WWII Era Auguste Francotte .416 Rigby Mauser For Sale

rookhawk

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I've been doing some soul searching and I'm contemplating selling my .416 Rigby rifle.

The gun was made circa 1942 by Auguste Francotte which makes it a unique piece. It appears to be the only wartime era Rigby that Francotte made and one of only a handful made during all periods.

The gun is beautifully balanced, has an exhibition grade walnut stock, silver's recoil pad, shadow line cheek piece, and ebony forend tip & grip cap. The magazine has the classic 4+1 capacity. It has a "swiss watch" quality standard and set trigger that are perfectly tuned. The action is of course, silky smooth. Standing and folding Rigby style quarter rib rear sights. 26" barrels. The barrels were made by the preeminent barrel making firm in Belgium for Francotte, Laurent Lochet-Habran, Feed and loading is perfect. Bore is excellent. Accuracy is very good with the factory ammo I have used, probably better if you wish to handload. Length of pull is approximately 14-5/8".

This is probably the best do-all dangerous game rifle for Africa that will handle elephant, buffalo, and yet still has the accuracy for large plains game at distance.

You will not find a golden era dangerous game Mauser of this quality, in this caliber, by a renowned maker for less. With case and accessories included, I'd accept $13,500. I may consider consider partial trades.

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rookhawk

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"Like" isn't a strong enough word .... Besotted? Bemused? Overcome? ....
Thanks, Geoff. I'm pretty choosy about my guns. It's an extraordinary rifle. It is as well built and tuned by Francotte as any London pre-war Rigby I've ever handled.

The mystery that may never be solved as who was the customer? The Nazis had occupied Belgium in this era so somehow Francotte was able to make a rifle to English/American tastes, yet it would have likely been a European that would have been the customer due to occupation. Yet it has no design characteristic that would indicate a German customer. It looks virtually identical to Harry Selby's Rigby down to the stock and 3/4 rib.

If anyone could direct me to the Francotte records I'd love to solve that last piece of the puzzle.
 

Roan

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Beautiful. You have a great selection of firearms.
Just wish they were on this side of the world.

Funny you mention Selby I literally just finished re-reading horn of the hunter.

Good luck with sale.
 

rookhawk

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Beautiful. You have a great selection of firearms.
Just wish they were on this side of the world.

Good luck with sale.
I'll bring it to you if A.) legal, and B.) you have access to elephant so I can use it once more before it parts from me.
 

sestoppelman

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Beautiful rifle! Only thing I would change if it were mine is put a longer bolt handle on it, that one seems rather stubby.
 

rookhawk

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Beautiful rifle! Only thing I would change if it were mine is put a longer bolt handle on it, that one seems rather stubby.
Its not, it's quite ample. The optical illusion is because its a true 4+1 deep belly magazine for a 416, so the stock and action are much bigger to handle the recoil and the capacity. The bolt is full size/length or better.
 

Roan

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I'll bring it to you if A.) legal, and B.) you have access to elephant so I can use it once more before it parts from me.
A it would be legal with some paperwork.
B if I did have access to Elephant you would have had to get inline behind me ;)
 

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If I owned that rifle I'd quit searching my soul, wipe it down with a silicon or oiled cloth and put it back in the safe.
 

geoff rath

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Roohawk, such an artifact (may be the wrong word, masterpiece, maybe?) cries out for its provenance to be revealed; even how it/she (surely something so beautiful must be a "She") "migrated" to the U S would be a story of its own.... I wonder if it was actually conceived pre-War .... It makes me contemplate the heart, soul, and skill that Francotte put into it. For now, I'll keep dreaming.....
Thank you for the privilege of seeing the photos.
 

rookhawk

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If I owned that rifle I'd quit searching my soul, wipe it down with a silicon or oiled cloth and put it back in the safe.
I've got plenty of nice guns, it would be nice to have more. However, I have insufficient amounts of memories of times hunting myself and with my kids. If I can sell off a gun or two and take my kids to Africa, that'd be fine. Guns come and go, I've owned many, the ones I have I look at them every day...yet when I'm on a hunt I only care about the two guns that are with me in that moment and the rest are just appreciating assets 10,000 miles away. Either someone will buy it or I'll take it to Africa and use it once more on my next hunt. Either way is okay, but accelerating my next safari through the funding wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't want to be on my deathbed saying "I should have hunted more with my kids".
 

rookhawk

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Roohawk, such an artifact (may be the wrong word, masterpiece, maybe?) cries out for its provenance to be revealed; even how it/she (surely something so beautiful must be a "She") "migrated" to the U S would be a story of its own.... I wonder if it was actually conceived pre-War .... It makes me contemplate the heart, soul, and skill that Francotte put into it. For now, I'll keep dreaming.....
Thank you for the privilege of seeing the photos.
Geoff, there were a couple scenarios that could have gotten the gun to America but they didn't play out. Sure, the inventory could have been made in 1942 and then held until after the war and sold in the mid to late 40s...except there is no way the Nazis were going to let a gunmaker build rifles during wartime on speculation. (because surely it would have been used against the occupiers) If it was made slightly earlier or slightly later it would have come through Abercrombie & Fitch, Griffin & Howe, or Von Langerke & Detmold. Those three shops had the monopoly on US import of Auguste Francotte firearms of that era, yet none of them have records of the gun. (I checked)

