A Brace Of Rare Big Game Rifles Sold Through Westley Richards Agency

Undoubtedly two of the most iconic cartridges to ever come from the British gun making trade must be Rigby’s .416 and Gibbs’ .505 Magnum. Steeped in safari legend, the mere mention of these two big bore rounds evokes images of big tuskers, old dagga boys and the larger than life characters that used them. Both cartridges have been around for well over a century, and remain two of the most popular cartridges among dangerous game hunters today. It goes without saying that the original rifles chambered for these rounds are among the most coveted rifles out there.

The first rifles chambered for these cartridges were ground breaking developments for Big Game hunters. The rifles themselves were built on the new magnum length Mauser ’98 bolt actions that were very well made, extremely reliable and far more affordable than double rifles. Secondly, these big rifles shot cartridges that matched the ballistics of cartridges like the .470 3 ¼” NE or the .500 3” NE.

This was power previously only available in a double rifle and these new big bore bolt action rifles could carry up to 4 rounds. Furthermore, the two cartridges were similarly shaped and their “big” designs offered ample case capacity that made for low chamber pressure. The cases also had long necks for tightly holding the big bullets, a benefit for the rounds in the magazine of heavy recoiling rifles. All these characteristics were, and still remain, reliable combinations for pursuing the World’s most dangerous game.

Original Gibbs .505 Magnum built in 1927.

Safe to say the British trade hasn’t made “many” of anything, but even when put into perspective, original .416 Rigby and .505 Gibbs bolt action rifles are not only some of the most desirable, they’re also some of the rarest. Less than 200 .416 Rigby rifles were produced between its introduction in 1911 and the beginning of WWII. In the case of the mighty .505 Gibbs, somewhere between 70 to 80 were only ever produced. Low production numbers by any standards and, in rifles that were very much intended for hard use, one must wonder just how many survived much less stayed original?

Being that the rifles are so rare, I’ve encountered very few in my career, and to have one of each offered for sale at the same time, is an even rarer moment still.

The J.Rigby & Co. Mauser Sporting Big Game rifle in .416 calibre shown here was shipped in 1913 and must have been among some of the first made. It is built on the original magnum length action made for John Rigby and his new .416 cartridge. The rifle has a 24” barrel with a sleeved front sight and sling swivel and Rigby’s pattern quarter rib, a cocking piece flip up peep sight, two folding leaf rear sights and the classically shaped Rigby stock. Even though the rifle is 105 years old, I am sure it feels as sturdy and sound today as it did the day it was finished.

The George Gibbs rifle chambered in .505 Magnum was made in 1927. A hulk of a rifle also built on an original magnum length Mauser action with a 26” Vickers barrel, island rear sight and banded front sight with a folding sight hood. The massive size of the action and barrel are appropriately scaled for the equally large cartridge that propels a bullet, one-half inch in diameter, at 2200 fps. This rifle was built for one purpose and it serves this purpose very well.

Original .416 Rigby built in 1913.

The long single square bridge magnum length Mauser ’98 action of the .416 Rigby.

These are two rifles that are not only an iconic representative of a bygone era but they still remain very useful tools for the pursuit of dangerous game or as a cornerstone of a fine gun collection.

Post Script:

Both rifles have been sold prior to the posting of this blog. These are indeed rare and desirable guns and, as it goes with items like these, they are quickly sold. Our method of selling such guns is much more discreet than most other dealers. If these are the types of investment grade firearms you might be interested in, please contact us. We would like very much to know you and add you to our list of discerning clients.

In the U.S. please call “L.D.” McCaa

+1 850 677 3688   ld@westleyrichards.com

U.K. and other International Clients please call Ricky Bond

+44 (0)121 333 1900   ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk 

.500 3″ Droplock Double Rifle Fresh Back From Engraving

Fresh back from engraving is this super .500 droplock double rifle with bold scroll engraving, gold naming and a game scene of a hunter being charged by a bull elephant.

The game scene is an interesting and not unusual concept which always poses the question ‘What happened next?’ For anyone who has ever been in such a situation there is nothing more exciting! A large bull elephant with ears spread wide, kicking up dust is a truly intimidating sight, one that makes even the largest of double rifles seem small in the hands of the hunter.

More often than not the tension is relieved by the mutual backing off of both parties, each content to go their separate way. Then again, should it all go wrong…………………..!!!!!

