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. 

 

The Quintessential Westley Richards Double Rifle

The most recent project completed and ready for delivery is this Best Quality Hand Detachable Lock rifle chambered in .500 3” NE. From the classic cartridge it is chambered for, to the timeless Droplock design and traditional house engraving, this is the quintessential Westley Richards double rifle in every way.

Westley Richards is credited with being the first to adapt the .500 Black Powder Express to a new smokeless propellant called Cordite, sometime around 1890. Offering a vast improvement in ballistics over the black powder loads best suited for deer or stag, the new nitro based smokeless powder load made the .500 Nitro Express a legitimate alternative to the much larger 8 and 4 bore black powder rifles historically used for animals such as elephant or buffalo.

Today’s .500 3” NE shoots a 570gr, .510” diameter bullet at a standard velocity of 2,100 fps delivering just shy of 6,000 ft lbs. of muzzle energy. However, the cartridge can be safely chambered in a rifle weighing about 11 lbs. For hunting large dangerous game, there are few rifles and cartridges that come in such a well-balanced package, combining such awesome ballistic performance in a manageable size and weight. This is the reason I believe the .500 NE remains one of the most popular double rifle cartridges ever produced.

With those new developments in propellants like Cordite, came improvements in the design and construction of rifles as well. Fast Forward over 100 years of gunmaking and we have what might be the pinnacle of double rifles, new Westley Richards rifles like this one.

Ordered as a scroll back action with Westley’s patented hand detachable locks, snap lever work and Model ‘C’ doll’s head extension, these features were invented in the 19th century and remain the foundation of Westley Richards double guns and rifles today.

In addition, the rifle’s standard features are disk set strikers, hinged front trigger, beaded trigger bow, extended guard tang, and a trap grip cap, beaded cheekpiece and drop points on a super deluxe walnut stock.

Finally, the rifle is tastefully adorned with Westley’s house engraving, an elegant small traditional scroll surrounding the Maker’s name in flowing banners on the sides of the action and, in this case, with an added pop of gold name engraving. This style of engraving, along with the geometric pattern on the cover plate, has been the firm’s signature pattern on best quality guns since before 1900.

This is a modern interpretation of what the firm has been producing for well over a one hundred years and truly is the quintessential Westley Richards double rifle. From the cartridge it is chambered for, to the action’s design and embellishments, this rifle encompasses so much of what has made Westley Richards such an enduring name in the world of gunmaking.

 

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.

A ‘Modele De Luxe’ .416 Bore Bolt Action

As a maker of luxury firearms, we believe there is nothing more flattering than when a client places another order with us. Let’s be honest, the creation of a bespoke gun or rifle is a costly endeavor that takes a long time to come to fruition. When a client is so pleased with the process that they want to repeat it, well, that says a lot.

Long before I ever thought of working for Westley Richards, a good client of mine from my previous job was asking my opinion on some secondhand English made double rifles for sale at the time. I posed the question to him, that if he was willing to spend that kind of money on a secondhand rifle, why not consider ordering a new one?

My second comment was, “if you do decide to go that route, I would order a Westley Richards droplock”.

I then introduced my friend to Simon and Trigger and the results of those conversations produced the Modele De Luxe .500 3” NE Hand Detachable rifle Trigger wrote about in a blog from September of 2018.

Fast forward a few years later, when I was actually working for Westley Richards, I took an order from the same client for this Modele De Luxe Bolt Action chambered in the venerable .416 Rigby to pair with the double rifle.

Super deluxe walnut stock complements the engraving on the metal and is highlighted by the high gloss hand rubbed oil finish.

Built as a companion rifle to the droplock in .500 3” NE, this .416 bore bolt action was engraved by the same hand that did the incredible work on the double rifle. Covered in the same deluxe bold scroll, the bolt action also features a color hardened floor plate with a brushed game scene.

Just as on the double rifle, the game scene on the bolt action depicts a similar drama unfolding. Brushing the colors away on the game scene vignettes highlights the highly detailed engraving while still maintaining the beauty of the case colors in which the bold scroll shows up in nicely. A nice touch and one more way a bespoke rifle is tailored to the customer’s preferences.

The brushed game scene vignettes highlight the high level of detail in the engraving on both rifles.

As has become standard for Westley Richards, the rifle is stocked in a stunning piece of walnut in the modern Westley Richards shape with an ebony forend tip, traditionally shaped cheekpiece and leather covered pad.

Other features include, quick detachable scope mounts, Westley’s pattern quarter rib with one standing Express sight and two folding leaves and our patent foresight.

Quick detachable mounts and WR quarter rib with standing Express sight and two folding leaves.

