Recently we were privileged to have a two-week visit from master engraver Paul Lantuch as he completes the finishing on a pair of ornate guns that had just returned from case colour hardening. As those of you may already know, Paul is the mind behind the elaborate ‘India’ and ‘Africa’ .600 sidelock double rifles that were completed in recent years. These were some of the largest engraving commissions undertaking here at Westley Richards and Paul continues to execute on our behalf projects of outstanding quality, creativity and technicality.
During his visit, we took many photos that we thought would be worth sharing with you as they show part of the process involved in the careful removal of the case colour hardening and subsequent re-working of the gold inlay as executed on this pair of shotguns. It goes without saying that the work was both time consuming and delicate. We will share the final results with you when the entire project is complete.
The component parts as returned from case colour hardening.
Re-detailing the top lever and sharpening the edges of the carving.
Re-matting (or stippling) the goldwork was a labour of love.
The gold edges needed careful blending.
One side of the action as yet untouched.
The horsemen now gently brushed back and the sculpting highlighted.
The 16 bore gun is one that presents a real anomaly. Never produced in any great numbers by the British gunmakers it has maintained a unique niche in the hearts of sportsmen around the world for some very simple reasons.
The 16 bore is considered one of the finest patterning guns, particularly with the original 15/16 oz loads that were developed way back. Cases then were paper and the loads of more moderate velocity which produced very consistent patterns for traditional driven game shooting. Thankfully British cartridge manufacturers have continued to load in the paper case for the older guns, whilst adding plastic cased cartridges for the more contemporary built guns. Modern loading components mean the 16 bore can be loaded to more current velocities whilst maintaining a smooth recoil.
Weight wise the standard 28″ barreled 16 bore can be built at a trim 6lbs. Taking into account that a 12 bore shooting a 1oz load would traditionally weigh at least 4-6ozs more, it is amazing that the 16 bore never took a greater hold on the best gun market. Interestingly on the continent, many drillings combine a rifle calibre with the 16 bore cartridge so allowing for a sensible weight to a versatile weapon.
Today the 16 bore rolls out of the various British gunmaking houses in rarefied numbers. Westley Richards gets to build a few in a decade which makes them quite unusual and certainly worth paying attention to if they come onto the pre-owned gun market.
Multicolour game scene of the clients favourite hunting companion.
Delivered this season is this magnificent pair of our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ hand detachable lock shotguns. Whilst the small bores remain popular in the USA here in the Uk the seasoned game shooter still likes the versatility of the 12 bore shotgun and invariable our orders here tend to lean towards pairs as driven game shooting continues to boom (no pun intended!) as a sport.
The use of a pair of guns is the ultimate in game shooting and whilst initially it takes a little time to adjust to, once mastered brings a whole new dimension to game shooting. The finest game shots in the country make it look effortless and easy, cleaning picking a pack of grouse or partridge apart, or tackling stratospheric pheasant often having 4 dead in the air. For those of us lucky enough to get the opportunity to ‘double gun’ it is one that should be relished.
For visiting sportsman coming to shoot one of the many legendary shoots here in the Uk, our advice would be to go the extra mile and treat yourself to a day or two shooting a pair of guns, you will not be disappointed by the experience!
Prince of Wales gripped stocks, single triggers and 30″ barrels with Teague multi chokes are the order of the day. Such a pair is versatile enough to tackle buzzing driven grouse and stratospheric pheasants.
Elaborate scroll coverage with carved detailing and gold lettering is a feature of this modern interpretation of the ‘Modéle de Luxe’ gun.
Just back from engraving is this latest interpretation of the Westley Richards ‘Ovundo’ model 20g shotgun. The Ovundo project was reintroduced in 2004 after an absence of 60 years and it must be admitted that it has turned into a real labour of love. The gun is complex to say the least as it incorporates Westley Richards famous hand detachable locks and single selective trigger. The best grade guns and rifles had the side plates with side opening ports as shown here.
The British over and under shotgun has always been a complex affair and the Ovundo probably pushes the boundary of what technically can be built into an over and under gun whilst remaining faithful to the companies unique patents and designs. The Ovundo is a technical marvel (perhaps anomaly?!!!) and in the sleek lines of a 20g it is contrary to popular belief a very elegant gun.
This particular gun has a modern take on an elaborate scroll design that was first seen on a Maharaja Ovundo rifle that resides here at the factory. The fences have been carved in a suitable scroll design which carries forward onto the barrel breech ends before turning into an almost Celtic design along the barrel bar. Interestingly with vintage Ovundo’s there seems to be a lot of variation in the engraving pattern from gun to gun, certainly more so than the house scroll droplock sides by sides that the company built during the same period. So it goes that all the Ovundos built in the modern era have varied in engraving design, so carrying on the tradition of individuality.
Carved fences and bars is a feature of all the modern Ovundo.
The elaborate scroll design carries well across the hinged cover plate and trigger guard.
Raw back from the skilled engraving hands of Vince Crowley comes this stunning little .410 droplock shotgun. It is often difficult with an image to appreciate just how small these guns are and so for a change we decided to add a little sense of scale with a 10 pence coin rightfully showing the Queen face up.
