This is the first of our modern take down rifles that I have noticed come to the market. A package we produced in 2010 for a client who was a regular African and worldwide hunter. The rifle has made some trips and has the knocks and bruises to tell the stories which I am not going to remove at this point in time. People have different opinions, some like their rifles immaculate and clean whilst others relish the patina gained by use in the field. I tend to fall into the latter category myself and will leave the final decision to the person who first feels he can’t live without it!
Mechanically totally sound, the rifle will be fully serviced, shot and tested. The only work decisions to be made are the refurbishment of the stock and blacking of parts. The Westley Richards bespoke case is a later addition and was made 2 years ago and is in immaculate condition, I also feel these canvas and leather cases are the most appropriate for this type of ‘working and travelling’ rifle.
Westley Richards Take Down Bolt Action Rifle No.43617 in .375 H&H Magnum – Completed 2010.
22 1/4″ barrel with Quarter rib, one fixed and one folding leaf rear express sight regulated at 100 and 200 yards. Westley Richards combination foresight. Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10×42 scope on Smithson QD mounts.
Very well figured stock with 14 1/2″ LOP, full pistol grip with grip trap cap, cheekpiece, leather covered recoil pad.
Weight of rifle – 9lbs 13oz – with scope on 11lbs 3oz
Westley Richards Bespoke Canvas and leather border case with accessories.
Two years ago I was fortunately able to ‘take over’ from one of our clients for another of our clients, a pair of Hartmann & Weiss 20g sidelock game guns which were booked for many years to be engraved by Alan Brown. The original engraving booking was for traditional fine game scenes which were drawn and offered by Alan. I asked if given no time constriction, we could do something a little more elaborate. I did this on the basis that if you have an engraving slot with whom are considered the best engravers of modern gunmaking, go for the most time as you possibly can and the if at all possible carved scroll and gold work. Alan generously agreed and the pair of guns are now, 20 or so months later here at the factory and looking fabulous.
Here we are again! The colour on colour off question! I know that 99% of people who have seen the previous post of this rifle before it went to case colour hardening will say “take it off”. A seemingly easy answer as the engraving obviously stands out so well when silver and will stand out even more now that the colour is on, the steel will be grey and retain a deep back ground.
I have mixed feelings as I do like the case colour and I started this project with the client based on the old case colour hardened R.B.Rodda rifles which I have always admired. The engraving has great depth and so it does stand out and with a little careless use in the bush the rifle will slowly polish off, come to life and shine out!
As an impressionable young man I remember a letterhead from Walter Clode with part of the heading “Cable Address: DETACHABLE LONDON”. Now if that wouldn’t get the attention of someone like myself nothing would, little suspecting where this would all someday lead.
Fast forward quite a number of years to the Dallas Safari Club Show and making the acquaintance of Walter’s son Simon. I think we both knew of one another but had never met. Mr. Clode, in his charming but purpose driven manner put an absolutely beautiful detachable lock .410 in my hands and, as all good salesmen know how to do, simply waited. By this point in my life I’d seen a good many truly best guns and had some idea of what I was looking at.
First thought was “is this some one off special project gun that was not likely to be repeated or was he actually producing guns of this quality today?” After some due diligence it was determined, yes he really was producing guns like this and, more importantly, Simon Clode was regarded by people who were in a position to know as absolutely honest and reliable in his dealings. Very shortly after the Dallas show I left a call for Simon and he called me back from Las Vegas. I placed a verbal order, the order forms were sent and so it began.
I had a really good rifle blank I’d saved since the very early 70’s and decided it had been saved long enough. I also had a very dear friend by the name of Geoffrey Casbard, a world class London engraver who I’d actually met through Walter Clode in about 1969. One phone call and Geoffrey was on board for whatever was required.
Wood and engraver selections were now made leaving several more things to be determined. Barrel length was set at 28 inches. This was to be a gun to really use, not just to swing around in the parlor. The next decision was about the forend, English splinter or beavertail? I truly like the keen, uninterrupted lines of straight grips and splinter forends. I also knew 99% of the shots fired were going to be on the skeet field and sub bores get very hot very quickly, so a beavertail it would be. I had a nice .410 Parker with a classic Parker beavertail which I thought and still think the handsomest of all the beavertail patterns. Measurements were made, photos taken and this was added into the specs.
Personally, I have never been a fan of round action guns other than Dixon types so panels and drop points it would be. Keen lines with crisp edges please my eye and I’m the one who has to look at it.
