|Headquarters||Paso Robles, California, United States|
|Key people||Ed Weatherby|
|Products||Firearms, Ammunition, Shooting accessories|
Weatherby, Inc. is an American gun manufacturer founded in 1945 by Roy Weatherby. The company is best known for its high-powered magnum cartridges, such as the .257 Weatherby Magnum and the .460 Weatherby Magnum. Company headquarters is in the northern San Luis Obispo County town of Paso Robles, California.
The original production rifles by Roy Weatherby were built on commercial Mauser actions by FN, Brevex (magnum), and Mathieu (left hand). For bespoke rifles, Weatherby would build to a customer's specifications, using any action the customer wanted, provided it was strong enough for the desired cartridge. For many years, Weatherby manufactured his rifles at his small facility in South Gate, California. But in 1956, he contracted with Sako to build his production rifles on Weatherby-FN Mauser actions. Custom rifles were still produced in South Gate, however.
Weatherby's first break with Mauser actions came in 1956 when he commissioned the Danish firm of Schultz & Larsen to build 378 Weatherby Magnums utilizing their Model 54 bolt action. This action was very stout and featured four rear locking lugs. Many of its features (such as the low bolt lift and triple gas escape ports in the bolt) would find their way into Weatherby's proprietary bolt action, which would make its debut two years later.
In 1958, after several years of development, Roy Weatherby introduced the Mark V bolt action, his first proprietary design developed totally in-house by Weatherby himself and his head engineer, Fred Jennie. Built to withstand the hottest of Weatherby's experimental cartridges (which were exceeding 100,000 psi). The first Weatherby Mark V actions were manufactured in the U.S. by Pacific Founders, Inc. and the rifles were assembled and finished at the Weatherby facility in South Gate. Demand for the Mark V quickly exceeded Weatherby's manufacturing capability, so the company contracted with J. P. Sauer in West Germany to build production Mark V rifles. Manufacturing of the Mark V remained there until the early 1970s when material and labour costs led Weatherby to move production to Howa in Japan. Some say[who?] the machining and finishing of the Howa made Mark Vs was actually better than the Sauer made guns. In 1995, manufacturing of the Mark V was moved back to the United States, where the Mark V has been built under contract by both Saco Defense and Acrometal/ATEK.
The Mark V action remained relatively unchanged during the first five years of production. Shortly after, manufacturing moved from PFI in the U.S. to J. P. Sauer in Germany. In addition, the safety was redesigned and moved from the receiver to the bolt, which was changed from a smooth to a fluted surface. The first major change came in 1963 when Weatherby designed a shorter and more trim Mark V action for their 224 Weatherby Magnum varmint round, new for 1964. The bolt in this smaller Mark V action only had six locking lugs, versus the nine found on its bigger brother. Rifles chambered for the new 224 Wby Magnum were dubbed "Varmintmaster." The Varmintmaster was later offered in 22-250 Remington, making this the first non-Weatherby cartridge offered in the Mark V. In 1967, the 9-lug Mark V action was offered for the first time in 30-06. These two cartridges, the 30-06 and 22-250, remained the only two non-Weatherby chamberings offered in production Mark V rifles until the mid-1990s. (Though Weatherby would build a custom Mark V to a customer's specifications in virtually any caliber.) Today, all non-Weatherby calibers are only offered in 6-lug versions of the action. This makes 9-lug, 30-06 Mark Vs (whether made in Germany or Japan) somewhat of a rarity.
In the late 1960s, Weatherby contracted with Howa of Japan to build a Weatherby rifle that would be more affordable for the average hunter. The result was the Weatherby Vanguard which was introduced in 1970, the same year that production of the Mark V moved to Japan. Based on the Howa 1500 bolt action, and initially offered only in standard calibers, the Vanguard provided an attractive alternative for buyers in the market for a sporting bolt action rifle like the Winchester Model 70 or Remington Model 700. The Vanguard is now available in select Weatherby magnum calibers.
