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Offline Racing

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Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« on: September 27, 2018, 06:52:02 PM »
Just...finally. I managed to dig one up without breaking the bank and with the what´s important stuff to ME in order.

This is gonna get long winded,so you might as well grab a cup of coffee,a smoke those of you who do, and have a sit  :).

The Westley Richards (WR) monkey tails (MT) are in essence the evolution of what happend a few years earlier as Sir Joseph Whitworth was granted funds as well as orders to dwell on rifle performance.
In Britain this is about forgotten,but as this is the Rem1858.com...i guess most at least know about the CSA´s "Whitworth sharpshooters".

Basically up until that point rifles were accurate out to maybe 300 meters at the most. Most rifles of the day,as we were into RIFLES not smooth bore muskets,used a rather weak rifling using a mere three lands and groves. For instance the fabled British Enfields of 577 caliber.
In fact the ",58 cal" rifles were all the rage all over...down to the american civil war forces.

Sir Joseph got to work. An entire range was dug out as a sort of channel on his premises, 500 yards long. It has been said that this work,or more to the point the net result of it, wasn´t all Sir Josephs..
Be that as it may or not, the fact is that he never patented his finding from that respect. There´s TONS to be read as far as this online,and the entire progress of their work,those who were involved,so i´ll keep from writing a book.
Just pick the cherries in the cake.

What they arrived on was a "small bore" rifle of 45 caliber. Or later dubbed 451 caliber,and this small bore rifle they concluded would work to its best with a certain bullet length vs the bore,a certain approx weight and what´s absolutely imperative here..a given rifling twist.

Up until that point rifling twist had been all over the map. The before mentioned Enfields used one turn in 78 inches of barrel length. Yeah,i KNOW that sounds just about like that the rifling was like "straight on" looking down the barrel of those guns,and indeed....

Got that Swedish made "kammarladdare" standing around here,of 0,63 caliber,which sports a WAY slower twist than those 20 inches at least.. But for various reasons them m/1851´s enjoyed rather good long range accuracy and performance none the less.
That said these Norweigan and Swedish made chamber loaders at the end,they were produced by Norway way into the 1860´s,came to utilize Whitworth rifling too...  ;)
In fact at a long range match (..and we´ll get to that) down mainland Europe a Swedish officer and his chamber loader at the time was one of three left in that match as the smoke cleared..at 1000 meters.
What i´m saying is that this thread to a DEGREE will be an essay on accuracy,and how we arrived on what we today consider perfectly normal rifle performance.
What no rifle in existence would bee caught sans these days....

So. Whitworth and his team came to understand that there was a relationship between rifling twist rate,slug weight,slug diameter and slug length.
What they ALSO came to dwell on was rifling per se.
A Whitworth didn´t sport rifling as we´re used to it today but instead used a hexagonal twisted bore- at 1:20 rate. Yes. The Whitworth was intended to be able to use hexagonal,twisted,bullets albeit able to be fired with "regular" bullets too.
Let that sink in,and especially so taking into consideration that at this point we´re into the approx early 1850´s. That let the Whitworth be able to even fire slugs out of pure steel as there was nothing for the bullet to cut into,just a twisted "rail" for it to follow.
We´ve got the idea of an array of possible bullet setups,down to incendiary bullets and what not.

Please keep in mind that this is still under military idea and to a certain degree control. Anyways. A new era had been put to motion. Rifles,accurate in a manner never experienced before.

Like Townsend Whelen stated way way later on -"The only interesting guns are exact guns as the idea of shooting is to hit what you´re aiming at"-.

As work progressed them from the onset maybe 300 meters had come to extend beyond 2000 yards,and see this is where them old civil war stories about killing entire canon crews,high ranking officers and what not stems from. The Whitworth sharpshooters and the Berdan sharpshooters.
It´s claimed that somewhere around 20k Whitworth style rifles were produced,and this by several contractors. Manchester,Birmingham et al aaaaaand...Westley Richards,who had been manufacturing firearms since the break of the century at hand. This as Whitworth didn´t have the capacity to make them himself.
Be advised that Sir Joseph Whitworth was a ground breaker in a LOT of areas and fields... There´s a GOOD reason for the "Sir".

At this time in British history a volunteer movement was on the rise. From what´s been told they were a tad worried about a French invasion and...that was certainly no good...
So a plethora of "volunteer rifles" saw light. Some of them the "old" style Enfields (mainly 577 caliber),just in hotroded form,and some..these new&improved rifles based on Whitworths findings.

