With the streets of London awash from the seemingly endless rain, we headed indoors to the Rigby workshop to chat to Factory Foreman Nelson Neto Jr. for this month’s Campfire workshop.
How did you first get involved in the gun trade?
Everything started when I was 18 years old and joined the Brazilian Army in 1984 as a gunsmith and armory manager. I was charged to keep 140 bolt action Mosque FAL rifles (a modernized version of the Brazilin 30-calibre Mauser model 1908) in good working order. After that, I started working with all kinds of military, handguns, hunting and sports guns as well, getting to know about how they all worked and their quirks. But it was when I started to make custom Mauser bolt action rifles and I realised that I was hooked on it for life, and I decided to specialise in gunmaking. The fact that I started hunting and competed as a sport shooter ensured I developed an understanding of the specific needs of hunters and shooters when it comes to bolt action rifles.
Please can you tell us a little more about your role and what a typical day looks like for you?
Two words – very busy! I’m normally dealing with the Big Game & Highland Stalker rifles that together make up the major volume of our sales and they demand a lot of commitment and administrative tasks. I spend plenty of time checking if the feeding, extraction and ejections are flawless so that our rifles are not only masterpiece bolt action rifles, but reliable tools as well. I also do other work on the bench as well, assembling rifles, preparing them for the Proof House (where the gun barrel safety is tested) and so on.
How long have you worked at Rigby and what’s changed since you started?
I’ve now been working at Rigby for five and a half years. I would say Rigby is growing day by day and becoming one of the strongest names on the trade. Over the years a strong commitment to quality, refining our offering and bringing on new developments are part of this huge success. We’re never standing still.
What characteristics do you think have helped you get to where you are today?
I started this journey more than 30 years ago, back in an age when the internet didn’t exist and there was no gunmaking school in Brazil, so I learned everything by myself. Perseverance, focus, honestly, resilience and of course a lot of patience are the keys to forging a better yourself, so always put your heart, soul and passion in everything what you do, and the rewards are going to show up!
What have you been working on this year?
It’s been a busy year, which is excellent. I’ve been working on sets of fully engraved London Best bolt action rifles, and some Swiss Edition Highland Stalker rifles in the special Swiss caliber 7.5×55.
Also, working on several bolt action Big Game & Highland Stalker custom edition rifles in different calibers such 243w, 22-250, 6.5 Creedmore, 7 RM, 300WM, 338WM and so on. The diversity here is fantastic and working on custom orders is always exciting.
Is there anything in the pipeline at Rigby that you are excited about?
Yes, new projects are coming, but now they are secret! Our readers will have to make sure they check back soon to make sure they don’t miss any announcements.
Are you a fan of hunting and if so, what’s your most memorable hunting trip?
I certainly am, and I have two particularly memorable hunting trips to share with you. The first one was on Eagle Lake, in Maine in the USA. I consider it to be one of the most beautiful places on the face of the planet and it’s where I got my first ever black bear. It’s where I had the opportunity to get to know one of my now best friends, the legend that is Ron Ricciardi. It’s an experience I will never forget.
My second memorable hunt took place right here in the UK. I was lucky enough to be hunting with Rigby’s managing director Marc Newton and in a short space of 5 minutes we both bagged Silver Medals Roe Deer! Lucky me, my very first Roe Deer hunt in UK and I shoot a Silver Medal, it was totally unforgettable!
Tell us a little bit about how you like to spend your time outside work
My number one goals when I’m not at work is to spend as much time as I can with my family. When I can I like to travel and visit museums and other places of heritage. A good glass of wine with my beloved wife and a nice chat are always part of my plans, whether we’re at home, on holiday or visiting friends.