The Birmingham firm has seen an expanding order book in recent months, in defiance of the recession.

Since November of last year 26 orders have been placed for Westley Richards’ best guns and rifles – up over 45 per cent on last year.

Supported by the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers’ Charitable Trust, two apprentices – Christopher Bridge, 18, and Aaron Bonas, 19 – will embark on a five year training scheme in Westley Richards’ workshops in the city’s old gunmaking quarter.

A third craftsman, 25-year-old Victor Demarteau, a recent graduate of the Léon Mignon School of Gunmaking in Liège, Belgium, will also join the company as an actioner.

Managing director of Westley Richards, Simon Clode, commented: “Joining the gun trade is an allegiance in itself – a commitment to training, to craftsmanship and to preserving our manufacturing heritage.

“New talent is good news industry-wide, and the perfect antidote to recession despondency.”