Previous Post
Next Post

The Big Game rifle from J Rigby & Co

I like generic names. The Big Show was one my favorite wrestlers for just that reason. And now, “After months of speculation, London gunmaker John Rigby & Co. has finally unveiled its latest creation, a bolt action rifle appropriately named ‘The Big Game.'” [Full press release and more pics after the jump.] Wait, what? Months of speculation? How come I knew nothing about this? Maybe it’s because I don’t rub elbows with English gentry, German Burghers or Arab Sultans. The kind of people who think nothing of shelling out $13.5k (+ 20% VAT) for a firearm. Truth be told, John Rigby & Co. is actually slumming moving downmarket with this plasma nitride-finished rifle, built on the Magnum Mauser action, available in .375 H&H and .416 Rigby (natch). I say, what are you shooting there, James? The Big Game. No, I mean what rifle? The Big Game. It’s Rigby & Co.’s “more moderately priced alternative to the brand’s London Best custom rifles.” Ah . . .

The Big Game rifle from J Rigby & Co

After months of speculation, London gunmaker John Rigby & Co. has finally unveiled its latest creation, a bolt action rifle appropriately named “The Big Game”.

As one of the oldest gunmakers in the world, the cult brand recently enjoyed a renaissance after joining forces with its old German ally, Mauser. Much to the delight of firearms enthusiasts, history has repeated itself, as this is the first time since before World War I that these manufacturing titans have collaborated on a project.

The Big Game rifle from J Rigby & Co

The Big Game is built on the Magnum Mauser action, which is based on the classic model 98 design. Many aspects of the original, including the much admired and copied extractor and three position flag safety, have been retained.The actions and barrels are supplied by Mauser then hand-finished by master craftsmen at the Rigby workshop in London. The guns are proofed in London and will carry the London proof mark as they did 100 years ago.

Available in a Single or Double Square Bridge version, The Big Game offers professional and recreational hunters a more moderately priced alternative to the brand’s London Best custom rifles. The Single Square Bridge model is the professional hunter’s rifle of choice. Available in .416 and .450 Rigby calibres, this edition is designed for use with express sights only. The action is fitted with the classic three-position flag safety and 22″ barrel. Overall weight, unloaded, is 10lb-8oz, stock length 14 1/2″ including a rubber recoil pad.

The Big Game rifle from J Rigby & Co

The Double Square Bridge model is produced in .375 H&H and .416 Rigby calibres and with a 24″ lightweight barrel this rifle is ideally suited for use with a telescopic sight. The Winchester style safety is in the horizontal position to facilitate the fitting of a variety of mounting systems on the machined bridges. Weight of the rifle unloaded is 10lb and stock length 14½” including red rubber recoil pad.

The Big Game rifle from J Rigby & Co

These stunning rifles boasts classic Rigby design features including robust, ergonomic stock shape with higher comb for better fit and absorption of recoil, plasma nitride finish to all metal surfaces resulting in a resilient, anti-glare and rust-resistant finish, Rigby express sights dovetailed directly onto the rib with a single fixed V and 2 folding leaves zeroed at 65, 150 and 250 yards and Rigby pattern magazine floor plate that allows the .416 rifles to hold four rounds in the magazine and another in the chamber. With hand engraved finishing touches, case hardened recoil bars and heat-blued extractor, this exceptional value rifle is a landmark in modern sporting firearms manufacturing. Suggested MSRP with Grade 5 wood begins at $13,558.

Previous Post
Next Post


    • Almost always 400 grains for the .416 Rigby, though 410’s and occasionally 450 grain bullets are available.

    • The .450 Rigby has a several loads from Norma. They have 500 and 550 gr bullets in them including solids for anchoring really bad ass duga boys.

      I have dreamed about owning a .450. Of all the modern African cartridges the .450 Rigby has received glowing reviews from the PHs and seems to have hit the sweet spot of pure power and efficiency. Those 500 grain slugs are launched at 2500 fps with almost 7K foot lbs of energy at the muzzle. They are capable of bringing down anything that lives on this planet. If you want more info, do some searches on the web. There is lots of info out there on this particular round.

