It’s abuzz in the Rigby showroom as we catch up with Marc Newton, the company’s managing director to find out what’s been happening inside the workshop this month and find out whether he made it out in the roe rut at the end of July.
Marc, tell us what’s been happening in the Rigby workshop this month?
We are nearing completion of the first Rigby .577 NE Rising Bite double rifle made by the company since 1907. It’s been very difficult to make but it has turned out extraordinarily beautiful. What’s challenging is keeping the rifle’s lines very refined on something so big, whilst maintaining its balance, but I think we’ve knocked it out of the ball park. The rifle handles wonderfully and despite being a little lighter than some other .577s on the market, the recoil is very manageable – I would say comparable with a .500 NE. We’ve tested it a lot over the past few weeks and we are very pleased with its performance.
On another note, Rigby was also very proud to sponsor the Fred Taylor Memorial Trophy for Working Hill Ponies for a third consecutive year at the Scottish Game Fair. The event, which was held at Scone Palace Parklands on Sunday 7 July, saw an amazing turnout. Twelve working hill ponies from all over Scotland paraded the main arena, with hopes of winning a Rigby Highland Stalker rifle, specially engraved with the winning pony, ghillie and estate’s name on a silver shield inlaid into the rifle stock.
The judge, Richard Fraser of Atholl Estates in Perthshire, awarded ghillie Rebecca Cantwell and Highland pony Balmoral Harmony of The Queen’s Balmoral Estate in Royal Deeside with first place. Richard said, “They had it all” and he couldn’t mark them down for one fault, which was extremely impressive!
Now work is underway to deliver the rifle to the estate, so it can be used for the Queen’s guests over the forthcoming years, which we are enormously delighted by.
What projects are your gunmakers and engravers working on?
Currently we are producing a very special set of guns for one of our clients. They feature engravings of as many game animals as we can possibly fit onto the guns, from all around the world. There are nine guns in total; .275, .350, .416 and .450 bolt rifles; .470 and .350 Rigby “No. 2” Rising Bite double rifles; a pair of 12-bore Rising Bite shotguns; and lastly a .416 Rigby No. 2 falling block. Naturally I am extremely excited to be a part of this unique and historic project.
In all, I believe there are over 150 animals engraved in multi-coloured gold across all of the guns, so that they look like a set. In addition they are being housed in a fabulous cabinet made of wood from different trees from around the world, so it’s a very thought-out process; the ultimate selection of hunting guns and rifles. The concept behind this collection was they could be gifted to somebody, who could then hunt anywhere in the world, with any of the guns or rifles. We will be following up with more photos of this project later in the year, so watch this space…
Have you any other projects going on in the background?
We are potentially looking to start a Rigby Owners’ Club, which will be great for bringing together the Rigby community, but we’re still in the very early stages of planning.
Plus, unofficially we are launching the Rigby “Falling Block” rifle, by making 10 limited edition falling blocks in .416 Rigby “No. 2”, which has been very well received so far.
How did The Game Fair go?
Pretty good, on the Friday we launched Rigby Art which was a big deal and toasted its success with our very own Rising Bite cocktail. I think we’re the first gunmakers to ever do anything like this, so we had a dedicated section on the booth to highlight this latest Rigby development. Geoffrey Lignon, who is my head engraver and the head of Rigby Art, along with fellow engraver, Saija Koskialho were on hand to meet everyone and discuss all the artistic pieces, plus we held a press call to showcase the art to the media.
On the Saturday, we also held a Boisdale drinks reception in partnership with West London Shooting School, serving Champagne and canapés to customers and the press. It was extremely well attended with around 100 guests and was a great opportunity to spread the word about our new John Rigby & Co. Rifle Range.
Of course the centre piece of the stand and not to disappoint all our rifle enthusiasts, we showed some stunning double rifles currently in production along with the new W.D.M. Bell rifle, which received high praise. We also had an excellent selection of our Highland Stalker and Big Game rifles.
How did you unwind after a busy Game Fair, did you make it out for the roe rut?
Yes, I’ve just taken on 12,000-acres of roe stalking with my best friend, on a spectacular location in the south of England. It’s possibly one of the best bits of roe stalking in the country. I found this was a great way to get out and decompress after a busy few days on booth.
Any other news you would like to share?
Well yes, we are looking with our architects at extending the Rigby building significantly. We’re aiming to double our workshop, storage and showroom space, to take the present building from a 3,000 to 6,000 square foot property, so we can house more engravers, more artisan craftsmen and more museum pieces. There will also be a dedicated Rigby Art section, so it’s all very exciting.