Original British Westley Richards Model 1871 Falling Block Sporting Rifle in .45 (No.1) Carbine c. 1885

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. Not only is this a very rare gun but it is in really choice condition. Westley Richards was a very well known figure in the British and European gun industry, and he produced several "Improved" Martini action systems, used in both military rifles as well as custom sporting guns. However, prior to that, he also developed his own "Falling Block" action, different from both the Martini-Henry and Peabody action, and that is what we have here. Research indicates that it is most likely a Model 1871 Sporting Rifle, in .450 Number 1 Carbine caliber. There was also a Model 1869, which is extremely similar, except for the position of the safety lever. Many of the sporting rifles were bespoke, and Richards also constantly made incremental improvements, so pinning down the exact model number can be difficult.

It should be noted that Westley Richards had a long association with Auguste Francotte of Liège, Belgium for producing a standard rifle based on this action. However this gun bears no Belgian proofs, and definitely has British proofs, so this is definitely a British made rifle.

The action is engraved with foliate designs and shows most of its original commercial blue finish. Removing the fore end shows the number 970 marked on the barrel bushing, with 428 marked on the front of the receiver. We do not know if either of these is the serial number, and they may just be assembly numbers.

The rifle is half stocked with both the wrist and forend beautifully checkered. Its 23 1/2" barrel is fitted with a blade fore sight with an additional flip up blade sheltered in its circular surround. The rear sight features TWO open sights, one of which is a flip up AND a fold up ladder sight with an adjustable cross bar to select various ranges. There also was once another flip up sight, which unfortunately has broken off.

The rifle is fitted with the WESTLEY RICHARDS marked patented falling block action, utilizing its own lever which wraps halfway around the steel trigger guard. It is even offset to the right to make it easier for a right handed person to grasp to open the action. It also bears the London Proofhouse CROWN / CP black powder proof and CROWN / V viewed marks on the barrel, along with 440, the bore measurement. There is another proof mark that we cannot identify, and the receiver itself also has the "Viewed" mark.

This is a real CLASSIC. It is fitted with eyed screws for sling attachments and has a safety lever on the right hand side similar to the very first Martini Henry MK1 Rifle. Condition is simply lovely, with great wood and loads of original bluing. Mechanically we could not find any issues, and the bore is in excellent condition, with a bright finish and crisp lands and grooves.

In just wonderful condition and a very rare Martini Action Sporting Rifle. Ready to cherish and display!

More on Westley Richards

Westley Richards is one of the oldest firearms manufacturers in England. Founded in Birmingham in 1812, the firm opened a shop in London two years later. Westley Richards is credited with being the first gunmaker to use a toplever fastening system for its breechloading sporting arms, having adopted this system as early as 1860. In 1875, William Anson and John Deeley, the firm's foreman and its managing director, patented a boxlock action of their design. This action was strong, reliable, and simple, and it was also less expensive to produce than were sidelock actions.

Since its development, the Anson & Deeley action has been used worldwide by producers of hammerless side-by-side guns, and a few firms including Westley Richards also use this action on over-and-under guns. The Anson & Deeley action was improved in 1897 to permit easy removal of the locks. These "drop locks" have become a feature commonly associated with Westley Richards firearms, and were available on both shotguns and double rifles.

Other innovations from this gunmaker include a selective single trigger that is well-known for its reliability. This mechanism is extremely complicated, but nonetheless has established a reputation for its flawless performance. The Westley Richards single trigger has even been featured on double rifles, something which other manufacturers have generally not done. In 1884, John Deeley's son patented an improved ejector based on the Anson & Deeley action. This ejector is still fitted to the company's best guns.

Westley Richards also developed proprietary big-game cartridges such as their .450 Nitro caliber, the .476 NE, the .318 Rimless Nitro Express, and the rimless .425 Westley Richards Magnum. The company's patented extractor made it possible to use these rimless cartridges in its double rifles as well as in bolt-action models. Westley Richards was one of many British firms that produced military arms during the Second World War, but the post-war years brought a collapse in the market for fine sporting arms. In 1946, the firm was purchased by E. D. Barclay, who turned to toolmaking in his efforts to keep Westley Richards afloat.


Year of Manufacture: circa 1885
Caliber: .45 (No.1) Carbine
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 23 1/2 Inches

Overall Length: 40 1/2 Inches
Action type: Falling Block
Feed System: Single Shot

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