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How English Gunmaker Purdey Crafts Hunting Rifles Worthy of Royalty

Everyone from Charles Darwin to King Charles III has ordered a rifle from Purdey. The process illustrates why.

Purdey & Sons rifle finishing Jamie Ferguson

Some hunters might be satisfied ordering firearms from a catalog or their local gun shop. But for those who take their rifles as seriously as their handmade suits, there’s no place quite like London’s James Purdey & Sons.

The family-owned firm, founded in 1814, has grown to offer everything from tweed jackets to pen holders. But all these product lines spring from its rifles, which have been crafted and assembled manually via a labor-intensive process for over 200 years. In the Long Room, the heart of Purdey’s showroom in Mayfair, examples of the finished product are displayed alongside ledgers containing orders from a long list of English royals, as well as sheikhs, sultans, czars and rajas—and plenty of dedicated regular sportsfolk.

Purdey does stock guns that can be fitted to clients at short notice, but most customers come here to commission heirlooms: Its one-of-a-kind guns are made from fine walnut and intricately finished steel components, the metal portions often detailed with hand- engraving. As a result, they can cost over $175,000 and take up to two years, and more than 750 man-hours, to complete.

It’s worth the wait. “Bespoke guns are an accumulation of thousands upon thousands of fractional benefits,” says Andrew Ambrose, Purdey’s director of gun sales. And the team of artisans who create the rifles make them as beautiful to look at as they are thrilling to fire.

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