Vintage Westley Richards .425 Magnum Express At The U.S. Agency

I relish in offering up second hand guns and rifles that are fresh to the market. With the Westley Richards & Co. name and reputation, we are in a very good position to find these gems that have stayed put away and haven’t languished for sale on-line with some other dealer or been tossed around the various auction houses. A few recent examples are the Holland & Holland ‘Royal’.410 and Westley Richards A&D 8g, both exceedingly rare and unique guns, sold here at the U.S. Agency. As luck would have it (and a lot of hard work) I have come across another very interesting rifle, in all original and near new condition, acquired from the original owner’s family.

Solid wall Mauser based action.

The rifle is a Westley Richards .425 Magnum Express Best Quality Mauser bolt action built circa 1955. The rifle is still paired in its original maker’s case with the original accoutrements still wrapped in their tissue paper. During the 1950’s, Westley’s was supplying a rifle of a similar format, albeit with much less finish, to Game Scouts in Kenya and Rhodesia. However, this rifle was bought by a sportsman, is engraved and has a Monte Carlo cheekpiece, a stock shape that rose to prominence in America after World War II. Many of the top tier English makers adopted this stock shape to cater to the U.S. market that was now the largest sporting gun market in the world. This was also the time period when rifles were increasingly fitted with telescopic sights, especially those built for American clients. It is unusual that the rifle was never drilled and tapped and quite remarkable that it has remained unaltered for all these years.

Lever release floorplate with elegant house scroll engraving.

Westley Richards classic and distinctive combination foresight with patent flip over protector.

As if the lovely condition of the rifle isn’t enough, there is another interesting part of this rifle’s story. In the early 1970’s, the original owner used the rifle to successfully take an elephant that body size eclipsed the world record at the time. The gentleman’s record can be found in various record books of the period and you can still see his name, written in pen, on the boxes of ammo. One box includes a few empty brass cases; 6 to be exact. It would stand to reason these are the same 6 rounds Mr. Nielsen mentions in his retelling of the fateful trip. Remarkably, the rifle shows little to no signs of its travels and remains in top form, making it a very viable candidate for anyone’s next dangerous game hunt.

Contained in its original case the rifle is one of those wonderful finds.

Winchester Commemorative Rifles at Westley Richards

Being the token redneck in the English gun trade, certain duties fall to me that my British counterparts are either unqualified for or, more likely, are unwilling to do. When it comes to American guns and rifles, especially Winchesters, Ricky and Trigger call on me when they come across our threshold. Being that I also fall subject to the stereotype that all Americans have a portrait of John Wayne on the wall and a Winchester under the bed, I guess I am somewhat qualified to comment on the collection of Winchester Commemoratives Ricky recently acquired.

Starting in 1964, Winchester released different series of commemorative rifles based on the Model 94 platform. Each series was made to recognize or honor an iconic person, place, event or organization in American history with fancy wood, metal finishes and engraving and highly illustrated boxes. The different series were usually made in limited numbers with special serial numbers. The commemorative rifles were intended to be instant collectibles and they enjoy a sort of cult like following in the gun world.

While this is not the normal kind of discussions we have on The Explora, these rifles represent a fun chapter in the American gun trade and the five examples we have are some of the more iconic ones, so we thought they worth mentioning.

1969 Golden Spike Carbine Commemorative. This series features a brass framed Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in North America. The rifle’s engraving and box illustrate when two locomotives from the two railroads met nose to nose on May 10, 1869 in Promontory Summit, Utah. 69,996 rifles produced in this series, this rifle is #GS25538

1980 Oliver F. Winchester Commemorative. This series features a brass plated Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester with engraving scenes of the Winchester factory and the box is illustrated with Oliver F. Winchester’s portrait. 19,999 rifles produced in this series; this rifle is #OFW730

1981 John Wayne Commemorative. This series features a Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester with a silver receiver and an engraved scene of a stage coach being chased by bandits and titles of movies John Wayne starred in engraved around the outside of the action. The rifle also features the large “Trapper” lever loop, made famous by John Wayne. 49,000 rifles produced in this series; this rifle is #JW28502