Best guess: Aristocrat, Royalty, or Politician that was not American, nor British, nor German. (because a Brit would have had access to Rigby and a german would have had Paul Mauser build it) Also, has no metric markings of caliber, it says "416R" so clearly not made for a German caliber designation if there was a metric naming convention for .416 Rigby.
 

sestoppelman

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Its not, it's quite ample. The optical illusion is because its a true 4+1 deep belly magazine for a 416, so the stock and action are much bigger to handle the recoil and the capacity. The bolt is full size/length or better.
I see your point, but it appears to be the original mil bolt handle it started out with, which on a normal 98 looks fairly normal, but on the deep belly fella like that, looks a bit truncated.
 

rookhawk

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I see your point, but it appears to be the original mil bolt handle it started out with, which on a normal 98 looks fairly normal, but on the deep belly fella like that, looks a bit truncated.
Knob seems larger than military and it was forged and altered by the maker, not just a standard military bolt handle.
 

sestoppelman

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IMG_5110.JPG

Here is a pic of a 98K handle side on. Ball is .825" in dia. and the bolt handle measures 2.25" from the junction of bolt body to the center of the ball, taped over the outside upper curve. Be curious to know how that one measures. Obviously the one on the Rigby is more gracefully shaped, but I doubt there is much difference in length.
 

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Interesting. It is built on a mil spec action. And a set trigger is unique in my experience on any .416 I have seen. Any chance this is one of the early post-war rifles then being built in Germany and Belgium? The trigger is perplexing, but otherwise, it looks like something a British Officer assigned to SHAFE might have ordered immediately after the war. One finds a large number of similar guild German mausers ( in “deer” calibers) dating from the same period that were built for Americans stationed in Germany.
 

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Beautiful rifle.
 

rookhawk

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View attachment 250233
Here is a pic of a 98K handle side on. Ball is .825" in dia. and the bolt handle measures 2.25" from the junction of bolt body to the center of the ball, taped over the outside upper curve. Be curious to know how that one measures. Obviously the one on the Rigby is more gracefully shaped, but I doubt there is much difference in length.
Ball on mine is .810" and bolt handle is 2.65"
 

rookhawk

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Interesting. It is built on a mil spec action. And a set trigger is unique in my experience on any .416 I have seen. Any chance this is one of the early post-war rifles then being built in Germany and Belgium? The trigger is perplexing, but otherwise, it looks like something a British Officer assigned to SHAFE might have ordered immediately after the war. One finds a large number of similar guild German mausers ( in “deer” calibers) dating from the same period that were built for Americans stationed in Germany.
The set trigger is really a slick system, the primary is your typical 5 pound, crisp dangerous game trigger, the set trigger is really light and perhaps 1 pound consistently. I've seen several and owned a few guns with them previously in calibers up to .375HH. This is the first .416 Francotte I've seen so adorned in original configuration of the 4 extent known Auguste Francotte 416 Rigby rifles. (the other 3 are 1960s-1980s models though as this is the only golden era example I'm aware of)

As to dating the rifle, i'm hesitant to proclaim the gun "surely pre-war" because some buyer could become incensed since pre-war safari rifles carry a premium versus a gun made during or shortly after war time. There are several marks and codes that dial in the gun's era. The last barrel made by Lochet-Habran was in 1951. The proof worker's mark was used 1924-1948 reducing that range. The serial number of the gun is within 70 digits of two known serial numbers for Francotte guns made in 1941 and 1942. Thus, it is speculative, but it could have been made immediately before the occupation of Belgium in May of 1940 when rifle manufacture would have been possible for foreign trade, but it is less likely it would be postwar as it is incongruent with all known Francotte serial numbers from latter years and there was ZERO chance that a rifle would have been allowed to be produced during 1940-1945 occupation unless it was for a politically influential person. The nomenclature is all in English as well and there is no engraving for European caliber equivalent of 10.6×74mm, just "Auguste Francotte a Liege - Cal. 416 Rigby" on the barrel. Thus, the gun could be made in theory anytime from 1924 up to 1948, but the serial number is the most compelling piece suggesting a date later than 1939 (examples of his guns known 900 digits earlier) and before 1944 (examples of his guns known 1200 digits later). By 1945 they were 1600 digits later in serial numbers with consistent increasing numbers.

Another novelty I had not seen often on the continent with safari rifles was the use of internal crossbolts. Certainly they had external crossbolts available but for whatever reason this gun has them internally affixed, a hell of a lot more work for the stocker.
 

sestoppelman

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Ball on mine is .810" and bolt handle is 2.65"
About like mine, slightly longer depending on how its measured. I suspect its mil.
 
 

 

 

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