Peculiar Purdeys: Two of their odder SxS shotguns…

James Purdey & Sons, 12g with detachable lockplates, by Harry Lawrence
James Purdey & Sons, 12g with detachable lockplates, by Harry Lawrence

Since James Purdey & Sons adopted the Beesley hammerless action in 1880, the company has done a remarkable job of building pretty much the same sidelock, side-by-side shotguns, over and over again. While modest updates and changes have been made, the guns have pretty much stayed the same. To see what I mean, compare this one from 1883 to this one 2006.

But every now and then Purdey did something unique. These are two side-by-side are a couple of those oddballs.

James Purdey & Sons, 12g with detachable lockplates, by Harry Lawrence
James Purdey & Sons, 12g with detachable lockplates, by Harry Lawrence

This first one looks pretty standard– until you see the hand-detachable locks. As far as I know, the first shotguns with easy-to-remove locks were droplock Westley Richards, introduced in 1897. But these were boxlocks. Holland & Holland was the first company to build sidelocks with hand-detachable locks, introduced in 1908.

(BTW: If you go here, you see how to remove Holland-style hand detachable locks.)

James Purdey & Sons, 12g with detachable lockplates, by Harry Lawrence
James Purdey & Sons, 12g with detachable lockplates, by Harry Lawrence

Whoever ordered this Purdey must have admired Holland’s idea and asked for it in his gun. Why? No idea. And even though I’m sure the request left the guys at the factory scratching their heads, they went about doing what the customer wanted (and could be billed more money for).

Unlike H&H-style actions, the locks on Purdey’s are not held together by a single pin running plate to plate. Instead, they’re attached to top, fronts of the action by separate screws. So to make the locks hand detachable, you have to build quick-release levers for of them. You can see them on either side of this shotgun. Not too very looking, but they do the job.

James Purdey & Sons Extra Finish SxS shotgun with W.W. Greener-style crossbolt
James Purdey & Sons Extra Finish SxS shotgun with W.W. Greener-style crossbolt

The next Purdey is one of the oddest hammerless Purdey’s I’ve seen, and the only one I’ve come across with a W.W. Greener-style crossbolt.

W.W. Greener introduced his rounded crossbolt in 1880 as part of his patent for the Facile Princips action. It’s not the most elegant way to secure a pair of bbls to an action, and with double underbites, it’s largely superfluous. But I guess no one told the guy who ordered this Purdey.

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