For many of our big game hunting customers, their first bespoke rifle ordered from Westley Richards is a bolt action. Every sportsman hunting big game will need a bolt action rifle in their battery, for precision shooting of game in cover or at longer distances than achievable with a double. Those hunting around the world will most certainly need more than one, covering small, medium and large calibres, they can be stalking rifles, mountain rifles or dangerous game rifles. The bolt action rifle comes in many different guises, and literally hundreds of different calibre's.
Westley Richards .416 Take Down rifle in Left handed configuration.
Set of four Westley Richards rifles built on original Oberndorf actions. The calibers are as original actions were made for. .250-3000 on kurtz, .275 on intermediate, .318 on standard and .404 on magnum. Engraving by the late Shaun Banks.
Most of the Westley Richards bolt action rifles over the last 115 years have been built on the Mauser 98 action, itself introduced in 1898. Rifles were also built on the Enfield and Mannlicher actions. The 'tangible' rifle records we have start with a very dilapidated book, with a missing front end. The first entry in this book is rifle 36286 which was built in 1906, our most recent delivered rifle is a number 43674 a .404, thus accounting for 7388 rifles built in the same period during which we delivered 1000 double rifles. In 1912 a .425 bolt action rifle in take down format cost £25.0.0 and a best quality .476 hand detachable lock double rifle, cased, cost £80 Guineas. The droplock double rifle in 1912 was 3 times the cost of the bolt action, interestingly, today the same ratio applies, with the doubles starting at £59,500 and bolt action at £18,500.
Westley Richards .416 take down rifle with engraving by Paul Lantuch.
The bolt action production always has been and continues to be a very important part of our business. We currently have 24 bolt action rifles being made in the factory and these are specified from a simple, plain, name only stalking rifle to a very elaborate take down with a large engraving budget. We have orders for a multitude of calibers, .505 Gibbs, .500 Jeffery, .416 Rigby, .425 WR, .375 H & H, .318 WR, .300 Win, Wby & H&H, .275 Rigby, 9.3 x62 as well as others. Each calibre is built on the correct size action which ensures smooth feed and the correct weight of rifle. The actual handling and balance of our bolt actions is just as important as that found with our doubles and this can only be achieved by appropriate scaling. This means the ribs, sights and stocking are all scaled down or up to suit the calibre and action.
Romain Lepinois putting the final touch, the gold oval, on a take down rifle.
I have always been very proud of the bolt actions we have produced in recent years. At Westley Richards we know that delivering an exceptional bolt action rifle will in most cases lead to the subsequent order for a double rifle. We take a lot of time to ensure that the rifles work faultlessly and look exceptional. I am probably biased but I don't think any other rifle maker is making as good a looking rifle as we are. This is mostly down to the exceptional stocking skills of Romain Lepinois and Keith Haynes who have the profiles for our rifles perfected on each size of action we use, the stock of the bolt action is the essential ingredient for good looks!
In recent years the 'take down' version of our rifles has gained in popularity, I think in the past people had reservations on the accuracy of a take down barrel vs fixed barrel, this concern has now certainly been dispelled. The take down rifles have proved themselves to be an exceptional sporting rifle and the ease of travelling with them has proved a huge benefit. There is also less risk of damage to a take down rifle as the aircrews handling firearms today seem to take more care with a smaller case, perhaps it is just easier for them to handle too! Of course the perfect safari combination is a case fitted with a take down and a double!
Westley Richards .300 Winchester rifle profile with and without telescope mounted.
James Hornsby assembling a bolt action rifle. James himself is a competing marksman.
Westley Richards .318 take down rifle cased in our lightweight leather.
KW on June 1, 2015 at 6:40 pm
Would love to see some images of a mannlicher-based Westley Richards in a future blog post if they are available.
Simon Clode on June 1, 2015 at 10:30 pm
I will try to oblige, we just made one and I am not sure if it is still here at the factory!
Neill Clark on June 1, 2015 at 7:17 pm
Thank you for this post. If there is one thing I really covet it is your bolt action rifles, they are simply beautiful, but functional, works of art. If I could afford one I'd order one I can assure you.
Double rifles are mighty impressive but are only for a few. The bolt action is more accessible and, to be frank, useful, but the bolt action world seems to increasingly consist of plastic stocked monsters, some of which would seem more appropriate for a sniper in an Kabul sanger than in an English wood or Scottish Deer Forest. I will confess I was a bit dismayed when your very own Trigger confessed to owning such a thing in his Fieldsports interview. I admire you for continuing to build rifles with walnut stocks, ones that not only look great but also work.
