Westley Richards Papal Contract Rolling Block Rifle
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Thread: Westley Richards Papal Contract Rolling Block Rifle

  1. #1
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    Default Westley Richards Papal Contract Rolling Block Rifle

    Thought some here would be interested in hearing about and seeing my Westley Richards made Papal contract rolling block rifle in .50 calibre!

    It is in very good plus condition with a strong and near excellent bore and a very good walnut wood stock. I own about 5 original rolling block rifles (Swedish and American made) and consider this one to be very well made in comparison.

    I took the butt off to get the serial number.

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    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

  2. #2
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    Gorgeous example. Really like the front band set-up.

    How did you figure out it was done for a Papal contract?
    Curator, the Privett Museum for Unloved & Wayward Guns. Est. 2006.

  3. #3
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    According to Remington records, Remington in 1866 issued licences for manufacture of their current Rolling Block design to both Nagant and Westley Richards so they could then fulfil a order from the Vatican Papal Guard for 10,000 Rolling Block rifles (one of the most modern military rifle design at the time).

    Nagant in Belgium was given a order for 5,000 rifles and Westley Richards in the UK, the same. Apparently the Canadian Papal Zouaves (who also sent 508 men to defend the Vatican) also made a later order from Westley Richards for a unknown amount.

    This rifle, serial number 6075 was one of them as it is the 1075 rifle made after completion of the original Vatican Papal Guard order of 5000 rifles. I have not been able to find any info from Westley Richards records to determine the background of this later order. Apparently their historical records are incomplete.

    The Canadian Papal Zouaves who returned home to Canada, did not see any further military action after the Vatican fell to the Italian army in late 1870 but continued as a armed and trained military organisation until the late 1950's -1960's. This lack of further military use probably goes a long way to explaining it's very nice condition (especially bore) for a military rifle made in the 1860's. I am assuming it only saw parade and the odd range use while in military service.

    The action is very tight, without any wear, looseness or excessive headspace. A above average condition rifle from the 1860's to say the least.














    Marching through Montreal in 1929 -


    http://footage.framepool.com/mov/841-721-759.mp4
    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

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  5. #4
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    very interesting post. do you know what the case dimensions are,for the chamber?

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    very interesting post. do you know what the case dimensions are,for the chamber?
    Officially it is 12.7 x 45 mmR Pontifico, a very similar to .50-70 round!

    Apparently cases are not that hard to make up, but I have not yet got around to getting any or loading any up.


    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

  7. #6
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    What dates did the Canadian Papal Zouave depart Montreal and/or New York? What is your source for information on their obtaining their own Remington rifles rather than having them issued when they arrived in Rome?

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooter2 View Post
    What dates did the Canadian Papal Zouave depart Montreal and/or New York? What is your source for information on their obtaining their own Remington rifles rather than having them issued when they arrived in Rome?
    February 19th 1868.

    It is possible they were issued the rolling block in Rome and my source was only verbal and from a another collector of Canadian Papal Zouaves accoutrements and I considered it as believable since this one is a serial number that is way out of the serial range for those ordered and issued to the Vatican Papal Zouaves well known order of only 5000 rifles.

    Westley Richards was known for using a ongoing sequential serial numbering range for their firearms except when filling large contract orders when they started from number 1 and went on from there in order.

    If you go to the Westley Richards website they have a serial number dating feature but it is only for their commercial sporting firearms and not contract made orders. I also contacted Westley Richards for further info on my rifle with pictures and serial number furnished and they are unable to supply me with any more details. They also state that their old records are not complete.

    Go here and check the serial number on their database of manufactured firearms if you like -

    https://www.westleyrichards.com/services/gun-histories

    It will say - Your gun was built between 1839 and 1848. Which is well before the Papal order.
    Last edited by SwedeM96; 04-20-2017 at 11:36 AM.
    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

  9. #8
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    The first of the Papal Remington rifles, some of those made by Nagant, were accepted in September, 1868. The Canadians would already have been in Rome by then.

