Single shot rifles have always held a fascination with rifle shooters. From earliest times they were the benchmark for accurate shooting and held sway for decades as the rifle of choice for serious competitive shooting. Most of the major British sporting arms manufacturers have at one time supplied single shot rifles from flintlock through to the centre-fire breechloading era.
When I first arrived at Westley Richards, one of the areas that really impressed me was the quality and depth of photography the company had produced over the years. This in large part began with Simon Clode, the former Chairman & Managing Director of the company, who as a young man developed a keen interested in the medium while studying art at the British Institute in Florence. It was during this time of experimentation with cameras, darkrooms and composition that Simon established his uncompromising eye for fine detail and appreciation of aesthetics.
Scotland is without doubt one of those magical places where sportsmen armed with rifle, gun and rod can still pursue quarry in some of the most outstanding scenery found anywhere in the world. On an island now heavily populated and ever more restricted, Scotland remains one of the last bastions of the wilderness, a place where the environment and weather are still capable of reminding you that nature is a force to be reckoned with.
‘Sporting Estates’ as they are known became fashionable in Victorian times and even with the current political climate they remain the favoured retreats of sports men and women from around the world. Last May we were lucky enough to head up to a small private estate in Aberdeenshire for a spot of roebuck stalking, in particular looking for bucks out on the open hill.
A first just completed by us is this detachable barrel Westley Richards magazine rifle in .450 Rigby. Over the years we have built magazine rifles in all manner of cartridge, but this is the first to be built in .450 Rigby.
The cartridge has an interesting history as it is one of very few ‘new’ cartridges introduced by any of the British rifle makers over the last three decades. The concept for the cartridge came from Paul Roberts former owner of J.Rigby & Co back in the 1990’s. Paul is acknowledged as one of the most experienced big game hunters in the UK and still continues to build rifles for a small and loyal clientele under the Roberts name in the south of England.
As a company known for the finest in English craftsmanship, it is no surprise that at every point of the manufacturing process we strive to use the best raw materials available, wherever they exist in the world.
Whether that be the wood selection for our stocks, specialist yarns for our safari apparel or atypical hides for our fine leather travel goods, Westley Richards go to great lengths to continually source the highest grade in each class.
For our craftsmen and women these materials are a complete joy to work with and importantly deliver an end result that will be admired for generations.
Our journey to source the right leather partner for our sporting and travel ranges began some years ago; with the guiding philosophy that any Westley Richards product is made to be truly used, last and age well, suitably reflecting its owners adventures and stories like any great companion.
And so all safely with another two weeks under our belts we come to Westley Richards sidelock shotguns. The sidelock shotgun has always been offered by Westley Richards, but as with the sidelock double rifle it has primarily been a product of the London makers.
Westley Richards comparable product for decades was the hand detachable lock (droplock) shotgun which was utterly unique to the company and our ‘signature’ model. The highest grade droplock variants cost as much as any best sidelock and so Westley Richards never really saw the need to compete with their own version of a sidelock.
In more recent years the sidelock shotgun has been offered by Westley Richards to accommodate existing patrons who wanted a sidelock built by us. These more modern sidelocks are built on the more elegant rounded action which gives much cleaner lines, great balance and a more comfortable feel.
Whilst never built in the same numbers as the droplock shotguns, we do hope that the examples you see before you once again emphasise that Westley Richards in the modern era is all about quality and individuality.
Stay safe and keep well.
As promised, after a fantastic response to our recent ‘The Greatest Adventurer’ competition, I wanted to share some other inspiring entries. Stories that differ in their style and origins, but end with the all too similar love affair of the Westley Richards Courtney Boots.
Westley Richards became the USA & UK importer of the exclusive range of Courteney Safari boots in 1998 and continue to this day to have a very good working relationship with the factory in Zimbabwe, which is managed by Gale Rice.
Over these years we have sold many hundreds of pairs of boots and have lots of satisfied customers who are still wearing the first boots they purchased from us 15 years ago. The Courteney range of footwear is built to be comfortable and to last, very similar to the philosophy behind our guns, which makes this a great partnership.