New Westley Richards .318 Take Down Bolt Action Rifle

Although by no means prolific, it is always great to see a new bolt action rifle in Westley Richards signature .318 calibre reach completion here at the factory. Once the medium bore calibre by which all others were judged, like so many of the great British calibre’s, including .333 Jeffery and .350 Rigby, it slipped into semi obscurity after the Second World War.

In truth the .318 Westley Richards cartridge shooting a 250 grain bullet at 2250 feet per second is still a great and fun cartridge to use for general plains game hunting and even driven boar in Europe. The long torpedo bullet has phenomenal sectional density and with its moderate velocity (by modern standards) proves a deep penetrating round, at one time capable of tackling every type of big and dangerous game on the planet.

Peep sight located on the cocking piece.

The rifle you see here was built to a very traditional lightweight format with the addition of Westley Richards take-down system. The client had requested the rifle to be built primarily for open sight use, hence the sleek lines of the rifle. Westley Richards signature patent combination foresight was a given as no true Westley Richards magazine rifle is complete without one. It was then decided to fit a very traditional island rear sight base with one standing plus three leaf express sight regulated to 200 yards. A peep sight fitted to the cocking piece was also utilised so creating a very classic style of rifle.

As with all our guns and rifles a super piece of Turkish walnut was selected with which to stock the rifle. We came to the conclusion some time back that with the comparatively small number of guns and rifles that we build each year, we may as well use the very nicest wood that we can obtain.

Certainly destined for Africa, we are looking forward to hearing how this classic round performs in this new rifle.

Beautiful Turkish walnut stock.

The new rifle compared to a vintage example. Either rifle would be fun to use today in Africa.

Page from Westley Richards ‘Centenary’ catalogue detailing the .318 Westley Richards.

New Westley Richards .500/.416 Droplock Double Rifle

An interesting rifle completed this week, is this lovely scroll back droplock double rifle in .500/.416 calibre. The round so it goes was developed to replicate the power of the legendary .416 Rigby, but in a flanged case that could be used successfully in double rifles. Developed by Kriegoff in the mid 1990’s, the round was based on the tried and tested .500 nitro express case in 3 1/4″ format. In Norma ammunition, the cartridge propels a 410 grain Woodleigh bullet at a very respectable 2325 feet per second so generating 4922 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. All round a great cartridge for general African use, from the larger plains game all the way up to the largest of the most dangerous game.

Only the second rifle in this calibre to be built by us, we have to say that the lines of the rifle are only enhanced by the profile of the barrels which have a very nice and gentle sweep tapering down to the muzzle. The rifle weighs in at 10lb 6ozs which makes it extremely comfortable to shoot. The rifle has been regulated at 100 yards, hence the fitting of a scope, the whole package complete in a dark green canvas and leather trimmed lightweight case.

Vivid case colour hardening complements the traditional house scroll engraving and gold details.

The rifle comes complete in a dark green canvas and dark tan leather trimmed case.

Quick detachable scope mounts.

The rifle has lovely sweeping 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!

New And Unique W.J.Jeffery .600 Double Rifle

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The .600 Nitro Express cartridge as released by W.J.Jeffery circa 1900 has always held a certain mystic for those admirers of the British big game rifle. Its formidable reputation as the largest of the original big bore calibres elevated it to a position of authority that remains to this day.

Jeffery

W.J.Jeffery originally built a handful of these rifles on their now famous and very distinctive snap action underlever action all but one of the actions being of fixed lock configuration. A mammoth of a rifle, they were built heavy to absorb the recoil of the 900 grain bullet as it left the muzzle at 1,850 feet per second.

Even in the heyday of British big game rifle manufacture from 1898 to the start of the Second World War, the .600 nitro express remained a rare beast indeed. Original rifles by any of the great makers of the day, built in this calibre are highly sought after and extremely valuable collector pieces. As the originator of the calibre, W.J.Jeffery rifles are certainly the most desired.

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It is therefore refreshing to have in our hands today this superb new example of a W.J.Jeffery .600 nitro express, the only one in fact completed since the Second World War. In pristine and unfired condition it was reverse engineered from an original example and demonstrates all of the great features associated with the original rifle including under lever push forward snap action opening, dolls head extension, Jeffery style scroll back action, full scroll engraving, ejectors, weighing in at a sensible 14lb 8ozs with 24″ barrels.

