This exquisitely presented, late 1990s, hand-built rifle with interchangeable barrels is designed to excel in all aspects of an African safari adventure, says Dominic Griffith
RAY Ward has long been recognised as a retailer and maker of fine sporting guns. A hand-built rifle is always something to aspire to, suggesting that you have experienced all the major manufacturers, have taken the best ideas from each and now know exactly what you want and who you want to make it.
Based on an Obandorf Magnum Mauser ’98, this take down, interchangeable barrelled, Ray Ward rifle is an elegant masterpiece of engineering. Exquisitely engraved by David Tallet and beautifully presented in its custom hand-made leather travelling case, it represents the height of luxury and practicality. It is, of course, a rifle designed principally for dangerous game, although many choose to make use of the .375 H&H for the renowned big boar of Eastern Europe. Most, however, would agree that the combination of
.375 H&H and .416 Remmington, as offered in this rifle, neatly covers all aspects of an African safari adventure.
The stock and fore-ends are of well-figured, polished walnut, the stock bearing a rubber recoil pad. The bolt, action and magazine portion is common to either barrel and features a side mounted, three-stage safetycatch, gold inlaid to the top surface with “F” for fire (forward), “I” for intermediate (the safe unload position) and “S” for safe (back). There is an additional gold inlaid “SAFE” on the side, which shows when safe and is obscured when in the fire position. The magazine floor plate is gold inlaid with the words “For Big Game” with its respective calibres of “.416 Rem” and “.375 H&H” added below.
The barrels simply screw on but are engineered to fit precisely to the action in just a few rotations. An additional sidemounted holding screw, turned using the purpose-built turn screw provided, completes the process in no more than a few seconds. The two interchangeable barrels are individually gold inlaid on the chambers with their respective calibres and are fitted with barrel-band sling mounts. The .375 barrel has a flip-up foresight protector operated by a pushbutton locking device. Both fore and back sights are tipped in gold for easy view. The entire rifle, with either of the two barrels fitted, and with scope attached, weighs 10lb 8oz or 11lb with a full magazine.
The scope is a Zeiss Conquest DL 1.2-5x36 variable power with illuminated reticule. It is mounted with a quick detachable H&h-type mounting system that drops into the rear receptor and locks into the front with a half-turn lever. The front upper ring is gold inlaid with the two magnum calibres, while the rear upper ring bears the name of the maker, again gold inlaid.
The scope can be used for either barrel and a note in the case handily advises you of the required adjustment between the two calibres, in this case no more than a few clicks of lateral and horizontal movement. On its lowest setting of 1.2 magnification the cross-hairs appear to run directly down the centre of the barrel, passing through the blade of the foresight. As the magnification increases the barrel is lost and ultimately becomes no more than an indistinct blur at the six o’clock position in the scope image.
The fine leather case houses a cleaning rod, a leather accessory pouch, a leather plaited sling and the purpose-made, ebonyhandled turn screw referred to.
This is not a rifle with which to spend an afternoon on the range; the .375 gives a fair knock and the .416 can be a bit brutal when fired in the absence of adrenalin. But both perform well whether using express sights or the Zeiss scope. The respective groups at 100m between the two calibres, the .375 using Federal 270 grain Hi-shok soft point and the .416 using a Federal 400 grain round, were all around 2in to 3in and less. So this is a precision rifle both in build and in performance.
It is always a great pleasure to handle and experience objects of outstanding engineering and this rifle certainly earns that epithet. As a safari rifle it is robust and reliable; as a collector’s item it is rare and desirable.
With a Zeiss Conquest DL 1.2-5x36
scope; in its case (below left)
Late 1990s Ray Ward Magnum Mauser .375/.416 is on commission sale
From Reeves UK Ltd
Gunshop at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School, Hook End Lane, Pangbourne RG8 8SD Tel 01491 671648 (Simon Freedman)