1983 Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative. This series features a Model 94 chambered in .38-55 WCF with a case color finish and the engraving and box illustrations depict Native Americans hunting bison from horseback, the portrait of the famous Lakota War Chief, Crazy Horse. The stock is decorated in a Native American theme with brass tacks. The outside of the receiver is engraved with various tribe names. 19,999 rifles in this series and this is #CCH4867

For any interest please contact Ricky or LD:

ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

ld@westleyrichards.com

A Rifle For Any Occasion

After two very successful shows in the U.S. we are now back at the factory in Birmingham and back to business as usual, building the best guns and rifles available and continuing our to offer our clients a superb selection of high quality pre-owned guns and rifles from around the world. Our used gun department prides itself not only on the quality of the guns and rifles we offer but also the variety and we try to offer something for hunters of all types. Our latest offering does exactly that. Whether you are hunting Muntjac in the quaint English countryside, Elephant in the unforgiving African bush or anything in between, we have a rifle for that. We are pleased to offer for sale a collection of 4 great pre-owned bolt action rifles.

Firstly we have a J. Rigby & Co. bolt action rifle chambered in .243 Winchester. Completed around 1986 and built on a Sako action it features a 23 1/8” un-sighted barrel, a Zeiss Diavari 3-12×50 scope on fixed mounts. Engraved by Marcus Hunt, the floor plate features a gold Impala with the Rigby name and calibre, the serial number in gold on the trigger bow and the Rigby emblem in gold on the grip cap. The highly figured Monte Carlo stock measures 14 ¼” in length and is finished with a Pachmayr pad, horn forend tip, gold stock oval and swivel studs. The rifle weighs 8lbs 15oz.

J. Rigby & Co. .243 Bolt Action Rifle

Next we have another Rigby chambered in .275 Rigby, completed around 1998 and built on a Mauser action with a Kepplinger trigger it features a 20 ½” barrel with one fixed and one folding leaf express sight, ramp foresight with hood, Swarovski Habicht 3-9×36 scope on H&H QD mounts which are case colour hardened as is the bolt shroud. The floor plate is engraved with a Roe Buck motif and ‘Rigby’s .275’. Beautifully figured stock measuring 14 3/8”, cheekpiece, silver stock oval, recoil bar, swivel stud and barrel band. The rifle weighs 9lbs 1oz and is neatly cased in a mid-tan leather case with accessories.

J. Rigby & Co. .275 Bolt Action Rifle

No. 3 in the Rigby line up is a .375 H&H Magnum. Completed around 1997 and built on a standard length Mauser action it was built with a 23 1/8” barrel with ramp foresight and flip over moonsight, one fixed and one folding leaf express sight regulated at 100 and 200 yards, Zeiss Diavari 1.25-4×24 scope on H&H QD mounts which are case colour hardened as is the bolt shroud and grip cap. Marcus Hunt engraved with a gold Lion’s head and scroll surround on the floor plate, gold serial number on the trigger bow and Rigby emblem on the cap trap. 14 ½” stock with a black Absorb-All recoil pad (slightly damaged at the heel), cheekpiece, gold oval, swivel stud and barrel band. The rifle weighs 11lbs 7oz and is uncased.

J. Rigby & Co. .375 H&H Magnum Bolt Action Rifle

Last but by no means least we have the heavyweight of the collection, a W.J. Jeffery in .500 Jeffery calibre. Completed around 2002, it is built on a double square bridge magnum Mauser action with a flag safety, 24 5/8” barrel with one standing and two folding leaf express sight regulated at 50, 100 and 150 yards, ramp foresight with single bead and flip over moonsight, Swarovski Z6 1-6×24 scope mounted on quick detachable claw mounts. Once again engraved by Marcus Hunt with ‘Caliber .500 Jeffery’ in a gold ring on the cover plate, gold serial number on the trigger guard and gold Elephant on the grip cap. A stunningly dark, highly figured stock measuring 14 ½” in length with a tradition recoil pad, cheekpiece, gold oval, two recoil bars, swivel stud and barrel band. The rifle weighs 12lbs, is uncased and has fired no more than 4 shots from new.