I think everyone but me should have automatic safeties so non automatic it is. Dimensions were easy enough and with a few minor adjustments that was settled. High gloss finished to be backed down a bit to a sort of slackum look.
On to the engraving. I’ve often thought modern guns and their owners place far too much emphasis on engraving, sometimes at the expense of the fit, finish and lines of the gun itself. However, when it came right down to it, I was just as fixated on the engraving as all the others I’d been critical of. A progression of large scroll only to large scroll with game scenes to small scroll with game scenes began. By the time I had sorted out the engraving Geoffrey died. My friend was gone and another decision needed to be made. Simon arranged for David and Brad Tallet to do the work, David the fine scroll and Brad the game scenes and carved detonators. I’d been collecting drawings for engravers half my life and this part was fun. A beautiful thistle type plant called Eryngo grows in our pastures and photos and botany drawings of it were sent to the Tallets. It came down to small scroll with game scenes and the Eryngo carved on the detonating. The great debate about colors on or colors off would come later.
After 930 some days of looking at that damn blog almost eveyt day to see if there was some mention of this recent obsession the big day finally arrived.
I have a large steel plating board and some 10,000 rounds of .410s squirreled away as well as a regulation skeet field about 400 yards from the house and pucker time was about here.
A gun dealer friend from Dallas brought the gun to me and I wasn’t sure I wanted him or anyone else watching what was about to happen next. What if it didn’t shoot where I was looking? Worse yet, what if it did shoot where I thought I was looking but I couldn’t hit anything with it?.410s can be difficult to make shoot to the same point of impact. What if it plated perfectly and I still couldn’t hit anything with it?
As it turned out, I shot it beyond any expectations complete with my wife and the dealer friend there to witness things. I generally shoot by myself and that requires pulling my own targets which doesn’t make things any easier. Still, targets I had little expectation of hitting just kept breaking. With Teague “skeet” chokes in both barrels. Westley Richards 1/2 oz loads of #8 English shot. Next I went to Winchester 3″ 3/4 oz of # 8 1/2 shot. With crossing shots well off the skeet field at a paced 34 yards still most of the targets broke. I had no idea any .410 could do things like this much less with me doing the shooting.
Centre is two shots, one from each barrel imposed on each other. 1/2oz. 2 1/2″ W.R. # 8 shot. at 22 yards.Upper left is left barrel, one shot 3/4oz. Winchester #8 1/2 shot. 3″ cartridge at 23 yards. Upper right is same, right barrel. Any bird in the centre of these patterns dies! Board is 5′ X 9′.
Finally we went to the plating board. Both barrels to the same point of impact and remarkable patterns at 23 yards. At 30 yards the Winchester 3/4 ounce loads were delivering killing patterns. I Think there might be a lesson here about the perceived need for full chokes in .410s. At least in this particular one. I simply never expected it to perform like this.
Over the years I’ve had a fair number of best British guns made and I must say dealing with Westley Richards has been an absolute pleasure and by far the most enjoyable experience with the British gun trade I’ve ever had.
Well done, Westley Richards.
And thank you Simon Clode.
Thank you very much indeed.
Making best guns is challenging, making a gun for one of my Fathers customers from the 60’s, who has handled more best guns in his lifetime than I have had hot dinners, is even more of a challenge, it was something I wanted to get 100% perfect. Receiving the results from the first outing is very satisfying and hearing the field performance outstripped expectations is a delight. I think the only disagreement we had with the whole project was that DWB had ordered a Huey case for the gun and I had to insist in the end that it was inappropriate for a little English gun to be in an American case, it needed a VC case from the same factory! Simon.
We have one more John Rigby .416 bolt action rifle ready to travel to the bush. This rifle was built in 1956 on a commercial standard length action which is the same action Rigby .416 used and approved for many years by PH Harry Selby. The rifle is in excellent condition and has original spare foresight in the grip cap.
The specifications are as original and are 24 inch barrel, 14.5″ LOP, 45 inch overall length. Weight 9lbs. 4ozs.
Why buy a modern one when you can get a bit of history at the same price. For pricing and further information please contact me here.
My visit to Florida was billed as a low key effort so I could sneak over and get to grips with the space we have leased and move on with the remodel and fit out. Having done that quickly the camera was dragged out and put in my hands to take a few shots of some new guns we have just recieved in and will be working on to get up online in the used gun shop.
