W. W. Greener. A Recent 28g Sidelock.

W W Greener 28g Sidelock

W. W. Greener today comprises of gunmakers Richard Tandy and David Dryhurst who work from their respective workshops on the outskirts of Birmingham. Richard is a quiet, unpretentious and hugely knowledgeable gunmaker, in my opinion one of the very best in the country and a delight to know and work with, always offering sound advice when requested.

Unfortunately Greener do not make the classic Greener gun the ‘Facile Princeps’ ( which translates to ‘an obvious leader’ ) due to its complex nature and stick to the perhaps safer bet of the sidelock, not a gun the company was ever renowned for but one they now make with attention to every little detail, all in all and exceptional gun. In order to distinguish their gun from the many other offerings, the specialty of the current company is the fitting of damascus barrels, many of their guns come with both a pair of steel and a pair of damascus tubes. Their small production is all very beautifully executed.

This particular sidelock 28g was passing through the factory so I took the oppertunity to take a quick shot.

A Very Nice Sidelock and a Very Nice Boxlock. 2 Used Game Guns at Westley Richards.

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The lesser known makers always represent great value, especially when built in a good period and in great condition. This Phillipson & Nephew 12g Sidelock is one such gun. Phillipson & Nephew have been supplying actions to English gun trade for over 100 years and continue to this day supplying Boss & Co., McKay Brown, Greener and William & Son to name but a few. Although primarily gun action machinists they also produced a very small quantity of finished guns, supposedly for good clients or people they knew.

This is a very nicely made sidelock game gun, attractively priced, attractively engraved and retaining much of the original colour. With its 30″ barrels and very attractive stock it makes a lot of sense if you are considering a new gun, over the rebranded continental guns supplied by many English makers now.

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A William Powell 12g Boxlock made in 1977 when Powell still had gunmakers on their premises, again very nicely engraved and retaining most of the original case colour this 28″ barrel game gun is offered at a very attractive price and will be on our used gun site next week.

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Westley Richards .318 “Light Model” with Detachable Stock for Portability.

Lightweight Take Apart .318 Westley Richards

 

I seem to be losing out in purchasing these scarce Westley Richards rifles recently, the .425 in Las Vegas and now the only rifle of interest at the British Shooting Show, this .318 Light Model take down. This was acquired  by a member of my own internal team, namely Trigger ‘for myself, so I can hunt with a Westley Richards’! I will not be sending him on any buying trips for the company in future!

I have only come across a couple of these rifles whilst here at WR, whilst not as nice in my opinion as the true bayonet type take down, it is an interesting rifle and I think the forend catch shows clearly that it is a take apart rifle which the Holland system may not to the uninitiated. The rifle comes apart with the release of the catch and the unscrewing of the front mag box screw which can be done with a small coin. This particular rifle is fitted with an original set trigger, standing and 4 folding leaf sights and the Westley Richards patent front sight assembly.

Westley Richards Light Model .318

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Holland & Holland ‘The Twenties’ Royal Deluxe Game Guns.

Holland & Holland Twenties Guns

I have always liked guns with a unique theme and this pair of Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe guns named ‘The Twenties’ certainly slot into that department. This pair of guns were made in the early 1990’s, proofed in 1991 and completed around ’93 I would guess. They were a built for a discerning female client who played an integral part in the design of the guns with David Winks. David managed the gunroom at Holland & Holland at the time and was a man who knew how to make great guns, never hesitating to return guns to the factory if not satisfied with the wood or finish. He certainly excelled himself with the pair of blanks on these guns!

This pair of 20g 27″ barrel sidelock guns are engraved by  Phil Coggan who, to this day, remains one of the countries leading engravers. The Art Deco style engravings have 4 distinct Twenties scenes and portraits of ladies in art deco style clothing.

A unique pair of guns, in perfect condition and ready to gift to a deserving wife or lady friend! Available on our used gun site here. 

Holland & Holland Twenties Guns

Holland & Holland Twenties Guns

Holland & Holland Twenties Guns

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A Westley Richards 20g Hand Detachable Lock Game Gun.

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Leaving the factory this week is this very nice 20g hand Detachable Lock gun which is fitted with a spare pair of interchangeable locks. I like very much the hare on the gold oval which is beautifully executed and just goes to show that you don’t have to have initials or a crest in this position! Something personal and meaningful to yourself is well worth considering.

The other personal detail on this gun is the Morel mushroom which sits as a centre piece for the scroll on the cover plate.

