Near Mint Vintage Westley Richards 12g ‘Pigeon’ Gun

Every now and then you get one of those great guns come through the door that you just have to stop and admire. This week we had the opportunity to look at a fabulously original Westley Richards 12g ‘Pigeon’ gun that retains nearly all of its original factory finish. Guns in such condition really are hard to find these days and one in this configuration even rarer still.

Completed in 1931 this Westley Richards was built as a ‘special quality’ gun intended for the live pigeon circuit, a pursuit still undertaken in hushed corners of the world. The Anson & Deeley fixed lock action has a wonderful depth and presence that genuinely and perfectly puts the weight at an impressive 8lbs 7ozs. The gun is supremely steady in the hands with a muzzle forward pointability that makes the gun swing with ease.

Vivid case colour hardening dominates the action.

The large breech ends, side clips, cross bolt and high shoulders add a real distinctive look to the gun which is only enhanced by the 30″, 3″ chambered barrels with distinctive flat top ventilated competition rib. Choked 3/4 and Full the gun packs some serious ‘out there’ capability!

The 14 3/4″ pistol grip with horn cap continues the flowing lines of a formidable gun that has wonderful engraving of pigeons, the metalwork itself retaining all of the original vivd case colour hardening and charcoal blueing of the furniture.

Here in the UK, it would make a fantastic ‘high bird’ gun capable of handling some of the more punchy cartridges favoured for this discipline. Alternatively it could just as well return to the live pigeon arena, the environment for which it was originally intended.

The gun displays wonderful lines.

David McKay Brown .470 3 ¼” Nitro Express Round Action Double Rifle

The name David McKay Brown should need no introduction to readers of this blog. Scotlands premier gun and rifle maker, David is still building guns at his factory in the village of Bothwell, near Glasgow, Scotland. From an early age David was always a keen gun and rifle enthusiast as well as an avid bird shooter, stalker and fisherman. After an apprenticeship with Alex Martin (Gunmakers) of Glasgow, David set out on his own producing his very first round action gun in 1974. Since then David has specialised in round action guns in both side by side and over and under configuration with an occasional and small output of double rifles over the years.

The double rifle here is one of only a handful built by David in .470 3 1/4″ nitro express calibre, built on his round action design with double triggers, auto ejectors, automatic safety, 25″ barrels, 14 3/4″ pull over an exhibition walnut stock, weighing in at 11lb 5ozs. The rifle is engraved with full traditional scroll coverage and an elephant game scene, all executed by English engraver Martin Smith. The rifle was completed in 1999 and appears pretty much as new and unfired retaining nearly all of the original case colour hardening. The barrels have a wonderful, almost stepped breech which is not uncommon on Fraser double rifles and even early small bore Rigby double rifles.

For any David McKay Brown aficionado who fancies a tussle with the big game of Africa, this would make a great addition to the armoury. Few double rifles of his come to the market, especially in such a useful African calibre.

One of the nicest features of this .470 double rifle is the revolving combination foresight bead. Speaking with David earlier this week, it appears the concept was presented to him many years ago by none other than Simon Clode, Westley Richards former Managing Director! David thought the design was a good one and for “a not insignificant sum” acquired the prototype from Simon and adopted it for his own rifles. In truth a stroke of genius as it really is a very neat design!

Vintage William Evans .500 Boxlock Ejector Double Rifle

With the international following that Westley Richards has, most of both the new and pre-owned guns and rifles that we sell never return to the factory, having been shipped out to some far flung corners of the globe. On the odd occasion, guns that are sold slightly closer to home can sometimes end up back in our hands, generally with more character and a few more war stories to tell.

One such example in this classic William Evans .500 nitro express, boxlock ejector, double rifle. Sold to an Englishman by Trigger and Simon through our Grange Road factory 22 years ago.

