Two Takes on the Take Down Rifle
Few companies were more influential in the firearms industry than Westley Richards and W. J. Jeffrey & Co. Both companies hailed from working-class Birmingham, England, where their firms’ ingenuity gave us such great additions to guns and hunting as the Anson & Deeley boxlock action and the .404 Jeffery, .500 Jeffery, and the .600 NE.
Just prior to the First World War, both firms developed medium-bore cartridges in the .33-caliber range to be used in the somewhat-new Mauser bolt action. While both cartridges saw limited success on the battlefield, it was on the game fields of Africa that the cartridges found favor with hunters such as “Pondoro” Taylor and “Karamojo” Bell.
Each cartridge shoots a 250-grain bullet at about 2,400 to 2,500 fps. The high sectional density of these projectiles helped them pierce armored steel as easily as it would run the full length of a heavy-boned animal with thick muscle and hide.
Each firm also made a very clever takedown rifle: a rifle with a detachable barrel that allowed for easy packing. It was no small chore to make a rifle with an easy-to-remove barrel and have it remain reliable and accurate.
Jeffery used the tried and true method of a threaded barrel that simply twisted into the receiver, held in place with a setscrew. Wesley Richards, on the other hand, took another approach (and one I like best), called a “bayonet–style” takedown — mating the barrel to the receiver at a 90 degree angle, then rotating it clockwise and “clicking” it into place. The process was secured with a latch.
Pictured are two wonderful examples of thesetwo takes on the takedown rifle.
Two takes on takedowns: the threaded barrel, right, and the “bayonet style.”
A W.J. Jeffrey (top) and Westley Richards takedown rifle.
On top is a W.J. Jeffery Take Down (Serial number: 24xxx), made about 1927. This gun has a 24-inch Quality Steel barrel marked “Made Expressly For Abercrombie & Fitch,” with correct G&H Mount, period Zeiss scope, and correct Lyman peep sight. It is chambered in .333 Jeffery.
Below that is a Westley Richards Take Down in .318 WR (Serial number: LT39xxx) that was made about 1913. This rifle has a hidden pop-up peep sight in the tang and a 26-inch barrel with a Westley Richards patent foresight.
Both guns were made using standard-length Mauser actions and are excellent, original examples of these respective makers and rifles chambered for their proprietary cartridges.
Duke McCaa and his son Duke “L.D.” McCaa II have owned and operated Gulf Breeze Firearms since 1986 in the panhandle of Florida. They are purveyors of fine sporting and investment-grade firearms.
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