Rigby: A Brief Introduction

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Written by: David Minshall

Captain Heaton provides in his 1864 book “Notes on Rifle Shooting” a useful description of the early Rigby match rifle.

The early Rigby rifles competed in some of the trials of small-bore rifles held by the National Rifle Association for the rifles to be used in the finals of the Queen’s Prize at Wimbledon. In 1865 the Rigby was selected for use; this was the only year 1860-1870 that a rifle other than a Whitworth was selected.

In direct response to the success of the Gibbs-Metford rifle with its shallow groove rifling and hardened bullet, Rigby began a program of rebarreling in 1866 and 1867. A description of the later form of rifle can be found in Russell’s 1869 book, “Hand Book of Rifle Shooting”.

Following their 1873 win in the Elcho Shield, Irish riflemen famously challenged the riflemen of America to a competition. This was accepted and commenced a series of long range rifle competitions, the first of which took place at Creedmoor in 1874 in which the Irish team used Rigby muzzle loaders.

In 1880 there was a friendly match between America and Ireland, fired at Dollymount Range, near Dublin, Ireland. For the first time since the international series of matches began in 1874, this competition was fired entirely with breech loaders. All bar one of the Irish team were using the new Rigby rifle. The “Field” action with sliding block was used.

In 1882 Messrs. J. Rigby and Co. brought out a new action called the “Rigby-Banks“; this is a sliding block action with hammerless lock.

See also: Rigby, Quicksilver & Bullet Alloys