James Purdey & Sons: Gunmaker To The Royals

by
posted on February 8, 2023
Purdeylogo

At the age of 14, James Purdey began an apprenticeship under his gun-making brother-in-law. For the next seven years he learned the craft, mastered the skills and by 1805 landed a job with a gunsmith renowned in England as the “King of Gunmakers,” Joseph Manton.

For the next seven years, he came to understand how firearms can be art, timeless in looks without sacrificing reliability and function. He rose through the firm’s ranks but was ultimately hired by another well-known company where he rose to become shop foreman.

The experience armed him with the knowledge and experience to produce exquisite guns with enviable performance. In 1814, James Purdey & Sons was born when he officially opened his own business in London. Double guns, rifles and pistols were soon coming out of his modest shop, and word of the quality quickly spread.

In 1858, his son, also named James, took over the reins and oversaw expansion during a challenging period in which firearm design changed rapidly. Athol Purdey took over in 1900 and remained true to the tradition that launched the business—timeless craftsmanship and longevity to match.

After 132 years of family ownership, Hugh Seely purchased the company in 1946. In 1994, it sold again to Compagnie Financière Richemont SA—a holding company based in Switzerland that, befittingly, specializes in luxury, high-end watches and jewelry, among other things. Quality was never compromised, a fact proudly on display by the fact that Richard Purdey—the sixth generation of the family at the helm—remained chairman of the board until he officially retired in 2014.

The company’s guns have been purchased by variety of celebrities and high-ranking government officials through the decades. The firm has held a variety of coveted Royal Warrants from British royalty and continue to attract the attention of enthusiasts across the globe. Despite the company's fame and standing, James Purdey & Sons remains unwavering in its dedication to offering apprenticeships, affording those who excel in the craft of gunmaking an opportunity to move into and up in a company renowned for its craftsmanship for the last 219 years.

Today, James Purdey & Sons, still based in London, offers sidelock side-by-side and over-under shotguns, some with Damascene steel. Double rifles, bolt actions and much more, each exquisitely finished, are also produced by the company.

Latest

Vista Kinetic Logo
Vista Kinetic Logo

Vista Re-Files Notice To Committee On Foreign Investment Over CSG Sale

Vista Outdoor announced it had voluntarily withdrawn and re-filed its joint voluntary notice to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a move that allows committee members additional time to conduct due diligence on the proposed sale of The Kinetic Group to the Czechoslovak Group (CSG).

Rifleman Q&A: M1 Garand Plastic Stocks

Did the M1 Garand rifle ever use a plastic stock like the M14?

Preview: Hornady HIT Target Impact Indicator

When shooting at extended ranges, particularly with small-caliber rifles, seeing steel move or hearing the “ding!” of an impact can be difficult. Hornady is making it easier to spot good hits with its HIT Target Impact Indicator. 

I Have This Old Gun: Carcano TS Carbine

For almost 55 years, the Carcano served the Kingdom of Italy. When it was adopted in 1891 as the country’s first smokeless-powder firearm, it was a cutting-edge design that defined the modern service rifle.

The Armed Citizen® April 15, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Handloads: Getting A Carcano Into The Field

The accuracy of 6.5x52 mm Italian-chambered Carcano rifle is atrocious, and ammunition is scarce at best. However, for budget-minded shooters and collectors, they are still a popular option.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.