Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S02 ep5 : Nigel Beaumont, Purdey Rifles, [England]

Interview with Nigel Beaumont

Purdey was established in London in 1814, the year before the battle of Waterloo. The founder, James Purdey, had previously worked as head stocker for Joseph Manton, the foremost gunmaker of his time. Purdey set up his gun making business in Princes Street and soon moved to Manton's former premises in Oxford Street in 1826. The company was granted its first Royal Warrant in 1868 by The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, an honour that has been bestowed on the Managing Director of James Purdey & Sons Ltd by each succeeding Monarch.


NB: Purdey’s need a good link between its craft base and its customer base and that’s really what I
do. I can be here intimately involved with what we’re making and then I can also be alongside the
customer who is after all the man who is putting his responsibility in the craft base.

NB: This was a family business, that’s how I came to it. After the war it came to Beaumont for the
Purdey family. It was my uncle who owned it. We have since sold it to the Rishmont Corporation
and I was the Managing Director, now I am the Chairman.

NB: Purdey is functional art, it’s the one name for a gun that people aspire to over all others.
Across the world it’s got this immense value, this immense cache and it retains its value. It is
something to be proud of, making guns of this complexity and this height of this water is good fun.

NB: I went to university and then I went out to work and then I came here. I did work on the bench
here. I made actions, I made stocks I made barrels, various parts of the factory were covered by me
when I was training.

??: Why are they tinning us, people say it’s the best way of joining them. Some manufacturers are
Spanish and some are ___ so they base them on ___ which is a much higher temperature ___ ribs
to ribble ___ whereas T being a lot lower, it doesn’t distort the metal.

??: So this is the rib that goes between the actual barrels right.

??: It’s actually ___ metal. It’s kerosene paraffin. You’re not trying to heat it up, you’re just trying
to get that slack.

??: Ah okay, and ___ taper.

??: Doing the chokes.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

NB: Very little has changed in guns since guns were built in the modern era, post 1880, the side by
sides, early 1900’s were over and unders, very little is going to change, all you’re going to do is
change some of the smaller nuances, make certain things better, certain parts of it better, you’re
going to evolve it like that, essentially the designs are much the same and that’s what our clients
want, our clients want guns that are made in the traditional format.

NB: You can always make them better. You can always use your technology and your excellent
craft base to make a better product. There’s always somewhere to go, there’s always extra finish,
extra function.

??: This is a further development what they’re trying out now. They’re trying to shape this on their
machine which is the so called ___, I’ve roughed it on here, like that and that’s the finished article,
that was cut by hand.

??: And then eventually, finally when it’s fitted up, it’ll look like that and round it over.

NB: We are improving the quality and the make, the build of our guns. That’s what we set
ourselves to do. That’s the most important thing we can do. The designs per se are pretty well set,
modern sporting, side by side, hammerless, shotguns and guns, were created in the 1880’s, they’re
not going to change very much. The over and unders, early 1900’s, they’re not going to change for
us. We’re not going to redesign them, in fact we brought all our machine technology to suit the
way the guns were made so yes, it’s, it is quite static, but our clients also want that, they want that
tradition, they want that complexity of design, manufacture, they want that.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

??: On the front steel and then everything in the tray is from the 1900, see where it’s rubbed the
black off, I leave that hard spot and this stays against it tight anyway, I mean all that will be eased
later down the line.

??: See now if you ___ hole up there.

??: Purdey system, shot fire, reshot.

NB: Every part of the gun is made to their requirement. The weight, the balance, the ribs, the
length of barrels, the pull, the stock, the trigger, the, whatever they want is made to their

??: You got the action back off ___ actions there, but the trigger plates not let in, you’ll get a ___
and you’ll see the trigger plate made. What we do is we let the trigger plate into the action and
then we roughly file up the safety work and the trigger mechanism, just all the measuring because
it’s for s__ gun, you get then measurements, length measurements and cast measurements. What we
ought to do is we bend the metalwork over, so that it follows on line so we have a sweeping line
and it’s on a cast and you have a slight bend here and you need that wood to be able to flex. The
same way a hammer works when it hits, it doesn’t hit straight, the wood actually flexes as well so
the wood does that but hickory doesn’t look as good as walnut we use. We’re kind of spoiled here
and we get to see the best of the best. If they got say short hands with sausage fingers, what we do
is we’ll make it actually wider so the grips still in the same place but their finger doesn’t have to
reach as far and you’re not choking the gun, you’re holding the gun.


Jewellery Theatre Elements

NB: It’s always satisfying to see a better product come out and we’ll do whatever we have to do to
make that happen.

??: ___ depends what ___ etc you’re looking around, because it depends on how much you ___
how much detail you put in, this one you’re looking about 50, 400 ___.

NB: Gold inlay guns, carved, gold inlays, multicoloured gold inlays etc, we do all that.

??: I also noticed that Purdey itself as a company is positioning itself more as a luxury brand now
than a gun.

NB: Yes, we do that as a spin off from our main activity, which is gun making, but the guns will
always be there as the coat hanger for the company which will always be at the core of the

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

NB: Well like Oscar Wilde, reports of my death were much exaggerated. People have been saying
this about the gun business for a long time. There are a lot of guns in the world no doubt, there are
not very many Purdey guns in the world. There are probably less than 20,000 modern format
Purdey shotguns and rifles in the world, which is an extremely poor number. We’re only making at
the level of 75 to 80 a year and so it’s rarity value is there. People will always aspire to owning
excellent rare items.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Nigel Beaumont, Purdey Rifles, England