Our expert helps you to make an informed choice
The Rigby .275
Rigby was recently bought by Mauser and, having been based in the USA for nearly 20 years, has now returned to London. However during that time some of its guns continued to be made in the UK.
The newly invigorated company is managed by the young and dynamic MD, Marc Newton, who has a stalking family pedigree. Rigby will continue to offer the classic .275 Rigby stalking rifle (aka 7×57) chosen by such luminaries as W.D.M Bell, Jim Corbett and generations of Scottish Hill stalkers, as well as other calibres. All guns will be bespoke, built on Mauser ‘98 style actions. If you want special features there is a complete custom shop service available. Visit Rigby for more information.
Holland & Holland
Holland & Holland is celebrated, and rightly so, for its bolt-action guns, which have always been prized by expert hunters at home and abroad. Most have been built on ex-military Mauser actions, though a few were made on Johannsen actions and others. The firm is now utilising FZH actions from Germany, which are high quality Mauser clones. Barrels are made in-house, as is the trigger mechanism. Stocks are bespoke. The company also benefits from its own shooting ground which offers a specialist rifle range and regulation facilities. Holland & Holland are renowned for bolt action stalking rifles, introducing such famous calibres as .375 H&H, 300 H&H and 240 Apex. Exquisite is how I would describe the modern guns. All shoot well but you’ll pay for the privilege, with prices starting at £25,000 plus VAT. If I win the lottery these guns are top of my list along with a Westley Richards. Visit Holland & Holland for more information.
Ruger is well known for its bolt-action, controlled-feed, classic Mauser-style Hawkeye 77. The Model 77 was first introduced in 1968 and was built using unique, innovative, and extremely strong investment casting processes developed by Bill Ruger. In recent years the rifle has evolved and the latest have a wide variety of stock and barrel options, all using a three-position safety (earlier 77s had a rather neat shotgun-style safety). The company also offers a new Ruger ‘American’ for around £599, which has a new three-lug, short-through bolt incorporated in a push-feed action with a four-shot rotary magazine. This stalking rifle returns to using a shotgun-style tang safety.
The Sako Model 85 is an evolution of the popular Model 75. And like the 75, it boasts a strong three-lug bolt, but also introduces a new controlled-feed action. It has an improved magazine system, too, which requires upward pressure on the magazine floor in order to operate the release catch. The flush-fitting magazine is fabricated from steel, and the hammer-forged, fully floating barrel is guaranteed to one minute of angle. The Sako 85 is available in an extremely wide range of calibres and there are models offering both composite and wooden stocks, most with threaded barrels. Importer GMK.
Browning X Bolt
The attractively priced A bolt range from Browning has given the company considerable success. The range offered a composite stock, good calibre choice, and a drop plate detachable mag. Now the manufacturer’s reworked X bolt rifle features a stock with a Dura-Touch, rubberised, weatherproof coating, and a fluted, stainless barrel factory threading for a sound moderator. It also boasts a new fully detachable polymer magazine, an adjustable ‘feather’ trigger, and a bolt that may be removed with the safety still on. This latter feature is extremely useful for extracting a live round safely. The Browning’s effectively free-floated barrel is double bedded at the front and rear, and the stock itself does not touch the main barrel. This stalking rifle is well priced and available in a wide range of popular UK calibres. It also features the exceptionally solid X-lock fixed scope mount system. Visit Browning.
Based in Mayfair, Anderson Wheeler was founded just over 10 years ago and is a high quality gun maker. Managing director Stuart Anderson Wheeler famously supplied the double .500 for the latest Bond film, Skyfall, but also makes a top notch, especially-well-finished Mauser ‘98 style double-lug bolt rife. Tight scroll engraved, this is a classic and superbly stylish London stalking rifle boasting excellent aesthetics and top-of-the-range handling. All the usual refinements are offered, bespoke measurements and calibre of choice, plus integral swivel mounts for a scope sight as well as flip-up open sights, a feature common to all guns made by this company. Visit Anderson Wheeler.
Remington has long been famous for its ‘three rings of steel’ ultra-reliable push-feed model 700. This model is one of the most popular hunting rifles ever conceived, with a cylindrical receiver that is more rigid than traditional flat-bottom designs. Hence it is often blue-printed for use in target and specialist weapons. The Remington 700 comes in an enormous range of calibres and specifications. Importer Edgar Brothers.
Blaser offers the straight-pull R93 and new R8. They are the product of CNC machines and offer barrel interchangeability as well as a novel straight-pull sliding top cover action. I prefer a conventional bolt action because I was brought up with one, but I am impressed by the out-of-the-box accuracy and levels of finish on all the Blasers I have tested. There is a large calibre choice, including the interesting 7mm Blaser Mag. My advice would be to go for the standard options. The Blaser quick detachable QD scope mount system is first class.
The Sauer 202 is a modular design. Barrels, stocks, magazines and bolts are interchangeable. It has a sophisticated push-feed design with a single-stack magazine. The free-floating barrel is cold-hammer forged and slightly choked at the muzzles. Unlike the Blaser, the scope remains attached to the action body when the barrel is removed. The metal parts have a revolutionary Ilafon coating that protects against corrosion. Pro stalkers have a great respect for the gun and it has increased in popularity considerably in recent years and deservedly so. A new button-rifled budget Sauer 101 has just been launched, which has a slick action.
Westley Richards, like Holland & Holland and Rigby, has long been famous for its bolt as well as double guns. And like the others, they are usually based on Mauser ‘98 actions. The quality from Westley Richards is peerless and its latest guns have subtly evolved. It builds on four action sizes and offers right-and left-handed versions. It also makes a screw barrel type true take-down model that has sold well recently. Each rifle is built proportionate to calibre. Typical features include quarter rib, a combination foresight with flip-up hood, quick detachable scope mounts, and barrel band.
And some other stalking rifles to consider
I have purposely included some great English names in this feature to savour. However of note are also ISteyr-Mannlicher, Howa (because it offers such good value), Mauser and Heym.