W.J. Jeffery .500 Jeffery Bolt Action Rifle

This is just one collection of rifles we have for sale and we are expecting more in the coming months, keep an eye out on the blog for more news soon. The rifles are live on our used gun website and if anybody has any questions, please contact me on 0121 333 1900 or email ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

The Perfect African Accompaniment

The debate of what rifle, in what calibre, is the best for hunting in Africa is a discussion as old as the sport itself and I don’t intend to delve into or attempt to answer such a lengthy and hotly contested question in this blog. But what I want to share with the readers, is a rifle, that has recently come through our doors, which I believe quite comfortably covers with ease, a wide range of African game and safaris and has a serious chance of answering the aforementioned question for me.

Ray Ward Gunmakers, based in Knightsbridge London, have been a high end gun retailer for a number of years and in more recent times have become a gunmaker in their own right. One such rifle to have been built by the London makers is this superbly versatile take down bolt action rifle, two barrel set in .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Remington Magnum. Completed around 2001, the rifle is built on a standard length Obendorf action with two interchangeable, screw threaded barrels using the Jeffery style screw in peg to secure them in place. The .416 barrel measures 23 3/8” with a ramp foresight and single standing express sight. While the .375 barrel is 22” with the same open sight configuration with the addition of a flip over foresight hood. The Zeiss Conquest DL 1.2-5×36 scope is mounted on H&H QD mounts and the rifle weighs 10lbs 1.7oz in .375 and 10lbs 7oz in .416.

The pistol grip stock is beautifully figured and measures 14 1/8” to the centre of the Silver’s recoil pad with a cheekpiece, grip cap, gold oval, sling stud, two recoil bars and horn forend tip. Expertly engraved by David Tallett with a bold scroll coverage, the case colour floor plate is engraved in gold with the calibres and FOR BIG GAME. The scope rings are also gold inlaid with the calibres and makers name.

The rifle is finished to a very high standard, is well balanced and points with ease. The action is smooth, the barrels are tight on the action and the bores are both in mint condition. It is neatly presented in its leather case with a sling, turnscrew, cleaning rods and accessories.

The .375 has proven its worth time and time again and shouldn’t need me argue its case. The .416 Remington since its introduction in 1988 has gained the affection of hunters world wide, non more so than legendary PH, Robin Hurt. Firing a 400 grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2400 fps, it is capable of taking Africa’s largest game and compliments the .375 perfectly. It’s an attractive and beautifully made African all-rounder that you’d be hard pressed to find a hunt it didn’t suit.

Beretta’s Finest – Pair SO10 20g Over & Under Shotguns

The name Beretta needs no introduction to a gun enthusiast. As the World’s oldest gun maker still in existence, the firm has been family owned and operated for almost 500 years and has provided weaponry for every major European war since 1650. For such a long and important history, Beretta’s Worldwide presence in the sporting market is fairly new. In 1933, Beretta introduced its first modern over/under shotgun, the S1, that would be the start of the firm’s very well respected “S” series of sidelock over/under shotguns. Almost 70 years later Beretta would introduce the SO10, what many consider the pinnacle of Beretta o/u shotguns and no doubt one of the finest over/under shotguns being made in the World today.

Typically fine Italian engraving depicting Cock Pheasant.

Machined from a solid piece of steel this hand detachable sidelock design is unique to Beretta. Using a bifurcated lump like the famous Boss & Co. and J.Woodward designs, the low profile SO actions are instantly recognised by the opposing shoulders of the receiver and barrels. Each action is scaled specifically to its gauge and reinforced with a Kersten type double cross bolt. The design makes the actions exceptionally robust yet slim, trim and a delight to handle. The graceful shape of the action is complemented by a pinless surface with hidden detachment levers making them an uninterrupted canvas for the World class engraving the Italians are famous for.

