We have one more John Rigby .416 bolt action rifle ready to travel to the bush. This rifle was built in 1956 on a commercial standard length action which is the same action Rigby .416 used and approved for many years by PH Harry Selby. The rifle is in excellent condition and has original spare foresight in the grip cap.
The specifications are as original and are 24 inch barrel, 14.5″ LOP, 45 inch overall length. Weight 9lbs. 4ozs.
Why buy a modern one when you can get a bit of history at the same price. For pricing and further information please contact me here.
Having my own leather department downstairs gives me the advantage of making things which I like for my own personal use, as is the case with the Sam Brown belt above. I found a very nice vintage belt but without loosing 50 lbs it was never going to fit me! So I have had one made and I think it has turned out really very nicely. I used the oak tanned leather and solid brass fittings both which will age beautifully. My 10 round open wallet fits on perfectly at right hand side. The belt is a faithful copy, with nice stitching detail and a contrast backing in binding leather.
I am really pleased with this belt and should anybody else be interested I think this is an item we will offer on a bespoke basis as getting the length correct is critical to a nice fit, some will wear intruder loops and others over shirt/jacket.
Another useful item I had made for myself was an SD card holder for my photography. I always like to carry spare SD cards with me and don’t like the bulky protective ones you buy from shops. This is a neat solution and can be initialled, numbered or referenced to camera.
I have now made a few writing pads for clients who have seen the one at my desk at Westley Richards. Crafted from 5mm thick Oak Tanned or Tarnsjo Leather these make a very nice writing space and mouse mat!
The final production of the hook swivel sling is now completed. I had great difficulty in sourcing a fully covered strong leather covered buckle so have come to a compromise as illustrated. We will be offering this limited production sling in two colours light and dark brown. Those of you who have shown an interest will now be contacted, thank you for your patience.
Last year at Christmas we were asked to make a set of luggage using a customers own game skins. The skins were of an excellent quality and produced a very very nice set of luggage which were very well received.
My message is with this post that our leather department is unique in that it will entertain bespoke commissions, not only mine!, we look forward to turning your ideas into reality and I hope this post shows the diversity of the workshop we can put at your disposal please contact me for any questions you have regarding this.
A fact of gunmaking life is that a makers name makes a difference. It always has and I imagine always will. The name or brand will be reflected in the price and we have all seen guns and rifles that don’t live up to either their name and the price asked. This particular rifle I believe lives up to both.
For the hunter who wants a good looking rifle, made very well in England and South Africa by maker B. Laubscher, here is what is in my opinion is a very good value .470 sidelock double rifle, built by what must be South Africa’s most respected makers. We at Westley Richards finished the rifle for our client a few years ago and our contribution was regulating, UK proof, case hardening, shaping of stock and the overall finish, namely the stock finish, blacking and coin finish. The rifle has not been out of the factory since, so is ‘as new and unfired’.
Built on a English machined H&H style reinforced action, with chopper lump barrels and everything else you would expect from a best rifle, this 24″ barrel, 14 3/4″ stock rifle is itching to go on a hunt!
This particular J. Rigby .470 is used for illustrative purposes only.
When we were active buying rifles in India between 1965 and 1995 the product we brought out all had a common feature, it was in an original unmolested condition. Some had been maintained well, and some not so well, but none had been messed about with by amateur or incompetent gunsmiths. We were able to bring the guns and rifles back to the factory to restore and revive in a subjective and considered manner, to make the gun look its best but not ‘over restored’. We felt any restoration work we did should not be noticeable.
One of the rifles I recall buying in India was an excellent J. Rigby .470 sidelock, I was eager to get it back to England for sale but had to endure the 6-8 month export process. The rifle had colour, condition, a long and good looking stock, it even had its case. A quick sale was a foregone conclusion as these rifles were and remain, a rare find.