Completed in 1912 for Consul General Christian Thams it was built as a plain, 2nd quality boxlock ejector double rifle with 26” barrels with a raised, engine turned top rib with ramp foresight, flip up moon sight, 100 yard standing express sight with two folding leaves regulated at 200 & 300 yards. A 14 3/8” pistol grip stock with no cheek piece, grip cap and traditional recoil pad. The fixed lock, double trigger action interestingly is fitted with an automatic game safety and is engraved with a small coverage of fine scroll. The barrels are engraved; William Evans (From Purdey’s) “500 3″ Solid Taper Case”
63 Pall Mall St. James’s London 80 Grs Cordite 500 Grs Soft Nose Nickel Bullet.

The rifle has seen a great deal of action and has been to Africa many times. It’s a true workhorse, a classic, no frills big game rifle of the African bush. It’s easy to see why the English boxlock ejector was the go to rifle for client and PH alike. It’s also testament to the strength and durability of the Webley action, the rifle performs faultlessly, the action is tight as a drum, the club head barrel extension is as strong as they come, and the rifle points with ease. On first inspections, the bores look a little frosty, but the rifling is good and as they say, the proof is in the pudding; this test target shows just how accurate the rifle still is, after all these years and many a safari.

William Evans ledger from 1912 showing rifle No. 9897

It’s hard not to admire an old rifle like this, although simple in design and engraving, it’s just a very cool, classic double that has been there, done it, got the t-shirt and after 106 years, is ready to do it all over again.

A Brace of Westley Richards Boxlocks

Fresh into stock at our UK factory are these two Westley Richards boxlock ejectors. Firstly we have a classic ‘Heronshaw’ model, built on a fixed lock, double trigger action with all the usual Westley Richards features; snap lever work, model C dolls head extension and beetle back safety catch. Ordered by Mr. A. FitzHerbet-Wright and delivered in 1926, the action is engraved with the usual Heronshaw style basket weave and retains some lovely original colour. Original 28” barrels which have recently been reproved, with 2 3/4” chambers and are choked 1/4 and 3/4. The well figured, straight hand stock measures 14 7/8″ to the centre of the butt, with drop points, silver escutcheon, horn heel plate, splinter forend with a horn tip and Deeley catch. The gun weighs 6lbs 8ozs and is offered for sale in a leather case. This is a fine example of the Heronshaw model which has proved to be popular with shooters and collectors alike.

Secondly we have a Westley Richards boxlock ejector, completed in November 1933, that was built for a Major W.H.Taylor as the No.2 gun to pair with the No.1 gun that we built for him in 1912. Built in very much the same style as the Heronshaw, it has a fixed lock, double trigger action with all Westley Richards features. The action is engraved with a bold scroll, very typical of the boxlocks we built in this era. 28” barrels with original proof, 2 1/2” chambers and choked 1/4 and 5/8. Straight hand stock, lighter in colour, measuring 15 1/4” with a horn heel plate, gold stock oval, splinter forend with horn tip and Deeley catch. Number 2 is engraved on the top rib, lever and forend iron. The gun weighs 6lbs 6½ozs and is cased in a compact green canvas case.

 

The boxlock gun is often overlooked but it represents fantastic value for money, is a strong and reliable action and still has all the style and handling that you’d expect from a best quality sidelock or droplock. Both guns will be on the used gun site shortly.

 

Unusual Westley Richards Single Barrel 20 Gauge

At Westley Richards we take real pleasure in displaying rare and unusual guns for the readers of the Explora and we certainly handle more than most gunmakers. Sadly not all of these guns are for sale and it’s more of a case of ‘you can look, but don’t touch’. Luckily though, from time to time, we do get those rare and interesting guns come through that are for sale and you can by all means look, touch, shoot, own, admire and adore.

