Hemingway also wrote of the virtues of the .505 Gibbs in ‘The Green Hills of Africa’. He styled himself as a ‘man’s man’ and the .505 Gibbs is certainly a man’s rifle.
Originating in Bristol in 1910 from the workshops of George Gibbs, the .505 entered the arena as a no-frills, big game charge-stopper, designed for bolt-action rifles.
At the time magazine rifles were forging a reputation as affordable alternatives to expensive double rifles. They also provided more shots; all-be -it with a pause to re-chamber a new round between each one.
The .505 Gibbs, housed in a Magnum Mauser action, with its 525-grain bullet exiting the muzzle at 2,300 fps and delivering 6,100 ft/lbs of energy quickly gained a reputation as an excellent get-out-of-jail card for the professional hunter.
It may be a hundred and twelve years since it made its first appearance but the .505 is as useful today as it ever was. The proof of that is shown here; being a brand new delivery from Westley Richards. You guessed the calibre.
As with the old classics, this rifle, delivered in September 2022, is regulated for Kynoch 525-grain solids. The Magnum Mauser action and box magazine accommodate one round in the chamber and three more in the magazine stack. If you manage to fire four .505 rounds in succession and still need more firepower, you are in trouble and probably deserve to be!
There is nothing ostentatious about this rifle. The only gold visible is on the rear sight ramp and the ‘SAFE’ lettering. Where colour is applied it comes by way of case hardening to steel parts like the grip cap, the bolt back and the trigger guard.
Subtle detailing nods to the quality of the build: The perfectly cut chequer to the bolt handle, the sharp, minimal engraving on the action and grip cap, the exquisitely crisp action of the hinged front-sight protector. Nothing closely examined disappoints.
The Rifle’s proportions are unremarkable. With a 24” barrel, 14 ½” length of pull and a weight of 9lbs 6 1/2oz, it is a tool the average man could wield with relative comfort.
That weight is necessary to help absorb the fierce recoil of the .505. It is assisted by the addition of a rubber Silver’s pad on the butt, which is rather more forgiving on the shoulder than chequred wood or steel.
Proper fitting helps tame recoil and a well-suited rifle and sportsman suffer far less than a mis-matched pair will. That is one of the joys of a custom order, each rifle is built to fit the customer and the resultant hunting experience is incomparably improved.
The strength built into a custom rifle is another of its hidden qualities. Many factory magazine rifles suffer not just from excessive recoil in the larger calibers but from damaged stocks.
When the rifle is hand-built, the recoil is transferred at its optimal angle into the shoulder and the wood to metal fit reduces friction, vibration, stress and wear. The man who ordered this knows that and he also knows that quality is not found in decoration but in the essence of the rifle.
The finishes on display are best deep-blacking to the steel parts and hand-applied, traditional oil finishing to the woodwork. Chequer is also applied by hand.
Here we have a beautifully understated but absolutely top quality Magnum Mauser, chambering the most brutal of cartridges and delivering life-saving power in the most elegant package.
We think Robert Wilson would have considered this an improvement on his original.