When the rifle did finally arrive I had it taken immediately onto the range to test shoot in the safe hands of Ken Halbert. Ken our foreman was regulating our rifles at the time. To my horror the stock snapped in half on the first shot, we were (stupidly in hindsight) using some new shooting assist device which was thrown angrily in the bin immediately after the shot. In a millisecond my perfect vintage rifle joined the ‘restocked and refinished category gun’.
Last week I was sent some photographs of another J Rigby .470 sidelock, it was in a tatty oak and leather case with a missing lock and rudimentary canvas cover. The rifle had an old squashed recoil pad, overall the look of a rifle discovered in a small armoury in India. It looked to me as if transported in time from just before we pulled the trigger that last time many years ago!
I now have another chance and another great rifle to offer shortly, no shooting contraptions this time, just a steady standing shot. This is obviously a rifle that came in from India years ago and had no work done on it ever, this for us, is the perfect place to start from.
For those Rigby ‘rising bite’ fanatics I will state now that the rifle I have is not that model rifle, it is a late 1920’s vintage rifle and utilises (IMHO) the much better and stronger dolls head type fastening system the company turned to with the advent of nitro powders.
We completed this .505 take down this week which is heading down to a client in South Africa. This rifle is specified for big game hunting with a ‘no frills’ approach. Strong straight grained figured wood with blacked parts with makers name only engraved. All the very best functional features of a Westley Richards, no decoration!
As I think I have said before, it is always a pleasure to build these’ working style PH rifles’ as we know they are going to see action plenty of times in their life!
When I had Paul Lantuch and Vince Crowley for supper last week, one of the conversations we had was around the time taken to engrave their respective .600 sidelock rifles. Vince was shaking his head at what Paul had achieved in the same time frame he was working on. When I showed him this rifle, that had also been completed in that time frame Vince shook his head even harder in amazement.
To be fair there are 2 very different styles engraving involved here, each engraver has a very different style and finish to their engraving. Later this will become apparent when I show Vince’s latest work and the attention to polish and detail become evident all which is a very time consuming detail.
Tomorrow this rifle goes down to St Ledger for case colour hardening and once again the decision will have to be made ‘colour on or colour off’. I always liked the deluxe R. B. Rodda rifles which were carved engraved and left with colour on, so I am possibly biased. We will judge when it gets back!
The rifle is a Westley Richards .500 3″ NE hand detachable lock double rifle, 2 triggers, automatic selective ejectors, manual safe.
Some 20 years ago now, Westley Richards took on the main dealership of the Courteney Boot Co. range of boots in the USA and UK. It was an ideal and complementary range of footwear for our brand. The simple truth that every hunter needs an accurate rifle and an a great pair of boots for every hunt, led us to look for the suitable boot to recommend to our customers headed to Africa.
I recall very well the sizes of the 2 blisters on the bottom of my feet on the day of my first buffalo hunt in Botswana many years ago. I packed a single trigger .470 droplock rifle and wore a pair of ‘custom made’ moccasins which looked great, but allowed too much movement, in all fairness I had probably not worn them enough before the trip. Anyway after a long day’s march after some buffalo I had to call it a day, it spoiled that hunt and many days after also, whilst the healing took place.
Shortly after this event we took on the Courteney Boots distributorship and we have never looked back. Thousands of satisfied customers have been served over the years and many thousands of miles have been hunted in the boots. The praise for the ‘out of box’ comfort of the range of boots never ceases to come in. Many times at Safari Club a customer will come up wearing his boots and tell me ‘I have been wearing these for 15 years’ to which I would quietly think I wish they would occasionally wear out so I could sell you another pair!
All these years later it gives me pleasure to introduce the latest creation from Courteney in Zimbabwe, the ‘Courteney Selous Shirt’, a safari shirt which Gale Rice, owner of Courteney has developed carefully over the past few years. By bringing together the company’s years of experience in the safari field and collaborating with the local professional hunters, Courteney have, I am sure, produced another winning product that will be well suited in your safari wardrobe for many years to come.
