Finally this week we completed the 4 bore ‘Model de Luxe’ that completes the set of seven already delivered to celebrate our bicentenary back in 2012. We suppose in gunmaking terms 5 years after the event for such a one off beast cannot be too bad! In truth it was ordered after the original set were delivered, as up until then we had not designed let alone built a 4 bore double shotgun in hand detachable lock format.
The final result with full case colour hardening by the St.Ledger brothers is a seriously nice job and we have to give credit to all those involved in the building of this magnificent gun. The 4 bore really is in a league of its own and for those of you who have never handled one they truly are a gargantuan gun!
The ‘Swan’ carved game scenes really do complement this gun very well, especially when combined with the carved fences, traditional scroll and gold borders. All of us here at Westley Richards would like to thank the very patient owner whose commission made this gun and the earlier set of seven guns a reality. They are a unique and very special set of guns in the history of Westley Richards.
Here in the UK the season for hunting Roe Bucks opens tomorrow, April 1st. This diminutive little deer is revered throughout Europe and the stalking and taking of a mature 6 point trophy is considered by many one of the finest hunts you can partake in.
As a tribute to the Roe deer we were commissioned a few years ago to build this beautifully scaled hand detachable lock double rifle in 9.3 x 62 calibre. Weighing a mere 6lb 14ozs the rifle is fitted with Westley Richards patent single selective trigger, a slim semi beavertail forend and open sights regulated at 100 yards for relatively close range hunting.
In this calibre the rifle is primarily intended for the great Spanish ‘Monterias’ where you might also encounter big Red Stags, Fallow Bucks and huge Wild Boar. Nevertheless, it makes a super compact and quick handling woodland rifle and would certainly be great fun to use during the Roe Buck rut in late July/early August when the deer can be called to within yards of the hunter!
Well they just keep coming! Another .500 3″ hand detachable lock double rifle has just been completed from engraving this week and it once again shows a subtle variation on the classic Westley Richards ‘house’ scroll. Yet another style of carved fence which combines a banner with acanthus leaves, nice indeed.
It seems that we are one of the few double rifle manufacturers actually getting anything out there these days. The beauty of this rifle is that it is going to a young enthusiastic hunter who will use it considerably, once again proving that we build genuine user rifles as well as the fabulous presentation pieces you see on this blog.
Whilst the shooting season may well be behind us now it is always nice to be finishing guns with a view to the coming season which for many is only 6 months away! The pair of guns shown here will certainly be one of the first pairs put to good use when the grouse season starts.
These 16g guns are built with 30″ barrels on our hand detachable lock action with traditional full scroll engraving, case colour hardening, double trigger and Prince of Wales grips. The slim beaver-tail forends are an unusual choice on a pair of guns for the British shooting scene, such forends found more commonly on guns built for the US market. That said the new owner shoots big days and is a big man so the extra surface area of the beaver-tail should make for comfortable grip on a hot peg!
Presented in our dark tan lightweight leather case with tools and gold leaf leather label, they make for a wonderful package which the new owner will have years of fun using. Hopefully the grouse numbers this year will be kind to him!
Whilst we are best known for our hand detachable lock (droplock) shotguns which are the mainstay of our shotgun production, it is always nice to see our sidelock side by side shotgun pass through the factory. At present we have several pairs of 12g, a trio of 16g, several 20g and a 28g passing through the works.
Our sidelock shotgun is built on a round body action with assisted opening, Southgate ejector work and exhibition walnut as standard. We offer both pinned and pinless locks with the majority of exhibition grade guns now moving towards pinless so that the engraving is uninterrupted.
Here we have a lovely pair of 12g guns with elaborate relief scroll, carved fences and traditional game bird scenes. The rounded lines of the guns lend themselves to a wrap around format of engraving that is certainly very elegant and keeps everything flowing. The wood is once again outstanding, another signature feature of Westley Richards best guns and rifles.
New in this week from engraving is another of our traditional hand detachable lock double rifles in .500 3″ NE. This particular rifle has been built on a heavyweight frame as the client requested that the rifle weigh close to 12lb 8ozs on completion. Aesthetically the additional size at the breach ends makes for a nice sweep in the barrels which will become more evident once the rifle is finished.
