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Two in One - A Rifle For World Travel

A big, double square bridge Mauser, take-down, iron-sighted big game stopper, with a difference. The Magazine rifle equivalent of a .577 Nitro Express, in its most easily transported configuration.

When magazine rifles started to make a big impact on sport hunters and professionals in the early 1900s they offered small calibre, low recoil, flat trajectory, excellent penetration and inexpensive ammunition. With these attributes, they quickly gained a following, then a level of widespread popularity that has never really been challenged.

With the .275 Rigby and the .256 Mannlicher-Schoenauer fast becoming a staple of every serious hunter's battery and many trying them out for effectiveness on dangerous game, the call for a similarly convenient and relatively inexpensive magazine rifle in a seriously big calibre was bound to happen.

The debate between the merits of a multi-shot magazine rifle and those of a double barrelled express rifle still rage but there remains a demand for big calibre bolt-rifles and here at Westley Richards we build some beauties.

Rigby instigated the Magnum Mauser before the Great War, when they asked for a more robust action to meet demand for a bigger, more powerful rifle. Most of these early Rigby Magnums were in Rigby's rimless .350, developed in 1908 especially for the Mauser action.

Later, the more powerful .416 Rigby took magazine rifle performance a notch higher and fully rivalled the stopping power of a big double rifle.

However, cartridge development has never stood still and the modern era has seen some very potent big game rounds emerge. A good example is the .458 Lott, which was not available until 2002. This is based on a .375 H&H case and packs a 500-grain bullet, pushing it at close to 2,300 fps at the muzzle from a 22" barrel.

It was intended to be a true elephant cartridge, with more penetration than the rival big game alternatives available at the time. It has gained a reputation for being very effective on the quarry and pretty brutal on the shooter, given its recoil.

Nevertheless, the .458 Lott is what this customer specified his rifle be chambered for. In extremis, it will certainly do maximum damage and the short, hefty rifle is easy to move in cover. However, for general use a smaller round is useful and why have two rifles when you can make use of Westley Richards's clever take-down system to have a two-in-one rifle?

The second barrel, which is fully interchangeable with the .458, including its own sights and forend, is in another relatively unusual chambering for a bespoke British rifle; .358 Norma Magnum. The origins of this cartridge pre-date the .458 Lott by half a century. It was developed by Norma for the North American market and intended to shoot flat out to 400 yards if necessary, with sufficient punch to take out large elk.

In Africa it can be used for plains game but, being smaller than the .375" minimum bullet requirement for dangerous game, it cannot be used on buffalo but is capable of taking out eland. The .358 Norma is a short magnum and it fires a 250 grain bullet at 2,576 fps. It became popular in Australia and New Zealand for deer hunting and a once wide range of factory loads, with bullets from 200-grain to 275-grain, proved it to be a very flexible and effective hunting round.

 

This beautifully-built, multi-task rifle gives the hunter a lot of scope to pursue large deer and plains game out to 400 yards, as a .358 Norma, and adds confidence that a charging grizzly or elephant will run into a brick wall if the .458 Lott barrel is in place.

The Westley Richards take-down system used here was devised before the First World War and replaced the earlier bayonet-type fitting. We have modified the release catch so that it resembles the Deeley & Edge catches on our double guns. However, in this case, the user presses the raised button onto the forend to release the catch, allowing the screw thread to run free and, with a few turns of the hand, the barrel, forend and all comes off.

Fitting the other barrel is a simple matter of screwing it down the thread until it clicks locked. Suddenly, your deer rifle is an elephant rifle!

The other clear advantage of the take down system is the length of case needed to carry the rifle. It need not be any longer than the 24" barrel, which usually means you can carry a 25" case around, instead of full-length rifle case. When moving around by car or small bush plane, that make a big difference.

As regards the specification and quality of this build, these photographs illustrate clearly that no compromise has been allowed at any stage. This magazine rifle has been built with every bit as much attention to detail as a best double rifle. It may appear simple but the quality visible in every detail shows it to be special.

The jewelled (or 'spotted') bolt shaft, the stippled tops to the bridges and sight ramps, the colour case hardened bolt back, the finely etched maker's name and the star pattern on the spring, the gold inlay of serial numbers, cartridge details and sight ranges are precise and faultless.

The exquisite figure in the walnut butt stock, which far exceeds what one would expect in an otherwise un-fussy rifle, is carried on into the forend sections of both barrels and the finials are polished ebony. The pistol-hand stock with cheek-piece is finished with a slim leather-covered anti-recoil pad.

Best traditional deep blacking provides the correct finish to the barrels, bolt handles and trigger guard, with ehe almost electric deep blue of the trigger blade contrasts nicely.

Engraving is not profuse, being limited to highlighting, with some medium scrolls and neat line borders. The case-colour hardened grip cap is engraved with a floral motif, as are the screws and pins, with scrolls around their entry holes.

With the .458 Lott barrel attached, the rifle's weight is 10 lbs, 10 oz and with the .358 Norma, it drops to 10 lbs 2 oz. The bridge covers can be removed to fit either a Trijicon Red Dot or a Swarovski Z8I 'scope on custom mounts. The customer intends it to be used primarily on African Safaris but these two, rather eccentric, cartridge choices would also serve well in the US or Canada, whatever game may be available.

 

Whether for the discerning collector or the avid sportsman, Westley Richards firearms represent the epitome of excellence in the world of bespoke gunmaking. Known for the droplock shotgun, over and under shotgundouble barrel rifle and bolt action rifle, the company has achieved an illustrious 200 year history of innovation, craftmanship and artistry. As part of our best gun build, clients can choose from three levels of gun engraving: the house scroll; signature game scenes; and exhibition grade masterpieces. All Westley Richards sporting arms are built at their factory in Birmingham, England. Discover more about the gunmaking journey at our custom rifles and bespoke guns pages.

1 Comments

  • neil mcveigh on May 15, 2024 at 8:19 am

    This rifle is truly awesome!I have a Westley take down in .375 but this is up another level.
    I certainly agree about the simplicity of travel, doubt if I would buy another rifle of "normal length"again.As always the gunmakers have excelled themselves .
    Best of luck to the new owner and enjoy its use.Wow!

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