This latest, all-London-made iteration of Purdey’s over-and-under is the gunmaker’s response to a collective interest in sporting clays. Superlatives are in order, says Michael Yardley
Having recognised demand for a bespoke sporting clays gun, the Purdey Trigger Plate Sporter is designed as an upmarket clay crusher and built on the new, all-London-made Purdey triggerplate action. Michael Yardley believes superlatives are in order.
Exclusive to The Field, read the very first review of the Purdey Trigger Plate over and under.
PURDEY TRIGGER PLATE SPORTER
This test gun is a splendid beast, a 31in-barrelled, 8lb 9oz, James Purdey & Sons over-and-under. Designed as an upmarket clay crusher and named accordingly, the Purdey Trigger Plate Sporting Clays Model is built on the new, all-London-made Purdey triggerplate action (which appeared in prototype form in 2016). Purdey continues to make a mechanically similar, but slightly less refined, over-and-under in collaboration with Perugini and Visini (its major action parts and monobloc are machined in England, sent to Italy for assembly before returning to the Purdey factory for proof, Teague chokes, finish and regulation).
The new London sporter costs £62,000 plus VAT. It combines CNC and spark erosion manufacture with many hours of traditional bench work. The lines are elegant and there is the usual excellent Purdey detailing, lustrous blacking and perfect surface finish on all the metal parts as well as wood hand oiled with ‘slacum’. There is tight scrollwork on the sideplates and belly of the subtly rounded action body executed by in-house masters. The action is silver finished (colour hardening is an option, too) with blued pins.
The specification includes a detachable triggerlock, non-selective single trigger (with a selective trigger being developed), non-auto safety, extended triggerguard, a ventilated, raised, parallel (9mm), rib, a high combed stock with a steel capped full palm-swell pistol grip (a Monte-Carlo stock is also offered). The fore-end is of a pleasing rounded pattern with a front button release. Following the latest back-to-the-future fashion, the gun is set up for felt wadded cartridges with a .728in bore diameter and short (¼in) forcing cones. Flush Teague chokes are standard with extended and ported ones available as options.
Jonathan Irby of Purdey told me: “The gun is an organic development after release of the Purdey Trigger Plate some years ago. The Purdey team, whilst in the US, heard much collective interest in sporting clays and five-stand sporting clays in particular. We recognised a potential demand for a bespoke sporting clays gun.”
The new gun is not only significantly different to its Italian assembled but London machined and finished stablemate, it is notably different to the all-London-made game gun we tested previously. It is of similar weight (dedicated game models are now being made lighter) and has larger, more generous stock shapes: a wider, higher comb and a large, more acutely radiused, full pistol grip with palm-swell (not present previously). The fore-end, of rounded pattern, is also modified.
Is the gun too heavy? Overall weight is a matter of taste – there is certainly a trend towards heavier competition guns now, few professionals these days use guns that are less than 8lb and some top 9lb (my preference for clays is about 8¼lb and about 7lb for a game gun). The thicker and higher comb – again mirroring competition experience – is designed to increase facial support and offer improved target visibility, especially when combined with the new high rib. Purdey has not over-done it, however, Jonathan Irby explains: “This gun was born out of the desire to have a variant of the Purdey triggerplate specifically conceived and designed for sporting clays. We did a lot of research and work developing the stock shape and evolving the new grip to fit different hands… the rib is special, too, made from a single piece of metal made for each gun. It is raised but you do not lose the correlation between muzzles and target. We concerned ourselves with making an elegant sighting rib and mid ribs. All the design was done in house, and, for the record, Purdey was doing ventilated ribs in the 1920s.”
Another change is a single piece fore-end iron (see technical). Barrel wall dimensions have been altered, too; the thicknesses are increased in this clay-dedicated model to put weight into them and to improve consistency in competition shooting.
The Purdey Trigger Plate (PTP) models evolved from the Perazzi-inspired gun made in association with Perugini & Visini, as noted. There was much ‘Purdification’ even in the P&V and a lot more in the latest London manufactured game and clay guns. All Purdey Trigger Plate over-and-unders have Woodward-type hinging and Boss-style draw and wedge bolting combined with a v-spring powered detachable triggerlock. The latter was popularised by Perazzi in the MX8 (which shares London-inspired hinging and lock-up). The design concept has been used by many makers, including Kemen and Gamba.
Successful designs evolve and may be refined and improved. The new Purdeys have demi-lump not monobloc barrels, as seen in most of the mass-market guns of this genus. The Sporting Clays model also has a Purdey-designed, one-piece fore-end iron that combines the fore-end with its ‘snap work’ (the sprung fore-end attachment bolt that clips under the barrel loop), making function less susceptible to heat.
The test was hosted by Jonathan Irby, a first-class shot himself, at West London. After a relaxed briefing, we were off on the layouts. I had been concerned about the almost 9lb weight but need not have been. I went the first 50 birds straight before a long looper caught me out. The PTP sporting clays edition shot wonderfully well. The near hinge-pin balance was good. The weight soaked up the recoil, the big grip and near ideal rounded fore-end offered excellent purchase and control. Not normally a fan of high ribs or palm swells, these worked for me combined with a high and full comb. Function and finish were what you’d expect of Purdey. I was also impressed (and surprised) with the big gun on the simulated grouse. Again, nothing got past. On the high tower, I missed a few birds initially before connecting consistently. This is a gun where superlatives are in order.
PURDEY TRIGGER PLATE SPORTING CLAYS MODEL
♦ RRP: £62,000 + VAT
♦ James Purdey & Sons Ltd, Audley House, 57-58 South Audley Street, London W1K 2ED
♦ 020 7499 1801