Westley Richards 12G Cape Gun

Just as important as “location” is to the value of real estate, so is “condition” to the value of a gun. The common rule is, the closer the gun remains to its original factory condition, the more desirable it is among collectors.

Another important factor to a gun’s value can be its rarity. Guns can fall into the “rare” category if they are found in a configuration seldom produced by a maker. Another reason a gun could be considered “rare” is if it remains in high original condition despite its age or intended purpose. If you look long enough and have a lot of good luck, you might even encounter a gun in a rare configuration that is also in high original condition.

After a long time of looking and more than my share of good luck, an exceedingly rare and extremely well preserved Westley Richards 562 Grade Hammerless Combination Shotgun and Rifle chambered in 12g and .500 Black Powder Express recently landed at the U.S. Agency. This is the type of gun collectors can spend a lifetime looking for.

According to factory ledgers, number T8731 was completed November 14th, 1924 for a Mahomedally Noorbhoy of Bombay.  Mohomedally Noorbhoy of Bombay started out selling fireworks in the late 1850’s gradually moving into the import of arms and ammunition. By 1927, through many turns of his own good fortune, the import business became the Mahomedally Noorbhoy Company with a large retail store in Bombay, current day Mumbai, India. The three story shop, by all accounts, was grand in scale and inventoried firearms, ammunition and accessories from England and the United States. Judging by the number of times the company’s name appears in our ledgers, they were a large stocking dealer for Westley’s between the two World Wars.

Due to the diversity of the A&D action, Westley’s unique manufacturing abilities and the factory being in Birmingham, the company always offered a very wide selection of guns and rifles. Prior to the Second World War, many models in the catalog had little engraving or a plain finish and catalog numbers, like No. 912 or No. 725. That catalog number became that gun’s model number and this example is marked on top of the right barrel, Westley Richards 562 Grade.

In the section of these catalogs for multi-barreled combination guns and rifles, the entry No. 562 is listed as a Westley Richards “Special Quality” Top Lever Central Fir Rifle and Shot Gun . This suggests this model number was for a hammer gun but, likely due to its rare production, the same model number was used for a hammerless version.

The gun has 28” dovetail lump WR Special Steel barrels with the “Golden Triangle” trademark. The full length, machine matted rib has Westley’s patent rear sight with 2 folding leaves (100, 200 yds) and a Tangent sight graduated to 1000 yds.

The stock has a semi-pistol grip and a smooth steel butt plate and the splinter forend is fitted with a Deeley forend latch and both are finished with point pattern checkering and Mullered borders.

The fixed lock action has name and border engraving only and the original stock oval remains blank. Not surprisingly, the overall quality of the gun is superb. Just as one would expect from a Westley Richards made between the two World Wars.

Although these combination guns were offered for over 30 years by the firm, they are quite hard to come by. We do not know for sure how many were made, but I have no doubt they were made in low numbers. Combine this with the fact that these types of guns were most likely sent to faraway places and intended for hard use, it is hard to imagine ever seeing another example with this level of condition.

This gun can be found on our used gun website or for further details, please contact L.D. McCaa at the Westley Richards U.S. Agency in Florida (850) 677-3688

4 thoughts on “Westley Richards 12G Cape Gun

  1. I’ve never heard of this, one barrel rifle and one shotgun? What gauge and caliber is this and what other combinations did it come in?

    • Hi Patrick,
      Combination guns always seem to capture the imagination of gun enthusiast, no matter what their main interest is.
      The side by side combination gun became known as a “Cape Gun” due to their popularity among settlers in South Africa. With one shotgun barrel and one rifle barrel, a hunter or settler was well prepared for whatever “opportunities” arose, whether it be a guinea fowl or springbok that made itself available for that night’s dinner. Cape Guns were produced by other English makers in the 1800’s, but as a whole any combination gun made in England in the 20th Century is exceedingly rare.
      I believe, the practical nature of this type of gun required them to be chambered for cartridges that were relatively easy to come by and that would serve a wide variety of shooting scenarios. According to the same catalog I referred to for this blog, they were available in 12g, 16g, 20g and .410 with rifle cartridges .303 and .450 for WR No. 2 Musket. However, as this gun proves, WR was willing to make the gun to the customer’s wishes.
      This particular gun is chambered for 12g in the right barrel and .500 3″ Black Powder Express in the left. This gun is not only an unusual configuration for this time period but find something chambered for the .500 BPE during the time that the Nitro Express cartridges were well in use, is just as unusual. I believe that .500 BPE cartridge would have been readily available in India during this time and this combination gun was ordered by Mohomedally Noorbhoy in an effort to best serve his customer base.
      We do not actually know how many combination guns were made by Westley’s, but I have only ever seen one other cape gun and one drilling, or three barreled combination gun, by our firm. One of which was worn out and the other completely re-done.
      Like I say in the blog, this rifle is exceptional for a lot of reasons and the remarkable condition that the rifle remains in is nothing short of a miracle.
      I hope this helps and thanks for your interest.

  2. I had to read your excellent article twice to understand why the rifle barrel in this beautiful gun is chambered for what seems at best [even in the 1920s] an obsolescent or even obsolete cartridge. It is a lovely gun, made even more interesting by the Explora shotgun barrel. I am blessed to own a Westley Richards Explora, 12 bore, which I enjoy using for ordinary walked-up bird hunting. It is however chambered for 2-1/2” cartridges and all modern hunting slugs are 2-3/4” or longer. There are two options for this: Holland and Holland has taken again to making Paradox cartridges which of course fit perfectly – though they are a bit pricey for casual shooting. Moving way downmarket, a Mexican outfit called Aquila makes ‘mini’ slug rounds which are only 1-3/4”. They are cheap, but fine for casual target shooting.

    • To be clear, this gun’s right barrel is a 12g smooth bore with a conventional shotgun choke (.033 or Modified) and the left barrel is rifled and chambered for .500 3″ Black Powder Express. These combination guns were offered in addition to Westley’s famous Explora guns with rifled chokes for both ball and shot.
      With any one of these guns, the sportsman was well prepared for a variety of different shooting when the sun never set on the British Empire.

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