Two wonderful examples of the SO10 have recently walked into the U.S. Agency. A true pair of 20g SO10 EELL, Beretta’s highest grade guns. The pair is beautifully engraved by Maestro Dario Cortini in unbelievably realistic bulino engraving of English partridge, woodcock and pheasants complemented by a decorative Italian scroll. The 30” barrels, solid top and side ribs, with great stock dimensions make these guns a practical choice for the driven bird hunter.

English partridge and woodcock grace the opposing locks on each gun.

For further information please contact: ld@westleyrichards.com

Bror Blixen’s ‘Loan’ Rifle

In the history of African safari there are the names of individual hunters that should need no real introduction, F.C.Selous, Captain James Sutherland, W.D.M.Bell and J.A.Hunter to name but a few. Whilst some hunted professionally for ivory, others hunted as professional guides taking the emerging elite of the world on lavish safaris into the heart of East Africa.

Amongst this elite group of Professional Hunters can be counted one Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke (1886-1946), Swedish aristocrat, serial womaniser and husband of famed writer Karen Blixen who wrote one of the greatest books ‘Out of Africa’, so immortalising what many consider the golden age of safari hunting.

The J.Purdey & Sons sidelock underlever double rifle in .500/.465 calibre.

Now Blixen was not your usual run of the mill professional hunter. His reputation for securing huge elephant trophies and for ensnaring beautiful women came in equal measure, only surpassed by his legendary drinking skills! That all said and done, he was without question one of the toughest, ethical and courageous big game hunters who ever lived who had a client list booked many years in advance to hunt with him.

As with all professional hunters of the time, Blixen had at his disposal an assortment of both bolt action and double rifles with which to tackle the multitude of game that inhabited the vastness of the African continent.

Whilst he clearly owned several rifles of his own, legend has it that he also borrowed the occasional rifle including the rifle shown here. This particular Purdey double rifle in .500/.465 calibre was originally built in November 1908 for the Earl of Landisborough, before finding its way into the hands of a Swedish businessman who regularly took to hunting in East Africa. It is said that rather than travel back and forth from Africa with the rifle that it was left in the capable hands of Blixen ‘on permanent loan’.

Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke on safari.

The rifle certainly seems to have seen some ‘bush use’ judging by the many subtle knocks and scrapes that it displays, all suggesting that it was used, not abused. The rifle has fantastic crisp rifling and appears as tight today as the day it was made. Interestingly the rifle features a bold scroll engraving pattern as opposed to the more traditional house rose and scroll engraving design found on the large majority of Purdey guns and rifles. The ‘bolted’ safety was a common feature of Purdey rifles, a double safety mechanism to stop the accidental discharge of a rifle should the safety button be innocently pushed off.

The rifle undeniably makes for an interesting piece of history and Africana, we only wish that it could tell a story or two!

The ‘bolted’ safety system as used on the majority of vintage Purdey nitro express double rifles.

‘African Hunter’ by Bror von Blixen-Finecke published in 1937.

A One-Owner .410 ‘Royal’ Holland & Holland

  A Holland & Holland .410 bore The “Royal” Model bar action sidelock ejector finished in 1964 and displaying all the hallmark patent features of Henry Holland’s collaborative designs.

A wonderful little gun recently showed up at the U.S. Agency, a Holland & Holland The’Royal’ Model in .410 bore. Finished in 1964, this gun was acquired from the family of the original owner and it remains in original, as new condition.

Henry Holland was apprenticed to his uncle Harris Holland in 1860 and by 1876 the two formed a partnership creating the firm “Holland & Holland”.  Among the firm’s fifty-one patents, it is Henry Holland’s ‘Royal’ model sidelock ejector, Holland’s flagship hammerless double gun or rifle, that remains one of the main reasons guns from this maker are among the most sought after in the World. I would also venture to say, it is most likely a Holland & Holland ‘Royal’ that pops in your head when you think of a sidelock shotgun. The ubiquitous design is used on the best guns offered from makers in England, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey all the way to Japan and it remains the most copied sidelock action design in history.

