Watson Bros. London .318 Westley Richards

The35Whelen

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Buckstix' post about the custom John Rigby bullpup reminded me I hadn't posted pictures of my newest medium bore rifle.

I purchased this Watson Bros. .318 Westley Richards from a gun shop in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The rifle is a 98 Mauser, with the receiver and bolt serial numbers both matching. The magazine floorplate serial number does not match. The rifle barrel has the Watson Bros' original address dating back to 1885 stamped on it, along with proof marks, caliber, and bullet weight regulation. The barrel is also fitted with a three-leaf rear sight (100,200,300 meters) and an ivory bead front sight. The rifle shows fine engravings on both the top and bottom of the receiver.

The stock is particularly interesting. It's curved! I believe it was custom ordered this way to accommodate a right-handed, left eye dominate shooter. The stock also has letters and numbers stamped into it on the underside just behind the pistol grip, and a red recoil pad. I'm lucky enough to be an ambidextrous rifleman and shouldering the rifle right-handed easily allows me to align my left eye on the target.

I've sent an email to Watson Bros. requesting any information they may have on the rifle and will follow up once I hear back from them. If any of you illustrious gentlemen have any info on the rifle or rifle maker, please share!

I hope you guys enjoy the quick photos I've taken. I intend to take better quality photos this week.

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Glorious rifle. Worthy of any collection. Now its time to load some ammo and take it on safari!
That’s the plan! Luckily the rifle came with dies, 40 pieces of brass, and a bullet swager. I’m looking for appropriately sized bullets since I’ve never swaged bullets before, and more brass if I can find it. The safari’s already booked for 2026!
 
I think those stamps on the stock might be home guard stamps. A lot of rifles where acquired during the 1st and 2nd WW in England and the commonwealth countries for this service. Also in the early days of the WW1 with the shortage of weapons in Kenya a lot of guys turned up with their own. They got killed and the rifle then became army stock. Could be National park stamped too. But not something that W&B would have done imo
 
That Z is really interesting. Has London proof marks on the barrel. Are there any other marks? No Y?
 
That’s a cross stock, intended exactly as you surmise, right handed, left eye dominant shooter. I’ve seen a number of them on shotguns but this is the only example I’ve seen on a rifle.
 
I think those stamps on the stock might be home guard stamps. A lot of rifles where acquired during the 1st and 2nd WW in England and the commonwealth countries for this service. Also in the early days of the WW1 with the shortage of weapons in Kenya a lot of guys turned up with their own. They got killed and the rifle then became army stock. Could be National park stamped too. But not something that W&B would have done imo
Thanks for the info! I'll do some research and see what comes up.
 
That Z is really interesting. Has London proof marks on the barrel. Are there any other marks? No Y?
The marks pictured are all I can find. There is no Y anywhere visible. I have not removed the rifle from its stock. Why do you find the Z interesting, and what would a Y indicate?
 
That’s a cross stock, intended exactly as you surmise, right handed, left eye dominant shooter. I’ve seen a number of them on shotguns but this is the only example I’ve seen on a rifle.
Thank you for the information! The rifle shoulders surprisingly well with the cross stock, though it does take a moment longer to situate my left eye on the sights than if it were a traditional stock.
 
A Z with a Y usually ment that it’s been condemned by an armour.
But with just the Z who knows. Maybe with that cross over stock it ment that not any old joy could shoot it so not fit for army use. But that’s just a guess.
 
Buckstix' post about the custom John Rigby bullpup reminded me I hadn't posted pictures of my newest medium bore rifle.

I purchased this Watson Bros. .318 Westley Richards from a gun shop in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The rifle is a 98 Mauser, with the receiver and bolt serial numbers both matching. The magazine floorplate serial number does not match. The rifle barrel has the Watson Bros' original address dating back to 1885 stamped on it, along with proof marks, caliber, and bullet weight regulation. The barrel is also fitted with a three-leaf rear sight (100,200,300 meters) and an ivory bead front sight. The rifle shows fine engravings on both the top and bottom of the receiver.

The stock is particularly interesting. It's curved! I believe it was custom ordered this way to accommodate a right-handed, left eye dominate shooter. The stock also has letters and numbers stamped into it on the underside just behind the pistol grip, and a red recoil pad. I'm lucky enough to be an ambidextrous rifleman and shouldering the rifle right-handed easily allows me to align my left eye on the target.

I've sent an email to Watson Bros. requesting any information they may have on the rifle and will follow up once I hear back from them. If any of you illustrious gentlemen have any info on the rifle or rifle maker, please share!

I hope you guys enjoy the quick photos I've taken. I intend to take better quality photos this week.

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Great rifle. Makes you wish you could find a list of owners and adventures since it was built.
 
I received an email from Michael Louca at Watson Bros in London. They were able to trace the rifle and provided me a nicely detailed document include image from the original order ledger. A hard copy has also been mailed to me.

The rifle was manufactured in 1925 and appears to be in original condition. I suspected the magazine floorplate might have been a replacement, but the serial number engraved there is the number used to log the rifle in Watson Bros' ledger. The cross stock and rubber recoil pad are part of the original order.

I've attached the document for anyone interested. Now to keep up the search and see if the rifle was used by the British Home Guard or as @Sideshow mentioned possibly ended up in east Africa. How it ended up in Pennsylvania is another mystery worth solving.

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I presume it went okay for you, would you have done anything differently? Cheers, Richard East Sussex
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