“Howdah” Style Pistols from American Gun Craft

Some guns are made to be fun. They may be able to be used for a serious purpose, but they are really made to be enjoyed, and the black powder double barrel muzzle-loading “Howdah” pistols from American Gun Craft (AGC) are made to be loaded up and enjoyed.

Originally the shotgun pistol was created for a serious purpose: these guns were made to be carried in special holsters mounted on the “howdah” when people were out hunting dangerous game in India back in the days of the British Empire. In India the way to go hunting was on the back of an elephant sitting in a “howdah” which was a box with seating for the hunters and often fitted with holsters for pistols at each corner.

Howdah hunting India

The Howdah pistol was originally designed for use in “up close encounters of the unfriendly kind”. The danger may have been a tiger, or human bandits, but a dose of buckshot in the face was normally effective in ending the emergency.

The howdah pistol was typically carried not only on hunting expeditions but generally on journeys through wild environments to provide protection against wild animals and wild people. Bandits were common and were looking not only to rob but to take hostages or sell people into slavery. So a howdah pistol or two was an effective way of dissuading such people from their anti-social behavior.

Howdah pistol

This antique howdah pistol is an example of the Victorian era originals. It is a .577 breech loading double barrel, side lever howdah pistol by W. & J. Kavanagh, Dublin, Circa 1870. (Picture courtesy Bonhams).

The American Gun Craft shotgun pistols are reminiscent of the British howdah pistols of the Victorian era and look to be great “fun guns”, with the advantage of being able to be pressed into service in defensive situations such as encountering a snake or other aggressive animal when out hiking for example.

The American Gun Craft “howdah” pistols come in three models; the “Diabolo”, “Bulldog”, and “Wrath”.

The Diabolo

The “Diabolo” I would think of as being rather more of a “Guardian Angel” than a devil as it is a short range gun that could be used as a defensive arm if needs be.

AGC American Gun Crafter Diabolo pistol

The “Diabolo” is a small break action muzzle-loading pistol with a single selective hammer and single trigger.

Despite being a muzzle-loader the Diabolo features a break action which is used to insert the primers when the shooter is ready to use the gun. The powder, wad and shot are loaded from the muzzle as with any muzzle-loading arm.

AGC provide the full manual for the Diabolo in downloadable PDF format and you will find it if you click here.

The primers used are standard shotgun #209, the charge is 60 grains of FFG black powder behind ½oz of shot. The bore diameter is .729″, 12 gauge.

This quick video from Richard Rourke gives an overview of this sweet little gun.

AGC make a magnetic wall mount for the “Diabolo” so it can be kept handy and able to be used at short notice.

AGC Diabolo wall mount

Magnetic wall mount for the AGC Diabolo.

The AGC Diabolo comes in a range of different finishes including polished blue and nickel, and with various styles of synthetic stock.

Diabolo Specifications

Barrel Length: 6″ Length Blued Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Barrel Type: Break Open Blued Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Overall Length: 10”
Caliber: 12 Gauge – Conventional 209 Primer Breech Plug Design BP muzzleloader, suggested load 40gr ffg, 1/2 oz shot
Finish: Standard Blue
Weight: 3.2 Lbs
Type: Single Hammer, Double Barrel, Single Trigger, 209 Primer Ignition ML
Stock: Synthetic Grips
Sight Bead: Choose sight bead installed or not
Single hammer, single trigger and utilizes a selector on the hammer to select one barrel or the other

The Bulldog

The second model in the AGC line-up is the “Bulldog” and it is a conventional “howdah pistol” design with external hammers.

AGC Bulldog pistol

The AGC “Bulldog” features external hammers and double triggers. It is made with Burl Wood, Walnut, Onyx Black, White Snakeskin and Yellow Snakeskin stocks.

The Bulldog can be fitted with a red dot sight making this a compact hunting or survival gun.

AGC Bulldog red dot sight white snakeskin

AGC Bulldog with white snakeskin stock and fitted with red dot sight.

Bulldog Specifications

Barrel Length: 11″ Length Blued Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Barrel Type: Blued Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Overall Length: 17”
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Finish: Standard Blue
Weight: 4.8 Lbs
Type: Exposed Hammers, Double Barrel, Double Trigger, Percussion Ignition Muzzle-loader
Stock: Synthetic

The Wrath

The last handgun in the AGC line-up is the “Wrath”

AGC Wrath pistol

AGC Wrath, seen here with a red dot sight fitted.

The Wrath is much the same as the Bulldog but has a more upright pistol-grip in the stock.

This also can be fitted with a red dot sight to improve its versatility.

Wrath Specifications

Barrel Length: 11″ Length Blued Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Barrel Type: Blued Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Scope Rail: Factory equipment with a drilled and tapped picatinny/weaver style scope
Overall Length: 18”
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Finish: Standard Blue
Weight: 4.8 Lbs
Type: Exposed Hammers, Double Barrel, Double Trigger, Percussion Ignition Muzzle-loader
Stock: Synthetic

AGC Wrath red dot sight

AGC Wrath fitted with Picatinny rail and red dot sight.

Conclusion

These muzzle-loading guns from AGC are affordably priced and versatile. They offer hours of shooting enjoyment and their break action makes for safe operation.

AGC also offer OEM industrial manufacturing services in addition to their firearms manufacturing.

You will find their home page if you click here.

Photo Credits: All pictures of AGC products courtesy AGC.

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