    • The Rigby gun isn’t available in .450 Rigby Magnum Rimless. Holland & Holland will make you a double rifle, the Royal, in .450 Rigby Nitro Express, for £103,000. Isn’t that really a better gun anyway?


        • Ah, the single bridge model. Missed it. Thanks.
          Recoil of a .30-06 shooting a 180 grain bthp in an 8.5 lb rifles? About 20 lbs.
          Recoil of a .375 H&H with a 300 grain solid in a 9 lb rifle? About 41 lbs.
          Recoil of a .416 Rigby shooting a 400 grain solid in a 9 lb rifle? About 70 lbs.

        • Ropingdown….I just ran the numbers for the .450. Its about 90 ft/lbs of recoil in a 10 lb gun. Being beat up with a good stiff Turkey load (2 oz at 1300 fps) generates 66 ft/lbs in an 8 lb shotgun. All pretty crazy if you ask me. Its not uncommon for some African hunters to drop a couple of mercury dampeners into the stock to help mitigate this crushing punishment.

  1. I have consumed some strong stuff but not any of that messed me up so much to make me believe a 13k rifle was moderately priced. If I had that much money I would rather get a DRS-1.

    For a heirloom piece why not just buy a Mauser, polish it and have somebody engrave it?

    • But lolinski, the previous Rigby offering included only best guns starting at $60,000.

      This truly is a double leveraging on names. Neither the Mauser producing the Mauser action nor the Rigby producing the Rigby are companies renown for their guns a hundred years ago, but are fairly recently formed companies that own the names. That doesn’t mean the quality isn’t there, of course. It is. They said so.

      You do want quality, don’t you? Personally, my larger-caliber rifles absolutely must have the Winchester-style horizontal three-position safety. Which is why I bought them from Winchester. Well, OK, from FN Herstal.

      • Indeed. Almost all of the English “best gun” companies are now “lifestyle” companies, peddling sportswear, marketing all sorts of nonsense that has nothing to do with guns or shooting.

        These companies have become European affectations of American marketing of the outdoors to high-end fools.

        For $10K, you can get a very nicely made (better than the Rigby pictured) rifle by an American custom gunmaker, and in your choice of action and chambering.

        • Almost all of the English “best gun” companies are now “lifestyle” companies

          I remember when Abercrombie & Fitch was an outfitter. I used to go to the Manhattan store to stare at the Bimini rods, Fin Nor reels and fine shotguns that I couldn’t afford. Now A&F sells mostly crappy clothes, mostly to brand slaves. Lifestyle indeed.

        • What if I don’t buy American? Just kidding, I try to avoid buying Ruger though.

          For 10K I could get some of those engravers and handworkers I know in the old country to make a nice heirloom. No reason to buy expensive American guns.

        • Ralph, that raises an interest point and causes me to reflect: By far my favorite gun is also my only quail gun, a 28 gauge gun bought from A&F in the 1930’s. It was my grandfather’s. It is marked both by the the gunsmith who did the engraving and inlay on the Greener cross-bolt action and by A&F, which means it was “off the rack” at A&F. I wonder: Wouldn’t it actually be a good idea for me to purchase one true best gun, just for my future grandchild’s happiness? Would this reasoning adequately tug at my wife’s heartstrings, I wonder, sufficiently to prevent a divorce filing? So you see, it’s a law question, really.

        • American custom guns will get you a nicer rifle for far less money than a European gun maker will charge.

          Often 10’s of thousands (plural) less.

        • ropingdown, if you can make that case, you’re a better lawyer than I am. Maybe even if you can’t make that case . . . .

    • jewelry has no real purpose. A ford escape is cheaper than Lamborghini and both will take you to the soda shop. The value of this rifle is in the exquisite design and the artistry in its craftsmanship.
      In many ways it is functional sculpture.

    • Of course they do! For their armed forces, police, and people rich enough to have the proper connections and bankroll to look at a 13k price tag and think its a moderate price.

      • I’ve never read that one specific caliber or model was for peasants. They probably assume almost any caliber is fine for peasants. They seem much fussier about the right gun for red deer or elephants.

