Farther north, in the city of Birmingham — once a global gunmaking capital — Westley Richards continues to practice the art of the bespoke ﬁrearm. Founded in 1812, the busi-ness makes just 30 guns a year, a ﬁgure that makes good sense once you realize it takes as many as 650 hours for an individual gunmak-er to build each from start to ﬁnish, and that commissions start at £50,000.
Given this pedigree, it should come as lit-tle surprise that its game-loving patrons—a rareﬁed club that has included Ernest Hem-ingway and English actor Stewart Grang-er—are also safari-goers. So in more recent years, Westley Richards has turned itself into something of a full-service shop, producing sa-fari-friendly luggage and leather goods in the same factory where its guns are made.
Like the ﬁrearms, each piece is crafted by a single worker—something that’s exceeding-ly rare in today’s industry. Similarly, Westley Richards has taken the unusual step of cre-ating its own hardware, much of which ref-erences the ﬁrm’s multi-century gunsmithing heritage. For instance: zippers that resemble a shotgun’s top lever, or studded straps that bring the corner of a traditional gun case to mind. Complementing such thoughtfully engineered touches are top-level materials, including bark-tanned leathers and heavy-weight cotton canvas made in Scotland by Halley Stevensons. All the makings of a bag not intended to be used by a single owner, but to be passed down through the generations.
In case you hadn’t realized where this was going, Westley Richards has extended its be-spoke services to include leather goods and bags. While the customizations are not as ex-pansive as those pertaining to a double-bar-reled shotgun, clients have the option of se-lecting alternate colors of canvas and leather hides for a bag’s body and trim, and may also burnish said commissions with a family crest (we assume there are more than a few among its clientele).
Matt selected a “48HR” bag from the Bourn-brook collection, which owes a stylistic debt to the golden age of big-game hunting and requires 40 hours of labor to make. For its body, he pulled for olive canvas—while leath-er might seem more luxurious, canvas’s lighter weight has historically made it the preferred choice of globe-trotting sportsmen. However, he insisted on buffalo leather for its trim, strap, handles and the ﬂaps of its bellows pockets. And though there is no Hranek coat of arms, Matt had its strap burnished with the next best thing: the WM Brown target logo.
With its generous carrying capacity—and an ingenious zip compartment designed to hold shoes—the gunmaker’s bag is just as likely to ﬁnd use on a weekend getaway in the South of France as it is in the green hills of Africa.