And now to the entries…
As so this week we come to the magazine rifles and yet another week in isolation. As you all probably know, Westley Richards has been building magazine rifles for as long as suitable actions were available. Single shot rifles were the order of the day until reliable repeating rifle actions became available able to handle ‘modern’ smokeless powders.
Naturally Paul Mausers action of 1898 remains the firm favourite amongst British classic rifle manufacturers and over the years we have used all manner of variants from original Oberndorf ‘Sporters’ to Military ’98’s to the modern production actions coming out of the USA and Germany.
Whilst fixed barrel rifles have always been a given, the ‘detachable barrel’ or take-down configuration has become a firm favourite within the Westley Richards armoury. Over the years we have been lucky enough to build our rifles in most of the popular big game calibres as well as our own proprietary ones, the .318 and .425. The detachable barrel version making for an elegant and practical travelling rifle.
Anyway, we hope you enjoy the selection below and wish you once again a safe week ahead.
That most classic of calibres the European 9.3 x 62 built to our ‘Modele de Luxe’ standard in a detachable barrel configuration. This rifle once again displayed a variety of engraving techniques with a beautifully carved ‘Maral’ stag on the floor plate.
This post was originally put up by Simon Clode back in 2013 and it seems more relevant now that we all have more time on our hands!!!! A few newer titles have been released by the modern hunting book suppliers including Kai-Uwe Denkers ‘About The Spirit Of The African Wilderness’ available from Trophy Room Books, and Robin Hurts ‘A Hunter’s Hunter’ available from Safari Press. Both of these books are destined to become hunting classics and if nothing else they should get us in the spirit for our next safari adventure!
Now to Simon’s original posting.
There are literally 1000’s of books on the market which touch on our sport, in one way or another. Be they on guns, rifles, wing-shooting or big game hunting the choice is far and wide. Here at Westley Richards many of us have collected books on our sport since an early age and are often showing off to each other the ‘rare book’ we have just managed to acquire. It seemed appropriate to ask a few other well known book collectors, writers and sellers what their 10 best books were, the ones they feel every sportsman should read and have in their library. I hope it proves informative and helpful.
Anthony Alborough-Tregear “Trigger” runs the gunroom and production at Westley Richards and has been collecting books on guns and hunting since the age of 15. His list is biased towards Africa and the hunting of Elephants to which he has now progressed after many years obsessively stalking Roe deer.
- African Rifles & Cartridges – John ‘Pondoro’ Taylor
- Modern Sporting Gunnery – Henry Sharp
- The End Of The Game – Peter Beard
- African Hunter – James Mellon
- The Maneaters Of Kumoan – Jim Corbett
- The Wanderings Of An Elephant Hunter – W.D.M.Bell
- The Adventures Of An Elephant Hunter – James Sutherland
- Travel And Adventure In South East Africa – F.C.Selous
- White Hunters – Brian Herne
- Elephant Hunters – Men Of Legend – Tony Sanchez Arino
During what we are regularly being reminded of as such unprecedented times, here at Westley Richards we are keen to keep friends and followers of The Explora as entertained as possible with this increased time at home.
Each week Trigger will be collating an ultimate guide to the gun and rifle models built here at Westley Richards, featuring unique calibres, prized engravings and intriguing facts. Posted every Friday for the next few weeks so do keep an eye out for those.
Alongside that we will be producing our regular editorial around exploits in the field and on safari, new guns and used ones for sale, hunting ephemera and great reads, a continued sneak peak behind the scenes of our gun and leather making, as well as ideas for you at home to get involved in…
Dedicated readers will remember a competition run back in 2015 called ‘The Greatest Adventurer’ where we asked you to share your adventure story that involved a product purchased from Westley Richards. A hugely successful experience with some fantastic entries and a worthy winner – Mr K Nash.
As a result we thought this the perfect time to revisit, and this year we are offering you the chance to win our canvas Sutherland safari travel bag, personalised with your choice of initialling.
Whether you’ve got a great safari tale with our Explora bag? Walked a 1000 miles in a pair of Courteney boots? Enjoyed a great day on a game shoot with our Deeley slip or shooting coat? We would love to hear it.