        • I think you mean pheasant, as in the flying animal, I mean peasant, as in the lower class people, which are not allowed to be armed in England…

          Either that, or my sarcas-O-meter is broken and I’m not picking up what you’re putting down…

        • Yes, I was just thinking that someone considering an expensive British rifle might think it was “for peasants” as opposed to “not for peasants.” For pheasants you need a pair of matched 12 gauge double guns, so that your loader has something to do while you’re shooting your next pheasant.

        • What about using a magazine? Like a tube or something to hold the rounds in the gun, maybe with some mechanism akin to a pump to load the next round? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone made a gun like that?.

  2. So rich people buy expensive guns. just like they buy expensive houses, boats, cars. The more people making, buying, owning, and shooting guns the better. I would imagine the person buying these guns may have more influence on politics than most of us, so we want them on our side.
    I cannot see me buying one of these, it does the same as a $1000 Ruger, Remington or savage. But there again, a Rolls Royce does the same thing as a Toyota Camry.

      • Rolls Royce? Thats old fashioned all them babes love them Porsches nowadays (except the Cayenne it can go burn in hell in my opinion).

        • I think it is possible you’ve been misinformed. Nonetheless, if you’re going to have sex in a non-Cayenne Porsche, date a gymnast. Even the Panamera hasn’t got much room.

        • If I drive around in a Porsche I can afford a hotel room.

          Cayennes just look fugly. I know its practical but its just like that Mossberg tactical levergun. Its usefull but ugly like sin.

  3. I’d love to see these compared with some high end but less exorbitant rifles in the 1000ish range chambered in large calibers, see how they compare.

    • OK, I’ll tell you how they compare:

      You can’t buy the stock blank on the rifle above for less than $800. That’s right, the piece of wood that became that rifle stock costs more than many off-the-rack rifles you see in the US market today.

      • What about making your own rifle from scratch? The wood would still cost you about a grand but if you know the right people (woodworkers and machinists) you could get a nice, heirloom quality rifle for relatively cheap.

        • No, you couldn’t.

          See, I know and possess the skills to make a rifle like what you see in the pictures. I know what it would cost you to make a rifle like that from a war surplus Mauser 98 action and a really nice piece of walnut.

          The lowest end of the price range of a finished rifle like that, with a custom barrel put onto a sporterized Mauser 98 action is about $6K, made here in the US.

          Want a single or double square bridge? Now add at least $1K for that metalwork.

          Want to buy a new, double square bridge Mauser action? So you don’t have that cut-out on the left side of the action for loading from stripper clips? Pony up $3K to start for a new Mauser 98 sporting action in magnum length.

          What you have to understand is that a really fancy rifle’s quality is in details that require time most rack-grade rifle buyers don’t appreciate. Most rack-grade rifle buyers don’t even know where to look for the details that go into the price of a rifle like this.

          To properly inlet that barreled action into the stock requires a bunch of time. Sure, machines can go a long way there, but the last, most detailed parts of the inletting are done by coating the barrel and action with inletting black or smoke, then tapping it into the rough inletting, then chiseling or scraping away the wood that is “in the way” of getting the action to sit down to the center of the bore line – i.e., the top line of the stock as it runs along the barrel or action should be at the middle of the bore line.

          Another example of why guns like this cost so much: On a nice gun, you see the slots on the screw heads all line up on the long axis of the gun. That doesn’t happen just because the gunsmith torqued them do to get them to line up. Most rack-grade rifle buyers think: “Oh, I can make my screws time up! I’ll just get a screwdriver and crank those bad boys tight!”

          Wrong. Those screws, especially the screws that hold the action into the stock, need to be set to consistent levels of torque to get the rifle to group well, especially on three-screw rifle actions like the older Winchester 70’s.

          So the screws are made to fit the rifle. The screw is made from screwstock (1215 or 12L14 steel) with a head that is too tall for the application. The screw is given a provisional slot to get it fitted to the final polished level of the action and stock.

          At the end of things, when the finish on the metal and wood is done, the screws need to be dealt with. You need to torque in the screws and mark where the slots should fall, and how much of the provisional head you need to remove. You do this, partly on a mill (cutting the screw slot with a slitting saw while the screw is screwed into a fixture held in the mill vise) and then you put the screw in a holder to put it on a lathe, where you give the screw the rounded head and polish it to make it nice and smooth (400+ grit smooth).