    The external serial numbers applied by the Vatican started at 1. Some Wesley Richards rifles arrived in mid 1868, but their quality was so poor they were not accepted until repaired. Deliveries of Nagant rifles started in September, and they received serial numbers upon acceptance -- from 1 to 5,000. When the Wesley Richards rifles were finally accepted they received external numbers above the original 5,000: 5,001 to 10,000. Later deliveries of more Nagant rifles then received SNs starting at 10,001 (apparently up to 13,600). (This is from Layman, "Remington Rolling Block Military Rifles of the World," and Bartocci, "Il fucile Remington pontificio mod. 1868," ARMI ANTICHE 1976)

    If the Canadians themselves obtained rifles from Wesley Richards, they must have done so outside of Papal military channels, if it is true that this rifle which lacks Papal ownership markings was Canadian used. It seems just as possible that this is a production overrun of the Papal order.

  10. #9
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    My Westley Richards has no external serial numbers, I had to take the butt off to find this one for when I contacted Westley Richards. It is very possible that this was a separate order done by the Canadian Zouaves.

    I also own a excellent condition 1st Zouaves Regt. marked French St. Etienne made Mle. 1874 Gras rifle that came from the Canadian Zouaves firearm collection/disposal of firearms when they ceased to be a armed military organization in Canada in the 1950's - 60's.


    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooter2 View Post
    The first of the Papal Remington rifles, some of those made by Nagant, were accepted in September, 1868. The Canadians would already have been in Rome by then.

    The external serial numbers applied by the Vatican started at 1. Some Wesley Richards rifles arrived in mid 1868, but their quality was so poor they were not accepted until repaired. Deliveries of Nagant rifles started in September, and they received serial numbers upon acceptance -- from 1 to 5,000. When the Wesley Richards rifles were finally accepted they received external numbers above the original 5,000: 5,001 to 10,000. Later deliveries of more Nagant rifles then received SNs starting at 10,001 (apparently up to 13,600). (This is from Layman, "Remington Rolling Block Military Rifles of the World," and Bartocci, "Il fucile Remington pontificio mod. 1868," ARMI ANTICHE 1976)

    If the Canadians themselves obtained rifles from Wesley Richards, they must have done so outside of Papal military channels, if it is true that this rifle which lacks Papal ownership markings was Canadian used. It seems just as possible that this is a production overrun of the Papal order.

    The Papal Rolling blocks also had a stock marking on their butt which my one shows no signs of ever being done. Here is the external serial numbers you speak of -


    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwedeM96 View Post
    Thought some here would be interested in hearing about and seeing my Westley Richards made Papal contract rolling block rifle in .50 calibre!

    It is in very good plus condition with a strong and near excellent bore and a very good walnut wood stock. I own about 5 original rolling block rifles (Swedish and American made) and consider this one to be very well made in comparison.

    I took the butt off to get the serial number.

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    Could you post a picture of the stock of your Westley Richards RB, and indicate the barrel length, (the rifles were delivered in three length, service rifle, Gendarmerie Carbine and artillery Mousqueton) I'm guessing yours is the service rifle by the length of barrel behind the rear sight (where the crossed St peter keys seal ought to be).

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by kelt; 04-21-2017 at 06:49 AM.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelt View Post
    Could you post a picture of the stock of your Westley Richards RB, and indicate the barrel length, (the rifles were delivered in three length, service rifle, Gendarmerie Carbine and artillery Mousqueton) I'm guessing yours is the service rifle by the length of barrel behind the rear sight (where the crossed St peter keys seal ought to be).

    Thank you in advance.
    Yes, I can get some more pictures taken. I will take some more pictures of it when my daughter brings my camera back (I loaned it out to her).

    The length of the rifle is 52" or 132cm and the barrel length is 36" or 92cm.
    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-Ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

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