   A 1901 Holland & Holland advert from The Badminton Magazine  

  A best quality Holland & Holland ‘Royal’ stocked with a long LOP over a thin leather recoil pad. The stock oval still retains the initials of the original owner “JFT”.

Today best quality shotguns in .410 bore and 28 bore are in high demand worldwide by both collectors and shooters but this is a relatively new phenomenon. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the rapid development of hammerless breach loading gun designs in England was largely fuelled by the sport of shooting driven birds. Shooters were looking to fill big game bags and a pair of 12g guns became the standard for most shooters. While they may have been a bit less effective knocking down a late season pheasant, the smallest bore sizes like the 28 and .410 were considered more appropriate for women or youngsters. As a result these bore sizes are most often encountered as trade made, lesser quality guns with smaller, youth sized stock dimensions.

However, discriminating American hunters preferred the smaller bore sizes for North America’s smaller game birds such as grouse, woodcock and quail. Moreover, the small-bore guns with shorter barrels and lighter weights lend themselves to the American style of walk up shooting over dogs that often occurs in heavy cover. Between the two World wars, the American’s start to fill the English gun maker’s books and a trend emerges of English guns being made in more “American” configurations. By the time gun making resumes in England after World War II, the U.S. had become the biggest market in the World for sporting arms and as a result, the English made guns we encounter from the post-war era reflect this heavy influence of “American” preferences.

That said, while there was an increase in the demand for small bore guns and, as a result, an increase in their production, they remain quite rare, especially in a best quality gun.

This .410 bore is fitted with all of Holland’s hallmark patent features such as hand detachable locks, single trigger, ejectors, self-opening mechanism and the house style ‘Royal’ engraving. In addition, the size of the action is wonderfully filed and scaled, the engraving is beautifully cut and the fit and finish is superb. This is a best quality Holland in every respect.

The ‘Royal’ was originally introduced in 1883 by Henry Holland and John Robertson. Holland’s patent single selective trigger design, arguably one of the finest in the English gun trade, was finalized in 1897. In 1908 the hand detachable lock, or lock plates that are removable by unwinding of the lever on the left side, was patented by Henry Holland and Thomas Woodward.

The unmistakable Holland & Holland ‘Royal’ engraving developed in the late 1890’s. 

Holland’s self-opening mechanism was patented by Henry Holland and William Mansfield in 1922. 

Another Surprising .318 Westley Richards Magazine Rifle Unearthed

It never ceases to amaze us of the depth and variation shown by our predecessors here at Westley Richards. In fairness, with over 200 years of history there are always going to be new finds and something interesting to arouse the collectors or hunters eye.

Take for instance this Westley Richards .318 magazine rifle completed in 1909. It has all the best features of a Westley Richards bolt action of the time including horn tipped bolt handle, wooden side panels, edged cheek-piece and bold scroll engraving. However, of far more interest is the full length engine turned rib which is finished at the muzzle with Westley Richards patent flip over combination foresight that actually recesses into the rib!

The amount of work required to do this would have been considerable and the attention to detail shown by some long lost gun maker is all that we have come to expect of historical Westley Richards.

The story does not end there. Attached to the cocking piece is a Rigby style peep sight which allows for a clear view all the way along the top rib as the actual express sight consists of totally flush fitting leafs regulated out to 500 yards! The peep sight itself has been regulated to match perfectly with these leafs.

The rifle retains most of its original finish including take down cleaning rod in the butt plate and spare foresight beads in the grip trap. To find a rifle in this condition, in this configuration really is a rarity and it always reminds us that you have never seen it all and never know what might just be out there!

Lovely traditional bold scroll coverage.

Horn tipped bolt handle. A classic Westley Richards feature.

Scooped top rib to accommodate Westley Richards flip over foresight protector.

The full length engine turned rib is an unusual feature of this rifle. 

Stunning walnut stock with wooden side panels.

