The Westley Richards single shot box lock and detachable lock rifles seem to be a rare beast indeed. Over the time I have been here I think I have only seen 3 or 4 really nice examples, one of which was a detachable lock Explora. I haven't seen that many bad examples in that time either.
On the continent the single shot rifle seem to be a very popular item, at least I always see plenty of very elaborate examples made by the Austrian makers at the shows. I admit I am not sure who actually uses them, how many people do or if the people making them do actually sell them!
I have been asked on occasion to make this type of rifle but the price has been a problem always and whilst I think they are a beautiful rifle I have never expected demand to be that much. From a gunmakers point there is not a huge difference in work between this single shot and a double barrel, there is still the barrel filing, actioning, engraving and stocking. Adding another barrel adds to the barrel work and a bit of extra lock work but besides that the same amount of time is required. When it comes to the question of price there is the common misconception that with only one barrel, it will be half the price of a double, and that explains why we have never made any in recent times!
I have always really liked this type of rifle, it makes for a very elegant firearm. A large collection I purchased years ago in Australia had within it a single barrelled James Purdey .246 which had been built on their over and under action by the look of it and whilst quite bulky was one of the nicest vintage rifles I ever bought, perhaps just because it was so unique. The new owner of that rifle was lucky enough some years later to find the consecutive serial numbered double barrel rifle in the same calibre.
A Westley Richards Rook & Rabbit Rifle with original telescope.
Alec Swan on August 24, 2014 at 11:38 am
Such breathtaking elegance. I wonder why the best of British makers have never really cottoned on to the single barrelled top lever opening rifle. Could the need for accuracy be the problem? I would give my eye teeth for such a thing!
Simon Clode on August 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm
Alec, It is not a problem with the accuracy, that is much easier with a single shot. Certainly the reservation I have always had is the cost versus the expected cost and perhaps stupidly, I never expected a very strong market in them. Having said that I can't exactly say the market for .577 and .600 double rifles could be classed as 'strong' but I made them! The market for 4g hand detachable shotguns is certainly not strong and I have made them as well. Perhaps it is time for the Westley Richards single shot to come back again. I do agree, single shot rifles are extremely elegant.
Allan Kirk on August 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm
Hi Simon: As you know I collect, shoot and study the single shot rook rifles, and feel sure that many of your existing customers could find room in their safes for a slim 5 pound rifle in, say, .357 Magnum. Surely with CNC technology nowadays you could make a batch of 50 actions??
Simon Clode on August 28, 2014 at 7:55 am
Yes I am sure I could, this is a good subject for a post, which I will do so I can explain my thoughts in better detail.
pjaln on September 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm
a british boxlock single shot,.....could possibly drag me from my beloved magazine rifles....paul