Engraving wise we have another variation on our traditional ‘house’ scroll. In this instance the fences have been carved with a design that complements the scroll very well. The game scene of a mean old looking buffalo combines carving with fine detailing, as opposed to the more rounded carving of animals you get to see, which often lacks lifelike details. There is a nice perception of distance with the scene that should be highlighted more when the cover plate is blacked in the traditional manner.
We are looking forward to getting this one completed and out to the hunting field this year where with a bit of luck it will take a big buffalo or two!
We are lucky enough here at the factory to hold quite a diverse collection of guns and rifles both old and new. Amongst these is this very nice .577 ‘Elephant’ rifle that we completed a few years ago. The rifle had never in fact been photographed properly and so we have just taken the opportunity to take a few shots.
The rifle is built on our square back hand detachable lock action in the classic .577 3″ magnum load. This round had a formidable reputation as a real ‘elephant’ calibre and so we decided to engrave the rifle with semi carved elephants entwined in an elaborate scroll design.
You would not know it, but the rifle has in fact been on safari which is always good to know as so many people assume that such rifles are only built for display. We have always looked at the guns and rifles we build from the purist eye of the gunmaker, functionality and aesthetics first, embellishment second. Ultimately, if you combine these elements well, then the final product can be an outstanding example of craftsmanship.
You will probably notice that the action is more square overall in the actual file up compared to the more recent roundedness that we have been doing. We actually offer both options to clients as some do prefer the more classic ‘box’ shape of the pre-war rifles. Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder!
It seems at present that we are having a real glut on guns and rifles returning from the Westley Richards stable of engravers. With each new gun or rifle comes a different style of engraving and what really impresses us now is how hard the engravers are working to raise the bar on the execution and style. The engravers are now appreciating the work that goes into building each one of our guns and rifles and they are keen not to let down the gunmakers who are putting in so much effort in the first place. This combination is really paying off and continues to emphasise the high standards set by all those involved with the company.
What is becoming more evident is how truly ‘bespoke’ Westley Richards is becoming. Our aim now is to build individually and uniquely for every client and that nothing we do is of the ‘norm’. Looking back at the guns and rifles in recent weeks with the exception of this matched pair all of them have variations in the build and execution, sometimes subtle, often quite significant. Whilst from a manufacturing point of view this can be at times slow going, it is far more inspirational for the gunmakers, engravers and more importantly the clients. At the end of the day we aim to please!
The pair of guns shown here are engraved with a beautiful floral and scroll design that was in fact inspired by a single barrel muzzle loading gun built by the company over 150 years ago. In this modern instance the engraver has re-designed the pattern to work with double barrel hammerless guns adding carved elements and gold lettering to create a very elegant coverage. Of course such work does take time, but as they say ‘you can never rush quality’.
Carrying on from our story a few weeks ago concerning the 3 sets of composed .410 & 28g droplock shotguns, we are delighted to show this week the 2nd pair of guns now finished and ready to dispatch from the factory.
Once again there is a real contrast in both the engraving and wood. This pair have deluxe bold scroll with gold naming and detailing, complimented by a gold bordered game scene of Bobwhite Quail and Red Grouse respectively. The actions have been ‘brushed’ which really highlights the detail in the scroll and obviously the game scenes.
The wood is truly exceptional and in all honesty was taken on as a bit of a gamble by the client. Both stocks came from very highly figured blanks that under normal circumstances are difficult to visualise on the finished gun. In this instance even we were surprised to see just how well the raw blanks formed into stocks and how the figuring contrasted throughout. The photos really don’t do them justice!
Earlier this month we posted a composed pair of droplock shotguns consisting of a .410 & 28g. These were the first of three pairs with the others following in the coming months. Well to add a little variation to the mix and obviously not complete yet, we thought to share the images of the last pair on return from the engraver.
As you can see they really do vary from the norm! Whilst the client is no big game hunter he thought the subjects an interesting alternative to the more conventional scroll and bird game scenes you might expect to find on such guns. Here at the factory the normally conservative gunmakers thought the engraving an interesting variation on a theme although they were concerned how a .410 might perform on a buffalo!
Regardless of anyones liking for the subject on these shotguns (and yes we can hear the groans from the traditionalists), the work has been beautifully executed and certainly after hardening, brushing and finishing the completed guns should look beautiful and undoubtedly make for interesting conversation pieces!