Cased in a rolled edge Westley Richards pattern lightweight case with an outer canvas and leather cover.

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The Gatling Gun – 1/3rd Scale models firing .22

A 1/3rd scale Gatling Gun

Unfortunately in England we are not allowed pistols and we are also not allowed machine guns, had that not been the case these 2 miniature Gatling Guns would be coming over here to be added to the ever increasing ephemera at the factory. These are working models firing .22, I am not sure if the short or LR version as I couldn’t figure out how to make them work during my short visit to Bozeman last month, I needed Davy Crockett or Custer to help me out.

These are beautifully made miniatures, an authentic, working copy in brass, steel and wood. The detailing and quality of the work is exceptional and they really do make for interesting decoration and most probably very high quality squirrel control.

The Gatling gun is one of the best-known early rapid-fire weapons and a forerunner of the modern machine gun. Invented by Richard Gatling, it is known for its use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat. Later it was used in the Boshin War, the Anglo-Zulu War and still later in the assault on San Juan Hill during the Spanish–American War.

The Gatling gun’s operation centered on a cyclic multi-barrel design which facilitated cooling and synchronized the firing-reloading sequence. Each barrel fired a single shot when it reached a certain point in the cycle, after which it ejected the spent cartridge, loaded a new round and, in the process, allowed the barrel to cool somewhat. This configuration allowed higher rates of fire to be achieved without the barrel overheating.

These 2 replica scaled models are available in USA at $15,000.00 each.

Gatling Gun 1-3rd size model

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We all make mistakes – The story of the Selous .425 Rifle

F.C.Selous and Westley Richards-2

Why do I like to go to the Las Vegas Antique Arms show?, because there is always the possibility of a surprise to be unearthed on one of the tables. Over the years I have bought some super guns and rifles at the show, often from individuals who are selling off their small collections. I guess the first rule of Antique Arms is to look first at everybody else’s guns and then set up your own after, a rule I didn’t follow this year.

A long standing client and possibly the most enthusiastic Westley collector I know, asked me on Friday to have a look at a .425 take down rifle, he wanted an opinion on the rifle in general and what I thought of the price that was asked. I duly did this and commented that it didn’t have the desirable side clips to assist feed but besides that it was a good rifle in nice condition. I suggested a price he should try and get it for.

A couple of days later I had a text message saying ‘The .425 rifle was made for Selous”. he had not requested a history from the factory but rather had noticed from our book “In Pursuit of the Best Gun” the photograph of the ledger for the Selous rifle. Rifle No. 37798 supplied to Selous in 1911.

Having kicked myself very hard and been told I was totally incompetent by Trigger I am pleased to say that I really don’t think there is a better man who should have found the rifle and uncovered the truth, the new owner is totally deserving. I am quite sure I would never have put 2 & 2 together and whilst he denies it, I am sure Trigger wouldn’t have done either!

The rifle is heading to Africa this year which is fitting, there will be no film or such, just a great safari with a rifle that was ordered and shot by one of, if not the most famous hunters of our time. I am sure that will give a warm and cozy feeling whilst in the bush.

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The New Year in USA. 33 Days, 13,000 miles and 4 Major Gun Exhibitions

I am sort of ashamed to say it, but I never really look forward to January. For the past 30 years it has meant the show season in USA, 3 large shows in a row, my finding out the ‘state of the gun trade’ and what the New Year holds for our business, it is my nervous month. I have always felt that how we do during this one month trip pretty well reflects how the year will pan out. It is not an exact science, but a pretty accurate guide. If you can’t sell guns in America you’re going to find it very difficult everywhere else!

This year I left England with the knowledge we face ever increasing obstacles, hunting in Africa is threatened, probably more so than at any time in my career. There is the Cecil saga which has left many concerned about being publicised, there are trophy importation bans, there is ISIS which leaves many concerned about travel in general, the Oil price is on the rocks, it is an election year, the stock markets are tumbling, the list goes on and the news is not good. It was with all that in mind that I arrived in Dallas on January 5th for the start of my stay this year. I was concerned to say the least!

However, on the positive side, I do always always look forward to January for other reasons, it is a time when I get away from the factory to say hello in person to all the people I email and phone during the year, it is a time to meet old friends and a time to make new ones. There are familiar faces at every event, people like me who have been covering this circuit for years, and whilst everyone is competing for the business they are all extremely generous with their offers of help and assistance to set up, transport and take down exhibits. Whatever else it may be considered, the hunting community is a very robust one, a dedicated group of generous, enthusiastic and friendly people and my sincere thanks go out to everyone who made the this past month both memorable and possible. On top of this in the positive mode, English driven shooting is going from strength to strength, it is also one of the best Quail seasons in Texas on record, so all is not lost!

