What it refers to is a rifle made in what we consider optimal configuration for practical use, built to our uncompromising standards and incorporating materials and workmanship of the finest quality. It provides a benchmark for rifle building which makes no compromises and sets a standard beneath which we will not work.
Any deviations from the profile specified for our standard best rifle is a customisation of some type and these are unlimited. Some are no-cost options, for others there will be additional charges for materials (like gold) and the time required to shape or embellish any additions or alterations.
The rifle featured here is standard best magazine rifle in the ever-popular calibre of .375 Holland & Holland Magnum.
Sharp eyed readers will notice immediately something that is non-standard. It is made for a southpaw. With roughly ten percent of the population being left-handed, the demand for bolt-actions to be made to accommodate a left-handed operator is significant.
Of course, the bolt work has to be mirrored to do exactly the opposite of the conventional set-up. What is less readily appreciated is the work of the engraver. As well as scroll work and the foliate decoration of the surfaces, screws, pins and handles, a surprising amount of information is engraved in lettering directly into the steel of the rifle.
In this case, the wording includes '5 Cartridges' engraved on the floor plate and on the internal plate of the magazine, specifying carrying capacity. Along the side of the ramp foresights, the words ' FOR 300 GRAIN BULLET' are engraved. Gold-inlaid on the bridge are the words .375 H&H MAGNUM' and on the opposite side 'WESTLEY RICHARDS No.43700'.
The leaf sights themselves are of gold-inlay with their respective ranges: 50, 100 and 150 yards and the back of the bolt has 'SAFE' indicated in large script. The final message, on top of the barrel is 'WESTLEY RICHARDS & CO. , ENGLAND'.
The placement of every piece of wording and numbering on the rifle is reversed so as to be read from the opposite side.
The cheek-piece on the stock is also moved to the right side, in order that it provide a resting place for the left cheek of the shooter.
To the user of an ordinary bolt-action rifle, which has been mass-produced down to price, this will certainly exceed any idea of 'standard' they may have. Our standard features include a well-figured walnut stock, with pistol-grip, sling swivels and ebony finial. The grip-cap is case-hardened , as is the rear of the bolt, the magazine release and the screws.
Unusually for modern tastes, the entire action surrounding the bolt is blacked, as is the bolt-handle and C-clip. Only the bolt-shaft is bright and jewelled. Other non-standard features are the extended top-strap and the guard-strap, which extends to the steel grip-cap, bolstering the hand. Fine scroll engraving is used sparingly to add a touch of class to an otherwise relatively plain and businesslike rifle. This one was made to be used and we don't expect that pristine and beautiful oil finish to remain looking new for long.
The beauty of these traditional finishes is that they weather with the rifle and develop their own character with minimal maintenance and continue to look classy for decades or longer, while harder, synthetic finishes scratch and flake and lift and look tatty after a few months of use.
These rifles continue the tradition of the 'Gold Name' concept that Westely Richards pioneered, with the quality and utility of the gun or rifle speaking for itself and the otherwise austere profile of largely un-engraved steel being lifted by the contrast of gold-inlaid lettering. A deceptively simple-looking Mauser action rifle built without compromise to standards, with exquisite detailing that will be appreciated by the owner every time he lifts it to his shoulder or contemplates it while waiting for his quarry to show itself.
Truly, a rifle anyone would be proud to own.