Due coarse this evolved into rifle matches. No wonder... and these matches grew. Completely out of proportion,why we saw others get involved in the progress of these new rifle fundamentals. Men like Metford,Henry,Gibbs et al all presented their own take on what was Whitworths teams basic progress on the matter.
Even the French produced Chassepot got on the wagon in 1866... Yep. 1:22 twist rate rifling and 45 caliber..  ;). Seem familiar?  ;)
The Scandinavian made chamber loaders per above? You bet.. and so the story goes. A new era had seen light in short.

As stated Whitworth never patented his findings and some claim this due to him not really being the father of them ideas. As to the truth of that,who knows.
But one thing´s for sure and that is that others indeed got on the wagon and some really really classic and high accuracy rifles were produced. Some as military match (full stock) and others as pure match rifles (stocks per today approx. Ie;way shorter). Most,if not all,with diopters mounted to be competitive.
Optics? Yes,optics were certainly on the rise too..

These matches evolved,and in a manner i´d wager we´d have a hard time taking to heart today. History tells that these matches could see spectators in the thousands,plural-to the letter,and that the results were in the morning paper and at that the talk of the day. Long range rifle shooting really evolved into "da bomb",for lack of better words.
Kind of neat thinking about it isn´t it?
Shooters getting together,for instance at classic grounds like Creedmoor..like friggin rockstars of the day. The match rifles were so popular that they were often prizes at these matches too.

The general idea of that hexagonal bore though.. Hm. None of the "others" used that,as it had proved that even the Whitworths basically was just as accurate with regular bullets. If you´re up for it,google for instance "Henry" rifling as well as "Whitworth rifling aso..
The one that kept with it,with a twist though,was Westley Richards.

´N see...here we see the next natural and major step of evolution as breech loaders came into effect. Nothing new really,they had been around for at least a century at the time,but when these features were combined we all of a sudden saw a soldier that could hit a target one click out,prone. Reloading the thing,still at prone...and live to tell about it. Something never heard of before.

What IS a Monkey tail?
Well. It even states "Whitworth rifling" or "Whitworth patents" on the barrel,while it is not. The hexagonal bore was gone,being replaced with an octagonal one. As to why?
No idea.
But what WR did was add breech loading,and this is where the MT gets its name as the breech handle ends in a "monkeys tail" way down the stock. A curl out of steel in short.
As a breech loader it used a brass plunger that supported a greased wad at the rifles breech,and the idea was that this would make for a seal.
Borderline at a minimum really and spectacular at most. But the seed was there at last..

As these match rifles evolved,the MT was put into production in the 1860´s,it was realized that them earlier immense barrel lengths were not needed anymore as ample accuracy was to be achieved with way lesser barrel length,making for a way more compact rifle.
Mind you,the Whitworths as well as the MT´s and what not were certainly available with for instance 33" and 39" barrels too but for the MT´s..the majority of them were either short rifles or carbines.

WR made a number of prototypes that were entered for various British military trials and for various reasons the military always had objections. At that some of these trials rifles actually malfunctioned as well,so some of the blame sure belongs to WR too..
Be advised that at this time in turn bolt action rifles sees the light of day. Back in the 1840´s already in the form of the German Dreyse rifle and later on the Italian Carcano..and finally in turn the French Chassepot. All of them what´s known as needle fire rifles.
Which brings us to...cartridges. All of them needle fire rifles were intended for cartridges,and indeed so was the MT.
Just,where the others were needle fire rifles the MT was still an exterior hammer cap fire gun.

Why keep at it? The external hammer rifle was dead wasn´t it? Nope..hell no even. We at approx this time see the first steps vs metallic cartridges. Even so during the american civil war...
Central fire ones..pinfire ones...and every possible solution in between. In the infancy of metallic cartridges we see a LOT of "alternatives" being born..

But at first WR kept with paper cartridges that were fired with regular black powder firing caps. Later on,in the 1870´s,a few true metallic cartridge MT´s were produced,again for military trials,but lost out.

However. The British navy bought a load of them original cap fired MT´s...and just down the road,the Portuguese contract. Yeah. A very famed British rifle maker struck gold with the Portuguese. {_K {L*
Then..irony hits cause make NO mistake.. The MT was a long range mass produced rifle. Total manufacture of a claimed 66ooo pieces. Portugal all of them?

