Take for instance the rifle rifle shown here. This is not your usual run of the mill .577 nitro rifle. The client came to us with the request for a 'lightweight' .577 droplock double rifle that he could carry all day sensibly buffalo hunting, but would not have the fierce recoil of a full blown .577 3" 750 grain magnum load rifle. Such rifles used to be built under the guise of 'Tiger' rifles and they were aimed primarily at the Indian market. They were built 1 to 1 1/2 lbs lighter than the magnum version rifles and fired a 650 grain bullet. As far as we could tell no such rifle had been built by us since before the second world war and so this was certainly going to be an interesting project.
The rifle we knew from years of experience we could lighten whilst still retaining the correct proportions and balance, the hard part was developing the ammunition for the rifle. Various versions of the .577 lightweight load were known to have been loaded. All used the 650 grain bullet, but the case length varied from 2 3/4" to 3" to 3 1/4". We decided on the 3" case as the rifle would be proofed for the full magnum load and so in a pinch 750 grain loaded ammunition could be used in the field. Working closely with the Birmingham Proof House we were able to develop here at our factory a load developing 1,950 feet per second which is perfect for this bullet and weight of rifle.
The rifle itself is in our opinion finished off very nicely in 'Gold Name' format which was a classic Westley Richards brand with vivid case colour hardening and lovely dark walnut woodwork. The 25" barrels give the rifle a nice profile and hark back to the days when such rifles were common place in the jungles of India. The rifle comes complete in one of our traditional lightweight leather cases and is supplied with 200 rounds of ammunition. This is a real hunters package and one of those great rifles that we know will get used as much as admired.
Neil McVeigh on December 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm
I am assuming cases dimensions are identical to the full blown .577? What powder was used in development?Recoil differs from person to person but how less is the perceived recoil of the lightweight compared to the "full".577? Lest I forget this is another gem rolling of the assembly line.I wish the new owner a long and happy time chasing those black bovines around Africa.
Trigger on December 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm
Correct. We used Reloader 15 in the development of this particular load and it has proved consistent and smooth. The regulator commented that the rifle was 'manageable', but he is a big lad and used to shooting these big rifles! It should certainly prove effective in Africa.
Chris Buckingham on December 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm
This is the perfect rifle, I have one of your 1897 model single shot falling block rifles in the same caliber/ bullet weight and it is a very good performer, I think although marked for the 650 gr bullet these 3" case chamberings were proofed for the 750 gr bullet originally, I always use the 650 gr bullets as my rifle is now an old lady!
The colour case hardening and scalloped action on your latest creation is a perfect "in the best possible taste" combination. Keep making them just like this.
Larry on December 11, 2016 at 1:33 pm
The true definition of bespoke here! NIce looking rifle indeed, wonderful colors on that one!
Mims C Reed on December 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm
Beautiful rifle. Thanks for the photos. What does it weigh? Merry Christmas to all.
Trigger on December 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm
The rifle weighs 12lb 11 1/2ozs. A full pound and some less than a conventional .577 magnum. Look forward to catching up with you on the show circuit.
All the best
Keith on December 12, 2016 at 12:20 am
Thank you for posting this. In an earlier post I said that I thought this combination would be the perfect Buffalo rifle in close quarters. I think the gentleman that had this rifle made has the right idea. It is a beautiful rifle and should be a joy to hunt with. That same load with solids should also do nicely for Elephant.
Ned Cowell on December 12, 2016 at 10:06 am
Yet another stunning rifle! I too would be very interested to know what the rifle weighs, and what would be the effect on the shooter should the full 750 grain load be used 'in a pinch'. Also, would barrels regulated for the 650 grain load shoot the heavier load anywhere near the point of aim? In a case where a rifle lighter than the normal .577 is desired, what is/was the benefit in loading down in the same calibre, rather than just going for a slightly 'lesser' cartridge like the .500NE? Does the extra bullet diameter make a big difference in a quick kill on animals like tiger? Complements on the breathtaking workmanship, and, as an aside, the photography is first rate as well!
Best wishes, Ned
Trigger on December 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm
This beauty weighs 12lb 11 1/2ozs. We did not want to go too much lighter as we wanted to work up a punchy load that would work well on buffalo. The bullet diameter would certainly give some advantage on wound channel and internal damage. I used a conventional .577 last year on buffalo and the mushroomed bullet made devastating work. It is really intended for sub 50 yard hunting and should be great for that. The traditional .500 has great penetration and is a fantastic round, but to bring back such an old classic as the 'light' .577 was always about more than just ballistics.
Very best regards
Ned Cowell on December 14, 2016 at 10:56 am
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. A marvelous thing!
Vance Daigle on December 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm
Good Day Trigger,
What a beautiful gun Sir, is this gun a droplock? It's hard to tell from the pictures. I am a real fan of the Westley Richards top lever, I think I could live with a fixed lock with no Problem. But would like to know if the fixed lever can be done with the famous top lever.
Thanks for the time.
Trigger on December 13, 2016 at 5:56 pm
The rifle is indeed our signature 'droplock'. We do in fact build a fixed lock .577 which comes as standard with our famous model 'C' dolls head fastener and lever work.
All the very best
Yukon577 on December 13, 2016 at 9:57 pm
I want to compliment you on bringing back this amazing caliber in a .577 double at a little more manageble weight and ballistics for use other than regular elephant and cape buffalo hunting.
I have a turn of the century Jeffery BLNE double in the .577 3 1/4" cartridge regulated for 650 grain bullets at 1950 fps. It has 25" barrels and is the same weight as yours.
I have owned this rifle for about ten years now and use it regularly. It's been an amazing rifle for me and I expect your customer will have similar results.
This rifle has proven incredible for grizzly bear, bison and other big game in northern Canada.
There is not much would seperate me from my Jeffery, but I think your lovely droplock could do it!
All the best,
Neil McVeigh on December 14, 2016 at 8:54 am
Trigger thanks for answering all our questions.The various replies/queries from we Explora aficianados clearly shows how fascinated we too are by this project.Keep the guns and great postings coming! A happy Xmas to all at WR and to all my fellow "disciples".Neil
Neill on December 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm
Beautiful workmanship and researched ballistics, that is what I love about your work. I'm a mechanical engineer with an eye for art, and gun making can combine both to perfection. At WR it clearly does.
Josh on March 9, 2018 at 6:49 pm
As the present caretaker of an 1891 Westley Richards .577 Express double rifle, rebarreled in 1921 for the 75 grain Cordite and 650-grain bullet load, I can only say I would not want to carry anything else. It generates about 5,300 foot-pounds of huge wound channel devastation. Up close and personal with modern bullets, this load should be plenty for cape buffalo and elephant. Farther out, it should effectively nip bison, bear, big hogs, or elk, all of which are now on its menu here in North America. Congratulations to you on your creation here, and on marking spectacular continuity from 1891 to 2016 and now well into 2018.
Russell Levin on January 2, 2022 at 1:31 pm
I wish I could commission one of your beautiful rifles but I did not marry a rich lady. Sad really. You produce a work of art in every sense. Keep the faith...