          If the screw is going to be engraved along with the rifle or shotgun, this is when you do it. The screw is put into place, torqued to get the slot to time up, then the gun is handed off to the engraver, who will engrave the screw to a specific pattern, or (in many cases) the screw is engraved to match the rest of the surrounding engraving.

          Then you have to blue the screw to match the rest of the rifle, OR you could nitre-blue the screw if you’d like to make them “pop.”

          All that, for one screw, and all of it is happening at $65/hour or higher labor rates. I’ve not yet mentioned the work that goes into hand checkering a stock, or making a stock to custom dimensions, etc.

          I know custom gunmakers who, in their 70’s and 80’s, have the experience and skill to finish a rifle like that in, oh, a month. Start with a raw Mauser 98 war surplus action and at the end of the month, they’d have a square bridge or double square bridge on the action, the bolt handle done up nicely, a M70-style swing safety put onto the bolt, everything polished (or new, custom bottom metal mated to the action – that’s another $500 for custom bottom metal), the barrel turned down from a blank, leaving that barrel “wedding band” for the front sling swivel made from the barrel metal (rather than made apart from the barrel and soldered on), the front sight ramp made from the barrel steel, etc, etc. These guys could do it in a month. And those guys will charge you $8K or so to pull off that sort of rifle with that level of wood and a better finish.

          Random woodworkers and machinists might be able to do the job for less, but they’ll take far, far longer to do the job, because the first time they try to do a rifle like this, they’re going to learn a lot of things – the hard way.

        • I agree with idea that putting very nice wood on an off-the-shelf accurate rifle is a fine idea. Many of the more renowned professional hunters and gun-writers have done that. It isn’t an heirloom on its own, though. Maybe it is because you were the one who used it. That’s different.

          However, what gentleman wants to have to check the screws every morning to assure they are properly tightened, reducing the chance the stock will crack when the .416 Rigby is fired at the selected buffalo? With timed screws he can simply glance at the thing and know all is well. Which is as it should be.

        • Well isn’t 6k cheaper than 13k?

          And I wasn’t talking about random woodworkers, I know some guys and I will leave it at that.

        • DG, The current hipster ethos is to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and Rolling Rock, not only without abject shame and embarassment, but to do it with pride. Didn’t you hear, it’s “not nice” to embarrass incompetents by striving for excellence?

          No wonder that appreciating something well-crafted has been replaced with phosphate pop-guns, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha…

  4. $13,558 ?
    I always wonder (with a degree in economics) who did the calculation that they needed the extra $58 dollars from the 13.5k to fit into their business profit plan or if they charged $42 more 13.6k, it would kill the deal where these customers don’t seem to be price sensitive.
    Maybe where a thousandth of an inch precision is being purchased, rounding a price to the closest hundred dollars would suggest lack of precision in the rifle itself.
    Even when converted to British Lbs, it comes to 8,167

  5. The inletting appears to be good.

    The oil finish on the wood doesn’t completely fill the grain. That’s disappointing.

    The checkering is done by hand, but in the shot of the forearm, you can see some errors.

    The nitriding finish? Really? On a $13K rifle, I can’t get slow rust blueing or fume blueing? What a bunch of lazy bums.

    • This is why I like you – you can see immediately if something is fancy enough to justify its fancy price tag.

    • “The oil finish on the wood doesn’t completely fill the grain. That’s disappointing.”

      I don’t even know enough to know what that means. What would it look like if it had “completely filled the grain”?

      • OK, for an example of unfilled grain, look at the photo of the bottom of the magazine (the drop plate). Look at the wood to the left of the drop plate. See how you can see the open pores of the wood? That’s unfilled grain.

        What should it look like? Look at the photo of the front end of the forearm, where I was making critical comments on the checkering. See the area of the wood that is completely smooth, glossy, with no pinholes from unfilled grain pores? The entire stock should look like that.

