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Can I buy a Purdey or Holland & Holland on a budget?

You may aspire to owning one of these famous English guns - but is a bargain every worth it?

Budget Purdey shotgun

Many shooters can be heard saying that one of their dream guns would be a pair of Purdeys or a Holland & Holland side-by-side. 

Well, if you’re lucky you might inherit a pair from a shooting relative. But most aspiring gun owners are halted in their tracks by a lack of budget, without the wherewithall to order a pair of Purdeys from new.

Budget Purdey shotgun

Say you’ve got £2000 to £3000 to spend. Would this enable you a budget Purdey shotgun or a Holland & Holland? Where could you buy one without breaking the bank? Or would it be wisest to realise that owning a pair of Purdeys is a pipe dream, be realistic and opt for something less expensive but still turning in a good performance?

Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – is the phrase that springs to mind here.

Your modest bank balance might buy you a used Holland & Holland or budget Purdey shotgun, but it will be old and likely to be worn out after years of enthusiastic use.  You can pick them up at auctions from time to time, but to be honest they are past their prime and won’t do you many favours out in the field, even though you could I suppose say you were the proud owner of a Purdey or Holland & Holland.

AYA No.2 28 bore

Built on the Holland & Holland-style nine pin design, the AYA No. 2 is a true sidelock

A better idea

Owning a celebrated English gun is a romantic notion but it would be much better to look for a gun in good condition by another English gunmaker.

There are plenty of good examples of used, hand-made English guns on the market at the moment and £2,000 to £3,000 will buy you a sidelock ejector by a good English maker which is in sound condition.

However, if you are willing to have a non-ejector sidelock then you should get one in excellent condition.

Ejectors are not really necessary for most shooting. English boxlocks are also good value, and your budget will buy you an extremely good one.

Hammerguns are also modestly priced and you could buy a nice hammergun for special shoots and have a modern over-and-under for everyday use.

Second-hand AYA sidelock ejectors are also remarkably good value. It is always best to put your money into a gun that is in good condition. You should also have some shooting lessons with it too, as the instructor will have some useful advice.

Make sure that the gun fits you well and practice mounting with it, so you are ready for success when first out in the field.

This article was first published in 2014 and has been updated