Any of you who head to Africa for safari will encounter, on your first visit, the use of shooting sticks, these are carried by the PH and provide an instant and stable rest for your rifle. I know I was unfamiliar with this practise 25 years ago when I went on my first safari, using them correctly took some time and practise, the height, the grip and flexibility all take getting used to. I don’t recommend taking expensive screw apart tripod sticks to Africa, it is weight and bulk you don’t need, rely on the PH and his sticks as he will place them fast and effectively giving you chance to concentrate on your quarry. I do however recommend practise with simple sticks which can easily be made at home.
I asked my long time friend Robin Hurt, one of the most respected Professional Hunters practicing today, who has carried the shooting sticks for many a mile, to write a short piece about the importance and use of the sticks which he has kindly done.
Robin Hurt with his 20 year old shooting sticks close to hand.
Accurate rifle shooting is all about a steady position and trigger squeeze. Without these two basic principals, most people will have difficulty in shooting rifles accurately. An unsteady rest leads to trigger snatching and a resulting badly placed shot. In the hunting field a good rest for ones rifle is crucial as no hunter worth his salt wants to injure or wound an animal – the objective is to hunt the animal in a sporting and fair chance manner and to take a deliberate clean shot.
The problem is that good natural rests to support and steady the rifle are not always at hand, for example an ant hill or a tree trunk. Also one is often faced with long grass or low scrub bush, making a lying down or sitting position shot impossible . This is where the African Shooting Sticks come in handy. The sticks can be set up in seconds, at the precise time the quarry is seen, without the need to possibly spoil the stalk by casting around looking for a rest. Off hand shooting, except at close range under 50 yards and on wounded game, is not to be recommended for most hunters.
My first shooting sticks were made for me by my Wata ( Waliaingulu ) elephant hunter tracker in 1963. In fact it was a simple bi pod of two wooden limbs of just under 3/4 inch diameter, 5 1/2 feet long, lashed together with strips of car tyre inner tubing. The lower tips of the thin poles were sharpened, so as to give proper purchase on the ground and not slip. It was an effective tool – but not perfect. All professional hunters at that time used these wooden bi pods.
Roger Hurt’s Tracker ‘Lekini’ with his shooting sticks and hearing protection.
Then there was a natural progression to more effective tri pods; using the same materials, but with two of the limbs being 4 to 5 inches longer and a shorter middle limb in the centre, again bound together with strip rubber tubing to give flexibility and strength when opening the sticks. This tri pod had now became an effective rest, for as steady a shot as possible in normal hunting conditions and used daily by most professional hunters.
To this day I carry wooden shooting sticks, home made by my trackers, using car tubing strips to hold the top sector together. My current sticks are now over twenty years old and used on every hunt. They never leave my hunting car and are as essential to my equipment as is a high lift Jack! The advantage of the natural materials is quietness. I have no problem with the commercial shooting sticks available, other than that they can be noisy, being made out of plastic or light metal tubing. But, they are useful for practice.
Robin Hurt following client HH Al Thani out of the bush, sticks to hand as always.
The way it works is that I always carry the sticks personally, and set them up according to my clients stature; by spreading the legs wider or closer together simply adjusts the rifles rest height as the need may be. The client follows close by and directly behind the professional, allowing quick and easy access to the rest.
Another huge advantage of the shooting sticks is that if your quarry is moving or partially blocked by bush or other cover, you can simply rest your rifle in a ready position until such time as an opportunity presents itself, set up immediately to take the shot . By the way, one of the biggest mistakes made by hunters is moving too quickly and in a rushed manner to place the rifle on the sticks. Quick movements are immediately spotted by game . Preferably a slow fluid movement of the rifle on to the sticks is what one should
Roger Hurt and client on the sticks. Note the forefinger grip on the forend.
Practice shooting off sticks will prove invaluable to better coordination and accurate field shooting . Practice standing , sitting and kneeling using the sticks . For sitting and kneeling I use one of the upright limbs and use my hand and fore finger to lock the rifle in position. For standing shots I personally also like to anchor the rifle on to the sticks by wrapping my left hand fore finger around the rifles barrel / fore end and holding the sticks where they are bound together, with the rest of my hand .
