We start with a no-nonsense platform. In this case a double-square-bridge 'Magnum' Mauser '98. This action is so well-tested and so well-proven that it needs no justification. It still acts as the benchmark for everything else.
The double square bridge is there to facilitate 'scope mounting. The chosen optic is a Swarovski Z6I (1-6x24), fixed in place with Westley Richards quick-detachable mounts.
The pretty, deep, walnut stock, with black contrast and honey coloured hues, may be 'super deluxe' but is still eminently suited to a hard life of hunting, being free of the shakes and flaws of the typical highly figured exhibition pieces often favoured by the collector but avoided by the professional.
The wood needs to be solid, as the cartridge of choice is a punchy one. The .404 Jeffery is a serious big game stopper and, with modern ammunition, it pushes a 400 grain bullet at 2,150fps and delivers muzzle energy figures of 4,620 ft/lbs.
It was introduced in 1905, was essentially obsolete by the 1960s, only to be resurrected in recent years. Today, several major companies produce suitable commercial loads. We regulated this one for the 400-grain soft-nose.
The .404 Jeffery has always been considered a relatively pleasant cartridge of its type to shoot, delivering lighter than expected recoil but very effective down-range performance. The finished weight of 10lbs (without 'scope) is sufficient to tame it.
The utilitarian feel of the rifle is underscored by the lack of engraving. Instead, case colour hardening and deep blacking decorate the expanses of steel and, to provide contrast, gold inlaid details, like serial number and 'WR logo are prominent. As the finish wears, these will become increasingly visible.
The temptation to over-embellish has been resisted. The quality is in the thing itself. This is a first grade rifle, built to the highest standards and intended to serve. Its integrity will be appreciated through its lasting beauty and its faultless performance.
Gold appears only in one more area; the yard markers on the ramp and leaf sights. However, the build order states 'extra finish', which underscores the importance of detail over embellishment. On a plain rifle like this, there is nowhere for imperfection to hide.
Visual interest is maintained through the finely engraved and hand chequered bolt handle, the floral screw and pin heads and even the gold-line detailing on the bridges.
The full length photographs show the sleek, purposeful brutality of these big magazine rifles. With a 24" barrel, full pistol-hand with grip-cap and an extended guard strap, finished either end with a brown leather-covered Silver's pad and an ebony finial, it encompasses the final development of the big game bolt rife in its perfected form.
We finished number 43719 in October 2023, as the second of a pair of rifles in different calibres. Its sister rifle is a .318, finished earlier this year.
Both these rifles are business-like but closer examination reveals quality details, like the maker's name on the rear of the bolt in perfectly executed lettering, the carefully stippled, glare-reducing effect on the top of the quarter rib, the jewelled star motifs on the bolt spring and the finely shaped and engraved grip-cap.
This rifle, like its sister, will age gracefully and with the passage of time and the glory of the adventures we hope it will endure, it will one day be a battle-scarred veteran with life written into its wood and steel finishes - marks that will speak of time well spent.