Most Expensive Guns: The Extraordinary Purdey Shotgun Hammerless


When it comes to the most expensive guns in the world, the hammerless Purdey Shotgun is at the top of the…

When it comes to the most expensive guns in the world, the hammerless Purdey Shotgun is at the top of the list. The Purdey Company is the royally appointed gun and rifle maker to aristocratic families in the United Kingdom and Europe. The price for a Purdey shotgun exceeds most other lots at auction – let alone the price for a new one. 

Find out what makes the Purdey Shotgun among the most expensive guns in the world. Learn about the company’s history, and find out what a 1928 Extraordinary Purdey Shotgun Hammerless goes for at auction. 

Why is the Purdey Shotgun One of the Most Expensive Guns?

When it comes to appraising a firearm for auction, it comes down to the condition, provenance, and manufacturer. Purdey is a goliath in the gunmaking industry. The company has over 200 years of experience making guns for kings and queens. Even if the gun is in poor condition, a Purdey shotgun still commands a price. 

Purdey’s main shop is still in London, where the company was founded in 1814 by James Purdey. Under the leadership of James Purdey II, the company became a forefront trailblazer of the breech loading hammerless ejector. 

By the late 1800’s, the Purdey company moved to making hammer centerfire guns, until buying the patent for the hammerless self opening mechanism in 1880, from Fredrick Beesley. Hence, the mechanism was coined, the “Beesley” self-opening system. 

Since the induction of the hammerless mechanism, the side-by-side shotgun has gone through minimal change. 

As firearms continue to evolve and change, the hammerless side-by-side Purdey shotgun stays the same – and for good reason. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And, Purdey Gun & Rifle Makers smith the highest quality shotguns in the world. 

The Side-by-side Hammerless Purdey Shotgun

Side-by-side shotguns feature two barrels that are next to each other. In order to maintain functionality, each barrel is slightly offset. This type of double-barrel shotgun is opposed to an over-under, which the barrels are stacked atop each other. 

Since the Purdey companies acquisition of the patent for the Beesley self-opening hammerless system, it has grown a customer base that includes every European leader to wear a crown. In the late 19th century, when the Beesley system was invented, it was a revolutionary innovation for sport shooting and game hunting.

The self-opening system makes use of the mainspring’s residual energy to pop open the chamber and eject the spent shells. This makes the reloading process less work for the shooter, so you can see why it was popular amongst royalty.

The system uses a V-shaped spring to operate the internal hammers and self-opening system. One side of the V-spring powers the hammers, while the other opens the chamber. 

The 1928 Extraordinary Hammerless Purdey Shotgun features a double trigger, which is more effective for sport shooting. The double trigger allows the shooter more control over the choke, between firing the first and second round. 

What Does a Purdey Shotgun Cost?

A brand-new hammerless side-by-side Purdey Shotgun costs more than most college educations. Each gun is handmade, featuring scroll engraving and a golden plate with the manufacturers logo. New-in-the-box, one of these firearms costs around $100,000. 

That might not be anything for royalty, but normal people are hard pressed to spend that much money on a firearm. But, it is the kind of thing that gets passed down through generations and, eventually, might become part of an estate sale. And so, every once in a while, you find one of these masterpieces up for sale at a gun auction.

These guns are always the “prettiest girl at the ball,” when it comes to auction lots. You can expect to see a Purdey Shotgun start around $10,000, but it won’t sell that cheap. Our most recent auction saw a 1928 Extraordinary Hammerless Purdey Shotgun go for the hammerprice of $28,000. 

When you compare the auction price to the price of a brand new model, you can see what a deal it is to find a Purdey Shotgun at auction. A nearly $28,000 gun is quite the investment for a collector – but a huge discount from the $100,000 range. And, anyone who has ever shot a Purdey side-by-side will tell you, it is well worth the investment.

Final Thoughts

To be sure, there is no finer piece with which to crown a gun collection than the hammerless Purdey side-by-side. It is the kind of piece that collectors search years for, and may never be able to own. 

Why is the Purdey Hammerless Shotgun among the most expensive guns in the world? Not only is it a near-perfectly crafted firearm, but it exudes prestige. More than a gun, it is a sign of sophistication and opulence.

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