        In order to fill wood grain, you need to do one of two things:

        1. Use a grain filler. Furniture makers do this before putting on an oil finish. BTW, when I say “oil finish,” I mean a linseed oil based finish or a tung oil based finish. Either one works. Most gunmakers use a linseed oil based finish, and two products that work really well are Linspeed Oil and the other is Tru-Oil.

        Furniture makers can get away with using a grain filler to fill the pores of the wood. Most grain fillers are a very fine powder of some sort of colored earth. They work and work well for furniture. They don’t work well for gunstocks, because of the silica in these fillers. Using a silica-based filler on a gunstock will make the checkering tools go dull pretty quickly.

        2. You soak as much oil into the grain in the first two coats of oil, then from the third or fourth coat of oil on up, you apply a thin coat, then you set-sand the finish (with 400 to 600 grit wet or dry paper) with a 50/50 mixture of your oil finishing product and mineral spirits to “cut back” the finish. As you’re doing this, you’ll generate a mixture of new oil/mineral spirits/dried oil from the prior layer(s). The fine dust in the oil/mineral spirits mixture from the prior coats will start to fill the pores of the wood as you keep working it in by hand.

        After between nine and 15 coats of oil finish that are wet-sanded in, you’ll completely fill the grain and the surface of the rifle will be smooth and have a high-sheen coat. If you want a satin finish, the standard practice is to buff off some of the sheen with rottenstone.

        So now I’ve let you all in on another shortcut that gun makers do: When they use those high-sheen finishes, like Browning, Weatherby, et al, those thick varnishes and epoxy-like finishes that give a hard, thick clear finish? They used those because they were too lazy to fill the grain. They wanted a one-shot product that would fill the grain and the buyer doesn’t know that this is a cheap cop-out, because they’ve rarely seen a custom long gun stock done correctly with oils.

        • Tung Oil. That is what I have used to refinish several of my rifles, such as my SMLE. I got it totally covered in cosmo, only one small mark from another rifle’s safety pressing against it during storage. Stripped it down and then scuffed the surface with 220, then rub down with boiled tung oil. And yes, Wifey b*tched about that smell in the kitchen for weeks! I always recommend tung oil for anyone that is going to carry, use and abuse a rifle in the weather. Easy to dress out marks and scratches and looks GOOD.

    • The oil finish on the wood doesn’t completely fill the grain.

      Damn good eyes. I missed that the first time around. You know, you should be a gunsmith.

      • I’m still not seeing it? But then I’m not in the market for a multi-thousand dollar rifle either so….

        • If I could post photos in which I could do some editing to call attention to what I’m talking about, it would make this explanation easier.

          All I can to is refer you to the photo of the bottom metal – look to the left (in the picture) of the drop plate for the magazine. Where you see the end of the grain surface on the wood and leave a “hole,” that’s “unfilled grain.”

    • When I was a kid, I wanted to be a stock maker, and I have done some checkering. You mentioned some errors on the fore end. Were you referring to the over run into the border on the right side of the photo, or the fact that there is an angle induced between the checkering and the border (left) This of course could have been in the design.

      • The latter, and I don’t think it was in the design. That’s a pretty common error, where the checkering line went askew from the starting line, and it had to be put back into semblance of parallel with a veining tool.

  6. If I were going to spend that much on a single rifle or two, it would be with the good people at Shiloh Rifle Co. and/or Ballard Arms. I prefer blocks to bolts in my sporting rifles (Social hardware is a different story, for those of you who love to throw the fudd moniker around).

    To each their own!

  7. One feature of this rifle that I missed until I looked at the top pic (the rifle from the right side): This rifle has a “dropped box” magazine. See how the magazine’s bottom profile line drops below the line of the rest of the forearm? See how the magazine’s bottom profile line comes down on the front of the trigger guard?

    That’s a magazine box that has been extended down a bit to allow another round to fit into the magazine. That’s going to be a custom piece of bottom metal. The trigger guard with the Argentine-style drop plate release is part of that whole setup, and in the American custom rifle market, you’re looking at over $500 for just that magazine, trigger guard and drop plate from an outfit like Sunny Hill or others.

    • I don’t think that the extra cost of the dropped box magazine matters much or applies to the average Rigby buyer. Just sayin’.

