Although some of them fell out of favour after the Second World War, we have helped revive them by commissioning our own ammunition, specially loaded to the highest standards in England.
With a secure supply of ammunition, modern customers are again ordering the rifles their great grandfathers could have ordered. One such revived chambering is the .318 Westley Richards.
This cartridge was designed in 1906 to complement our Mauser action magazine rifles of the day and it was also used for our Enfield action rifles. It is a bottle-necked cartridge packing a 250 grain bullet, pushed at 2,400 fps and delivering 3,194 ft/lbs of energy. This made it an ideal round for Africa and it is recorded in use there as early as 1909, remaining popular well into the 1960s.
Authorities do not consider this type of rifle suitable for elephant this days but before the last war, notable shots like Bror Blixen, 'Karamojo' Bell and James Sutherland killed hundreds of elephants with a Westley Richards .318. In fact, Blixen said it was the rifle he would choose to keep for all his hunting, were he allowed only one.
This beautiful rifle was completed in July 2022 and carries the serial number 43718, inlaid in gold, on the trigger guard. Like its ancestors created in the early 1900s, it is a Mauser action, though the modified 3 position safety is an undoubted improvement. It is also of a superior build quality to the vast majority of rifles of that period. This truly is a 'best' example of the magazine rifle.
The clever use of case colour hardening and a sparing application of gold inlay gives a very classy appearance without over-burdening the rifle with decoration. It remains purposeful. Only the details sit up and demand attention when inspected more closely. The leaf and ramp rear-sights feature gold highlights, 'SAFE' is gold inlaid and our modern intertwined 'WR' logo completes the precious metal work.
Case colours enhance the rear of the bolt, the grip-cap, guard and magazine floor-plate. Every other steel part is deep, glossy black. Hand engraving and chequering of the bolt handle, stippled surfaces to matt the top sections of the sight ramp, jeweling of the bolt and contrasting blueing, to safety catch, trigger and bolt details, add depth to the aesthetic. The whole blends perfectly.
The stock, made for a right-handed customer, has a cheek piece on the left side and a perfectly leather-covered soft rubber butt pad of 1/2", to ensure comfort when used while wearing thin clothing, as is often the need in Africa.
The rifle's barrel is 24" long and the length of pull from trigger to butt is 14 1/2". With open sights, it lifts to the face naturally and aligns to the eye quickly. This is a light, powerful, fast-handling beauty.
The 1912 Westley Richards catalogue devotes no fewer than nine pages to the .318 (known widely as the .318 Accelerated Express). Two pages are devoted to illustrating its impressive penetration on steel plates at 100 yards. This was proven in the field, where it was claimed it would penetrate the entire length of an elephant!
A best quality Westley Richards .318 in 1912 cost twenty-five pounds. Today it will cost considerably more but it is desirable for all the same reasons. We described it then with these words: 'The record velocity, flat trajectory, and superior striking energy of the .318 Accelerated Express Rifle render it an accurate and perfect sporting weapon.'
Westley Richards is the only company in the world currently making new .318 rifles.
This .318 will mostly be used for hunting medium game animals but it is nice to know that you have Bror Blixen's favourite all-rounder in your hands; just in case.