Small touches add class to this classic sporting rifle - it's a second-hand bargain, says Bruce Potts
Typically English sporting rifles
Names like Westley Richards, Rigby, Holland & Holland and David Lloyd to name a few are sought after as top-end classic truly typical English sporting rifles. However, W. J. Jeffery is another of those stunningly built and beautifully appointed rifles built to the customer’s bespoke design. W. J. Jeffery & Co was established in 1891 after an ill-matched prior partnership (Jeffery & Davies) and its London-based workshops and showrooms produced classic English rifles, shotguns and double rifles.
In 1956 the firm was taken over under the umbrella of Westley Richards and Holland & Holland and faded from view until J. Roberts and Son of London bought the licence to produce rifles under the Jeffery name. Jeffery has a long and illustrious history and is responsible for introducing some interesting calibres of its own to the shooting scene. These included the .400 Jeffery Nitro Express, .404 Jeffery, .600 Nitro Express, .475 No.2 Jeffery, .280 Jeffery, .333 Jeffery, .303 Magnum and .500 Jeffery. But it also chambered rifles in other popular calibres such as the .275 Rigby, as in this model.
What to look for
Barrel: .275 Rigby chambered barrel will shoot 7.57mm commercial ammunition as it is essentially the same
Action: Mauser actions are desirable and can be modified and customised with better triggers, firing pins, finishes, bolt handles and so on to requirements
Price: Second-hand from Francis Lovel £5,250
This rifle oozes quality as soon as you pick it up. Found on the shelves at Francis Lovel Guns of Witney at £5,250, it represents excellent value for money for what is essentially a handmade gun.
The action here is a commercial Waffenfabrik Mauser of Oberndorf with the classic thumbhole cut out to the left of the action. It has been modified with a new bolt shroud for a low-mounted wing-type safety that has gold inlay to indicate safe. The bolt is a straight-handled form with superb cut chequered and engraved panels to the bolt knob that add grip but also style. The bottom metal is a hinged floorplate design with quick release sited in the trigger-guard and gold inlayed with the Calibre .275 and serial number. Small touches like this add real class without looking tacky. The trigger is a replacement Recknagel unit, which is adjustable and streets ahead in terms of quality compared to the original Mauser trigger.
This is all finished in a deep lustrous blue and a quick, detachable scope mount is fitted that offers windage adjustment too. The barrel is 24in long and a classic sporting profile with a steep drop-in contour after the receiver and a slow taper to the muzzle. Chambered in .275 Rigby or 7x57mm, it will shoot a 140-gr bullet 2,800fps for 2,420 ft/lb energy, more than good enough for any British deer species. To screw-cut this barrel for a sound moderator would be sacrilege!
Best of all has to be the stock. Clad in superb walnut with excellent colour and grain pattern, yet strong enough for serious stalking duties the Jeffery looks typically English. That long graceful line of a slim fore-end and long raked pistol grip and dropped cheekpiece is the epitome of true class and a classic design. It has of course the oiled finish that not only looks good, feels and smells correct but is also very practical for retouching if it gets scratched. There is very fine cut checkering to the fore-end and pistol grip with added touches like a colour case-hardened and engraved pistol grip cap and recoil cross pins and gold oval.
The butt stock has a dropped cheekpiece but the comb is still quite high for scope use. The cheek- piece has the classic shadowline to emphasise its profile and a solid red rubber recoil pad.
Considering that some mass-produced Sporting rifles from Europe cost this price, wouldn’t a classic piece of British history be a better buy?
Excellent value for money