With workmanship of unsurpassed quality, picking a favourite Purdey gun is a difficult task. Here, the gunroom experts at Audley House select theirs.
The Bolt Action Rifle by Andrew Ambrose, Director of Gun Sales
“It could be argued that Purdey is not as well known for its Bolt Action rifles as its shotguns and double rifles. However, we have been building them for over 90 years and, in 2018, we conducted a thorough overhaul of the model resulting in the use of state-of-the-art engineering whilst preserving the traditions of a classic Purdey rifle.
“At the heart of this redesign is the Purdey chassis system. Wooden stocks are at the mercy of the elements and will naturally move because of atmospheric conditions and changes in moisture levels. Our design team was given the challenge to try and counter these external influences. The result is our titanium chassis, embedded into the walnut stock, running from the pistol grip to the forend. This highly innovative solution is hidden when the rifle is fully assembled and the result is a greatly increased level of stability and therefore accuracy.
“Furthermore the chassis system allows us to incorporate a free-floating barrel allowing consistent barrel harmonics. By making these key design innovations but still retaining the very traditional hunting rifle aesthetic, we have ensured that we continue building these wonderful rifles for at least another 90 years!“
Sidelock Side-by-Side by Simon Rood, Head of US Sales
“The Purdey Side-by-Side is the timeless classic which comes to many peoples’ minds when they think of a true English sidelock. The design has remained little unchanged for the last 140 years and is based on the Beesley self-opening action, a very precise and somewhat comforting feature. I find the lines of the Side-by-Side visually pleasing, especially as the calibre gets smaller. They make fantastic walked-up guns and, having spent a lot of time in the USA hunting quail and chukar partridge, I can honestly say the 28-gauge and 410-bore are my go-to options. The handling and balance is unrivalled and even if you miss, people won’t notice as they will be too busy looking at the gun!”
Sidelock Over-and-Under by Dr Nick Harlow, Gun Room Manager
“Our Sidelock Over-and-Under, like our Side-by-Side, is a timeless combination of elegance and functionality. Developed by James Woodward & Sons, the design was first introduced in 1913 and has become the world standard for Over-and-Under actions. Woodward produced 232 of them between 1913 and 1948, when the last member of the family decided to retire. He was keen that his family’s legacy was placed in the safest hands, and so approached Tom Purdey to buy the business. A deal was agreed, and we became custodian of the name and their design in 1949.
“The secret of the Woodward’s elegant and slender appearance is the fixed hinge pins and tongue-and groove locking, which allow the body to be as small as possible while retaining all of the strength of a heavier action. The bolting is also in the middle of the breech-face, meaning that there is no lump on the underside of the breech to be accommodated. Although we have made minor modifications where needed, the design is so well-conceived that it remains virtually identical to the guns built over a century ago. They also handle as beautifully as they look, and when fitted and balanced properly have a lightness and grace to them that often belies their true weight. Whether used for high pheasants, clays, or walked-up quail, they are an ideal choice.”
Purdey Trigger Plate by Alastair Bowles, Gunroom Sales
“In 2018, Purdey launched the fabulously versatile Purdey Trigger Plate Over-and-Under shotgun, which was developed in part to help with the future planned conversion over to standard and high-performance steel shot (potentially used when shooting very high-driven birds on non-toxic shot estates). Offered in 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-bores, and in Game and Sporting Clays variants, the Trigger Plate is slightly heavier than our other shotguns, but crafted to ensure it has exceptional balance, helping to provide superb handling characteristics and to reduce felt recoil when using high-performance steel shot loads.
“There are many useful and exciting attributes of the Trigger Plate. My favourite is the detachable single selective trigger group. This makes the gun very easy to maintain and clean, but removing the trigger group also makes the gun completely safe – a perfect solution if you are in the pub post-shoot! We also find that customers enjoy making use of the PTP side-plates, which allow space for a personal story using the medium of bespoke engraving – a large scroll or game scene, perhaps – and thereby adding to the experience of commissioning a Purdey shotgun and to capturing the imagination of future generations when passed down.
“Back in February, I was very lucky to be invited to shoot partridges in Spain. I decided on using the 28-bore Trigger Plate demo gun. Given the testing speed and agility of Spanish partridges on the wing, the Trigger’s Plate’s forgiving handling helped mitigate my naughty habit of stopping the gun. It was the perfect choice and an absolute joy to use over the two days.”