Winchester Commemorative Rifles at Westley Richards

Being the token redneck in the English gun trade, certain duties fall to me that my British counterparts are either unqualified for or, more likely, are unwilling to do. When it comes to American guns and rifles, especially Winchesters, Ricky and Trigger call on me when they come across our threshold. Being that I also fall subject to the stereotype that all Americans have a portrait of John Wayne on the wall and a Winchester under the bed, I guess I am somewhat qualified to comment on the collection of Winchester Commemoratives Ricky recently acquired.

Starting in 1964, Winchester released different series of commemorative rifles based on the Model 94 platform. Each series was made to recognize or honor an iconic person, place, event or organization in American history with fancy wood, metal finishes and engraving and highly illustrated boxes. The different series were usually made in limited numbers with special serial numbers. The commemorative rifles were intended to be instant collectibles and they enjoy a sort of cult like following in the gun world.

While this is not the normal kind of discussions we have on The Explora, these rifles represent a fun chapter in the American gun trade and the five examples we have are some of the more iconic ones, so we thought they worth mentioning.

1969 Golden Spike Carbine Commemorative. This series features a brass framed Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in North America. The rifle’s engraving and box illustrate when two locomotives from the two railroads met nose to nose on May 10, 1869 in Promontory Summit, Utah. 69,996 rifles produced in this series, this rifle is #GS25538

1980 Oliver F. Winchester Commemorative. This series features a brass plated Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester with engraving scenes of the Winchester factory and the box is illustrated with Oliver F. Winchester’s portrait. 19,999 rifles produced in this series; this rifle is #OFW730

1981 John Wayne Commemorative. This series features a Model 94 chambered in .30-30 Winchester with a silver receiver and an engraved scene of a stage coach being chased by bandits and titles of movies John Wayne starred in engraved around the outside of the action. The rifle also features the large “Trapper” lever loop, made famous by John Wayne. 49,000 rifles produced in this series; this rifle is #JW28502

1983 Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative. This series features a Model 94 chambered in .38-55 WCF with a case color finish and the engraving and box illustrations depict Native Americans hunting bison from horseback, the portrait of the famous Lakota War Chief, Crazy Horse. The stock is decorated in a Native American theme with brass tacks. The outside of the receiver is engraved with various tribe names. 19,999 rifles in this series and this is #CCH4867

For any interest please contact Ricky or LD:

ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

ld@westleyrichards.com

A Stunning Original Westley Richards 8 Bore Wildfowl Gun

I am always looking for good second-hand guns to sell and every now and then I find a rose among the thorns.

That idiomatic expression is a bit deceiving though, as the most recent gun I’ve found is nowhere near as delicate or dainty as a rose. Quite simply, it’s a magnificent beast of a gun from an era that has long since passed.

In Westley Richards’ landmark 1912 Centenary catalogue, there is a section devoted to Wildfowl Guns stating:

“The term Wildfowl Gun is very comprehensive. With regard to portable guns fired from the shoulder it includes the 12 bores taking the long cartridge, the 10 bores, 8 bores, and 4 bores…the three larger calibres here mentioned may be particularly regarded as suitable for killing the largest wildfowl, for these guns discharge considerably increased charges of both powder and shot, and so with large shot, the wild geese, ducks, etc. may be killed at the most extended ranges possible.”

Original load data accompany’s this amazing wildfowl gun.

To that measure, that is exactly what I have recently come across. This Westley Richards 8g A&D Fixed Lock was finished in 1909 and, just as the 1912 catalogue states, this gun is a “Double Hammerless Wildfowl Gun, in an 8 bore with a plain finish and anti-recoil heelplate” and these models were built on special order, to the customer’s specifications.

Accompanying the gun are three pages, clipped together, of beautifully handwritten notes showing the guns serial number, gauge, load data and pattern results at different size circles and distances for three different shot sizes. No doubt factory notes recorded when the barrels were regulated. Looking back at the ledgers, the gun was “sold to” one F.W. Lanchester who would, no doubt, have to be one Frederick W. Lanchester (Oct. 23, 1868 – March 8, 1946) who was an English automotive engineer and founder of Lanchester Engine Company and The Lanchester Motor Company in Birmingham, England. Certainly, the type that would be obsessive with data from test results.

Condition is king and this gun has it all. One of the finest 8 bore guns we have ever seen.

Along with the paperwork the gun is complete in its original lightweight canvas case, with the original oil pot, two-piece rosewood cleaning rod (that is massive) and original mop, jag and brush

Weighing in at just under 14 pounds with 34” barrels and “extreme choke” in each barrel, this is a long range shotgun of note. A true Westley in every sense built on the venerable Anson & Deeley Fixed Lock action and fitted with the patent Model “C” doll’s head bolting and snap lever work and an automatic “beetle” back safety. The gun was offered with ejectors, however, this is a non-ejector with two triggers. The gun stock has a Silver’s type pad, a capped pistol grip with a full-length trigger guard and a splinter forend with a Deeley latch and horn forend tip. The gun displays almost all its original, and very vivid, color hardening, blacking, and stock finish down to the original anti-recoil heel plate.

