Before & After. A Purdey Hammergun

An 1880s Purdey restored.

Read Article v

Gunsmithing & Technical|June 2021

Before and after photos are a common request.

When we restore a gun, readers look at the finished article and wonder what the starting point was. So, here we have illustrated some photos of an 1880s Purdey hammer gun that we collected from a seller in the north of England one snowy winter's evening and restored sympathetically.

The side view shows the renewal of blacking to furniture and the blueing of lock pins. The gun is a 12-bore wood-bar Purdey with rebounding locks. It had been owned by the vendor for over fifty years and had been in his family longer. It had not been abused but had not been seriously maintained or restored either, so was a good candidate for gentle cleaning and tightening to prepare it for another century of shooting.

The gun was slightly loose and 'off face' so a full strip, clean and service was necesary as well as attending to those issues. The mechanism is a simple one - with a top-lever and Purdey patent bolt, as well as Purdey's 'concealed third bite' in the face of the action.

We hate to see polished old guns, which have lost all their patina and character. Polishing really spoils the gun. We boiled off the metal parts to bring off all the dirt, and congealed grease from years of storage and handling. Fortunately, the wood work is in very good condition and responded well to gentle steaming out of dents and re-sealing the grainwith a hand-rubed oil finish, refreshing the dull and worn surface layer, which no longer protected the wood.

Wood bar (or bar-in-wood) guns have a full coverage of the bar with wood extending from the stock. It is very skilled work to achieve and many old guns of this type have cracks in the thin panel of wood under the bar.

No cracks here. The wood under the bar is still sound and has not been worn or re-finished before. Now, properly re-oiled, it looks as it did when it was made.

Woodwork is often the key to the finished look of the restoration. Here, we can see the original finish has all gone but there is a hint of the quality of the walnut and the potential to bring out its beauty.

After cleaning off the old dirt and lightly papering the wood, the figure is enhanced with alkanet root and finished with a traditional 'slacum' oil finish, which takes about six weeks to finish. Finally, the chequer is lightly refreshed.

The top-lever had lost all its blacking and the barrels were worn of all thir original brown. Note that this gun is number three of a trio,

The lever has now been re-blacked and the barrels polished and browned. The new owner has now taken delivery of his Purdey and it resides in California. Many of our American customers appreciate British guns more than we do ourselves. Some people lament the loss of these guns to overseas buyers but the truth is that the people who appreciate them buy them and that often means Americans.




Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )

Gunsmithing & Technical|June 2021

Vintage Gun Journal category advertiser: John Dickson & Son Gunmakers

Vintage Gun Journal category advertiser: Stephen & Son

Vintage Gun Journal category advertiser: Hammer Guns