Well they just keep coming! Another .500 3″ hand detachable lock double rifle has just been completed from engraving this week and it once again shows a subtle variation on the classic Westley Richards ‘house’ scroll. Yet another style of carved fence which combines a banner with acanthus leaves, nice indeed.
It seems that we are one of the few double rifle manufacturers actually getting anything out there these days. The beauty of this rifle is that it is going to a young enthusiastic hunter who will use it considerably, once again proving that we build genuine user rifles as well as the fabulous presentation pieces you see on this blog.
New in this week from engraving is another of our traditional hand detachable lock double rifles in .500 3″ NE. This particular rifle has been built on a heavyweight frame as the client requested that the rifle weigh close to 12lb 8ozs on completion. Aesthetically the additional size at the breach ends makes for a nice sweep in the barrels which will become more evident once the rifle is finished.
Engraving wise we have another variation on our traditional ‘house’ scroll. In this instance the fences have been carved with a design that complements the scroll very well. The game scene of a mean old looking buffalo combines carving with fine detailing, as opposed to the more rounded carving of animals you get to see, which often lacks lifelike details. There is a nice perception of distance with the scene that should be highlighted more when the cover plate is blacked in the traditional manner.
We are looking forward to getting this one completed and out to the hunting field this year where with a bit of luck it will take a big buffalo or two!
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.
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
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.
Just passing through our workshops and on its way to the Safari Club Convention in Las Vegas is this fabulous pre-owned .577 3″ NE droplock double rifle.
Completed in 2003 and having done only one safari, the rifle is built to deluxe standard with bold scroll, gold lettering and game scene engraving by Peter Spode. It has 25″ barrels, 14 1/4″ length of pull, deluxe Turkish Walnut stock, cheek piece, gold oval, extra locks and all the other classic features you would expect of our droplock double rifle.
Presented in a stunning Alligator skin oak & leather case, with full complement of tools it is a great opportunity for anyone who does not want to wait the three years it takes for a new rifle to be built. Happy hunting!
Firstly we would like to apologise for the delay with our blog posts, but as you will appreciate we have been super busy preparing for the show circuit and were air bound as soon as January hit. The Dallas Safari Convention is the first of our regular shows and this year was filled with the buzz of a new US President.
There was unquestionably a ‘feel good’ factor that was certainly reflected in the interest in both new guns and pre-owned. The safari and general hunting outfitters were noticing an upturn in interest particularly for the 2018 season which is fantastic news all round. Dallas itself is a great venue which sees growth year on year without getting so huge that you cannot get around it all in a couple of easy days.
From our own point of view it was great to catch up with clients old and new. Many came to see us in person to express their condolences at the passing of Simon last year, but to a man they were all as excited as us about the future of Westley Richards. Simon’s legacy here will continue unabated. There are a lot of new young clients coming into the best gun making sector and it is unquestionably in all of our interests to make sure that they are looked after properly. Whether you are selling guns or hunts the reality is that we are all selling ‘fun’ and this should never be forgotten.
The English gun and rifle makers were certainly out in force although as one good friend said ‘one of London’s best is suspiciously absent!’ Whilst it is a great opportunity for perspective clients to see all the fine guns and rifles offered by the English Gun Trade, it is also a nice time for all of us makers to catch up and encourage (rather ridicule!) one another so that we all keep pushing the boundary’s of best gun and rifle making.
The next show on the circuit is the Las Vegas Antique Arms followed by Safari Club International. We will of course be attending both of these and very much look forward to catching up with those who can make it. In the meantime we will have some great new posts to keep you all enthused.
We would like to thank Larry Blunk for taking the photos that accompany this post.