The rarity of this gun is off the charts (Trigger and I know of only three other 8g WR guns) but the completeness of the package and the super high, original condition is something not often if ever, encountered in a vintage gun of any sort. But to consider that a gun like this was intended to be exposed to the harsh environments where waterfowl are hunted, it is nothing short of a miracle that this gun has remained, all these years, in such phenomenal shape. While the gun does show a few tell-tell signs of being 110 years old, don’t we all wish we could age this gracefully?

Set next to a .410 droplock the 8 bore is an impressive beast!

A Beautiful 28 Bore Westley Richards Rose & Scroll Round Body Shotgun

It has been over 25 years since we last built a 28 bore sidelock shotgun and probably even longer still since we built a round bodied version. This particular gun has been a real labour of love here at the factory taking several years to get to the point you see before you. The majority of the gun has been built old school from forgings with many of the components made individually by hand as quite frankly we had no reference with which to work from!

Truth be told the gun has turned out beautiful and as it reaches completion we will obviously share further images with you. All credit must go to all of the gunmakers so far involved and also the engraver who has developed a beautiful take on the traditional rose and scroll engraving design. Cut delicately by hand this gun harks back to the pre-war days of gunmaking, yet demonstrates what can be achieved today.

  A modern take on a classic engraving pattern.

 A quail sits in raised gold on the top lever.

  It was decided to use Westley Richards signature ‘Deeley’ catch on this small bore gun. Previous sidelocks have used the ‘Anson’ push rod to secure the forend to the barrels.

New Westley Richards .450/.400 3″ Fresh Back From Engraving

Back from engraving this last week is this fabulous sideplated, single trigger, droplock double rifle in .450/.400 3″ calibre. Decorated with elaborate scroll, gold naming and game scenes depicting three of the ‘Big 5’ this rifle has been built to our ‘Modéle de Luxe’ standard.

As double rifles go this one might be considered slightly unconventional with its Westley Richards single selective trigger. Controversial in the eye of many double rifle enthusiasts, the great ivory hunter James Sutherland had one fitted in his .577 3″ way back in 1906 and used it until he died in 1932.

Another interesting aspect of this rifle is the calibre. The .450/.400 3″ has seen a resurgence since the introduction of modern factory ammunition. At one time the calibre was an industry standard appearing in rifles manufactured by Manton, Holland & Holland, Watson Bros. and Westley Richards to name but a few. Introduced in cordite version by W.J.Jeffery it was considered the all-round calibre prior to the introduction of Hollands lethal .375 Magnum.

Whilst sometimes bulky in vintage rifles which used generic action sizes, in the modern era this calibre makes for a very sleek and fast handling rifle which is still more than capable of taking all of Africa’s dangerous game.

 

Traditional Westley Richards 28 Bore Droplock

A traditional Westley Richards droplock in 28 bore was completed this week and due to head out to the USA. Whilst a greater portion of the guns and rifles being built at the factory today are of a more fancy engraving composition, it is always nice to see the care that goes into a traditional ‘house’ engraved gun.

These guns will always stand the test of time as they are the bench mark gun for the company. Quail hunters in the US simply love the small bore guns that the guys here build and the actual ‘droplocks’ always make them a talking point on a hunt.

It goes without saying that we enjoy using the very finest of figured walnut and having just returned from a recent buying trip there are going to be some truly epic guns and rifles coming out of the factory in the next couple of years!

Gold naming whilst subtle adds an elegant touch to the gun.

Super deluxe wood is the standard now with Westley Richards.

The Rake Magazine – Featuring Anne-Sofie, 8th Countess of Lucan And Her Westley Richards Guns

Not our more typical blog post, but this month Westley Richards was privileged to feature in ‘The Rake’ magazine with Anne-Sofie, 8th Countess of Lucan. Not only is she a fabled shot on these shores, but the Countess also runs a luxury country fashion brand ‘Lucan’ which focuses on producing limited runs of very high quality clothing all manufactured in the Uk, all with a gentle twist.

Originally a student of the arts, her true passion has always been shooting and she has pursued both feathered and furred game worldwide building a strong reputation as an elegant and calculated shot. Her guns of choice as featured in The Rake are a pair of Westley Richards round body 20 bore sidelocks, sporting elaborate scroll and gold inlaid flowers. The perfect bore for a lady, these guns were built totally bespoke for the Countess and have by all accounts served her very well!
T
he Countess of Lucan’s Westley Richard guns “are my little lovely babies; I just think they’re so elegant and so smart. I think you’ve got to have something that reflects you.” 

It is this passion for shooting and the finer things in life that has transferred into her clothing line with many of the pieces designed exclusively for the shooting field. Her early experiences found that little was available to suit her own needs and tastes so in 2017 she began designing her own clothing line based on vintage styles, moving it into the modern game shooting era. At the recent Great British Shooting Awards she won Gold for best ladies garment with her ladies vest featuring fur trim. Need we say more.

