Rifles I Don’t Own (But Wish I Did): The G&H-built .416 Rigby

Back in the 1980s, Field & Stream had its offices at 1515 Broadway, right on Times Square, before they cleaned it up. This meant that you could see a Class A felony every day, and that you could walk to the Griffin & Howe showroom in 5 minutes. Bill Ward, who was one of the nicer guys in the gun biz and who owned G&H, would call me whenever they had something real good, and I would come trotting over.

On one occasion, the rifle du jour was a G&H-built .416 Rigby that the company had probably turned out in the 1950s. It was based on an Enfield P17 bolt-action, and was a dead plain working rifle. It may seem strange now, but at one time actions that could fit big cartridges like the Rigby were scarce, and the P17 made an excellent conversion. It had two big “ears” that protected the rear sight, and you had to grind those off and convert it to cock on opening instead of cock on closing, and install a single-stage trigger, but then you really had something. It was strong, and slick, and had a terrific safety.

I saw this gun only once, and then only for 15 minutes or so, but I’ve never forgotten it, perhaps because it was a perfect rifle. The stock was dead-plain, strong walnut, stained reddish with the alkinit root die that G&H was so fond of, it had a heavy barrel (it weighed about 10 pounds without a scope), and the metal was blued in the beautiful cold-rust bluing that G&H did so well.

It was an honest working gun in one of the best African calibers of all, and I hope that whoever owns it has hunted with it over there, and is taking good care of it.