Gary Duffey is a huge supporter of Rigby rifles and an avid collector of fine English and American guns. Based in Texas, USA he has always been a voracious reader of sporting literature and as far back as he can remember has always been passionate about guns, hunting and the great outdoors. In this latest blog, Gary examines the term vintage guns and discusses his love of Rigby’s pre-WWII .416 Rigby Big Game rifles.


Noun: vintage

The year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.

Adjective: vintage

Relating to or denoting wine of high quality. “vintage claret”

Often the term vintage as applied to firearms can be used as either a noun, or as an adjective, denoting a period of manufacture or a reference to quality or condition. Many of us who feel a connection to sporting history through literature, certain firearms, and our own hunting experiences desire to own what we often may refer to as a vintage gun or rifle. This can provide us a tangible connection to persons, periods of time, places, and events that have made lasting impressions on us. We can see this in many areas of life; fashion, architecture, art, etc. It seems there are collectors of vintage items of all types and from all periods that are seemingly insignificant to others while providing some connection to a time or activity to another person.

A great example is the highly sought after original or vintage Rigby Big Game rifles chambered in .416. There were some 189 of these iconic rifles made prior to World War II. These are highly coveted and widely revered in the writings of many of hunters of the ‘golden age’ of safari and contemporary hunters and collectors alike. Their design, quality, and performance in the field is legendary. The demand for these rifles is, and has always been, far beyond the number produced and the demand has always exceeded exponentially the number available.

In 1987 I purchased an original Rigby .416 on the magnum Mauser, in its lightweight leather case with all original accessories. To this day it is the most original and highest condition Rigby .416 that I have seen of the original 189. At that time, I paid what was a staggering sum for it within my economic world. It was such a sum that I wouldn’t dare tell anyone the amount for fear that they would think that I had lost my mind. Some two years later I sold it for almost twice what I had originally paid for it and thought that I had made out like the proverbial bandit. Today the rifle would fetch four to five times the amount that I sold it for. Sadly, I must admit, that as the demand for these rifles has grown, my ability to own another has not kept pace.

We hear it said, “if only this rifle could talk”, and as much as I still covet that rifle I fear it could not tell us much. Oh surely, could it talk, it would tell us of its owner, and about its trip from England to the United States. But, I fear it had not seen any adventure. It was for all practical purposes, new. Its virtue lies in its condition, allowing it to serve as a great store of value and as an appreciating asset. I did enjoy it, it just lacked something that I have never been quite able to put my mind around. I do think that as I have gotten older, that I have gained some insight into what things go into an objects intrinsic value.  I think of the few heirloom items that I possess of my parents and grandparents. These things are a connection to them and to their time and as much as I treasure them, those days were not mine.

My time, our time, is today.

I can now design my own Rigby .416, just as I want it, and no doubt it will be in a very traditional ‘vintage’ configuration. While it will possess all the DNA of its iconic lineage, it will have no history of its own. It will be a newborn. From beginnings as new, I will use it in my own hunting experiences and it will be a part of my own memories. For my children, I hope that it can be among the things that will serve as a connection to me and my time, to my vintage.

11 responses

  1. Back in November/December 1972, I was in Nairobi Kenya, and went in a gun shop there. Name Bunduki, comes to mind. Anyway, they had a Rigby rifle in 416 Rigby for sale. Price? $365.00. I believe it was called a perch belly with the magazine hanging down a bit. NO ammo available (and no internet to find any, lol). I could not convince myself to buy it, and today, sure wish I had. Have shot some 416s and they don’t “kick” like we imagined they might. I guess this would have been one of the 189 made pre-war. I seriously regret NOT buying it, but other considerations were HOW do we get it back home, and who to have it sent to for import, et.

  2. Congratulations on being appointed the U.S. Rep for Rigby. What an honor for you! And Rigby! Good luck with your new appointment!

  3. Good Morning Gary,
    Truly enjoyed our rifle and gun conversation at dinner last night and looking forward to more of them in the future. Wishing you the best of luck on your upcoming Abilene hunt!

    Stay safe!

  4. Hi Gary,
    I just made contact with an acquaintance of yours in Texarkana. After a short conversation that convinced me, he and I were speaking about the same Gary Duffey, I gave him my email and phone number to pass on to you. I should be coming through during the middle of August. If you can contact me with your phone or email, we can set up the time and date for us to meet.
    David Hodo

  5. Mr. Duffy,

    Just opened this note from the Rigby group, and was very pleased to hear you are in Texas! I too have a 416 Rigby, one of the, “189”! Mine was produced in 1925.
    I hope to get more information on the previous owners from the Rigby Company when I have the time to send identification their way.

    All the best,

    Blackie Mitchell
    Dallas, Texas

    1. Blackie, Good to hear from a fellow Texian and best of luck with your research. You never know what you might learn. Best, Gary

  6. Good Day Mr. Duffy,

    I am also a big fan of the Rigby Pre-war .416, a gun that took me many years to acquire…it’s cased, beautiful gun!!!

    Now I am another adventure, I am having a brand new Vintage Rigby being built in .416. I have to say I really in my heart believe that my new Rigby will far outshine my Pre-war gun in quality. This gun will also one day be vintage and a well desired gun, the biggest difference is that if my new gun could talk it would tell my story!!! not someone else. I am getting to do the same thing as guys that bought Pre-war rigby were able to do, create my very own story with a gun that will outshine Mr. John Rigby built guns. A 2018 Rigby .416. Be well and God Speed!!

    In Christ

    1. Vance, having seen your pre-war rifle and knowing the details of your current production ‘best’ rifle, it will be a pair to enjoy for sure. It will be a treat for sure to see them side by side!

  7. Another great story about the great Rigby rifles!
    I will be out your way in August. I hope we can get together for lunch or dinner and talk great guns and hunting in our past!
    David Hodo

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