For further details on the Lucan range of clothing visit: https://houseoflucan.com

For further details of The Rake Magazine visit: https://therake.com

A Rifle For Any Occasion

After two very successful shows in the U.S. we are now back at the factory in Birmingham and back to business as usual, building the best guns and rifles available and continuing our to offer our clients a superb selection of high quality pre-owned guns and rifles from around the world. Our used gun department prides itself not only on the quality of the guns and rifles we offer but also the variety and we try to offer something for hunters of all types. Our latest offering does exactly that. Whether you are hunting Muntjac in the quaint English countryside, Elephant in the unforgiving African bush or anything in between, we have a rifle for that. We are pleased to offer for sale a collection of 4 great pre-owned bolt action rifles.

Firstly we have a J. Rigby & Co. bolt action rifle chambered in .243 Winchester. Completed around 1986 and built on a Sako action it features a 23 1/8” un-sighted barrel, a Zeiss Diavari 3-12×50 scope on fixed mounts. Engraved by Marcus Hunt, the floor plate features a gold Impala with the Rigby name and calibre, the serial number in gold on the trigger bow and the Rigby emblem in gold on the grip cap. The highly figured Monte Carlo stock measures 14 ¼” in length and is finished with a Pachmayr pad, horn forend tip, gold stock oval and swivel studs. The rifle weighs 8lbs 15oz.

J. Rigby & Co. .243 Bolt Action Rifle

Next we have another Rigby chambered in .275 Rigby, completed around 1998 and built on a Mauser action with a Kepplinger trigger it features a 20 ½” barrel with one fixed and one folding leaf express sight, ramp foresight with hood, Swarovski Habicht 3-9×36 scope on H&H QD mounts which are case colour hardened as is the bolt shroud. The floor plate is engraved with a Roe Buck motif and ‘Rigby’s .275’. Beautifully figured stock measuring 14 3/8”, cheekpiece, silver stock oval, recoil bar, swivel stud and barrel band. The rifle weighs 9lbs 1oz and is neatly cased in a mid-tan leather case with accessories.

J. Rigby & Co. .275 Bolt Action Rifle

No. 3 in the Rigby line up is a .375 H&H Magnum. Completed around 1997 and built on a standard length Mauser action it was built with a 23 1/8” barrel with ramp foresight and flip over moonsight, one fixed and one folding leaf express sight regulated at 100 and 200 yards, Zeiss Diavari 1.25-4×24 scope on H&H QD mounts which are case colour hardened as is the bolt shroud and grip cap. Marcus Hunt engraved with a gold Lion’s head and scroll surround on the floor plate, gold serial number on the trigger bow and Rigby emblem on the cap trap. 14 ½” stock with a black Absorb-All recoil pad (slightly damaged at the heel), cheekpiece, gold oval, swivel stud and barrel band. The rifle weighs 11lbs 7oz and is uncased.

J. Rigby & Co. .375 H&H Magnum Bolt Action Rifle

Last but by no means least we have the heavyweight of the collection, a W.J. Jeffery in .500 Jeffery calibre. Completed around 2002, it is built on a double square bridge magnum Mauser action with a flag safety, 24 5/8” barrel with one standing and two folding leaf express sight regulated at 50, 100 and 150 yards, ramp foresight with single bead and flip over moonsight, Swarovski Z6 1-6×24 scope mounted on quick detachable claw mounts. Once again engraved by Marcus Hunt with ‘Caliber .500 Jeffery’ in a gold ring on the cover plate, gold serial number on the trigger guard and gold Elephant on the grip cap. A stunningly dark, highly figured stock measuring 14 ½” in length with a tradition recoil pad, cheekpiece, gold oval, two recoil bars, swivel stud and barrel band. The rifle weighs 12lbs, is uncased and has fired no more than 4 shots from new.

W.J. Jeffery .500 Jeffery Bolt Action Rifle

This is just one collection of rifles we have for sale and we are expecting more in the coming months, keep an eye out on the blog for more news soon. The rifles are live on our used gun website and if anybody has any questions, please contact me on 0121 333 1900 or email ricky@westleyrichards.co.uk

A Visit From Master Engraver Paul Lantuch

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.

New Westley Richards .30-06 Take Down Magazine Rifle

Once again the guys at the factory here have produced another gem of a magazine rifle in the venerable .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Developed originally for US military use the .30-06 cartridge soon caught on in the hunting world and has since been chambered in the sporting rifles produced by just about every major manufacturer in the world.

Our own example is built in take down format and the rifle speaks of elegant simplicity with each detail executed to the highest standard. We have always said that some of the least embellished of our guns and rifles have the most to say, as so little can be hidden under the disguise of the engraving. Beautiful wood and sharp clean lines are the order of the day.

A post war brochure detailing the best quality magazine rifles being built by Westley Richards. The .30-06 features as one of the calibres and suggests a move towards the American market for new guns and rifles.

Elements of case colour hardening and light bluing add to the overall elegance of the rifle.

Post war the .30-06 was offered by Westley in three versatile bullet loadings. The calibre remains a favourite among hunters today.

Simple yet effective engraving details.

 

Beautiful New Westley Richards 16g Droplock Shotgun

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.