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Leslie B Taylor's Pre War Bullet Design - The Original Ballistic Tip?

Leslie B. Taylor remains a significant figure in the history of Westley Richards. In fact, he wrote ‘A Short History’ of the firm back in 1913. Taylor succeeded John Deeley and managed Westley Richards as the 19th century turned into the 20th and black powder gave way to Cordite as a propellant for rifles.

Like many a managing director before him, Taylor co-patented, along with one of his employees, several important improvements to sporting guns and rifles.

He may be best known among sportsmen and collectors for the 1897 hand detachable ‘Droplock’ which is still the cornerstone of the doubles Westley Richards builds today, but the one patent that carried his personal marker throughout its life was the L-T capped bullet.

Like the Holland & Holland ‘Paradox’, introduced in the 1880s, the Westley Richards ‘Explora’ and ‘Fauneta’ were designed to shoot a solid projectile as well as a shot cartridge.

The L-T capped bullet offered improved performance in these weapons and it is this usage for which it is most widely acknowledged. However, the L-T bullet was also made for use in magazine and double rifles and it was, in many ways, a pioneering idea.

Trigger calls it “the first ballistic tip”. Westley Richards once called it ‘the best type of sporting bullet’. It could be loaded into brass or paper cased shotgun cases, brass rifle cases and even loaded into stripper clips like conventional magazine rifle ammunition.

An early 20th century commendation from a customer in South Africa reads; “If I could have only one rifle, the .318 L-T is my weapon”.

The concept of the L-T bullet was to add a hollow-pointed copper section to a lead bullet. Taylor found this increased stability and accuracy, while promoting controlled expansion on impact.

Nickel caps were also used and the range of calibres for which L-T capped bullets were put to use increased, from 10-bore Explora through .470NE, .425NE and .318. They were still being offered in 1946 catalogues but appear not to have survived much after the war.

The L-T capped bullet concept led to other developments; notably the Axite Copper Capped Bullet, which was promoted in tandem with the Westley Richards .375/.303 as a superior performer to both the Mauser 7mm and the Mannlicher 6.5x54.

In the literature of the time, the company states ‘for sporting purposes the cartridge is made with the capped bullet (invented by Mr. Leslie Taylor)’ , showing the direct lineage from L-T to Axite.

Today, the concept of a lead bullet with a lighter, capped and pointed, front end is well known and used to good effect in a wide range of projectiles. For that ,we have Leslie B. Taylor to thank for introducing what may have been the world's first ballistic-tipped projectile.

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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