Today, Weatherby still offers only two lines of centerfire rifles: the Mark V and the Vanguard. The Mark V barreled action is manufactured by ATEK in Brainerd, MN while the barrel and action for the Vanguard are still manufactured by Howa in Japan. Final assembly of the Mark V and Vanguard is performed at Weatherby's company headquarters in Paso Robles. The Mark V uses two action sizes. The larger 9-lug bolt action is used for all larger Weatherby magnum calibers. The smaller 6-lug action (in two lengths) is used for the 240 Weatherby, and all standard calibers. (The 224 Weatherby Magnum is no longer offered as a regular production caliber, but presumably could be special ordered.) Both the Mark V and Vanguard are available as sub-MOA rifles in various models (ranging from blued to stainless steel metal and kevlar to wood stocks) and calibers .223 (Vanguard only) through .300 Weatherby Magnum. Calibers .340 through .460 are only available on the Mark V platform due to the stronger bolt.
Weatherby rifles come with a guarantee of 1.5 MOA and even sub-MOA accuracy from a cold bore on some models. Few other rifle manufacturers offer such a guarantee. Generally regarded as of higher quality than Remington or Winchester rifles, Weatherby Mark V rifles are considerably more expensive in terms of both the rifle and ammunition. However, the Vanguard models are competitively priced with other makes and models.
Weatherby offers a line of shotguns for bird hunting, and trap/skeet shooting. Weatherby produces four types (each with two models) of shotgun: over-under double barrel, side-by-side double barrel, pump, and semi-automatic. Current production Weatherby shotguns (the "D'Italia" line) are made in Italy through a collaborative effort with Italian gunmaker Fausti Stefano.
It was with Weatherby that the modern trend of high velocity hunting calibers was developed. From there Weatherby has constantly moved in to build the most powerful cartridge of a common caliber range. Only in recent years has a competitor in the form of Remington's UltraMag series given Weatherby real competition for commercially available power. However Weatherby still holds the title of most powerful commercially available hunting cartridge in the world with its .460 Weatherby.
According to Weatherby's website, the company's full line up of calibers consists of the:
Weatherby offers rifles chambered in:
Another cartridge of note designed by Roy Weatherby was the .220 Weatherby Rocket. It has the traditional double-radius shoulder, but unlike the rest of the Weatherby calibers, it is not a belted magnum. It is an "improved" version of the .220 Swift.
- Walter, John (2006). The rifle story: an illustrated history from 1776 to the present day. MBI Publishing Company. pp. 268–274. ISBN 978-1-85367-690-1.
- Wieland, Terry (2006). Dangerous-Game Rifles. Down East Enterprise Inc. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-89272-691-2.
- Petzal, David E. (2008). "Accuracy Guaranteed Weatherby's SUB-MOA Vanguard Performs as Promised". Field & Stream 112 (11): 94.
- Lewis, Jack (2007). The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Gun Digest Books. pp. 22–27. ISBN 978-0-89689-498-3.
- Shideler, Dan (2011). Gun Digest 2012. Gun Digest Books. pp. 208–209. ISBN 978-1-4402-1447-9.
- McNab, Chris (2007). Sporting Guns: A Guide to the World's Rifles and Shotguns. Macmillan. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-0-312-36823-4.
- Wieland, Terry (2006). Dangerous-Game Rifles. Countrysport Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-89272-691-2. "the .460 was to offer the most powerful commercial cartridge, and he succeeded."
- Capstick, Peter Hathaway (1984). Safari: The Last Adventure. St. Martin's Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-312-69657-3. "The Weatherby is the most "powerful" shoulder-fired commercially available caliber you can buy."
- MacPhee, William (1987). Rare Breed: The Entrepreneur, an American Culture. Probus Pub Co. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-917253-75-1.
- Van Zwoll, Wayne (2000). The Hunter's Guide to Ballistics: Practical Advice on How to Choose Guns and Loads, and Use them Effectively. The Lyons Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-1-58574-375-9.
- Official site
- "The Hunter's Big Wallop." Popular Mechanics, September 1951, pp. 73–77, 1951 article on Weatherby's specialized arms and their new factory in California.