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!
The Holland & Holland ‘Dominion’ model in both shotgun and double rifle format was introduced in the 1930’s as an affordable option to the best ‘Royal’ model guns and rifles offered by the company. Named in reference to the British Dominions which included countries such as Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland, they targeted a broader clientele consisting mainly of administrators, officers and sportsmen.
This particular double rifle is in Hollands proprietary .500/.465 calibre which was introduced in 1907 after the British ban on all .450 calibre rifles. Firing a 480 grain bullet at 2150 feet per second the calibre was a very suitable replacement for the .450 and competed evenly with the .470, .475 and .476 calibres.
These rifles have always had a certain appeal and are very distinctive in style. With the swept back, slightly dipped, back action locks they are very robust and a real work horse of a rifle. You regularly see Dominion shotguns in the field today which is certainly a testament to the strength of the design.
Recently sold by us, this rifle has considerable original finish and is the No.2 grade with a half covering of engraving which adds a delicate touch to an otherwise simple rifle. The build quality goes without question and hopefully its new owner will soon get the opportunity to use it once again in Africa.
The show season continues unabated this year with our return to home soil and the British Shooting Show. This year we will be displaying a nice collection of our new guns and rifles including the ‘India’ and the ‘Africa’ .600 sidelock double rifles, as well as the ‘Lion’ .470 sidelock double rifle.
The show goes from strength to strength each year and represents a strong cross section of what is available to the shooting public in the Uk and from further afield. Attendance is certainly growing as the show refines, and being indoors certainly makes for a great day out mitigating the usual vagaries of the Uk weather!
We look forward to welcoming our customers old and new to our stand located in hall 2 zone 7.
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!
Last week saw another of our signature ‘droplock’ double rifles finished from engraving. In this case we have a classic .500 3″ nitro express with our traditional full scroll coverage, gold naming and an elegant gold border around the breach ends with scroll pyramids extending forward. This particular rifle has an extended tang or ‘strap over comb’ which can often be a nice touch. This rifle is going for full case colour hardening of all parts, which should make for a very nice looking version of a traditional format rifle.
For those of us in the gun and outdoor industry, we find ourselves in the thick of the show season. My colleague, Ricky Bond, and I returned to the U.S. Agency after the Dallas Safari Club convention only to unload and re-pack for what will be a month on the road attending the Antique Arms Show and the Safari Club International Convention, both held in Las Vegas. Westley Richards has been a mainstay at both shows for many, many years and it is always a time of year that we look forward to. While Simon owned and operated one of the best gun makers in the World, he was a gun dealer at heart and he always spoke fondly of the Antique Arms show. Recalling a blog post of Simon’s where he asserted that at no other time, anywhere in the world, is there a larger gathering of fine guns under one roof, this is quite obvious as I walk the isles of the show. It is a cast of colourful characters, historic and collectible firearms and it remains one of the few, and really the best, of the true gun shows left in the U.S. Safari Club International’s convention is two weeks later and it is the largest outdoor show on U.S. soil.
For those of us who are in pursuit of the outdoor lifestyle there is really no other place where one can meet outfitters, taxidermist, gun makers and equipment companies from all over the World in one place. It truly is a spectacle to behold and the four days the show runs is barely enough time to take it all in. Prior to my employment with Westley’s I would notice how many people frequented the Westley Richards booth and I am looking forward to meeting these faithful clients as well as catching up with old friends.
One other aspect of this time of year that Ricky and I are looking forward to is the week between the shows that allows time for visiting clients. Simon and I often discussed being accessible to our customers not only in the Agency but to travel to see them as well. To that point, we schedule time to visit our clients and offer showings in the comfort and privacy of their homes or offices. This also provides an opportunity to pick up items for our used gun inventory. This is a service we offer year round and we are happy to schedule such visits at the convenience of our clients. I encourage any readers of The Explora to make it a point to visit both the Antique Arms show and the SCI convention and this year is as good a time as any. I would also encourage the readers of the blog to feel free to contact us to schedule a visit and private showing on their home turf. This is a great way to see, up close, what Westley Richards offers as well as to discuss their personal collection and how Westley Richards might be able to assist in buying and selling guns for their firearms portfolio.
Antique Arms Show: Jan 20th – 22nd, 2017
Westgate Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
We are always amazed by the diversity of products that seem to have left the Westley Richards factory in the last 200 years. Take for instance this rather unusual .410 over and under pistol.
Completed circa 1935 the pistol is based on a design that was originally patented to Charles Lancaster who used the design for their Howdah and Officer pistols. It was available from them in various pistol calibres up to .577 and came in both 4 and 2 barrel versions all operated with a single trigger. The single trigger could also be extended and when cocked act as a set trigger which was handy for precision shooting.
This Westley Richards version is proofed for the .410 2 1/2″ cartridge shooting a 7/16 ounce load which suggests that it could really only have been intended for use either as a vermin control pistol, or more interestingly a specimen collectors pistol. The idea of facing a wounded tiger with it or some hostile native seems definitely out of the question!
Amazingly it comes presented in a lightweight leather case with cleaning rod and brushes all certainly made at the time it was supplied. Seeing such a case always fills us with anticipation and yet again we were not disappointed. A nice fun item to see bearing the Westley Richards name, one we may even use as a template for a new ‘compact’ .410 over and under quail gun!
Just returned last week from engraving is this fabulous .600 sidelock double rifle engraved by Vince Crowley.
I remember fondly the first time I met Vince when in truth we were both kids just starting out in the gun trade. He approached the door at the old Westley Richards factory in Bournbrook like a scrawny Oliver Twist and rather quietly asked ‘Do you have any engravers that can help me? I would like to be a gun engraver.’ Lucky for Vince we had one of finest of the day Rashid El Hadi on site who took Vince under his wing and as the saying goes ‘the rest is history’.
The basis for this exhibition project is our .600 sidelock ejector double rifle action, with extended tang, back action locks, model ‘C’ dolls head fastener and snap action lever work. These heavy action .600’s really do make a statement and they provide a huge canvas upon which to work. The gunmakers here at the factory put many hundreds of hours of patience and skill into building and preparing this magnificent rifle for Vince.
The theme of the rifle is classic hunting scenes from the ‘Dark Continent’ combined with a general feel for the flora and fauna. Vince himself estimates that he spent somewhere in the region of 3000 hours engraving this monster. Hard to believe? Just take a look. Practically every single inch of the action has been embellished and what you find on closer inspection is a delicate mixture of fine scroll, sculptured scroll, carving, flush gold inlay, raised gold, and game scenes. The grip trap you saw in an earlier post (‘A singular piece of engraving skill’) and we have yet to show you the butt plate!
Some of the most outstanding workmanship is on the barrels where a combination of flush and raised gold work along with fine game scene detailing and carved animals is pretty spectacular. Once complete the rifle should make quite a statement about the level of gunmaking and craftsmanship achievable today.