No. The mainstay of them went to South Africa and the Boers.
Ironic as THIS exact rifle is what the Boers used to fight the British off and thus claim their own republic.  (?^ There´s a story that states that a young South African boy was considered to be ready to use a rifle when he could hit a hens egg at 100 yards with open sights. With open sights that´s a feat to this day..

The MT´s claim to fame became that out in the wilderness it could be loaded with cartridges OR used as a muzzle loader-your choice. Out in the sticks,miles and miles away from a post,that makes for a difference why the MT´s were produced by WR way way into the 1880´s - when even smokeless powder had become all the rage.
Reason was...it was accurate,it was light and more so..practical. With a mere 25" of barrel length and breech loaded in 45 cal there was only so much you had to haul around to keep the rifle in case in the fight. No matter if 2 or 4 legged predators.
On the latter,it was powerful enough to keep the Boers in meat even going up against the big 5 at the time. Semi fast to reload if cartridge even..
(This later era is where the famed express and what not rifles are born too)

To sum this first part of the story up then?
I´d state that the MT was a great idea just,it was born in an era where firearms evolution happend at a rate that what was new&improved the one day was to the letter yesterdays news the next.
Still though,there´s no two way about that this era in Britain where these rifles were conceived...it happens once,and that´s it.

This particular rifle that i´ve bought,someone´s been at it before i enter the game. Which suits me fine really. I´m in it as a shooter and thus for the performance.
Where Whitworths these days,the European ones,can run 3ooo-7ooo dollars and in turn the very scarce civil war ones an easy 1oo ooo dollars plus...an MT is a downright bargain as it basically hands you the same level of performance at a rate most common men can afford. Yes,even as vintage rifles...seeing their qualities after all.

Yep. This one´s been fiddled with (read-overhauled) before i enter,which is all good to me. What the seller has told me is that the chamber,barrel and rifling is in VERY good working order,which is what it´s all about to me. I´m to SHOOT this thing. Not let it collect dust.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2018, 06:57:36 PM »
These are pictures of the actual rifle.
As can be seen the condition of it is way up there,but then have in mind that someone put work into it.
As to the quality of this work,i´m not getting my hopes up.

Seing this rifle is bought in Britain in turn i expect delivery time to be...long.

My take here is performance,and the idea of mine is to dive into what bullets,charges and so on makes for the best performance AND in turn put this MT up against my Chassepot and in turn m/1851.

The British take..the French take on things,and in turn the earlier m/1851 of 63 caliber. Of course i expect the 45 cal rifles to perform WAY better,but there´s always an interesting pitch in by to what amount too.

So. As i eventually take delivery of this vintage piece i expect to put some work into it. Seller told that the action needs work,and either the trigger or tumbler is worn as the hammer won´t cock as way back as it should.
No fret as far as i´m concerned... What´s important to ME is that the chamber,barrel and rifling is good. So i´m told and i have no reason to disbelieve that.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2018, 07:05:10 PM »
...first pic.
I intend to make myself some sort of carrying luggage for this. Doing so i guess i´ll enhance and print that there..  :-X

Second pic in turn. The MT´s were often hotroded too. In this case with a checkered pistol grip stock. To each and his own i guess.

Rest of the pictures is from an arranged classic hunt in South Africa,ZA.
A beautiful modified MT and it´s owner. Last pic next to a flintlock,obviously.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 10:31:40 PM »
So word is that this gun is off,headed for little ol´ me. Per usual when it comes to getting anything that says boom out of Britain. It´s to the point where it gets ridiculous. We´re talking 150yr old relics here..antiques..gimme a break already.

No matter the gun is headed this direction and question is if it´ll manage to show up before i myself head out of here headed for Spain for some well deserved RnR come wednesday next week.

Now. As i write in the Sharps post of mine i´ve reached the understanding that for ME to be able to wring the performance out of these guns that are no doubt there...optics. Whiiiiiiiiiich presents sorts of an issue with a Monkey tail.

As you can gather from the picture of them that "bolt"/trapdoor makes that any and all regular scopes are out and we are at that point in the hands of so called "scout scopes".
Ie; scopes designed for an eye relief that lets us install a scope out on the barrel need be. Alright.

Be that as it may i turn to my fellow 1858 comrades and ask for advice cause when it comes to THEM kind of scopes i´m a sitting duck. To the letter.
The little i´ve seen of them has been on e-bay basically and..sure,i mean i read the numbers and yadda yadda...and sure..i´ve got the tools and means for a solid install.
However i´m at a TOTAL loss as to what to get?

