The Seven Stages Of Building A Bespoke Purdey
The world today is a very different place from the one in which James Purdey established his eponymous gun - and rifle-making business back in 1814. But, one thing that has remained constant is Purdey’s approach to craftsmanship, which demands a combination of only the finest materials, the most skilled artisans – and the saintly levels of patience required to produce the best British guns.
“One of the most satisfying parts of being involved in the process of manufacturing a Purdey gun is seeing the expression of surprise and delight on a new owner’s face as he or she unboxes it,” says Operations Director, Stephen Hill. “From the moment someone decides to order a Purdey, they embark on a journey with the company and its craftspeople that creates a growing level of excitement and anticipation as it progresses.”
“Keeping people informed of the seven stages of the build, every step of the way, is a very important part of the process,” explains Hill. “Not least because they can then be confident that, although it can take a while, we will always do our utmost to stand by our promised delivery time. Because at Purdey, a promise is a promise – just as it has been for more than 200 years.”
Regardless of model, each gun is a bespoke build carried-out at Purdey’s factory in Hammersmith, west London, where the best of traditional methods are combined with state-of-the-art precision machinery to ensure that every gun fits, feels and fires as well as it looks. To create a Purdey gun from scratch requires a timeframe of between six months to eighteen months, depending on whether it is an ‘welcome-level’ Sporter, a mid-range Purdey Trigger Plate (PTP) or a range-topping Sidelock. Here’s a rundown of the expertly crafted seven-stage process.
Stage 1: Barrel Making
All models of the Pudey product range have their barrels hand built by Purdey craftspeople. The tubes that form the barrels are machined at our own factory to ensure from the start the high level of quality required for a Purdey gun is achieved. The barrels are then assembled and hand built over a two week period by the same craftsperson using the same techniques which have been employed by Purdey for over a 150 years.
Stage 2: Actioning
Once the barrels are complete, they are handed to the actioner, who will now undertake the most labour intensive part of the process, fitting the barrels to the action. Purdey have expertly retained the right balance between craft and precision engineering to ensure reliability at this stage. This has contributed to our confidence to offer a 5-year warranty for every gun.
Stage 3: Ejectors
Upon completion of the barrels being precisely fitted to the action, the next stage is the ejector work. This is the ‘heart’ of any gun and accounts for a significant number of the 170-plus components that go into every Purdey, being hand fitted and is the first time the gun will operate, using “snap caps”.
Stage 4: Time To Take Stock
Now for the all-important fourth stage: the stocking. This is when the customer selected walnut is hewn and carved by hand in order to perfectly fit each client, to the measurements taken at the time of ordering their gun. From the honing of the stock between its ‘roughing-out’ and completion – this involves hand-applied chequering all undertaken by Purdey craftspeople, to ensure the high level of quality we pride ourselves on.
Stage 5: Engraving
From the Purdey Trigger Plate onwards, customers can choose the engraving brief for their gun. The engraving is expertly completed by one of our very gifted and hand selected retained engravers. All engravers are tested prior to being allowed to engrave a Purdey. Only the best pass the test.
Stage 6: Proof and Finishing
All Purdey guns are proofed at the London Proof house which has been located at its current home since 1675. All Purdey guns have been proofed at the London proof house since James Purdey started his company. During the finishing process, which can take up to eight weeks, the walnut stock will receive a daily meticulous oiling, which are repeatedly polished-off until the grain takes on a rich and lustrous glow, whilst all parts are polished and the final assembly regulated. The gun is fired for the first time at Purdey’s Shooting School, based in Royal Berkshire.
Stage 7: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
The gun will have a final inspection by a Master Craftsperson and the member of the Gun Sales Team who is responsible for the customer. All new Purdey gun owners will receive an official certificate of completion proudly signed by each of the Purdey craftspeople who worked on it. All that then remains is for the finished gun to be wrapped in greaseproof paper, enclosed in a soft cotton cover and slotted into its perfectly fitted flight case for delivery to its expectant owner. In the case of Sidelock models and as an option on Purdey Trigger Plates, a bespoke leather gun case is sent to the customer prior to deliver of the gun.