke and the inevitable blaming of the gun for your poor shooting! The stock measurements are ideal for driven shooting with a slightly higher than average comb height, this enables you to see more of the top rib which encourages lead on straight driven birds, helps you keep sight of your target throughout and also enables you to keep your cheek glued to the stock to maintain a proper gun mount, aim and a consistent line on your target.

The guns really are a superb addition to any collector or serious game shooter and with the season now in full flow, there’s no better time to take these 20’s out in the field.

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Fabulous Pair Of Westley Richards ‘Model de Luxe’ 12g Droplock Shotguns

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Completed this week are this fabulous pair of Westley Richards ‘Modele de Luxe’ 12g hand detachable lock shotguns. When originally approached about building this pair of guns the client was kind enough to ask “What would you build?”

Well there are many things that we would like to build here including a few special projects yet to be patronised. However, in this particular instance we were to look at building a pair of traditional format game guns. With that in mind we decided on our unique hand detachable lock action, with two triggers, automatic safeties, 29″ barrels, 2 3/4″ chambers, 1/4 and 1/2 choke, both guns being supplied with extra hand detachable locks. For the stocks we selected a fabulous pair of exhibition grade Turkish walnut blanks with Woodward horn capped grips, the butt ends beautifully finished with heel and toe plates separated by a horn centre.

From an engraving perspective the guns have a wonderful, elaborate foliate scroll, the actions featuring carved fences with a shell motif, scroll pyramids up the barrels and gold naming and numbering throughout. Our intention from the start was to build a modern day pair of ‘Modele de Luxe’ shotguns without compromise.

Complete in antique brown alligator case with full complement of tools they make for a very eye-catching pair of game guns, that will certainly get a good outing this year amongst the late season partridge and pheasant.

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