The real beauty of this rifle is that whilst being highly collectible in its own right, it is a modern and totally useable rifle. Complete in elephant skin case it really is an impressive piece and would add greatly to any armoury. Any interested parties should contact me directly anthony@westleyrichards.co.uk

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J. Rigby & Co. – Bolt Action Versus Double Rifle?

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When picking a dangerous game rifle, there is the ever present discussion of bolt action versus double rifle. While I think I can make a strong argument in favour of either platform, at the end of the day, it comes down to which style you as a hunter are most comfortable with. Safari season is in full swing and as our friends and clients are in pursuit of some of the World’s largest and most dangerous game, two rifles in our inventory come to mind.

The bolt action is chambered in Rigby’s venerable .416 Bore and built using an original, near mythical, Rigby pre-war magnum length single square bridge Mauser action. These actions were made by Mauser to Rigby specs and represent some of the finest bolt action receivers to ever be manufactured. The gun had a new stock and barrel by Rigby around the early 1990’s (1994 London Proofs). While the .416 Rigby won its popularity from Ruark’s writing as much as anything, the cartridge certainly had the performance to back up that popularity, which it still enjoys today among dangerous game hunters as well as collectors. Besides being in what I would argue was Rigby’s most famous cartridge, there are a few reasons I like this particular rifle; being based on an original single square bridge action but being stocked and barrelled to new is a great combination. It has also always been my experience that guns made under Paul Robert’s tenure at Rigby, as this rifle was, always function with great reliability and shoot equally as well, this rifle keeps with that tradition.

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The double rifle I have in mind is another classic from Rigby’s; a best quality sidelock ejector in .470 3 ¼” NE. This rifle was made circa 1911 and incorporates Rigby’s patented third grip or club head rib extension. Interestingly, production of this rib extension overlapped with that of the much talked about Bissell Rising bite. Certainly one cannot argue with the strength of a screw grip type action and Rigby must have thought the same. Additionally, the rifle is chambered in .470 NE. John Rigby was a noted expert on firearms and ballistics of the day and this is the cartridge we see many of these best quality rifles chambered for. Additional classic features of this Rigby best quality rifle are the dipped-edge locks, the carved fences and the original and near perfect 28” barrels.

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As I said before, I think I could argue just as convincingly for one type of rifle as the other. A double rifle’s near instant second shot versus 4 rounds in a bolt action that, with some practice, can shoot two shots as fast as a gun with a second barrel. It’s an age-old argument that will rage around fires in hunting camps for many more hunting seasons. No doubt the best way to solve the debate it is to simply have one of each!

Please see both rifles and many other high quality additions on our new used gun website: J. Rigby & Co. Bolt Action , J. Rigby & Co. Double Rifle .

New Westley Richards Website Launch

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You may have found us a bit quieter than usual of late. Well, that is because we have been hard at work on an exciting new project. After considerable time and effort, we at Westley Richards are proud to announce the launch of our brand new website.

Featuring the finest imagery and design, and industry-leading technology, it showcases the world of Westley Richards like never before. Designed and developed especially for those with a passion for fine guns, hunting, bespoke leather goods and the very best shooting clothing and products, the new site is a reflection of what we do here at Westley Richards in our relentless pursuit of perfection. We hope you enjoy it and we look forward to welcoming you all into our world.

Click here to visit the new homepage.

Holland & Holland .500/.465 ‘Dominion’ Double Rifle

Holland & Holland .465

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.

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Some Vintage Safari Postcards Circa 1910

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On our travels we are always on the look out for any interesting ephemera, photos and journals that may have a link to either the history of Westley Richards or the sport of hunting itself.

Last week in the US we picked up several vintage postcards that certainly make for fascinating viewing.  Published in 1910 they depict various hunting scenes from the epic safari of Theodore Roosevelt’s which was conducted from 1909-10.  At the time this was the largest safari ever conducted in Africa and involved some of the greatest hunters of the day including F.C.Selous and R.J.Cunninghame.

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Over 500 animals and birds were collected by the former US President and his son Kermit, all of which were carefully skinned, prepared and shipped to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.  This huge safari set the standard for the luxury safaris that were to follow and clearly put East Africa on the map for the dedicated US hunter.

Today Africa remains a magical safari destination where sportsmen from around the world can still participate in one of the last great adventures.  Whether or not you would be able to send postcards such as these today is another matter altogether!

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