  8. Lame – that’s all I can say. Using a 110+ year old bolt action design and offering a “low end” stock. All I can do is laugh at the obvious attempt to profit from marketing and pandering to the lower classes, and I am not even referring to me because I couldn’t even afford such a thing. I can imagine how the R&D section of Rigby debated this – “How can we make t most rpofit from the least amount of effort

  9. OK, perhaps I am dense, what exactly makes this bolt action rifle worth $14,000? Is it made of super secret metal of some sort? Pretty sure my SMLE will kill just as effectively and I paid $94 for it.

      • Naw, nothing more beautiful than a smelly in full furniture, the light gleaming off the upper as you draw down to the sight, the smooth tictictic as you bring the rear sight to just the right spot above 375 yards, the solid pop into your shoulder as you send that rd down range and into that sweet spot right behind the shoulder joint. Damn! I got half a chub just typing about it.

        I would pay them $550-650, tops. As long as it is chambered in something ya can buy some of without selling one of the kids. 😉

    • a) they don’t make many of them.
      b) there’s a demand for them.
      c) the people who buy them appreciate the level of craftsmanship involved in making these guns.
      d) they hold their value or increase in value over time.

      You might as well ask “Why buy a Duesenberg when you could save money and buy a used Yugo?”

      Of course, today’s kids don’t even know what a Duesenberg is, much less have any idea the level of craftsmanship that went into making one.

      • Oh, I get that they are limited, still don’t see it being worth 14K. For that amount of money I want .50 semi-auto with fully integrated computer/digital optics and non-IR illuminated nightvision.

        • Absolutely.

          And for most of the population of the US, you’d have nowhere you could shoot that piece to its actual capability.

          The point is, it is worth $14K because of the level of hand and bench work that went into that rifle. People who haven’t seen a custom rifle be made, have not seen what it takes to inlet a barreled action into a block of wood and carve a stock out of the block after the inletting… they think that making that rifle is just as easy as Remington mass produces a Model 700, by squirting expanding foam goo into a pastil shell and calling that a stock, by crushing a piece of steel down on a mandrel and calling that a barrel, by using flat phosphate finishes so you don’t see what an abomination the polishing job is… well, there’s a bit more that goes into the rifle above, and lots of what went into it is hand work.

          But I’ll never question anyone’s desire to own quality firearms, of any type – regardless of whether they’re your type of firearm or the one above. I won’t question people’s right to own a die-cast piece of crap, either.

          Some people go for tacti-kewl, I go for quality. Some guys like bottle blondes with a pneumatic chest, I go for cute brunettes with all natural features. To each their own.

          Owning a gun like the one above is much like owning a Lamborghini sports car that you can’t drive over about 80MPH (with the exception of some races in Nevada in the summer), the fact that you can’t drive down the road at 215MPH should in no way impair your ability to go out and buy one. And, like the Lambo… you look like a man of taste and distinction when you pull up at a road rally and everyone else is driving a Ferrari or Shelby.

          • Here in western PA we got a few nice places we shoot .50! 😉 And I get the expensive car analogy. Fact is I would never waste that kind of money on a useless vehicle, either. Price of a Lambi or Ferrari I can buy a 2ton dump with built in tool boxes, overhead racks and crewcab, and fuel it for a couple of years. Hell, for 14K I can buy a Terramite T9 excavator. Now THAT is fun I can scan.

            These rifles are pretty much works of art that you would not be shooting very much, and to those who do want them go for it. I just don’t really see it, especially after you have pointed out the one pictured has noticeable flaws in its finish. That does not engender much confidence in the quality of their work.

            If I am heading to Africa or some such to big game hunt I want a rifle that can take a beating, cause you never know what is going to happen in the bush. I’m not a “sit on the soft cushion in a stand” hunter, I am a stalk hunter. I’m the guy that pushes the creek bottoms, ravines and ridges, crawls through the terraflora and tree tops from timbering. I am definitely not into delicate, dainty firearms and optics, either.

            Now, somebody wants to break out an old Weatherby from the height of their craft we can talk $10,000 and over. I have fired a couple of them over the years and found nothing to complain about, and they are built like a tank.

Comments are closed.