A Rare and Unusual Westley Richards Magazine Rifle

Just as other British gun makers offered Winchester rifles for sale prior to WWII, Westley Richards & Co. also offered a large variety of pistols, revolvers and rifles from makers all over the World such as Colt, Browning/Fabrique Nationale, and Mauser. In addition, Westley Richards also stocked and sighted various types of barrelled actions like the Martini single shots and magazine rifles based on the Mannlicher-Schonauer, Lee-Enfield and Mauser service rifles. However, as diverse as Westley Richards offerings were in the first part of the 20thCentury, neither myself or anyone else I know has ever encountered a Krag Jorgensen rifle by Westley Richards.

In 1893 a Swedish-Norwegian commission set out to develop the perfect military round and came up with a 6.5mm caliber bullet and a rimless case that was 55mm long. The new cartridge has had many names throughout its history but today is known as the 6.5x55mm and remains a tried and true choice for hunters in North America, England, and Europe. In 1894, after that commission’s findings, Norway’s Army adopted the 6.5x55mm cartridge and the Model 1894 Krag-Jorgenson rifle, designed by Norwegians Ole Herman Johannes Krag and Erik Jorgensen, as its new military rifle. Krag rifles are a bolt action repeating rifle instantly recognisable by the “half-capsule” clam-shell type magazine mounted on the right side of the action. Somewhere around 33,000 Model 1894 rifles were made under contract with Steyr of Austria between 1896 and 1897 for the Norwegian Army and the Civilian Marksmanship Organisation.

Sometime prior to 1906 Westley Richards stocked and sighted this original Model 1894 Krag-Jorgensen barrel and action made by Steyr in 1897. A new stock was expertly shaped and inletted to accommodate the unusual action and it has a checkered pistol grip and forend and the original smooth steel trap butt. The barrel remains the original 27” but was turned down and tapered to a livelier weight and a pedestal mounted front sling eye was added. The rifle was sighted with Westley’s pattern sights including a ramp front sight with protector and an island rear sight base fitted with a standing Express sight regulated for 100 yards, two folding leaves regulated at 200 and 300 yards and a Tangent sight marked to 1000 yards. Each sight leaf is “platina-lined” as our catalogs from the early 1900’s referred to the platinum alloy wire inlay on the sight leaves. The barrel carries 6.5mm London proof marks and just under the rear sight the barrel is engraved “.256 Krag Jorgensen Cartridge”, the commercial name for the 6.5×55 used in England through the 1930’s. Finally, the top of the barrel is named “Westley Richards & Co., London”.

Inside the stock the rifle is numbered 32107 which is no doubt a Westley Richards serial number. Sadly though, we do not have the ledger book containing this block of numbers, which would have just preceded the book we have starting in 1906. While we may never know the whole story on this most unusual Westley Richards rifle, it is a good reminder that there is always something new to learn from a company with such a long and interesting history.

Pair of Westley Richards Percussion Belt Pistols

A rarity for sure, our latest find is this truly outstanding pair of Westley Richards, double barrel, belt pistols, we believe completed somewhere around 1830. Although there is likely to be a serial number present if you were to strip the pistols, sadly there is no number on the external so we can’t trace the history exactly, but what I can tell you, and is plain to see from the images, they are in absolute first class condition and are a marvel of early 19thcentury craftsmanship by this firm.

Built with brown twist, sighted, 3 ¼” smooth bore barrels engraved ‘Westley Richards London’ with a stirrup ram rod and blued steel belt hook. Both pistols retain vivid case colours and are engraved with a foliate scroll coverage, high fences and dolphin head hammers with a slide back safety. Crisp, finely chequered handles with silver escutcheon and engraved grip cap with trap. Weighing 1lbs 14oz they point effortlessly and remain in unmolested condition, even the pins are clean, straight and untouched.

It’s safe to say we don’t get pistols in like this very often at all and the fact that they are made by our predecessors and remain in such fantastic condition is great to see. Sadly they are not cased but nevertheless, they are quite superb in every way.