So how have these shows developed over the years, have they got better or worse for the consumer? I am not sure I can actually answer this fairly but my view is that they have probably got worse and for one reason only, their size. Understandably the organisers want more stands and exhibitors, it is their purpose to make money for their organisation,  in the case of Safari Club the annual convention accounts for a huge amount of their income, would I be wrong to say 75%? I don’t think so but would be pleased to be corrected. The result of this is that anyone is accepted, you have the money and the donation and you get space, hunting related or not it doesn’t seem to matter. There was one booth selling second hand saddles in Las Vegas and I felt they would be more appropriate at a horse show but then horses are used in hunting so perhaps…..

My feeling is that the 2 main shows Dallas and SCI are becoming diluted, the likes of Bass Pro and Cabela’s I don’t feel bring anything to the table, they sat on the sidelines for years and when the show got popular they barge in, throw money around, take a load of space and bring no new blood as customers. Customers, visitors and new members is what the shows need and it should almost be a criteria for new exhibitors acceptance, are they going to bring new blood in the aisles or just dilute the existing visitors. I could go on for ages about the decline of the quality of exhibitors, but it is not my place to do so.

The shows are so big now it is unmanageable for most people to get around with ease, this is after all a retail show not a trade show, it is supposed to be pleasure for visitors and little I heard from my visitors suggested that it was. The motor cart people had the easiest ride literally, probably the only people able to cover the whole show in a few days and the numbers of those is certainly on the increase, traffic police will soon be needed!

So what do I conclude after a month in USA and how did our year start off? Thankfully it went very well, way beyond my expectations, we took our expected amount of orders for new guns and rifles, which this year had a definite lean towards the small bore shotguns. These orders are now hard to win and we compete heavily with all our English competitors for the business, most of whom are present at these shows.

Westley Richards will continue to offer an excellent quality product at the most competitive price possible and this combined with making the experience of making a bespoke gun enjoyable and fun seems to keep the customers coming back. Times are hard and quality really counts.

The Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (2 of 11)

The Las Vegas Antique Arms show has been the worlds premier arms show since long before I started in this business, the inaugural show was in 1962 making 2016 the 54th year of the event. I think having just spent 3 days exhibiting at the show my overriding question has to be where are the buyers and collectors of the future?! Certainly the foot fall  decreases year on year whilst the walking sticks and motor cart congestion increase! Youth is not to be seen.

This has always been a show for like minded people, collectors and enthusiasts alike who enjoy walking the aisles looking perhaps for a bargain or something that they need to round off the collection. It is a time for long conversations between collectors and dealers of various specialty markets, Colts or Winchesters, percussion guns and modern guns there is always something here for everyone and a huge amount of firearms knowledge to tap into, here you will find experts on every type of firearm. But alas the numbers of people attending is in decline and it was obvious this year, I don’t know if it was a ‘one off’ but feel it is not, the youth of today just don’t have the passion for vintage guns as much as those in the past. On Friday I believe the attendance was in the region of 1200 visitors and I am sure in the heydays of the show at the Sahara Hotel there would have been 4 or 5000 visitors.

Westley Richards has for some years now been the only English gunmaker to exhibit at this show and we have done so pretty much every year for about 40 of the years it has been going. In the early days when my father attended we sold only antiques, items which we had got in India and which were always fresh to market at this show. They always generated a huge amount of interest. When I started attending in 1988 we started a blend of old guns and new guns and now I primarily show our new guns, it being an opportunity for people to see in the flesh exactly what we make. I think I can comfortably say that 30% of our new gun sales during my years at Westley Richards have come from people I have met at this show, people who like guns have always made an effort to attend. I certainly hope that it continues, there is no other gun show quite like it.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (3 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (4 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (5 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (6 of 11) Lewis Drake always has some of the finest vintage firearms in the show.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (7 of 11) Steve Fjastad the author of the Blue Book of Gun Values.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (9 of 11) Larry Blunk with LD McCaa of Gulbreeze Firearms

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (10 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (11 of 11)

Tony Gallazan of Christian Hunter GunsTony Gallazan of Connecticut Firearms, Best Guns and Black Guns.

