As previously discussed on this blog, the Westley Richards lightweight game gun is a rarity. There are only a few pairs that we know of and only one or two single guns have come back to us in recent years. One could argue things that are rare, are rare for a good reason. They are not the ‘best’, the ‘most efficient’ or the deemed popular by the masses and hence not many were required. And this maybe true of the lightweight gun. If you plan on shooting 40 days a season at 70 yard towering pheasants with 36 gram No. 4 shot, these guns are definitely not for you. But there are places where these guns are not just capable, but are exactly the type of gun you need. This theory was confirmed to me on a recent trip to the grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales. The grouse, a bird that definitely does not need any assistance in flying fast, were very kindly helped along by a 40mph tail wind, which made the already high speed bird almost supersonic. As horizontal rain hammered the side of my face and I was still a little dusty from the night before, it very quickly dawned on me that the 32″ barreled 8lbs 10oz gun I had chosen to bring, was indeed, the wrong choice. By the time I realised the pack of grouse were on me and I attempted to raise my gun to my shoulder and single out a target, they effortlessly zoomed over my head like tiny F-16 fighter jets and were already 50 yards down the moor by the time I turned around and got my first shot off. It’s at times like these when you can see why the lightweight side by side was made and how this fast handling, super lively gun is really in a class of its own.
I did take some lovely long crossers with my gun but on a truly wild moor, when you may have only 20 yards vision in front of you and the grouse are coming straight down your throat, as they should do, with the speed that you are able to mount the gun and connect with your target, the lightweight side by side will always reign supreme, it’s also a faster gun to exchange with your loader and for him to reload. I’m sure I would have taken many more birds out front than I did with my own gun, which of course is the true skill of grouse shooting. Even if grouse shooting is not your game, these guns fit perfectly for proper classic partridge shooting with hedge hopping coveys that flare over the line of guns, or are equally at home with walked up woodcock or quail hunting where speed is of the essence. Instinctive, quick mounting, snap shooting is often the most rewarding, and I would say, the purest form of shotgun shooting.
This fine pair of lightweight guns were built for a local family and have spent their entire life no more than 12 miles from the factory where they were made. The first gun was built in 1948 and was sold through our Bennetts Hill, Birmingham shop. Built on a scroll back action with our patent hand detachable locks, two triggers and all the usual WR features it remain in superb original condition. The 28” barrels have 2 ½” chambers and are choked ¼ in the right and full in the left. The highly figured stock measures 13 ¾” to the centre of the horn heel plate and is cast off for the right shoulder. The gun weighs 6lbs ½oz and is cased in the original case with our Bennetts Hill stamp.
The second gun was completed in 1965 as a 21st birthday present for the current owner. The action and barrels were made to match the first gun, only the stock length is longer at 14 7/8” which makes this gun a few ounces heavier at 6lbs 3oz. Both guns have the same classic Westley scroll engraving with game birds on the trigger guards and equally retain some vivid case colours. The ribs are engraved ‘WESTLEY RICHARDS 23 CONDUIT STREET LONDON. GUNMAKERS BY APPOINTMENT TO THE LATE KING GEORGE V’. Rather than gold numbered 1 & 2, in order to instantly tell them apart, the second gun has a three point gold star on the lever, rib and Deeley catch to match the owner’s Mercedes badge!
Both guns really are in fantastic condition for their age it’s testament to the current owner’s care and attention these guns have had. The guns are well in proof and have excellent wall thickness with plenty of life left in the barrels. The stocks have the usual handling marks but they are free from any structural damage. The time has come for the guns to find new homes and they can bought as a pair or split as they are cased individually and have different measurements. They would really make a great father and son pair of guns as they were built to be. They will be on the used gun site shortly but for any initial enquires please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org