As with scaling anything, so the scroll engraving itself must be scaled to fit the finer proportions of the .410 action body and parts. This finer scroll concept was started many years ago at Westley Richards by Rashid El Hadi who many of you will know was one of the most talented engravers of his generation. Whilst Rash may be remembered for his exceptional creative designs and execution of such masterpieces as the ‘Hummingbird Gun’, it was some of his finer work that really showed the skill of the man.
Thankfully these skills were passed on to Vince who has carefully and very skillfully carried this concept forward with the gun you see before you.
In this particular instance the client had seen an earlier example of this fine work and requested a revised version with carved fences, a staggered name banner and an elegant Woodcock in flight game scene. We hope you will agree that Vince has captured everything the client wished for magnificently.
The gun will now go for full case colour hardening of all parts which should add another dimension to the overall look of the gun. Subject to how the case colours complement the gun, will determine the final finish. We will post pictures once back from hardening and perhaps put the question to you.
Absolutely stunning Woodcock game scene!
Staggered banner proudly bearing the Westley Richards name.
Super fine detail on a small frame gun cannot be beaten.
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.
This stunning 12g ‘Gold Name’ droplock has just been completed and once again highlights for us gunmaking in its purest form. The ‘Gold Name’ gun comes barely embellished, but makes its statement in this instance through wonderful craftsmanship, stunning wood and vivid case colour hardening.
Whenever one of these ‘Gold Name’ guns is completed the typical question of why somebody would order such a gun without any engraving comes up. Many assume it is a cost cutting exercise but nothing could be further from the truth. Building guns is an expensive business regardless and for some clients the gun in its purest form brings as much pleasure as a highly embellished one. The client of this particular gun is lucky enough to own several of our guns and rifles, many highly ornate. This one should add nicely to the collection whilst being a totally practical and elegant gun to use.
Vivid case colour hardening is one of the highlights of a ‘Gold Name’ Westley Richards.
Cased extra hand detachable locks complement this 12g droplock.
The lines of this gun are only enhanced by the elegant Woodward style grip.
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 bestquality 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.
With a bank holiday approaching this weekend we thought it would be good to let you ponder this magnificent little 28 bore droplock shotgun that has recently been finished and is out for delivery to the client today. Completed to our ‘Modele de Luxe’ standard this pretty little gun once again typifies the quality of workmanship that is being painstakingly produced here at the Westley Richards factory. No detail has been overlooked from the elegant lines of the gun, to the stunning engraving, through to the hand made tools, case and cartridge magazine.
The classic hallmarks of the Westley Richards hand detachable lock (droplock) action, scroll back, hinged cover plate, wide top lever with model ‘c’ dolls head fastener, single selective trigger and distinctive safety button.
The real beauty of this project was the patience and trust that the client showed in Westley Richards. What originally started out as a ‘test’ piece for his relationship with the company, developed into a ‘well clearly you know what your doing, I’ll keep out of it now’. And so with that kind of trust placed upon us we set out to deliver a unique piece of work that we very much hope surpasses all of his expectations!
Exceptionally fine detail in the engraving of this gun continues to raise the bar here at Westley Richards. This particular work was executed by Vince Crowley.
Beautiful French fitted lightweight leather case with hand made tools.
Projects such as this really are great fun for all involved as they develop into much more than delivering ‘just another gun’. Talking through our own ideas with the client turns this into something very personal and as you will have seen from blogs posted in recent months, every gun and rifle we now build has some individual twist, in our opinion the very essence of having a ‘bespoke’ gun or rifle made in the first place. To those brave enough to trust us we say thank you and to this particular client we say ‘wait until you see your next project!’
Glorious Turkish walnut finished with a Woodward grip and heel and toe plates once again demonstrates Westley Richards commitment to producing the truly ‘bespoke’.
Bespoke leather upright cartridge magazine made to complement the gun case and complete a fantastic all round package.
A few months ago we posted images of this gun fresh back from engraving and now here it finally is all complete and ready to head out to the USA. The transformation from ‘in the white’ parts to a finished gun really is quite distinctive and the gun as a whole becomes an object of both gunmaking art and functionality.
One of the more subtle features of the gun is the actual colouration of the steel after it has been case colour hardened and subsequently brushed. All of our double guns and rifles go through the case colour hardening process as carried out by the St.Ledger brothers here in the old Birmingham gun quarter.
Before CCH the steel has a certain silver quality about it that is in basic terms raw and bright. The actual CCH process creates a surface hardness which allows the steel to flex under stress yet provides a protective outer shell or ‘case’. When the fine surface layer of colour is actually removed the steel maintains a slightly more greyed tone which adds a real subtlety to parts that might otherwise look like a shined coin!
In direct sunlight it is often possible to see the very finest traces of colour which can be used effectively to enhance the engraving of the gun. Some engravers will insist on finishing their own work for this very reason. With Westley Richards, no matter who is finishing the gun or rifle, we always try to leave CCH on the triggers, action flats, action face, forend iron and inside the trigger bow. This always adds a tasteful touch, particularly when the gun is disassembled for travel. It also seems such a waste to remove them all!
The gold flush game scenes must be carefully cleaned and highlighted after the case colour hardening process.
The finished article in its lightweight leather case, complete and ready to go.