Our Best London gun is still made much as it was when Queen Victoria reigned. Each is unique: built to the customer’s specific requirements. All bespoke actions are machined and built in our west London workshop.
Our side-by-side action mechanism was invented by Frederick Beesley in 1879. It retains a portion of the energy in the mainsprings to help open the gun - an inherent self-opener.
The action in our over-and-under was created by James Woodward & Sons, and patented in 1913. Our own Ernest Lawrence perfected it, after we bought Woodward’s in 1949. We have used it ever since.
We use sophisticated CAD systems and CNC machines to cut the basic shape of the action, which is made from a solid steel forged ingot. This is handed to the actioner to work on.
You can choose either square bar, round bar or ultra-round bar actions, for both side-by-side and over-and-under guns.
The actioner’s work – smoke blacking
As with all the close fitting work in our factory, the actioner uses smoke black from a paraffin lamp to play soot over the bearing surfaces, in search of any unevenness.
Action slots are prepared, and barrel lumps split for jointing. We bend and file the top strap, and fit the locks and disc set strikers. The top lever, safety work and spindle soon follow.
Next comes the fore-end. The barrel-joint is created, with the hook cut from the front lump, and the crosspin fitted. Strikers are set in, ready for detonating.
Detonating of the action
‘Detonating’ is the name given to the making of the distinctive Purdey shape on the outside of the action breech. It is imperative that the action is absolutely perfect, which is why a Purdey actioner will spend over 100 hours getting everything exactly right.
From here, the action maker will submit the gun to the London Proof House, where all our actions are subjected to Magnum proof.