My son Derek, a professional in Tanzania, carries two sets of sticks – a short pair for sitting and kneeling shots and a normal long set for standing shots . His tracker carries the shorter pair and simply passes them to Derek when needed. I am too set in my ways to learn new tricks and only use one pair that I adjust as needed!
For longish or difficult shots on windy days , over 150 yards, I will often offer extra support to the hunter; by holding the sticks with both my hands and my body bent in a slightly crouched position, that in turn gives my shoulder as an added rest for the shooters elbow . This in effect gives a two position rest .
Lunchtime picnic use for the tripod!
Shooting sticks have other uses – they can be used as snake tongs to capture snakes ( not advised ! ). On one occasion in South Sudan I used the sticks as a spear to impale an unfortunate forest Guinea Fowl when I didn’t want to disturb the area by shooting! Here in the Namibian mountains, they make a useful walking stick in our difficult steep terrain! I often use them to carry small game as on a pole hung between two people ! Last season one of our P Hunters fended off a furious warthog with his sticks , when they surprised it charging out of its resting place in an Aardvark’s hole! I have used them as a make shift fishing rod by tying some line with a hook on one end! Yes, they have all manner of uses apart from being a splendid rifle rest!
Some further tips that may be found to be useful are :-
– Never rest the barrel on the sticks – always the fore end. Metal contact with the sticks will result in the shot going high.
– For standing shots, stand with your legs well apart. This will help stabilize your shooting position.
– For sitting shots, bring up your knees so that your elbows are rested. This will greatly improve your shooting.
– To make your own sticks, choose saplings that are strong and straight, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Strip off the bark. Hold the sticks upright, and cut to length. As a height measurement, cut them at the level of your eyes. The centre limb should be 4/5″ shorter . Bind all three pole’s with rubber strops tightly at about 1 1/2 inches below the top of the shortest sapling. You can tape or rubberized the twin stabilizer arms on the longer poles for added quietness and support.
– Get in the habit of taking off the rifles safety in one movement in time with placing your weapon on the shooting sticks.
– Don’t place your rifle on the sticks with the fore end and your hand grip too far forward as this creates a seesaw effect.
– If your making your own shooting sticks, try to find hard wood poles that are as straight as possible. Any bends found after de barking can easily be sorted by holding over a fire and straightening the heated sapling .
– Lastly practice makes perfect. Make or buy your sticks and make yourself familiar with them and their use. Go to the rifle range or some other safe place and practice shooting off them.
Good hunting !
Robin has 2 very successful hunting operations in Africa where he operates fromNamibia and Tanzania.Please follow the links for further information.
I will be discussing with our stick makers in England the manufacture of simple sets of these tripod shooting sticks with some details by our leather shop for protecting the rifle.
Another of our increasingly popular Take Down rifles was completed this past week. This deluxe grade sporting rifle, with stunning wood, was built for use primarily in Europe in the ever popular 9.3 x 62 calibre. The rifle is cased in one of our oak case frames covered in elephant hide, lined with red bookbinding goatskin and fitted with horn handled tooling. The rifle is engraved by Frederique Lepinois.
Most people think that hunting is all about killing the game that the hunter is pursuing. That is part of it, but it is a small part, a segment of the overall experience. Being in the bush enjoying nature and the animals makes one feel truly alive, the planning and anticipation of the hunt is equally as exciting. As one prepares for the hunt, equipment is decided upon and for the rifle hunter, a proper firearm is chosen for the job at hand.
I had my May 2016 safari to South Africa all planned in 2015 with my PH Eugene Small, I was taking my Westley Richards .476 double and .318 magazine rifle to use for the game to be hunted. Then at the Antique Arms Show in Las Vegas this January I stumbled into the find of my lifetime, Fredrick Courteney Selous’ Westley Richards takedown .425 magazine rifle. With the help of Simon Clode at this show the rifle is now in my Westley Richards collection. Whoever else has been the caretaker for the past 104 years has taken excellent care of the rifle, the bore is near mint and the exterior is original with minor wear. A truly beautiful piece.