Any advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated guys! Then have in mind that this is claimed to be a rifle of 1000 meter easy capacity, but that my main usage will be between 100 and 600 meters i suspect.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2018, 01:10:09 PM »
Just friggin...WOW! FOR a rifle a Monkey tail is!  {:(

Now. Please have in mind that this in essence is the natural evolution of the Whitworth. As in the fabled CSA "Whitworth sharpshooters" of the US civil war.
A high precision 45cal rifle intended for serious business and work.

The whole thing oozes of performance and build quality and judge my surprise...cause it is a VERY nimble and light gun..as i put it on the digital bathroom scale of mine and it tells 2,9kg!  (^h

I´ll get back to you guys on this one..just trust me on this.
DVC - 2018

Offline prof marvel

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2018, 11:57:00 PM »
That is in incredibly fine shape! looks almost new...

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Offline Capnball

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2018, 06:28:34 AM »
That fella holding the MT looks like he is straight off of "Quigley Down Under" movie. Well written and very informative! Cool pics! (T^

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 05:04:19 PM »
More coming gents. Rest assured  ])M
Right now though some well deserved RnR down in Spain  (T^
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2018, 05:34:26 PM »
Back in the saddle,altho cramped a bit by a nasty Spanish cold.

So. This rifle isn´t exactly untouched before i got my hands on it and thus any and all more in depth "collectors value" is shot already as is,which is why i got it in the first place as performance is the name of the game here right,so...wazzup?
This is a shooter. To the letter,and i expect great things out of it all said and done...while be respectful of the fact that the road will most likely be a bit bumpy.

Took the barrel off the "breech" (if you can really call it that) to get a better perspective and view on what i´ve got here. Picking it apart was actually rather easy for once!
What IS it i´ve got up my sleeve then? Two things really. Cartridge conversion,albeit STILL with a separate cap,and optics.

Be adviced that these rifles are known for their long range accuracy,but are of course finicky about what you serve them and how. No wonder,but still..high precision rifles,if ANY,of their time (keep Whitworth in mind here please).

Main reason i got the barrel off of there was to check if a 45 cartridge will fit,and indeed..regular 45-70 to 45-120´s can be catered for. As is the chamber is to small which i´ll of course handle with an adjustable reamer.
This presents a few other issues too though.. See.. The OEM paper cartridge is built/put together in such a manner that it kind of "folds" just behind the bullet and this to get the thing in there-at all!
Hence,the reminder of the "breech chamber" is rather short and of course to short to cater for the insert of a 45 whatever of ample size cartridge.
So this needs to be looked into. However,after fiddling around with this a bit,tossing back n forth,it is certainly doable and see THAT is as far as this opening Pandoras box!

What i have in mind,not cut in stone yet though,is the 45-90 cartridge and this can be done and handled. But that ALSO brings that i get to reload for this rifle on a regular loading press. Thaaaaank you...

Now. Other issue is the one of flame channel and this channel enters the barrel approx 10mm down the bore from the breech end. Brings that the 45-90 cases used in such a case needs to be drilled to provide for this and what´s more..also brings that they need to be inserted the same way every time.
As i cut into them with a regular drillbit from the side i´m thinking to cut an ever so slight cutout on the rim as well...and to drill and install a peg/pin at the breech end which secures that the cartridges can only be chambered in one position.

What about extraction then? I guess a simple such could be devised that is installed to the actual breech block and corresponds to a cutout for it in the barrel,so as to just jump the rim of them cartridges and "hook on" to them. No need for any stop pin to yank the casings outta there either as the breech block turns up and away as you open it up.

That´s my line of thinking thus far as far as keeping life way more simple using this piece and what more..what´ll hand me a fair chance as far as producing consistent cartridges for it.

Optics then.
Due to the breech block,i´ve tossed and turned this til hell freezes over,the only viable option i come up with is a long eye relief scope. To ad insult to injury in turn this is a rifle with a half extended range rendering that the use of 2-4 power scope would be just silly. That..kind of narrows it  all down a bit cause the offerings as far as long eye relief and higher powers are limited,that is..if you´re not to break the bank.
As of this writing i´ve got my eyes set on a more elaborate chinese offering...and we´ll take it from there i guess.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2018, 01:02:57 PM »
Scope base alright,albeit with a simple n dirt cheap piece of scope just for the sake of it. My thinking being that it´ll suffice until the real deal shows up.
Again..this whole deal with long eye relief surely cuts one short. No doubt.
Yes. The countersunk allen screws will be replaced for regular slotted ones.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2018, 03:12:53 PM »
So. Since this afternoon this rifle carries a chamber for 45-90 cartridges but...
Putting the cutting tools to that barrel...hm.
Cast steel might be but it´s soft like marshmallow fluff.

