Saturday, July 29, 2017

Vintage .275 Rigby Restored & Refurbished: By John Rigby & Co. London

A little over two years ago I was fortunate enough to acquire a .275 Rigby bolt-action rifle from Ray Atkinson through a private party purchase. Ray and I both believed the rifle was very likely an original Rigby with a possible Mauser manufacture date during the Golden Age circa 1898-1899. 

The rifle had a very low Mauser serial number of 531, German BU Oberndorf proofs, London view mark, and British nitro proofs. There was not a visible Rigby serial number on the rifle although the action and barrel were engraved properly and period appropriate with Rigby information and branding to suggest it was an original Rigby. 

Information contained in Mauser: Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles by Speed, Schmid, and Herrmann document Rigby built rifles with Mauser Serial number 515 and 573 on intermediate actions in .275 caliber made/sold by Rigby in January 1900. In the same reference book, the Mauser Serial Number Chart shows production dates for Mauser BU proofed rifles with serial numbers on both sides of this rifle’s serial number (531) made between 1898-1899. Great supporting information from both the Rigby and Mauser side of the equation.

The bore of the rifle was in very good condition with no obvious signs of pitting or corrosion. There was some possible light frosting near the chamber side of the bore. Ray explained to me that the rifle was exactly as he purchased it some years ago in the Sudan from an Englishman who had now passed on. What happened to the original stock is anyone’s guess. It may have been broken beyond repair and languished waiting for a donor stock or the funds to purchase a replacement that never was to be.

The condition of the barreled action, bolt, and bottom metal was well used, in the white, and exactly how Ray got it in the early 1970s. To my eye, the surface of the metal appeared to have been buffed or sanded lightly with a mild abrasive possibly to remove the bluing or light corrosion perhaps. Ray had put away the rifle and never found the time to do what was needed to restore it as a project. Ray had no additional work done to it after he acquired it in the Sudan.

Ray shared that he was too old to start it as a rifle project and would like for someone to restore it who would appreciate it for its vintage history and also enjoy hunting with it in Africa. Ray went on to say that he knew I would do just that and felt it was in good hands.

After purchasing the rifle from Ray I began speaking with Craig Boddington to pick his brain for a likely professional to assist with the restore and refurbish. We bounced a few names around and Craig recommended I contact Marc Newton about the rifle. Marc is the Managing Director at John Rigby & Company LTD in London. After a few telephone calls with Marc, describing the information and history I had gathered, Marc was up to speed on the background of the rifle. I sent Marc numerous detailed photographs and action dimensions to review. He and his team felt the rifle was likely an original Rigby but provided the caveat that he would withhold his final judgement until he and his shop could fully physically inspect the rifle in detail.

On May 20, 2015 I packaged the rifle up for its return trip to London where I believed it likely once resided temporarily before making its way to the Sudan and then ultimately to me. A few weeks later I received a call from Marc telling me congratulations, I had purchased an original vintage Rigby. He went on to note that he would do his best to research the Rigby records to possibly determine when it was manufactured. A daunting task without a Rigby serial number. Even though the rifle was a Rigby, I was hoping there might be some tantalizing provenance that could possibly be discovered!

I asked Marc if he would be able to restore and refurbish the rifle to its original glory. Marc assured me that he would utilize the same vintage Rigby rifles in their museum to duplicate the proper stock dimensions and any other items to assure the rifle would be just as it was in its day! We agreed on an estimated two year project completion.

This week I received the restored and refurbished Rigby back from London. In addition to the original London nitro proof, the rifle also now carries a modern London proof and Rigby serial number. As previously noted, after their inspection, Rigby was able to certify the rifle was a vintage Rigby. They also noted at some stage in the rifles life the serial number had been removed and it was therefore issued a new number from their ledgers. Because of this it is impossible to know anything further about the provenance of the rifle beyond that which I have already described.

I have to say that the rifle came out better than I thought possible. It is absolutely stunning and beautiful in every way while retaining the original vintage specifications and characteristics. Marc and his crew did a fabulous job! Here are a few pictures of the rifle to enjoy.


A note of thanks are in order for all of the organizational aspects and fine craftsmanship executed by the team at John Rigby & Company:

Marc Newton, Managing Director. Marc and I have become great friends over the years and this project was the catalyst of our meeting. Marc and I communicated regularly regarding the restore and refurbish project. Marc worked closely with Rigby’s team of master craftsmen to assure everything was just right for this project.

The skilled craftsmen at John Rigby & Company worked extremely hard to get this project right. Special thanks to each of them for their contribution:

- Olivier Leclercq (Factory manager, helped with metalwork and assembly)

- Brice Swieton (Repaired all metalwork on the action, including bolt handle, iron sights, etc.)

- Mark Renmant (Checkering and oil finish)

- Tony Maidment (Master Engraver) - Pictured with Marc Newton

- Vlado Tomascik (Stock making)

- Jamie Holland (Regulation of the rifle at range)

I am grateful and feel honored to have been able to work closely with Marc and his team to get my vintage Rigby rifle restored, refurbished, and ready for another 100+ years of service. If you do not have a vintage Rigby rifle that needs restored and refurbished you might consider having a modern version built by Rigby for you to enjoy!

Should you have interest, Rigby is now building a similar rifle today known as The London Best –Vintage Edition. The Highland Stalker is a less expensive option that could also be configured similarly in many aspects and should also be considered.

You can view their beautiful guns at John Rigby and Company. If you want additional information be sure to click on their "Contact Us" link to find out more.

