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Blog Post Featured Image

The Africa Rifle. The Return from St Ledger, Case Colour Hardened.

When making a rifle like this there are for me certain periods of anxiety. The first is when the engraving is completed, in this case after over a years dedicated work by Paul Lantuch, and the gun has to be shipped across the Atlantic and entrusted to brokers, customs and airline handling. An anxious few days - will it arrive.

The Westley Richards Africa Rifle

The second,  possibly worse period is when the rifle has been prepared for hardening and leaves our shop for the careful hands of Richard St Ledger and the case colour hardening process. At this point I loose all control and I have been called a control freak on more than one occasion!

I am not sure how long the rifle has been at the St Ledger shop but for me it has seemed forever, months, it has probably only been weeks.

Case hardening a rifle with this level of embellishment is a huge responsibility, so of course it is going to take time. Time to understand all the different alloys that have been used for the rifle, time to prepare the work carefully and time to consider how to pack in the charcoal, the heat, the length in heat all the other mysteries of case colour hardening. On my end anxious days thinking will the colour work, will all the alloys stay in and whatever other drama I can think up in my mind awaiting the return!

Yesterday evening I was able to breath a huge sigh of relief, the work returned and I was able to slowly unpack the parts and see the results of St Ledgers work. I can honestly say I had a grin wider than a cheshire cat as I unpacked the parts and saw the magnificent colours that had been achieved for the background of the rifle. A truly spectacular job and I show it below in a raw, lightly oiled state. This is done as next step is to patinate the alloys and refine the gold work prior to sealing in lacquer for protection.

My Sincere thanks to Richard St Ledger for such a magnificent job. One that these shots don't do justice to but I hope future ones will!

The Westley Richards Africa Rifle

Westley Richards The Africa Rifle

The Westley Richards Africa Rifle


  • Neil McVeigh on May 19, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Simon this rifle is not to my taste as I prefer a more conservative approach on my guns,
    dare I say "English".I must immediately state that even a philistine like me can appreciate the level of skill and workmanship that went into the making of such a rifle.
    Several of our posters have previously said WRs product today is even better than the golden age of British gunmaking.I also believe this to be true and you and your team
    deserve to know this and for a short time can bask in this fact.You know however there is no standing still and the pursuit of the best gun that can be made must continue.
    Regards Neil
    P.S. As to your photographic skills you under-sell your ability.The photos that accompany the post are outstanding!

    • Simon Clode on May 19, 2016 at 2:26 am

      Thank you Neil. I know when I make a rifle like this it is not going to be to everyones's taste. I have always believed that great embellishment came as a result of 'gift giving' one king for instance would try and outdo his visitors gift with more gold or diamonds when he visits him.
      This pair of rifles was made to celebrate the 2 main continents that supported the rifle making in the early 1900's, India and Africa. They utilise the very highest levels of skills available today from the initial parts to the finished case. I wanted them Bling!

      I assure you we will not be standing still, the desire to make a better and better gun is now deeply embedded in our young teams DNA! They enjoy the pursuit!

      Finally I do think these 2 rifles will only look their best when finished and standing side by side as the pair is intended. These small snap shots give a taste only and the rifles need to be seen in 'all their glory' to be fully appreciated.

  • Tim Wilkes on May 19, 2016 at 4:04 am

    Yet it is fascinating to see and to read about the process you and the team have to go through to get to that point, Simon. Thank you so much for sharing it all on here, much appreciated.

    I think you owe Richard St Ledger a drink!

    • Simon Clode on May 19, 2016 at 5:00 am

      But then I have been sending him every gun and rifle we make for 27 years and never had a drink myself!!

      I agree he deserves one!

  • Larry on May 19, 2016 at 10:48 am

    WOW!!! That is truly stunning! The colors are perfect! I had a massive smile, too, just looking over the photos!

  • Mark Mitchell on May 19, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Simon,

    This one is more spectacular than the India rifle.The colour case hardening has bought out the colours of the gold really nicely.I can honestly say its one of the best embellished guns I've ever seen and I've seen quite a few.Looking forward to seeing both rifles together.

    Best regards,


  • Matthew Schmidt on May 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Superb colour case hardening, very subtle unlike some of the guns from the US where the colours can be very larey. Amazing workmanship.

    Matt Schmidt.

  • Neill on May 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Spectacular workmanship all round and a really interesting post. I have to say it's not to my taste, but then I'm not the customer.

    It is a shame it missed the article in the June edition of The Field, that sings your praises and this is even better. Well done to all.

  • Byron Christie on May 19, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    My best congratulations Simon and WR! I absolutely love what you've done with this rifle. The only problem is how do you top this one?

    • Simon Clode on May 19, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      I am sitting here scratching my head about just that very thing! I have next a pair of round action shotguns with a great theme and these will go into engraving work in a month.

      Thank you for your kind words Byron, you sort the brains and budget and I will come up with the idea!!

  • paul on May 21, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    truly one of a kind gun and yes the workmanship today is easily on par with whatever was produced prewar,,....paul

  • James Grinyer on May 22, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Truly superb!! An amazing testament to the company that is WR, historically always pushing the boundaries of firearms design, and now in more recent times embellishment and engraving!!! A huge and whole hearted 'well done' to all involved in producing such a fine 'high art' piece, that I'm sure will be admired and indeed revered for generations to come! Best wishes, Jim.

  • James Grinyer on May 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I am still amazed by this rifle. I have revisited the 'blog' several times now during the day and each time that I look at, or 'inspect' the excellent photogrsphs, I find a new detail that was not apparent before!!! I wish, if permissible, to take the opportunity to praise the 'metal men' of gunmaking. It seems a current theme in modern times, that engravers and stockers are largely named and almost 'famed' whilst the many people that provide the platform for their work to be appreciated are relatively unheard of.... Barrel makers, jointers, lock makers, ejector men, furniture makers:- almost silent cogs in the 'machine' that is gunmaking... Hats off to all involved!!!!

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