One such gun is this very special and neat little single barrel 20g non ejector shotgun, a model we very seldom see. Completed on the 17th of December 1926, built for stock and sold through our Bennetts Hill, Birmingham city centre shop, it features a 28” ribless barrel with a 2 ½” chamber, choked 5/8 and proofed for 7/8oz loads. Built on an Anson & Deeley fixed lock action with a tang top lever, automatic safety, with name and border engraving, it retains some lovely original case colours. A highly figured, straight hand stock measures 14 ¼” to the centre of the chequered butt, complemented with a silver oval, snap forend and horn tip. The gun weighs 5lbs 10oz and is a real beauty to handle.

This gun would bring a different type of enjoyment to hunting. It’s not about how many you can shoot, or how high, it’s the simplistic, no frills, bare roots of the single barrel and action coupled with its rarity, classic looks and quaint demeanour which would make for some very special and memorable hunting.

A similar gun which featured in our pre-war catalogue was the Single Barrel Top Lever Pigeon Gun at a cost of £25.

I couldn’t think of a more fitting Christmas present for your son, daughter, wife or more likely, yourself. The gun will be advertised on our used gun site shortly.

Pretty W.W.Greener Double Rifle

Hammerless black powder rifles, particularly in the smaller calibres like this .400 Express are always a pleasure to look at and handle as they are so often more delicate than there nitro express cousins. Double rifles built in the period between the box lock hammerless design of 1875 and the first reliable smokeless powder cartridges of the 1890’s can be some of the most elegant rifles built, with slim action file ups and long gently tapering barrels.

Aesthetics aside, this very nice little double rifle by W.W.Greener has some wonderful game scene engraving depicting animals appropriate to European hunting fields. Retaining lots of its original finish the rifle has clearly been well looked after and was a prized rifle to its former owner. It is great to see dogs featuring in the engraving layout as they have always featured heavily in big game hunting traditions, particularly in Europe. It is easy to picture this rifle on a classic driven hunt, once the sport of Kings, nobility and heads of state.

Charles Lancaster ‘Nizam’ Rifles – Part Two

A couple of weeks back we posted images of a very nice rifle formerly belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad. Well here is another and it is certainly one of the most unusual percussions rifles that we have seen!

Built in four barrel format, the rifle is in truth a double barrel rifle that revolves once you have discharged the first two shots. There is a very simple sliding top lever that you pull back with the locks on half cock, so allowing you to rotate the barrels and prime them in preparation for the next two shots. Each side by side configuration of barrels has its own set of open sights as well as a sling swivel attachment.

Probably the most unusual feature of the whole rifle package is the fact that it has two stocks and actions. The only discernible difference is that one has a straight hand grip and the other a conventional pistol grip, more common to a double rifle. We have never come across this double stock and action configuration before and can only wonder at the difficult and considerable cost of construction!

As with the previous rifle, this one is fully gold washed and comes complete in its case with numerous accessories in an unfired condition. It has to be said that Charles Lancaster really did build some truly outstanding and unique rifles, this one in our humble opinion being one of the finest.

Two stock configuration certainly unique!

Gold washed action parts.

Sliding top bolt to lock the rotating barrels in place.

E.M.Reilly & Co. Royal Presentation Combination Gun

A name we don’t see too often these days is that of E.M.Reilly & Co, of London, another of those semi forgotten names from the golden age of British gun and rifle manufacture. It is therefore a pleasant surprise when something special by the maker passes through our factory and reminds us once again that the gun industry has a long tradition of producing magnificent guns and rifles.

This fabulous combination 12 bore rifle and shotgun was built for King Alfonso XII of Spain (1857 – 1885) and displays all the fine qualities in a firearm built for a king. True to the time, the late 1800’s, the gun focuses more on wood to metal fit, graceful lines and functionality, than it does to fancy embellishment. Surprisingly it has a piece of wood that by modern standards would be considered ‘exhibition’ grade, something uncommon at the time. Engraving wise the royal coat of arms sits nicely in gold on the action tang, whereas E.M.Reillys own business name seems to dominate the rest of the gun!