To describe the rifle, it is a Best Quality takedown magazine rifle. It has the patent 5 shot drop magazine, patent use number 35, with floorplate lever to open, patent foresight with hood protector, island rear sight with one standing, four folding leaves. The bore is mint and the barrel is 24”. The checkered stock has a cheek piece for right hand shooter, blank silver initial shield and a horn forend tip. The stock is fitted with a steel grip cap and steel butt plate with cleaning rod trap. It has sling eyes on the barrel and butt stock for the hooked swivels.
I would like to propose a theory, from documentation and records read, on the legend of the .425 rifle and of Mr. Selous. He bought the rifle to take on safari in British East Africa [Kenya] with his friend W. N. MacMillan. It would appear he picked it out from the Westley Richards shop inventory in Bond Street London, and tested it at Hendon, Westley Richards shooting grounds, on October 17th, 1911. This is confirmed by the sales ledger page and states “he was very pleased with it and used 5 cartridges only”. He left for Africa in January 1912 and as the story goes he received the rifle an hour before he was to leave, not wanting to take an untested rifle he went upstairs and proceeded to shoot at the neighbor’s chimney. Pleased with the group he cleaned and repacked the rifle and was off to Africa where he shot Rhinoceros and Cape buffalo with it.
Most .425s came with a 28” barrel. With Mr. Selous being a very experienced hunter one would imagine he might think that a 28” barrel would be a bit long for the bush. I believe the delay in getting the rifle was due to having the barrel cut to 24”. The sling eye on the barrel appears to be in a position for a longer barrel. With this theory in mind I must say that the rifle is one of the most comfortable rifles to carry and shoot that I have ever used. It’s balance and fit make it a joy to shoot and hunt with. If Mr. Selous did have it cut he sure knew what he was doing. It is truly a hunter’s rifle.
Everyone that found out about the rifle said that I should take it with me on safari this year. So plans were changed, the .318 stayed at home and the .425 was prepared once again to return to Africa. The .476 was the main rifle for Big Game and the plan was to use the .425 to hunt for a big Eland bull. The reason being that during reading about Mr. Selous in the build up to the Safari I learned he wanted to go back to Africa to hunt Giant Eland after his 1912 safari where he first used the .425. Fate and WWI intervened, the rest is history.
In May of this year I was back on safari in South Africa. After completing my quest with the .476 all efforts were turned to hunting Eland with the .425. This was one of the highlights of the safari. To think that you were carrying and hunting with a rifle that was once owned and used by Mr. Selous makes one take pause. It is a magnificent example of the quality that Westley Richards produced in the early 1900s. and It should be noted that that this tradition is carried on to this day. My .476 attests to the fact.
Did I get the Eland of quest? No. We hunted hard for Eland and other plains game, but the bush was very thick this year and with many great stalks, with the .425 in hand we just could not connect with the Eland. Then the last hour of the last day the rifle was use to collect a very large Kudu bull while being backed up by my secondary PH Attie Diedericks. Friends that have seen pictures of the Kudu all ask how big it was, my answer is, “I never thought of measuring it, the pure joy of the experience was using Mr. Selous’ Westley Richards .425”. What a memorable experience it was.
Sharing with other hunters was also a joy of this adventure. At the end of my safari a game capture was setup in the area, some friends of my PHs were helping with this operation. They had all heard about the ‘Selous rifle’ and were eager to see and hopefully hold it. As it was passed around and pictures taken it was a great feeling to think that this rifle brought so much pleasure to these seasoned South African hunters. After all, it was South Africa where Mr. Selous started his lifelong adventure in 1871.
My sincere thanks to Keith for submitting this article and ‘rubbing in’ how I missed this rifle at Las Vegas! It certainly could not have gone to a better and more enthusiastic Westley Richards home and I am so glad, that within months, it has been back to Africa where it belongs!