The History of Weatherby Inc

The History of Weatherby Inc

By 1944 Roy Weatherby, an avid wildcatter, had already developed 3 of our most popular cartridges - the .257 Wby, 270 Wby, and 300 Wby. He believed speed was the key to humane harvesting of animals, and developed cartridges using smaller projectiles in larger parent cases. 

In 1945 Roy opened his own store called “Weatherby’s” in South Gate, California. Here Roy quickly grew the Weatherby name by creating custom rifles in his ultra-fast new calibers, which featured his beautifully handcrafted stocks.

Our initial production rifles were crafted by Roy using commercial Mauser actions from esteemed manufacturers FN, Brevex (for magnum actions), and Mathieu (for left-handed actions). A few years later we partnered with Sako to manufacture firearms based on the Weatherby-FN Mauser actions, though we continued producing some custom rifles in South Gate.

In 1956, we took a step away from Mauser-based designs, commissioning Schultz & Larsen in Denmark to build the 378 Weatherby Magnums using the Schultz & Larsen Model 54 bolt-action. This robust action featured a low bolt-lift and triple gas-escape ports, elements that we later integrated into our proprietary designs.

By 1958, after years of development, Roy Weatherby introduced the Mark V bolt action. Our first proprietary design, developed with our head engineer Fred Jennie to handle experimental cartridges exceeding 100,000 psi (690,000 kPa). Pacific Founders, Inc. initially manufactured the Mark V actions in the United States, with assembly and finishing done at our South Gate facility. 

The Mark V action saw minimal changes in its first five years until production moved to J.P. Sauer due to our need to keep up with demand. Notable changes included relocating the safety from the receiver to the bolt and introducing a fluted safety surface. In 1963, we shortened the action design for the 224 Weatherby Magnum varmint round, leading to the "Varmintmaster" with a six-locking-lug bolt. Later, the Mark V offered non-Weatherby chamberings such as the 22-250 Remington and .30-06, though custom Mark V rifles could be made in virtually any calibre.

In the late 1960s, we partnered with Howa to create a more affordable rifle, resulting in the Vanguard, introduced in 1970 alongside the move of Mark V production to Japan. Based on the Howa 1500 bolt action, the Vanguard initially offered standard non-Weatherby calibres, providing an alternative to rifles like the Winchester Model 70 and Remington Model 700. We later chambered the Vanguard for select Weatherby magnum calibres.

We brought Mark V manufacturing back to the United States in 1995, with production handled by Saco Defense (later acquired by General Dynamics in 1998) and Acrometal/ATEK.

In January 2018, we announced our relocation from Paso Robles, California to Sheridan, Wyoming, marking a new chapter in Weatherby's storied history.

As well as moving manufacturing of the MKV in-house shortly after the move to Wyoming, in 2023 we launched our first new proprietary action in 50 years - the Model 307.

Designed and tested in Sheridan, WY, the Model 307 was inspired by the people of the “307” area code. Model 307’s 2-Lug, fully cylindrical carbon steel design was purpose built to accommodate the vast offerings of stocks, triggers, rails, mounts, and magazines that exist in the marketplace for the Remington 700. Hunters and shooters can expect the same precision craftsmanship that we at Weatherby have delivered since 1945.

Back to blog