Vance Daigle on June 1, 2015 at 7:33 pm
Interesting Facts Sir, I do not want to appear partial when it comes to Bolt guns. But whether I am looking at a ole Westley vintage gun, or one of your new models they have a look that makes you want to pull it up to the shoulder....looks like you couldn't miss with it....HAHA. One of your competitors not to mention names built what I thought were great guns at the turn of the century. They have started building again, they say there are exact but that is not how they feel to me. A bit clunky and heavy in the muzzle in my humble opinion. so hats off for the building of a great Bolt gun for 100 are so years now. Apparently it is not as easy as it would appear, to get the correct feel and balance.
Mark Audino on June 2, 2015 at 5:43 am
I shall always remember when I called you many moons ago enquiring about using a double on my then-upcoming ele hunt in Botswana. I was already a practical big bore bolt-loving guy, but thought I would switch up and classically get in close with a double like any respecting ele hunter would want to do. Your reaction both surprised and impressed me. You challenged me to re-think the strategy, commenting that modern elephant hunting might present a more challenging shot on a special bull, and that might be the only shot at him that I might get. Your main point being that I should be ready to shoot a bit further out and more precisely . . . or . . . then what with the double? That ended my preoccupation with using a double (although temporary!) and I ended up taking a 70X70 bull with a heavy bolt gun . . . always recalling your advisory rather than commercial nature. Now, ironically, this July I will be thinning out some Kakuli on the Muchinga Escarpment with my WR .450 3 1/4 double. But . . . but . . . I await the completion of my .318 take-down so I can get back on a more pragmatic track!!
Peter Martinsson on June 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm
After visiting Westley Richards a couple of times and had the chance to see, feel and shoulder the absolutely beautiful bolt actions you are building I must say never before and not after have I ever seen anything that gets even close in balance or looks and finish.The greatness is that it dosent matter if it is a .275 or a .505 both are built to be appropriate for the caliber, and even if one is big and masculine it still has really nice lines and feel to it.The stockwork is as you said absolutely a work of art both the looks and the feel.Having said that a month or so ago I saw some pictures off a lefthanded .505 currently in production and I am sure that its going to be the most beatifull rifle to date.
A big thank you Mr. Clode for posting all this great guns and everything related to guns, I think I have learned more on this blog than I have done reading gunmagazines for the last 30 years.
Ned Cowell on June 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm
Slight digression, for which I apologise, but I wonder if one of the break open single shot rifles (detailed in your post of August 19th last year) might perform in some of the roles that a bolt action rifle does, and for which a double is not ideal. Might not a set of two .375 flanged magnum rifles - one double and one single - between them provide the same sort of versatility as a .375 belted magnum bolt action, with the double for risky game at close quarters, and the single (scoped) for longer picked shots. Presumably the single would allow one to exploit the wide range of available bullet weights and types (a closed door when a double alone is considered); while the double would trump a bolt action in close quarters.
There is no doubt that such a duo, cased together, would look fantastic, but do you think that it would be a genuinely practical set up for a hunter; or just a jolly pipe dream for an enthusiast?
Simon Clode on June 4, 2015 at 5:44 pm
I think possibly a pipe dream! I am no expert with the single shot rifles but I think the argument would come down to how fast can you reload a bolt action compared with a single shot. I think if you can argue that in your favour, even if you are the only one that agrees, the pipe dream can then become a reality! I completely agree it would be a stunning set and if the truth be told that plays a very major part in this game! Many years ago I bought a single shot sidelock Purdey in .246, I sold this to a collector in USA who some years later found the consecutive serial number double in the same calibre. So it has been done and obviously the Maharaja who ordered this pair justified it in his mind!
Ned Cowell on June 4, 2015 at 7:34 pm
Thank you very much for replying! There are those who claim to be able to reload a single 'almost' as fast as a bolt action - but it seems hard to credit - other than under ideal range conditions. The only single shot I own is a Martini service carbine converted (c. 1900) to .22LR. I have tried speedy reloading techniques, and it is safe to say that I am unlikely ever to beat a bolt action in a race to a second aimed shot. Mind you - the rounds are much more fiddly than a .375, and the chamber smaller and harder to get at. I supposed I had rationalized this disadvantage away but setting it against the simplicity of having only one cartridge type, and the fact that - should anything happens to the double, you could still use its ammunition in the single (and to some extent vice versa). Perhaps the Maharaja had a similar conversation with himself! Thank you again for taking the time to respond. Kind regards Ned
Richard Manning on April 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm
I realize this is an old post and I sincerely hope you get it. Please excuse my ignorance but I can't find any reference to a 416 Westley Richards caliber anywhere. Please can you send me some information on the caliber.
Trigger on April 4, 2018 at 8:35 am
The calibre is the .416 Rigby, just in a Westley Richards built rifle. No ignorance, just our abbreviated wording!