Rigby team photos courtesy of Marc Newton and John Rigby & Company LTD-London

Saturday, July 15, 2017

2017 Safari Rifle Challenge World Championships: Final Report

The 7th annual Safari Rifle Challenge is in the books. Here is a recap of this year’s event made by Jay Sheffield. Jay is the Match Director of the Safari Rifle Challenge World Championships:

We once again had a capacity crowd of 68 registered shooters, who enjoyed the beauty of Northwest Montana and a full day of Big Bore shooting. This year we had a motorized target system on each of the ranges so that competitors could practice shots on charging, fleeing and crossing targets. 

John Harma of Phoenix, AZ was the winner of the Diizche Safari Adventures trophy with a score of 186 out of a possible 220. John was shooting a .375 bolt gun.

Our annual trophy presented to the first place shooter and our new perpetual trophy.

Below are pictures of the event and a few of the stages (click to enlarge images):

Charging Lion.

Montana Rifle Company was on site to let competitors handle and test fire the big bore rifles.

Andy Larsson of Skinner Sights was also there to display his custom sights. Skinner also donated several custom double rifle cases for our lunch time raffle.

Champion Targets provided us a number of targets again this year including 8 of their new AR500 steel plates. We pounded the heck out of them and they will be usable again next year!

There was an amazing variety of rifles from vintage under lever hammer guns to modern VC 500's. Here are just a few of the gun racks that are spread around the range.

Here is Garry James with his vintage hammer gun taking a poke at the long range buffalo.

Motorized charging rhino target.

Rhino up close after taking a few hits!

Rhino coming through the cloud from a classic blackpowder rifle.

The cool hat club?

Long range buffalo.

George from Montreal Canada pointing out his shot on the "leaping leopard". Great shooting with a .500 double rifle!

Richard Winters shooting a couple of life size zebra.

Here are a few items that were donated for our raffle table. The money we receive from this event helps sponsor youth shooting sports throughout the year. Thank you to all of our sponsors for that support!

Event sponsors displayed on the 2017 Safari Rifle Challenge World Championships T-Shirt Back.

Event T-Shirt Front.

The 2017 course of fire.......

1. Checking Zero --- Four shooters on the line. Starting position will be EMPTY rifle, safety off, shouldered and pointed at the target as if shooting. On the signal you will load and fire two rounds at the 45 yd target then load and fire one round at the 100 yd plate. Open action, show clear, muzzle up during scoring and return to the gun racks.

2. Two Zebras --- Rifle loaded with one round, safety on. Fire at zebra target. Move to the next spot, load one round and fire at second zebra target. Open action, show clear, muzzle up when done. 

3. Charging Rhino --- Rifle loaded with two rounds, safety on. Rhino starts on “standby” command. You shoot on the signal. Open action, show clear, muzzle up when done. (Kill zones will be faintly marked for scoring purposes; you must evaluate the angle then shoot at the heart/lung zone just like in real life).

4. Moving Across --- Load 2 rounds, safety on, low ready position. Target will go across L-R then instantly start back R-L. Target will start on “standby”; you may only shoot when target is passing through the opening between the barriers. Open action, show clear, muzzle up when done.

5. Champion Steel Fast Blast --- Low ready position. On the command, load and fire 1 round at the 45 yd plate in front of you. Move to the second shooting spot, load and fire 1 round at the 75 yd plate, move to the third position load and fire 1 round at the 100 yd plate. Timer will start on “shoot” command and stop on third shot, 1 point deduction for every second over 30 that it takes you to complete scenario. Open action, show clear, muzzle up when done.

6. Charging Lion --- Rifle loaded with two rounds, safety on, low ready position. On “shoot” command the lion will start towards you. You must then kneel down on one (or both) knees, disengage safety and fire both rounds. Open action and show clear before getting up.

7. Fleeing Buffalo --- Rifle loaded with one round, safety on. On the command “standby” the buffalo will start going away. On the “shoot” command fire at buffalo target. When you shoot the target will stop and charge back towards you. You must quickly reload and shoot again at the now charging buffalo. Open action, show clear, muzzle up when done.

8. Leaping Leopard --- Starting position will be low ready with 2 rounds in the rifle, safety on. On the command, shoot the Springbok then the leopard. (The leopard will appear after the first shot and stay visible for approximately 5 seconds). Muzzle up, return to gun rack.

9. Charging Water Jugs --- Two shooters, two rounds in rifle, safety on. The cart will start towards you on “standby” and you will then be given the shoot command. You must shoot the jug on your side then race to shoot the middle jug. Open action, show clear, muzzle up when done.

10. Long Range Buffalo --- One shooter, 1 round in rifle with safety on. On command, take one standing offhand shot at the long range buffalo with a steel plate kill zone. If first shot is a miss, shooter has option of taking 2nd shot but will receive 5 points for a hit, -10 for another miss.

Next year, the 2018 Safari Rifle Challenge World Championships will again be held in Libby, Montana at the Libby Rod and Gun Club. The event will likely be moving to June (a month earlier) to assure cooler weather!

If you have not had the opportunity to attend one of the shoots in beautiful Libby, Montana, then we hope you will make plans to do so in 2018. If you want to be added to the (confidential) email list, just drop Jay a line at

We hope to see you next year!

Large Embroidered Diizche Safari Adventures Logo Patch

Large Embroidered Diizche Safari Adventures Logo Patch
3.3" width and 3.3" height

VELCRO hook backed Embroidered Diizche Safari Adventures logo patch. This is a great looking larger size subdued patch for use on your cap, hunting or tactical shirts, tactical chest rig, armor platform, assault pack, day packs, rifle bags, and other accessories. It will work on some caps that have a larger VELCRO field but be sure to confirm your application area size. It displays our "Slayer of Monsters" logo design on a high quality embroidered military/police style patch that will hold up extremely well.

This is a circle shaped patch that is 3.3" in width and 3.3" in height.