It perhaps epitomizes the English double rifle at the start of the 21st century. In doing so, it can claim to have established itself during the same part of the last century.
A safari client, like Stuart Granger, a ‘white hunter’, like Blaney Percival or a professional ivory-bagger, like John Taylor would have been immediately familiar with the proportions, performance and qualities of the Westley Richards .470.
The ‘drop-lock’ is perfectly suited to Africa, where there is actually a possibility of the rifle getting dropped in standing water, or mud, or coated in thick dust. Should it need cleaning and lubricating, it is a simple matter to pull out the locks and perform the necessary operation, without the need for tools.
The .470 (launched in 1907) gained in popularity following the effective de-commissioning of the .450 NE in much of the Empire. In performance terms it is almost identical to its popular predecessor and is an ideal combination of proven stopping power, comfortable weight and good-handling proportions.
In short, a great ‘go-to’ double rifle for Africa; livelier to handle and less to carry than a .577, more powerful than a .375 and easy to feed, given that factory loads are widely available. This particular rifle is regulated for Westley Richards .470 (3 ¼”) soft and solid loads.
The left-handedness of this rifle extends to setting the trigger blades for the left hand, moving the cheek-piece, and casting on rather than off. The top-lever operation is conventional, moving to the right to open the rifle.
Engraving a left handed rifle one has to be mindful that it will be viewed during use by the owner from the opposite side. For this reason, all lettering (on the barrel) and numbering (on the guard) is reversed so as to read the right way for the operator.
The engraving style is full coverage traditional scroll and it extends to all furniture and external surfaces, including the guard-strap, grip-cap and forend iron.
The wood is Turkish walnut of Super Deluxe grade, with a full pistol hand. A traditional red Silver’s pad finishes the butt and the rifle is supplied in a bespoke case with spare forsight bead and strikers.
The triggers are set to fire the left barrel front and right barrel rear and the safety is manual, negating the danger of forgetting to push it off in the adrenaline rush of an unexpected charge.
The quarter rib on the twenty-five inch barrels carries a standing leaf sight for 50-yards, plus folding leaf sights regulated for 100 and 150 yards.
The rifle is cased by our own team of case-makers, working here in the factory. It is of mid-tan leather, over an oak case, with a further layer of protection in the form of a canvas outer with leather trim.
While the mechanics and qualities of this rifle would be familiar to African hunters of a century ago, the quality of the engraving and attention to detail would have raised an eyebrow or two.
We can safely claim that the rifles we build now are the equal or better of anything built then. In fact, today we only build in best quality, whereas most of the rifles in pre-war African and colonial service were of similar mechanics but lesser grades of fit and finish.
We hope this .470 will soon be celebrating its liberty in style by taking on the best and worst Africa can throw at it.