Despite the embellishments on both rifles, the client certainly intends to hunt with them and we look forward to hearing the stories that these rifles will surely be a part of.

We’re On The Cover Of Shooting Sportsman

This month we’re extremely pleased to be on the front cover of Shooting Sportsman, the leading wingshooting and fine guns publication in the US today. Do pick up a copy because inside you’ll find our collaborative article with the legendary Vic Venters, wonderfully discussing the unique bespoke journey and finer points of ordering a new best-quality English gun.

He eloquently takes the reader through seven key areas that each Westley Richards patron will usually experience on their path to receiving their very own prized best gun. From the gun’s purpose, selecting the right gunmaker, the process and relationship, letting the gunmaker lead, heritage & house style, the eventual waiting game, and how handmade delivers a gun of such rare beauty and handle that it is truly one of a kind.

Shooting Sportsman is a US-based brand with a 30-year history of presenting some of the best wingshooting and fine-gun content found anywhere—their January/February issue’s cover and feature article on Westley Richards being exemplary. The magazine and its social pages dig deep into an array of topics ranging from gunmaking to international shooting travel—all featuring great writing and spectacular images.

Subscriptions are available on shootingsportsman.com and their social media pages can be accessed via facebook.com/shootingsportsman/ and @shootingsportsmanmag

Westley Richards and Our 20th Dallas Safari Club Convention

It is always hard to get back to work after a long holiday but for those of us in the outdoor and shooting industry it is an especially hectic time. With the new year comes the trade show and convention season, this year having events from Reno, Nevada to Nuremberg, Germany and scheduled well into the month of March.

For a British gun maker like ourselves, the two hunter’s conventions put on by Dallas Safari Club and Safari Club International remain quite important to our business.

Just coming off of Westley Richards’ 20th Dallas Safari Club convention, Trigger, Ricky, our leather shop manager Tom Beete, and myself are still busy working our way through the many orders and sales we made at the show. This year’s event seemed especially busy with a strong U.S. economy and Dallas Safari Clubs ascension to what many now consider the premier hunting convention in America.

As usual we had an amazing array of wonderful Exhibition Westley Richards guns and rifles, most being displayed for the first time. Showcasing Westley Richards vast repertoire one could see everything from a delicately engraved .410 bore shotgun to the groundbreaking fully carved .600 NE Forest rifle. Highlighting the hand craftsmanship and long gunmaking heritage of Westley Richards, also on display was the last rifle F.C. Selous ever bought and the finest .425 Take-Down the firm has ever produced.

Westley Richards .425 Magnum Express Bolt Action with Detachable Barrel. Bought new by F.C. Selous in 1912.

Exhibition projects, such as the one’s displayed at this show, have become a hallmark of what Westley Richards is capable of producing and why many consider Westley Richards to be England’s premier gunmaker.

At DSC, we were also able to debut our new line of adventure travel bags, the Bournbrook collection.  This new line of luxurious handmade luggage represents an exciting expansion to the fine leather goods made in our factory, right next to our gunmakers. Along with old favourites such as our open ammo wallets and the Deeley rifle slips, these new products like the Bournbrook 48 hour bag, represent the best of British styling and quality and were very well received in their debut.

Westley Richards’ long history as one of the World’s premier firearms makers was also recognized at the Dallas show by the magazine Sporting Classics. Based out of South Carolina this periodical has long focused on the outdoors and the fine artwork, literature and handmade items that discerning outdoorsman use and collect. We were flattered to be recognized by the magazine and given their Award of Excellence for Sporting Heritage.

We appreciate all of the repeat customers who stopped in to say hi and a very big “thank you” to those that placed new orders. We also want to welcome those of you new to the Westley Richards firm and thank you for your new commitment.

For anyone who missed our display in Dallas we will be at the SCI convention in Reno booth # 2431… We’ll look forward to seeing you there.

A Westley Richards .450/.400 3″ ‘Modéle de Luxe’ Side Plated Double Rifle

Once again the team here at Westley Richards have delivered yet another stunning example of our classic hand detachable lock, nee droplock double rifle, this time in the venerable .450/.400 3″ nitro express.

The rifle is built to our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ standard with extra finish engraving, side plates, single selective trigger and exhibition grade walnut. As one of the pre-eminent English gunmakers the team here continue to deliver individual and unique guns and rifles, every one of which displays the finest English craftsmanship.

 A mean old bull buffalo looks out from the left lock plate.

When the first example of a side plated droplock appeared nobody is quite sure. From our own point of view we first really encountered it on a vintage .303 double rifle built in 1913. This rifle is illustrated on page 167 of Westley Richards 200 year history ‘In Pursuit of the Best Gun’ and was built for a middle eastern potentate. One logical reason for the addition of side plates to the droplock design was to give the rifle more coverage for engraving. It seems unlikely the plates were added to make the rifle look like a true sidelock, as the company would certainly have been able to supply one should it have wished.

