James Purdey & Sons Establishes a New American Presence with Griffin & Howe at the Hudson Farm Club…And Begins Production of a Phenomenal .410 Hammer Gun

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For American lovers of James Purdey & Sons shotguns recent developments deliver some good news and some bad.

Starting with the good, London best-gun maker James Purdey & Sons has declared Griffin & Howe’s sporting-gun nirvana the Hudson Farm Club its new American Northeast base of operations. That means all you need to do is make your way to Andover, New Jersey, shoot one of the Purdey demonstration guns of your choice at Hudson Farms’ rifle range or sporting clays course and swipe your credit card to consummate the venture.

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A pair of 20-bore Purdey Hammer Guns. The new, limited-production Purdey .410 Hammer Gun is a scaled-down rendition of the 20 bore.
(photo: Out of Bounds Creative)

Now the bad. One Purdey shotgun in very short supply is the remarkable new .410 side-by-side hammer ejector gun because eight of the 10 slated for production have already been sold.

Although both developments don’t appear to be related, Griffin & Howe’s influence on Purdey’s original American Hammer Gun program can be traced to the year 2000. As Shotgun Life had reported previously, that year past Purdey Chairman Nigel Beaumont had crossed the Atlantic to attend the Vintage Cup World Side-by-Side Championships at the Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds in Millbrook, New York.

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Guy Bignell

Mr. Beaumont dined at the nearby home of Guy Bignell – former President and CEO of Griffin & Howe. As befitting Mr. Bignell’s legendary hospitality, out came the after-dinner port and an arsenal of cigars that reckon to measure conversations destined for a long passage into the night.

For years Mr. Bignell had encouraged Mr. Beaumont to make a new Purdey Hammer Gun for the American market. As the port flowed that evening, Mr. Beaumont finally conceded, but under one condition: Griffin & Howe must first procure deposits for 10 of the shotguns. Several months later, Mr. Bignell satisfied his end of the bargain.

The Purdey Hammer Guns that went into production were exact replicas of a 1923 Purdey 12 bore with ejectors, whose specifications were programmed into CNC milling machines, according to Mr. Beaumont.

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A pair of 12-bore Purdey Hammer Guns.
(photo: Out of Bounds Creative)

“It was a virtual lift from the 1923 gun,” he said at the time. “In the old days, they never had drawings or plans. It was all done by gauges and individual craftsmen’s notes.”

Fast forward to October 27, 2017 and we’re back at Hudson Farm for the Inaugural Fall Shoot at the Hudson Farm Club presented by Purdey and Griffin & Howe. That’s when we found out Purdey and Griffin & Howe were expanding their long-standing relationship.

Purdey’s point man in America is Brit George Juer. An Old Etonian, he has a proven history with English best-gun makers West London Gun Room, William Evans and J. Roberts and Son.

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George Juer discusses the expanded relationship with Griffin & Howe at the Hudson Farm Club.

Mr. Juer told us that the arrangement between Purdey and Griffin & Howe will simplify life for all-concerned. In 2014, when James Horne became Purdey Chairman, marching orders were to increase international sales initiatives. Unlike rival kinsmen Westley Richards and Holland & Holland, Purdey did not have a permanent American presence. Consequently, the Purdey team found themselves flying more frequently with very expensive shotguns and rifles and associated reams of red tape at the borders.

“As we traveled more and more the logistics of traveling with firearms was making life difficult,” said Mr. Juer. “Then changes in the U.K. export legislation made it almost impossible. It just made sense to have a platform in the Northeast of the United States from which to operate that’s important both historically and in the future.”

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Purdey’s Allie Stanislas helped manage the Inaugural Fall Shoot at the Hudson Farm Club presented by Purdey and Griffin & Howe.

The “formalized association,” as he called it, uses the Hudson Farm Club facilities, such as their new state-of-the-art gunsmithing operation, for Purdey service and sales. “We will have six to 10 demonstration guns here at all times,” he added, “although they won’t be for sale.”

Purdey will train “one of the more experienced Griffin & Howe gunsmiths in New Jersey at Purdey for accreditation for minor repairs,” he added. “For major repairs the guns will be returned to Audley House primarily for quality control.”

Steve Polanish, Griffin & Howe’s CEO, elaborated that Purdey shotguns on hand at the Hudson Farm Club will include different gauges. He’s also expecting a new Purdey bolt-action rifle as a demonstrator.

“It’s basically a way for Purdey to have a presence in North America with an office, gun shop and warranty service,” Mr. Polanish said. “We’ve been doing business with Purdey for so long now that we’re one of their top agents in the U.S.”

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Steve Polanish
(photo: Out of Bounds Creative)

Rounding out the new alliance Griffin & Howe will stock Purdey apparel and accessories in their Pro Shop.

I had shot a 12-bore Purdey Hammer Gun at Hudson Farm in 2010. That particular model had cost $95,000. It was a soft shooter with nimble handling and of course flawless craftsmanship. During the 2017 Inaugural Fall Shoot, I took a crack at a 12-bore and 20-bore Purdey Hammer Gun each from a matched pair on loan to me from a private collector. We positioned ourselves on a sporting clays stations that simulated high driven pheasants. Loader at the ready, cocking the hammers, timing the clay birds, feeling the Purdeys sweep up and through the line of the target in a flawless arc really drove home the Purdey experience to the hilt. It’s one of those times when you think, Yes, money can buy happiness.

The Purdey Hammer Gun Program is an exercise in diminutive scale. The 20-bore Purdey Hammer Gun is a reduced replica of the 12 bore. And the new smaller .410 Purdey Hammer Gun is proportionally identical to the 20 bore.

Listening to Mr. Juer talk about the fabrication process it’s not as easy as you would imagine. The Purdey .410 Hammer Gun required a dedicated square-bar action that remained loyal to the Purdey hammer-gun heritage in every way. Barrel options ranged from 26 to 30 inches with Teague thin-wall chokes optional to otherwise fixed constrictions of choice. The straight grip was finished with a checkered butt, although leather-covered recoil pads, a heel plate and skeleton heel and toe pieces were obtainable.

So far, it appears that a 28 bore remains absent from the family of Purdey Hammer Guns. Let’s see if we can get Mr. Polanish and Mr. Bignell to lobby Purdey on our behalf. Where’s the port and cigars?

Irwin Greenstein is the publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Useful resources:

The Griffin & Howe web site

The web site for James Purdey & Sons

Irwin Greenstein

Irwin Greenstein is Publisher of Shotgun Life. Please send your comments to letters@shotgunlife.com.

www.shotgunlife.com