The Purdey self- opening gun
Frederick Beesley (1846-1928) was a farmer’s son from Hampton Poyle in Oxfordshire. After apprenticeship to Moore & grey he worked for many London firms before joining James Purdey as a stocker in 1869. He remained with Purdey until 1878 then set up his own business at 22 Queen street, Edgware Road, London.
Although hammerless ejector guns seemed to be the pinnacle of development, a further refinement was the self-opening gun. A self-opening gun will open automatically when the top lever is turned, the object being to speed up the rate of fire even more.
Beesley was a remarkably ingenious man and in patent no. 31 of January 3, 1880, invented a self-opening gun that he immediately sold to Purdey for a total of £55.
the essential feature of the action is a powerful mainspring, the upper arm cocking the lock and assisting in the opening of the gun and the lower arm firing it. With the gun open, the mainspring is free of tension, but when closed, the barrels force back cams to compress the mainspring. When the gun is fired, the lower half of the mainspring powers the tumblers and when the gun is opened the upper half of the mainspring opens the gun and at the same time cocks the tumblers.
Beesley was a prolific inventor known as “the Inventor to the London trade” and in the 1880s alone, he patented no less than 11 inventions. He always made great play out of the fact he invented Purdey’s hammerless action, his shop in st. James’s street proudly proclaiming “Beesley, Inventor And Patentee Of Purdey’s Hammerless gun”.
The Beesley self-opening gun. (A) is the cam operated by the barrel to push the sliding rod (B) to cock the mechanism. (D) is the upper half of the mainspring that opens and cocks the tumblers and (E) is the lower half of the mainspring that fires the tumblers (F).