Elegance Quality Lethality
Purdey’s latest bolt-action rifle features the
company’s handcrafted excellence.
Best Quality British bolt action rifles have always been known for their exquisite workmanship and total reliability in the hunting field in remote continents far from a gunsmith. Accuracy was always up to the highest standards of the day but it was all about hunting accuracy in the field, for these guns were built for hunters who took them to the far flung corners of the world after exotic game.
Today’s shooters are more and more obsessed with sub-minute of angle groups and the world famous London gunmakers James Purdey and Sons has risen to the challenge. After three years of development work they have come out with a totally new method of making an accurate bolt action rifle that looks like a traditional Best Quality bolt action hunting gun, but shoots like a state-of-the-art sniper rifle.
Since the wood stock’s swelling and contracting is a major cause of accuracy variations, they bedded the barreled action in a titanium chassis and then fitted that into the stock. Nothing the wood does can affect the barreled action now. It can dry out in the Kalahari Desert or swell in the monsoon rains all it wants. The metal parts of that rifle won’t budge and the accuracy will be totally unaffected. Titanium was chosen because of its strength and light weight.
Aluminum was not strong enough and steel was too heavy. Purdey was not about to go to a solution that required a heavy rifle. The titanium is not visible when the rifle is assembled and it also ensures consistent barrel harmonics and provides a totally free floating barrel.
Another factor that affects accuracy is the slop in the actions. The new rifle is a square bridge 98 Magnum Mauser action manufactured by Purdey that is precision-machined to half one thousandth of an inch, then hand-fitted and finished. There is no slop in these actions to affect accuracy. Like all 98 Mausers, it is a controlled feed action so you never have a cartridge going anywhere but in the chamber. A very comforting thing when in a tight spot.
The barrels are precision-made to the highest tolerances, hand lapped, and London blued. The barrels have a fast twist rate for bullets that are long and heavy for their caliber, as these are the best performing bullets on game. For example, the twist rate is 1 in 8 inches for 6.5, 1 in 8½ inches for 7mm, 1 in 10 inches for .30 caliber, 1 in 12 inches for .375, and 1 in 14 inches for .416 Rigby. Twist rates are matched to the cartridge, something not every maker does.
The square bridge 98 Magnum Mauser actions will accommodate cartridges with an overall cartridge length up to 3.835 inches. The three-position safety enables the cartridges to be cycled out of the action while the gun is on safe. Swing off scope mounts are standard.
Trigger pulls are to the highest standards, as is everything else. The term “Best Quality” gun means just that. The best that can be made at any price.
A GLANCE AT
the rifle shows the elegant beauty that the best London gunmakers have always put in their sporting bolt action rifles. Fit and finish inside and out is something to write home about and the gun handles perfectly. Of course it can be stocked to your individual measurements, just like a Purdey double rifle or double shotgun. Having a gun stocked to fit you is a genuine lifesaver in an emergency because it will unerringly point right where you are looking when there is no time for sights; just cheek the gun and fire.
Ideally you would use the long range rifle for long shots and have your faithful gun bearer pass you a big double rifle for close-range work. Sadly those days are gone for most of us, and like the infantryman in wartime, you end up doing everything with the gun you have in hand.
Having the gun stocked to your measurements is just good sense, as you will find that a fitted gun is far easier to shoot accurately. When you shoot a gun quickly that is properly stocked to fit you, man and gun become one at the instant of firing in a mystical zen-like experience unparalleled in shooting. You fired the shot.
Not the gun. It is merely an extension of your body at that instant and not a separate piece. This is one of the greatest pleasures in shooting game and it comes only with a gun stocked to fit you that is fired instinctively and unerringly at the game you just bagged.
So how does this new innovation shoot? One of the first rifles was a .300 Winchester magnum. When they took it out to the range it shot ¼-inch groups at 100 yards, 1½-inch groups at 300 yards, and 3-inch groups at 600 yards. Now you don’t see that every day.
Purdey guarantees every one of these guns will shoot sub-minute of angle with the ammo they provide and a test target proving the accuracy of that individual gun accompanies each rifle. The best part is that this gun will consistently deliver this accuracy in all weather conditions you may encounter in hunting.
THERE ARE TWO
versions. The Classic is for the common calibers and comes with swing off scope mounts with express sights as an option. Superior grade wood is standard and exhibition grade wood optional. Standard calibers are .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser, .270 Winchester, 7mm-08, 7×57 Mauser (.275), 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester magnum, and .375 H&H. Other calibers on request.
The Safari Rifle is made with express sights standard and has quick detachable swing off scope mounts. Exhibition grade wood is standard and it is made in calibers .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, and .458 Lott with special chamberings on request. When Purdey says exhibition grade wood, they mean it. They only buy 30 or 40 stock blanks for this out of every 2,000 examined.
Whichever version and whatever caliber you choose, it is guaranteed to deliver sub-minute of angle groups while maintaining the external appearance of the classic British Best Quality sporting bolt action rifle. There is nothing to detract from the beauty of the fine hand-checkered and finished Turkish walnut stock. All guns come with Purdey’s famous rose and scroll engraving. They are beautiful to look at, as functional art should be.
Like all Best Quality guns, these jewels are expensive, at around 30,000 British pounds sterling for the Classic (about $39,000 USD) and 50,000 pounds for the Safari (about $65,000 USD). That’s still far less than a hand-made double rifle or shotgun from a Best Quality London maker and you are getting what you pay for. It takes men of the highest hand skill level in the world hundreds of hours to make a gun like this and men like that don’t work for minimum wage.
For the serious hunter and gun lover, having the finest that money can buy is worth every penny. This gun really delivers in the field and when you consider the costs of transcontinental hunts, it seems quite foolish to stake everything on less than the best.
The early explorers that opened up darkest Africa used Best Quality guns for their dependability. No gunsmiths up the Lualaba River, you know. Dangerous game hunters have used them because a rifle malfunction at a critical time can mean a grisly death in a hurry. How much is your life worth?
It has often been said that anyone who appreciates guns and the finer things in life owes it to himself and his descendents to own at least one Best Quality firearm. These are among the highest examples of functional art that exists and the pleasure of hunting with a gun like this is unmatched in the shooting sports.
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When you buy from Purdey, you are buying from the gunmaker with the royal warrant as gunmaker to the monarch, a title they have held since Queen Victoria. They made guns for her and every English monarch since. Because England is a nation of shotgunners, just as the United States is a nation of riflemen, Purdey is best known for their classic side by side 12-bore game guns.
They have an equally good reputation for building hunting rifles, both double barreled and bolt action. The firm is an old established one dating back to 1814 when James Purdey set up his shop. In 1877 it became James Purdey and Sons in recognition of his sons, and in 1883 they relocated to their present location on South Audley Street.
As is fitting for the most famous of the British Best Quality gunmakers, they are extremely protective of their reputation for making Best Quality guns and are determined that nothing less than the finest that human hands can make ever leaves the premises with the Purdey name on it. You are in good hands there. They can be reached at purdey.com.
Story by Jim Dickson
Photos by James Purdey and Sons