SON OF A GUN
Handmade in West London, these weapons are crafted to be admired, not used.
In the one-time gangster territory of east London, such was the fame of James Purdey & Sons that its very name became slang for a shotgun. But the British gunsmith - established in 1814 - has long also been the choice of more choosy types. Queen Victoria became a customer in 1838 and the company now holds three royal warrants.
Today, customers tend to be just as demanding too. Purdey’s bespoke workshops are as busy as ever, despite a likely two-year waiting time for any order to be fulfilled. Small wonder perhaps when even a ‘basic’ Purdey might take 500 man-hours to make, and another 500 to engrave. Small wonder too then that only 70 or so are made annually.
“But we’re always happy to do what the client wants - and just about every part of a gun can be made bespoke, from the engraving to the stock, even some internal mechanisms,” says Jonathan Irby, Purdey’s head of sales. “That said, most bespoke customers still want something classically Purdey. Our only limitation is that any demand doesn’t jeopardise the function of the gun. Oh, and we might advise not to do things that might affect its resale value. Have the image of your wife or dog engraved on your gun, for example, and it’s not surprising that its appeal may then be limited.”