Original British Westley Richards Monkeytail Capping Breech Loading Percussion Rifle Dated 1867

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. First Patented in 1858, the Westley Richards Capping Breech was arguably the most effective and safest Percussion breech loading system of all. It utilized an upward moving lever directly behind the barrel to open a chute that a fresh paper cartridge could be introduced into the chamber. A fresh percussion cap was placed on the nipple, and once the hammer was released the weapon discharged. It was dubbed the Monkeytail by the British, South African and Portuguese troops that were issued it based on the shape of loading lever for the breech. This was the answer that had been sought after however it soon became obsolete with the adoption of the self contained Cartridge falling block rifle the MARTINI HENRY of 1871.

This single-shot breech loading rifle incorporates Whitworth pattern hexagonal rifling to stabilize the long length .45 caliber projectiles it fires. The 32 1/2" barrel is of heavy construction and is marked WHITWORTH . PATENT directly in front of the infantry rear sight. The barrel and breechblock bear multiple acceptance and proof marks, as well as loading information, such as 70 GRAINS. The left side is also marked with serial number P 2014.

The monkey tail action itself, behind the barrel, is nicely marked WESTLEY RICHARDS / PATENT with a triangle to the rear. Lock is marked WESTLEY RICHARDS & CO and dated 1867 inside a triangle. The gun is serial number 18687. The butt plate, trigger guard and nose cap are all of brass and the single barrel band bearing a bayonet stand is steel, cleaning rod is also all steel. There is also a rack number on the butt plate tang, but it is partially worn off. Rifling is present, but does have some wear. A very rare rifle always hard to find on the collector's market.

These Monkey Tail Rifles were exceptionally popular but regrettably very expensive to manufacture, so their time in the sun was rather limited. They were however very well received by the South African Boers, who used them to great effect and accuracy against Queen Victoria's Soldiers in both Boer Wars.

Our example is in fine condition complete with it's original cleaning rod, cleaned and ready to 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: 1883
Caliber: .45"
Cartridge Type: paper cartridge and bullet
Barrel Length: 32.5 Inches

Overall Length: 48.5 Inches
Action type: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Breech Loading Single Shot

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