And some further comment by Larry Blunk.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Antique Arms Show in Las Vegas last week. It’s an interesting show in that it’s not the typical, high-profile show such as Safari Club or SHOT. Vendors generally have small, easily collapsible “campaign” tables and just a few guns. Naturally there are those that bring a massive number of guns, but I don’t really know that it’s advantageous for them. However, it is a great opportunity to see a lot of what’s on the market without having to shop all around. It’s very nice to have exposure to these guns as sometimes it’s really quite hard to tell what a gun is truly like via photos on the internet.

The show is sectioned into various departments such as fine guns, engraving, knives, and more generic guns. There are some fascinating things that can be seen at this show from carved ivory to historically important “old west” guns to very nice hand-made knives. I even found a gentleman practicing his sword handling skills in the lobby! Because of the range of options, the vendors and attendees are quite diverse in many regards. I think that this wide range of people is quite good for the show as it perhaps brings awareness to certain companies that they would otherwise never have. However, and as I’ve stated previously, finding a young person at the show is very difficult. It’s mostly gray-hair filling the aisles. I know that there are a few young people campaigning for this sector of the industry so perhaps we’ll be able to get more youth interested in the near future.

One thing I really enjoy is that the show is much more intimate than the others. It’s easy to speak with someone and that is really what this show is all about. I must say that I met some great new people and was reintroduced to some I haven’t seen in years. I spent hours and hours just chatting about all things related to the industry as well as some more diverse topics such as Elton John and cars. I think that everybody that goes to this show has somewhat of the same opinion in that it’s more for harvesting relationships and connecting with others than it is about outdoing others with showmanship. Overall this show was quite slow but I did enjoy the conversation and the new relationships that were formed.

A Young American’s Perspective of the English Gun Trade by Larry Blunk.

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Last week, I was fortunate enough to visit Dallas for the SCI show. It has been years since I have attended and I must say the show has grown since I remember. It was nearly the size of the Las Vegas show which is saying a lot! There are a massive number of vendors selling and promoting everything from hunting trips to clothing to expedition Jeeps and everything in between. Ah yes, and of course, firearms. I think being a young American affords me a different perspective than many that attend the show and are in this trade.

Most Americans are consumed with so-called scary “black rifles.” Especially with the younger generation, it has consumed the shooting sports in all regards – from hunting to competitive shooting and everything in between. I will not lie – I do like them. They are fun and can bring some excellent range time and sport with friends. But my passion has always been fueled by the English guns. This is a sector of the industry that is unknown by most Americans. Words such as “drop lock,” “round body,” and “rising-bite” are rarely if ever heard whilst discussing guns in America. Of course they are commonly used across the pond and at shows such as Safari Club.

Naturally guns of all sorts are on display at the show. The younger crowd typically hovers to those with long-range tactical hunting rifles on display while the English booths are surrounded by gray hair. Rightfully so, in some aspects, as the English guns are a fair jump more in cost! However, there is nothing like them. The look, the feel, the finish, and the history. You just can’t feel warm holding a fiberglass rifle called “Chey-Tac.”

Walking around the booths I noticed another commonality: the companies either had guns or they didn’t. Some English makers had droves of “new” guns on display and available for immediate sale. I write “new” hesitantly, because it appears these guns have been around the block a few times and have the handling marks to prove it. If I were paying $50,000 or more on a new gun – I wouldn’t want it to appear already used! I was also a bit confused by some makers who would place half-finished guns on display. At least for me, this was very unattractive. Why not display the pinnacle of your work? It’s almost as if they just don’t understand. Is there a reason these companies aren’t selling guns?

All of the English booths had a certain aire to them. Although, some were stuffy when compared to others. Most of these people didn’t know me – especially those owned by the large companies – and it was like pulling teeth to get them to acknowledge my standing there! Although, I noticed, I wasn’t the only one! This is of course a frustrating battle to fight; especially for the younger generation. For all they know, they just missed a sale for $250,000 to a dot-com millionaire! Others welcomed me with warm arms, encouraged questions, and seemed genuinely interested to have a young body nearby. I think these are the companies of the future.

While at the show, I had one person ask me – What will it take to bring the younger generations into this trade? Honestly, I don’t think it takes a lot (other than a massive checkbook, of course!). Once you hold these guns, see the details, and understand the massive amount of time and energy it took to create these – it’s quite easy to fall in love. Like anything else, it has to do with taste. Some might teeter back and forth describing their taste. For me, it’s quite easy: the best

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