In more recent times the side plated droplock has become slightly more regular in our order book having been built in both double rifle and shotgun format. In fact we have just taken a commission for a pair of 28g side plated droplocks which should really be quite beautiful. Today the sideplates tend to be more rounded giving the gun or rifle a smooth flowing shape to the grip. That said we are in the throes of designing a side plated action that will have the characteristic look of a true sidelock whilst in fact being of the droplock design. This particular beast will be in the .577 nitro express calibre, so giving us a large area to work with!

A magnificent male lion holds centre stage on the right lock plate. Cats of any description are difficult to engrave, many looking notoriously ‘cartoon like’.

From an engraving stand point, the side plates really are a bonus. The rifle shown here has been engraved with elaborate bold scroll, chevron border, gold naming and three game scenes of bull buffalo, bull elephant and a male lion all looking equally impressive in their respective environs. The traditional and uninterrupted lines of the side plated droplock allow for an organic engraving design that can flow along the action sides and underneath to the cover plate.

The sleek proportions of the .450/.400 3″ rifle can be seen clearly in this photograph. The relatively small nature of this classic big game cartridge allows for a scaled action and wonderfully tapering barrels.

Now in the USA, the rifle is travelling with us on the show circuit and may be seen at Safari Club International in Reno from 5th to 8th February. We look forward to seeing you.

The rifle is complemented with a best oak & leather case covered in brown buffalo skin, fitted with a full set of horn handled tools.

Time In The Field With Westley Richards

Time in the field is priceless. It’s why we do what we do. Whether you’re a gun maker, cartridge supplier, clothing retailer, gamekeeper or client, it is our passion and our pride, our one common ground and the place where all the hard work comes together in a glorious celebration of our time honoured traditions. Anticipation for the coming season builds through late summer and as the invites slowly come in and autumn spreads through the countryside, our thoughts (and nerves) turn to the first day on the peg. For the purists, the excitement never wanes and each season brings about new experiences, challenges and most of all memories.

Westley Richards is privileged to work with some of the finest shooting and hunting estates in the UK and Spain and has, over the years, built up a network of trusted partners through which we can offer world class shooting experiences to our varied client’s abilities and expectations. Our many years of experience in the field has helped us select only the premier outfitters which has provided our clients with some unforgettable moments.

November saw a visit from a team of American guests to Wales to undertake their very first taste of traditional UK driven pheasant and partridge shooting. We organised the days through our partners at Bettws Hall, who offer one of the most professional but relaxed days shooting available. Approximately 1hr 30m from our factory, in the stunning Mid Wales countryside, they have 6 shooting estates to choose from and the variety and quality of sport on offer is arguably unbeatable.  Luxury accommodation is based at Bettws Hall HQ and the hospitality is as good as it gets. They are able to provide tailor made days to full teams of guns or individuals looking to join a line of guns. The past 30 years has seen the company grow to be one of the top sporting outfitters here in the UK and are they also able to offer sport abroad.

Our guests are seasoned duck hunters in the US and have also shot driven partridge in Spain so were not completely new to shooting game on the wing, however proper driven pheasant shooting was an altogether new experience for them. Trigger and I were on hand to host the days and aide with the safety, field etiquette and shooting technique that our guests required. Between us both there aren’t many shoots we haven’t shot and our experience and knowledge would be hard to beat. Guns and cartridges were supplied by us and our fully stocked showroom has everything a sportsman or woman could possibly need.  Transport around the estate was conducted in style in the Bentley Bentayga that was kindly loaned to us by Bentley Birmingham.

Two back to back days of superb shooting were shot at Kempton and Maesmawr estates, which offer typical steep Welsh valleys, deep rivers, ancient oak woodland and historic manor houses. The topography lends itself perfectly to present medium to high birds which creates a variety of targets for the majority of abilities and as confidence grows, one can begin to pick higher and more challenging birds. Numbers of birds shot is catered to the client’s requirements and typically shot over 4 different drives. Most importantly the day is very relaxed, fun and informal. The camaraderie is often more important than the shooting we aim to make the day as inclusive for non-shooting guests as the ones pulling the trigger.

     Bettws Hall HQ

A shooting trip for our clients always ties in well with a visit to our factory to view the progress on their gun or rifle and time in the field allows us to spend quality time with clients who we may not see as often as we’d like. We aim to make each shoot or hunt as unique and as enjoyable as possible look forward to discussing any potential trips with you.

Our American guests plan to return next year for 4 more days shooting with us and we very much look forward to shooting with them again.

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.