By Douglas Tate
Courtesy of James Purdey & Sons
In order to compete and succeed, fine gunmakers must be able to balance change with tradition. For more than 200 years—from the development of the double express rifle, through the introduction of the Beesley action, to the adoption of the Woodward over/under—James Purdey & Sons has met the challenges of innovation while retaining aesthetics suitable to a royal gunmaker.
In May Purdey rolled out an over/under intended to compete in the high-bird stakes. It was announced as an “elegant, simple and robust trigger plate mechanism perfect for the modern shooting world” and was said to have been “tested with more than 150,000 cartridges to prove that it can meet such challenges.” This was not Purdey’s first triggerplate model. In 2007 the firm unveiled The Sporter, a competition model sourced from Perugini & Visini, in Italy, that was based on the Perazzi MX8-style action. The new triggerplate model evolved from the Sporter design and is sideplated, to provide a broader canvas for Purdey’s traditional engraving patterns.
Purdey’s press release was in part an assurance that the new gun is handcrafted and London made. “Every part of this new gun is worked upon by Purdey’s gunmakers. It seamlessly combines the skills of the craftsmen with modern technology to create a beautiful, handmade ‘Best’ Quality London shotgun with classically elegant aesthetics and modern strength. The Purdey Trigger Plate is, from start to finish, made entirely in Purdey’s London workshop.”
Like all fully bespoke guns, any option can be accommodated—from barrel and chamber length to choke configuration to stock dimensions, grip style, engraving and finish. The first gun was a 12-bore, with a 20 to follow and a 28 on a dedicated action to be offered eventually.
Purdey Chairman James Horne recently was asked about harmonizing a rich past with fresh concepts. “Throughout its history,” Horne said, “James Purdey & Sons has always prided itself on new ideas. We have our own innovation group which meets monthly. This spirit has been evident most recently with the launch of our new gun, which has several patents outstanding that we have designed to meet the expectations of modern fieldsports activities. Style, authenticity and being understated are very much within our traditional guidelines, and our guns always follow these principles.”
A new Purdey12-bore Trigger Plate can be seen at Griffin & Howe, in New Jersey; Gordy & Sons, in Texas; or Audley House, in London. Prices start at £55,000 (about $73,000).