Rigby Big Game Rifles are a collaboration between John Rigby and Mauser. The resulting marriage of German engineering and British craftsmanship comes at a surprisingly moderate price, says Dominic Griffith
Rigby Big Game Rifles are best to have to hand if you are hunting for cape buffalo in Tanzania. Rigby Big Game Rifles have been synonymous with John Rigby & Co (1775) since the company collaborated with Mauser the early 1900s. Now, following a turbulent period under American ownership, history has come full circle and Rigby is back in London and, once again, in collaboration with Mauser. Its first rifle project, which it is calling the “Big Game”, is based on the Mauser ’98 model. Rigby has been bought by L&O, which owns Mauser and Blaser, so the union between German actions, English craftsmanship and London proofmarks should prove to be a perfect one.
RIGBY BIG GAME RIFLES TECHNICAL DATA
Many aspects of the original Magnum Mauser action have been retained. The single square bridge version, designed for shooting over express (open) sights, is aimed primarily (but not exclusively) at the professional hunter or those hunting large game. It is available in .416 or .450 Rigby calibre and has the traditional three-position flag safety, the much-admired extractor and the shorter, heavier 22in barrel for speed of handling.
The double square bridge version, for use with express or a telescopic sight, is available in .375 H&H and .416 Rigby and has a 24in, lightweight barrel and a Winchester flat, three-stage safety catch designed not to interfere with the telescopic sight or its mountings. This rifle is aimed primarily at the travelling sporting hunter.
Both rifles have the traditional Rigby-pattern magazine floor plate that allows them to hold four rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. The .416 and .450 are aimed at those going after dangerous game, while the .375 would suit a wider range of quarry and would even be suitable for large wild boar.
The rifles are utterly beautiful but also extremely usable. Indeed, in my view, such rifles demand a working life and the patina that they will acquire over a number of safaris will simply enhance their elegance. They were both a pleasure to handle: well balanced, ergonomic and fast.
The quality of finish, with all exposed metal parts case-hardened and blued, is excellent. The grade 5 and grade 7 ergonomic stocks I saw were beautifully figured and if you can possibly run to the grade 7 it must be worth it to create a unique and highly desirable rifle. All stocks are designed with a higher comb for better fit and absorption of recoil.
RIGBY BIG GAME RIFLES SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
I test-fired both with Hornady 400gr dangerous-game expanding (DGX) ammunition in .416 Rigby calibre. Clearly, it makes quite a bang but that bang is delivered smoothly into the shoulder, with the 10lb rifle absorbing the worst of the recoil. While not rifles with which to spend an afternoon on the range, they do not deliver the lasting shock of, say, the .458, and the shots with both express and Swarovski Z6i-6×24 telescopic sight were within 2in of bull freehand unsupported at 50 metres. I can imagine an African professional hunter appreciating the history and reliability of the single square bridge and entrusting his life to it on a daily basis. I can equally imagine his guest enjoying the performance of the scoped double square bridge.
But when one considers that the cost of a hand-built, custom, big-game rifle will almost certainly start at £10,000, perhaps the most surprising attribute of the new Rigby is its price. From just £7,787, including VAT, these rifles are competitively and attractively priced, with a custom finish on a production rifle. They represent excellent value for money and it is perhaps not surprising that the American big-game market is apparently falling over itself in the stampede to acquire one.
I thought they were quite magnificent, a perfect marriage of German engineering and British craftsmanship.
Rigby Big Game Rifles price: from £7,787, including VAT
Where to buy Rigby Big Game Rifles: Visit John Rigby & Co, London SW8 or call 020 7720 0757