Pair of William Evans Best Quality 12g Sidelock shotguns Made in 1923
Composed pair of Westley Richards 12g SST droplock guns 1916 & 1936 for same family.
James Purdey 12g made in 1926.
An Abercrombie & Fitch 2″ 12g gun
Finally a few shots of a a very rare Ken Hunt deep carved engraved Purdey which has 2 sets of barrels in 28g and 20g This gun is new and in unfired condition, cased with accessories. More details to follow later.
I waved fondly ‘goodbye’ to this new .410 hand detachable shotgun this afternoon, I know there is a very anxious owner awaiting its arrival in Texas. One of our other clients and a mutual friend suggested I send his 4g shotgun instead of the .410 and then just act dumb when it arrived, “wasn’t it a 4g you ordered?” I would have done it had the 4g been ready to send!
I can say it is rather taxing making a gun for someone who has been in the business of collecting guns since I was a little boy, a man who started dealing with my father many years ago and knows the English guns better than anyone I know. We have enjoyed this project and hope that the gun lives up to expectations. I know in a week or so once unpacked it will immediately be on the skeet range being tested out!
This .410 Hand Detachable Lock gun has 28″ barrels 3″ chambers and fitted with Teague multi chokes. The Gun has a long slim beavertail forend and straight hand grip. Length of pull is 14 3/4″ and the weight is 5lbs. 2 Oz.
A fact of gunmaking life is that a makers name makes a difference. It always has and I imagine always will. The name or brand will be reflected in the price and we have all seen guns and rifles that don’t live up to either their name and the price asked. This particular rifle I believe lives up to both.
For the hunter who wants a good looking rifle, made very well in England and South Africa by maker B. Laubscher, here is what is in my opinion is a very good value .470 sidelock double rifle, built by what must be South Africa’s most respected makers. We at Westley Richards finished the rifle for our client a few years ago and our contribution was regulating, UK proof, case hardening, shaping of stock and the overall finish, namely the stock finish, blacking and coin finish. The rifle has not been out of the factory since, so is ‘as new and unfired’.
Built on a English machined H&H style reinforced action, with chopper lump barrels and everything else you would expect from a best rifle, this 24″ barrel, 14 3/4″ stock rifle is itching to go on a hunt!
This particular J. Rigby .470 is used for illustrative purposes only.
When we were active buying rifles in India between 1965 and 1995 the product we brought out all had a common feature, it was in an original unmolested condition. Some had been maintained well, and some not so well, but none had been messed about with by amateur or incompetent gunsmiths. We were able to bring the guns and rifles back to the factory to restore and revive in a subjective and considered manner, to make the gun look its best but not ‘over restored’. We felt any restoration work we did should not be noticeable.
One of the rifles I recall buying in India was an excellent J. Rigby .470 sidelock, I was eager to get it back to England for sale but had to endure the 6-8 month export process. The rifle had colour, condition, a long and good looking stock, it even had its case. A quick sale was a foregone conclusion as these rifles were and remain, a rare find.
When the rifle did finally arrive I had it taken immediately onto the range to test shoot in the safe hands of Ken Halbert. Ken our foreman was regulating our rifles at the time. To my horror the stock snapped in half on the first shot, we were (stupidly in hindsight) using some new shooting assist device which was thrown angrily in the bin immediately after the shot. In a millisecond my perfect vintage rifle joined the ‘restocked and refinished category gun’.
Last week I was sent some photographs of another J Rigby .470 sidelock, it was in a tatty oak and leather case with a missing lock and rudimentary canvas cover. The rifle had an old squashed recoil pad, overall the look of a rifle discovered in a small armoury in India. It looked to me as if transported in time from just before we pulled the trigger that last time many years ago!
I now have another chance and another great rifle to offer shortly, no shooting contraptions this time, just a steady standing shot. This is obviously a rifle that came in from India years ago and had no work done on it ever, this for us, is the perfect place to start from.
For those Rigby ‘rising bite’ fanatics I will state now that the rifle I have is not that model rifle, it is a late 1920’s vintage rifle and utilises (IMHO) the much better and stronger dolls head type fastening system the company turned to with the advent of nitro powders.
We completed this .505 take down this week which is heading down to a client in South Africa. This rifle is specified for big game hunting with a ‘no frills’ approach. Strong straight grained figured wood with blacked parts with makers name only engraved. All the very best functional features of a Westley Richards, no decoration!
As I think I have said before, it is always a pleasure to build these’ working style PH rifles’ as we know they are going to see action plenty of times in their life!