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WM Brown Editorial - Travel Bag Collaboration

Mention the words “Britain” and “be-spoke” in the same breath, and the mind wan-ders to Savile Row. But London’s tailors are hardly the only craftspeople making bespoke goods on that sceptered isle.

Farther north, in the city of Birmingham — once a global gunmaking capital — Westley Richards continues to practice the art of the bespoke firearm. Founded in 1812, the busi-ness makes just 30 guns a year, a figure that makes good sense once you realize it takes as many as 650 hours for an individual gunmak-er to build each from start to finish, and that commissions start at £50,000.

Given this pedigree, it should come as lit-tle surprise that its game-loving patrons—a rarefied club that has included Ernest Hem-ingway and English actor Stewart Grang-er—are also safari-goers. So in more recent years, Westley Richards has turned itself into something of a full-service shop, producing sa-fari-friendly luggage and leather goods in the same factory where its guns are made.

Like the firearms, each piece is crafted by a single worker—something that’s exceeding-ly rare in today’s industry. Similarly, Westley Richards has taken the unusual step of cre-ating its own hardware, much of which ref-erences the firm’s multi-century gunsmithing heritage. For instance: zippers that resemble a shotgun’s top lever, or studded straps that bring the corner of a traditional gun case to mind. Complementing such thoughtfully engineered touches are top-level materials, including bark-tanned leathers and heavy-weight cotton canvas made in Scotland by Halley Stevensons. All the makings of a bag not intended to be used by a single owner, but to be passed down through the generations.

In case you hadn’t realized where this was going, Westley Richards has extended its be-spoke services to include leather goods and bags. While the customizations are not as ex-pansive as those pertaining to a double-bar-reled shotgun, clients have the option of se-lecting alternate colors of canvas and leather hides for a bag’s body and trim, and may also burnish said commissions with a family crest (we assume there are more than a few among its clientele).

Matt selected a “48HR” bag from the Bourn-brook collection, which owes a stylistic debt to the golden age of big-game hunting and requires 40 hours of labor to make. For its body, he pulled for olive canvas—while leath-er might seem more luxurious, canvas’s lighter weight has historically made it the preferred choice of globe-trotting sportsmen. However, he insisted on buffalo leather for its trim, strap, handles and the flaps of its bellows pockets. And though there is no Hranek coat of arms, Matt had its strap burnished with the next best thing: the WM Brown target logo.

With its generous carrying capacity—and an ingenious zip compartment designed to hold shoes—the gunmaker’s bag is just as likely to find use on a weekend getaway in the South of France as it is in the green hills of Africa.


WM Brown is a tri-annual magazine led by founder Matt Hranek, and a subscription is available from here.

The Explora Blog is the world’s premier online journal for field sports enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, conservationists and admirers of bespoke gunmaking, fine leather goods and timeless safari clothes. Each month Westley Richards publishes up to 8 blog posts on a range of topics with an avid readership totalling 500,000+ page views per year.

Blog post topics include: Finished custom rifles and bespoke guns leaving the Westley Richards factory; examples of heritage firearms with unique designs and celebrated owners like James Sutherland and Frederick Courtenay Selous; the latest from the company pre-owned guns and rifles collection; interviews with the makers from the gun and leather factory; new season safari wear and country clothing; recent additions to our luxury travel bags and sporting leather goodsrange; time well spent out in the field; latest news in the sporting world; and key international conservation stories.

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