Yes. It will most likely suffice for blackpowder use no doubt but..i´ve always been considered a sorts of "cowboy" in as much that i´ll tread my own path and as such..
Please keep in mind that this is the 55 grains version of this weapon. Of blackpowder that is and i´m to up that to 90 grains (at least).

That Sharps taught me a thing or two and to be honest turning yet another chamber insert out of Swedish SIS 2541 tool steel is a breeze to me and that done i can,to the letter,forget about the chamber. For eternity.

Been home since a few hrs..glass of Islay..pondering. TBH i don´t really know why i give this thought. At all. The damn thing NEEDS a proper chamber insert and done deal.
Drill that SOB out and be done with it.

As is though it´ll take 45-90 cases already. Forcing cone and so on all done-and what not.

Nah. Tool steel it is. In that manner it won´t really matter WHAT i toss at it.
DVC - 2018

Offline Roose Hurro

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2018, 05:31:19 PM »
Nah. Tool steel it is. In that manner it won´t really matter WHAT i toss at it.

Yes.  "Better safe than sorry."    (T^
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Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2018, 06:09:45 PM »

Took the thing to the range right and a few things became evident. A scope is a must,it´s that simple,and the issue as far as that is the eye relief needed for a MT seing how the "bolt" flips open/upwards.
Brings that i needed an eye relief around the 110-120mm range and see..those are few apart.

What to do? Well,originality as far as this rifle...fogedaboutit. That ship has sailed,so what i did was to simply cut 20mm off the end of the butt of it.
Worked like a charm.

To the point where i test installed a 6x-24x and..what can i say? Unorthodox? Sure! Practical,seing the range of this rifle,you bet!
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2018, 03:59:32 PM »
Surfing around the web last night i ran into a scope contender,or more to the point a "new era" sort of.
So *click" and i´ve got a 6x-24x/60 inbound.

Took at look at what i need to do as far as base and figured i´ll install a 20mm*150mm ground piece of steel bar. In that manner i get a little leeway as far as moving the glass around.

Then. I´m to turn a chamber insert. All good and dandy i guess,but i also want to be able to try the rifle out asap and..it´s already had its chamber cut approx 0,5mm wider why i question if a greased wad will suffice to keep the hurricane within the realms of the chamber-without sending a ton of hot gasses backwards.
It IS cut for 45-90 though and at that to register at the case rim. Figured as a make shift i´ll just cut a 45-70 down to a degree where it´ll clear the flame channel and then load the gun up with that 45-70 base as sort of a dummy,just there for the ride and to become a sort of seal.
DVC - 2018

Offline Racing

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Re: Westley Richards "monkey tail" short rifle
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2018, 05:33:26 PM »
Pic 1..
Yeah. That Leupold scope showed up alright! Fabbed a steel base for it and..what can i say? The thing is on there like welded in place.

Pic 2..
Cut down a 45-90 case to become sorts of a plug to work as a seal when loading the gun with ball n loose powder.

Pic 3..
I was sent a package of info on the stock cartridges and more importantly slugs. In short they used bore riders. Now,be that as it may we´ve got another rifle around the house that does that,the Chassepot. "Stock" Chassepot bullets we´ve got on hand so.. Wrapped 30 of them to match the barrel of the MT and will take it from there.

Pic 4..
Lathe pic!!! LOL. That there is some hardcore SIS 2541..one MT chamber insert coming up. Working steels this tough isn´t something you do with ordinary cutters,i´ll tell you that much.

Pic 5..
For lack of 45-90 cases i downloaded the specs for them online. Then a 45-70 was used as sorts of dummy,they´re close enough after all disregarding their length.

Pic 6..
Uhu. Liiiiiiiike a gloooooove.... (k-

Now for Starline 45-90 brass. That,and reloading dies,won´t show up ´til next week. In turn i need the correct base plate for 45-90 for the press too...

Regardless. As is the rifle is ready to fire with loose powder n ball. Come saturday a fellow enthusiast n me will get together hopefully to shoot weather permitting.
Him bringing a Thomas Turner 451 volunteer rifle.

Which is...
Pic 7..8..and 9  {+*
DVC - 2018