James Purdey, 314 Oxford Street, London.
12 bore Back-action Hammergun
No. 7953,
No 1 of a Pair
Year of manufacture: 1869

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Heritage Guns' Comment

This is a rather unusual Purdey hammergun: built in 1869 as one of a pair for Lord A St.Maur, it was originally fitted with 31 1/16" (!) barrels and features a bolstered action and 'island' back action locks.
As was often the case, it i
s fitted with the commonly seen grip safety but we are not sure if it is a later conversion (by Purdey) or a re-spec during the build as there are signs that it was not intended as original. The engraving is fantastically crisp on all the hard metal which is testimony to the high quality of Purdey's hardening. We suspect that the beautiful hammers are vintage replacements as they exhibit rather more case colour than the rest of the gun. So far not so very different from many Purdey hammerguns of the period. However, don't get the idea that this is a classic, light game gun! On the contrary, it is a serious target or high bird gun and suitable for 'standard' steel: TIG sleeved 2 3/4" nitro, chokes 1/4 & 1/2 (IC/Mod), MWT's in the low 40's, weight 7lb 8oz, balance point 1 " in front of hinge. Delicious, original French walnut stock and forend, LOP 14 7/8" including a 3/4" leather covered recoil pad. Purdey themselves have indicated that the gun might have been ordered for the dual-purpose of game and live pigeon. Presented in its Maker's oak & leather case with some accessories. For someone wanting a serious gun for some serious shooting, either game or clay, this could be the one!



The action is James Purdey’s famous ‘2nd Pattern Thumb Hole’ design and features:
Double triggers and Grip safety;
Back action ‘Island’, rebounding locks;
High ‘Dolphin’ hammers with Sprung strikers;
‘Thumb hole’ lever operating a 'Purdey Bolt';
Percussion fences;
Teardrop bolstered junction between breech face and action bar and rounded bar;
Cross bolt, or ‘wedge’, forend fastener.
Gun weight 7lb 8oz
Engraving style
Best foliate scroll. Top tang engraved ‘PATENT’ and under-bar engraved ‘PURDEY’S PATENT’. Purdey bolt engraved ‘No. 1’, forend iron stamped 'P 1'.
Trigger pulls measure approximately: Front trigger 3 lbs Rear trigger 4 lbs.
The TIG sleeved damascus to steel barrels are 31 1/16" in length, chambered for 2 " (70mm) cartridges and are of brazed 'dovetail' lump construction with soft soldered ribs. Top rib is of a swamped, concave type.
Birmingham reproof for 70mm nitro powder cartridges in 2018.

Approximate barrel measurements at date of publication:

Nominal Proof Size
Bore Diameter 9" from Breech
Minimum Wall Thickness
Choke Constriction
Right Barrel
18.4mm (0.724")
0.010" (IC)
Left Barrel
18.4mm (0.724")
0.021" (Mod)

The original Straight Hand Stock and Splinter Forend are crafted from highly figured walnut. The stock is lightly cast-off for a right handed shooter, features a vacant yellow metal oval and is finished with a 3/4" leather covered recoil pad. The forend is retained by a cross-bolt, or wedge, fastener and is fitted with a finely engraved metal tip. There are 4 small wood inlets to its edge.

Highly figured walnut

The approx. 19 lines per inch chequering has been freshened to its original back lock design. The stock is finished with a traditional linseed oil based preparation as used on best guns by one of the top English makers. This finish uses no grain fillers to achieve its deep, smooth lustre, only many hours of alternate build and flatting off of the surface.

Approximate stock measurements at date of publication:

Pull to Heel
Pull to Bump
Pull to Centre
Pull to Toe
14 5/8"
14 3/4"
14 7/8"
15 1/2"
Drop at Comb
Drop at Face
Drop at Heel
1 1/2"
1 11/16"
2 3/8 "
Cast at Comb
Cast at Heel
1/8" approx.
1/4" approx.

For the purposes of these measurements, 'Drop at Face' is the 'drop' measurement taken on a line perpendicular to the
line joining the trigger and centre of the butt at approximately 8" from the trigger (front trigger on a double trigger gun).

Patents Exhibited include:
'Purdey; Bolt' patent no. 1104 of 1863;

Wyatt’s Grip Safety no. 4218 of 1818 (part of);

Stanton's rebounding lock patent no. 367 of 1867.