American businessman and inventor A.E. Lard, the developer of the early single trigger was by all account quite a driven and dynamic entrepreneur. His early development of a single trigger design gained him some six U.S. patents during the period 1899-1915. I am not sure as to what name he used to label his design during that period but I do know that when Hunter Arms of New York, maker of the L.C. Smith purchased the American rights in approximately 1904 they referred to it as the ‘Hunter One Trigger’. This Hunter One Trigger has been both praised and vilified.
In the early 80’s I purchased a beautiful and seemingly perfect L.C. Smith ‘Wildfowl’ model equipped with the one trigger and was so excited to use this on ducks and turkeys only to experience a nightmare with it. At that time I could not locate a specialist for these triggers and so put it in the hand of folks who had no more success than I did. I have an idea today that the softer American Walnut in combination with the torque applied to the sideplates may have been part of the problem. In any case there are several gunsmiths today that can straighten them out and make them work quite satisfactorily.
I am not sure when Westley Richards adopted the A.E. Lard design, I do know that he was an Agent for the company and was advertising the Westley hand-detachable boxlock fitted with the Selective Single Trigger in the American Field Magazine in an August 24, 1901 issue. I would love to read his agreement with Hunter Arms and explore the language pertaining to the sale of his design to them; something tells me that Mister Lard was a pretty ‘slick’ operator. Westley fitted some 1000 plus of these triggers to guns and rifles and adopted the companies own design approximately 1909.
The bespoke process of manufacture in Westley guns and rifles vs. the mass production in the American market to meet demand no doubt has contributed to the success of the W-R single trigger. The combination of the A&D design, with the contained and protected hand-detachable locks, in combination with the single trigger design precisely made to close tolerances and protected within the design of action and stock is one of the greatest combinations of all elements in gunmaking. Being able to withstand high-volume shooting in shotgun, and recoil and conditions of hunting in the case of the double rifles. We have to look no farther than the James Sutherland .577 as an example of its success in combination of these elements. His fondness and confidence in it is well known and documented by his own words in print.
I am told that today approximately fifty percent of new Westley shotguns are built with the single trigger and some twenty percent of new double rifles. The single trigger being available up through .600 in the double rifle. There is a pair of 4-bore rifles underway in the hand-detachable, single trigger configuration which will be something to see indeed. The reliability of the A&D design utilizing the detachable locks, coupled with the single trigger makes for as trouble free use as you will find on any. These guns and rifles, from a simple case colored action, through a ‘gold name’, to exhibition engraved so configured is truly ‘Best Quality!”.