The magnificent case was manufactured and fitted out in the French style with no lack of imagination where tooling was concerned! All of the handles are made from ivory with many of the pieces engraved by hand for that extra unique finish. The interior lining is in a striking blue velvet that has been gold leaf embossed with the makers name and address. Interestingly the exterior has a fantastic brass frame, fully engraved, with the central crown of the King sitting above his monogram.

Taken as a whole, this is a package in every way fit for a King……………..

Gold inlaid coat of arms for King Alfonso XII.

Presentation case in the French style fitted with full tools and accessories.

Brass framed case exterior, unusual for a British cased gun.

Westley Richards Agency USA

It’s fair to say that we in the U.S. have a long-held and deep appreciation of the best English gun makers. This explains why their order books are so often filled with the names of American clients. Underlining the point, Westley Richards has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success here and, over the years, gained a loyal, enthusiastic following. As Westley Richards enters its third decade of serving our clients through a dedicated Agency – and after more than two hundred years in business – the firm now stands as the only English gun maker with a flagship store here in the United States. Indeed, at a time when it seems other companies are scaling back their presence in America, Westley Richards is, we are happy to say, growing and expanding.

This fall we opened a newly renovated and fully stocked Agency in a brand-new location in the town of Gulf Breeze – just across the bay from the beautiful city of Pensacola in Florida’s Northwest Panhandle. One of the main reasons for relocating was to make it a lot easier for many of our customers to reach us.

We are now just a day’s drive from Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham and Atlanta – and only one flight away from eleven different international U.S. Airports. Add the wonderful weather, crystal clear waters, pristine beaches, friendly people and sheer positive energy of the place and you can see why moving here was such an easy decision!

The new Agency itself is housed in an old warehouse space that has been tastefully repurposed to our design. While it is impossible to replicate the history, grandeur and ambience of our factory in England, the new showroom has all of the hallmarks that make it still recognizably Westley Richards – an inviting and relaxing atmosphere where you will find a level of service you would expect from one of the world’s most prestigious names in gun making. We also stock the same carefully assembled range of leather goods, shooting accessories and apparel offered in our English showroom and factory. The perfect environment for customers to see, touch and feel the quality for which Westley Richards is famed.

I am proud to say the Westley Richards’ promise, to make “as good a gun as can be made”, is matched by our commitment to ensuring a great all-round customer experience. In today’s world, where most things can be bought online with the click of a button, we believe a ‘bricks and mortar’ store allows us to deliver a truly personal service where customers are given all the time, care and attention they need. With a U.S. Agency run by an expert team that holds to the same exacting standards as those of Westley Richards in England, we look forward to welcoming you to Gulf Breeze and sharing with you our pursuit of excellence.

Charles Lancaster ‘Nizam’ Rifles – Part One

Last year we were lucky enough to have through our hands some magnificent Charles Lancaster percussion weapons built for the Mahrajah of Jodhpur. Well by another struck of lets say luck, several more items have surfaced, this time built for the Nizam of Hyderabad, once the head of one of the richest families in the world.

Clearly the nobility of India was infatuated by the guns and rifles being built by the great British gun houses and all credit must be given to Charles Lancaster for producing such superb examples of the gun and rifle makers craft. Founded in 1811 in the City of London, Charles Lancaster Snr was renowned as a barrel maker and soon established himself as one of the capitals premier makers. With the expansion of empire so followed the expansion of the company and in particular an association with the Indian continent. Royal patronage both at home and abroad was very much a part of the company’s history from the mid 1800’s up until the 1930’s when the company amalgamated with Grant & Lang.

This particular percussion rifle is a 6 bore single barrel big game rifle with all furniture and lock work gold washed, as much for display of wealth as for protection from the Indian environment. Certainly unfired to this day, the rifle in its original case with every tool necessary to keep the rifle in service, is a wonderful time capsule and probably more valuable today than when it was originally built.

Stunning gold washed lock work and furniture.

 

Wonderful array of tools to keep the rifle in service.