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The Special Colonial Quality .318

 Often when referring to the level of embellishment of a gun, the word "quality" is used in the English gun trade the same way "grade" is used in the U.S. market. This is sometimes confusing to U.S. customers that the word “quality” is not necessarily referring to how well the gun was made, instead it often refers to what type of embellishments or other upgrades the gun has.

For the most part, guns and rifles made in England between the two world wars were all made to a very high level. Because quality was so consistent from one gunmaker to the next during this period, the between-the-wars era is often referred to as the "golden age" of the English gun trade.

Prior to WWII, Westley Richards & Co. offered a variety of different grades or "qualities" of guns and rifles in efforts to target a wider market. Like most English makers, Westley’s Best Quality was the closest thing the firm offered to a standard model, available with all of Westley’s patented features such as the One Trigger or foresight protector along with a horn forend tip, and/or horn bolt knob, and may or not include the firm’s “house” engraving. Above and beyond the Best Quality, was the Modele De Luxe and Modele De Grande Luxe, both qualities or grades that feature the same patented mechanical features as the Best Quality but much more elaborately engraved and embellished.

On the opposite end of the firm’s offerings were guns that were more utilitarian in their appearance. Still made to a very high level of workmanship, these models were made to sell at a certain price point and did not incorporate the more expensive options available on Best Quality and Modele De Luxe versions. The different levels of embellishment were designed to appeal to many different tastes and budgets and the models that were the plainest were simply meant to be a more affordable option.

During this period, the most basic of bolt action rifles offered by Westley Richards was referred to as the Special Colonial Quality Sporting Magazine Rifle. This model had a full pistol grip with checkering on the forend and grip and a military style steel butt with a solid horn grip cap and island style sights. At a higher price, the Best Quality version had a cheekpiece, trap grip cap, full-length engine turned rib, and combination day/night sight with Westley’s registered sight protector.

A very nice example of No. 513 - Special Colonial Quality Sporting Magazine Rifle Completed in 1924 just arrived at the U.S. Agency. Like all bolt action magazine rifles made by Westley Richards during the 1920's, this model was based on a standard-length commercial Mauser action and this version has a hinged military style floorplate as opposed to the hinged floor plates fitted with lever releases on the more expensive versions.

The 26" barrel was made in house at the time of Westley Richards Special Steel, as were all the Mauser action magazine rifles during this period, no matter what grade. The barrel is fitted with an island rear sight block with 1 standing/4 folding leaves (100, 200, 300, 400, 500 yds) and an island foresight with brass beaded sight blade.

The barrel is engraved: Westley Richards & Co. London with Westley Richards' trademark Golden Triangle on the Nock's form and the the left side of the action's front ring marked with the serial number and “.318 WR Accelerated Express”. The stock has a 14 5/8" LOP over a smooth steel trap-butt plate wrap-around point pattern checkering on the hand and forearm of the stock and a horn grip cap and forend tip. Traditional sling eye on the toe line with the front sling eye mounted to the bottom of the barrel. The rifle weighs 7 lbs. 14 oz.

Maharajas aside, the very fancy, highly embellished Modele De Luxe and Modele De Grande Luxe guns and rifles rarely saw much use, but the lower priced guns and rifles, such as this Special Colonial Quality, rarely went unused serving as a hunting rifle one minute and boat paddle the next.

This example remains in remarkably high, original condition with a perfect bore, which is quite rare for this model. The rifle has that well weathered patina developed slowly over 99 years but was well cared for and retains much of its original black on the barrel, action and bottom metal and much original oil finish on the stock. Even the stock oval remains blank and the "Made in England" cartouche on the toe-line just behind the grip remains prominent and undisturbed. 

Original pre-war rifles by Westley Richards chambered for the .318 Accelerated Express are quite hard to find today in any grade but it is exceedingly rare to find a Colonial Quality, a rifle intended for hard use, remaining in such high original condition and collectors should take note. 

1 Comments

  • Paul Touin on May 16, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks you very much
    I love this rifle one off king

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