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.
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.
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.
Two modern Westley Richards big bore rifles just arrived here at the U.S. Agency and are going up for sale on the used gun page of our website (https://www.wrusedguns.com/). These two rifles were ordered new by the customer at the turn of the 21st century and are being offered for sale for the first time.
Up first we have a Best Quality bolt action finished in 2003 and chambered for the ever popular .416 Rigby. Built on a modern magnum length, double square bridge Mauser action with a drop belly straddle floor plate, allowing four rounds down, and an inside the bow release. The action is topped with H&H style quick release mounts and 30mm rings that are properly engraved with the Maker’s name and serial number. The bolt body is jeweled or “spotted”, and the bolt knob is checkered with three panels. The bolt shroud is color hardened with “SAFE” inlaid in gold and is fitted with a Model 70 type, three-position safety.
The 24” barrel has a WR pattern quarter rib, with one standing Express sight inlaid with a gold pyramid (50 yds) and two folding leaves lined in gold (100, 150 yds). There is also a barrel band front sling swivel and Westley’s patent combination foresight with rearward folding sight hood and flip up night sight.
The Walnut stock is laid out perfectly with contrasting horizontal figure combined with vertical “fiddle back” running the length of the stock on both sides. The stock has a thin rubber pad, and a right hand English style cheekpiece, a color hardened trap grip cap and single recoil bar, traditional wrap point pattern checkering with Mullered borders and an ebony forend tip.
Two superb pre-owned Westley Richards shotguns are the latest additions to our already comprehensive list of used guns and rifles that we offer here at WR.
The first is a classic 20g hand detachable lock, single trigger shotgun. Originally built in 1912 the gun was returned to us in 1992 for a complete rebuild. We fitted new 27” barrels with 2 3/4” chambers, choked 1/4 & 3/4. A new, beautifully figured, straight hand stock and splinter forend measuring 15 1/8” to the centre of the chequered butt, with a drop of 1 1/2″ at the comb and 2 1/2” at the heel, cast off 9/16” at the heel, 3/4” at the toe and 1/2” at the face which is slightly swept.
The scroll back action features our patent hand detachable locks with a single selective trigger, snap lever work, model C dolls head and beetle back automatic safety. The action was re-colour hardened and the cover plate and trigger guard re-engraved with a game scene and dog on the trigger guard bow by Dave Hudson. The rest of the action has the traditional house scroll and WR name in gold banner. The gun weighs 5lbs 11.5oz and comes in a lightweight leather case with accessories. Although not original, the gun is a beautiful example of a 20g droplock, the exhibition grade wood and upgraded engraving make for a very attractive gun. Not only that but it is, effectively, a modern gun with as new barrels capable of shooting modern 2 3/4” loads. It points and handles extremely well.
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.
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.
Hollands ‘.30 Super’ cartridge is without doubt one of those all time classics that spurned a modern generation of .300 magnums. Introduced in 1925 it was developed to fill the gap between Hollands .275 and .375 Magnum cartridges, at a time when the British gunmakers were competing incessantly to cater for a booming worldwide hunting market. India and Africa were the principle hunting destinations of the time where the topography and native big game species allowed for the use of these ‘modern’ long range magnum cartridges.
Interestingly the .30 Super does differ from the .300 Holland & Holland Belted Magnum so care must be taken when loading for this particular cartridge. As a cartridge the .30 Super was capable of handling 150, 180 and 220 grain bullets all of which respectively proved devastating on medium to large game. Elmer Keith the famous American gun writer, editor and hunter was a big fan of the cartridge and built several rifles up which he used to take numerous North American big game animals including several trophy class sheep.
Complete in original canvas case with accessories, the rifle has an honest pedigree.
As the .300 Holland & Holland Belted Magnum the calibre won world acclaim in 1935 when it was used to win the Wimbledon Cup at 1000 yards. Such was the success of the calibre that it led to a new generation of American magnums including the .300 Weatherby Magnum introduced in 1944 and the .300 Winchester Magnum introduced in 1963.
This particular Holland & Holland take-down rifle was built in 1928 and so can claim to be one of the early .30Super’s. In pretty much original condition, the rifle has a used look about it yet the bore is still sharp and the rifle a slick shooter. Contained in its original canvas case the rifle makes for a great usable vintage rifle.
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.