- Howdah pistol
A Howdah Pistol was a large-calibre handgun, often with two or four barrels, used in India and Africa during the period of British Colonial rule in the mid-to-late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, typically for defence against
tigers, lions, and other large, dangerous animals that might be encountered in the jungles or remote areas. Multi-barrelled designs were initially favoured for Howdah pistols because they offered faster reloading than was possible with contemporary revolvers,Maze, Robert J: "Howdah to High Power", page 22. Excalibur Publications, 2002] which had to be loaded and unloaded through a gate in the side of the frame.
The name "Howdah pistol" comes from the
sedan chair- known as a " Howdah"- which is mounted on the back of an elephant; hunters, especially during the period of the British Rajin India used howdahs as a platform for hunting wild animals and needed large-calibre side-arms to protect themselves, the elephant, and their passengers from animal attacks at close range.Maze, Robert J: "Howdah to High Power", page 19. Excalibur Publications, 2002]
The first Howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off rifles, typically in
.577 SniderMaze, Robert J: "Howdah to High Power", page 20. Excalibur Publications, 2002] or .577/450 Martini-Henrycalibre, but later on English firearms makers did manufacture specially designed Howdah pistols in both rifle calibres and more conventional handgun calibres such as .455 Webleyand .476 Enfield. As a result, the name "Howdah pistol" is often applied to a number of English multi-barrelled handguns such as the Lancaster pistol(available in a variety of calibres from .380" to .577"),Maze, Robert J: "Howdah to High Power", pages 20-22. Excalibur Publications, 2002] and various .577 calibre revolvers produced in England and Europe for a brief time in the mid-late 19th century.Maze, Robert J: "Howdah to High Power", page 25. Excalibur Publications, 2002]
Even though Howdah pistols were designed for use in the “gravest extreme” against dangerous game (such as tigers), British officers adopted them in other far-flung outposts of the British Empire, although by the late 19th century, top-break revolvers in more practical calibres (such as .455 Webley) had become much more widespread, removing much of the traditional market for Howdah pistols.
In the movie
The Ghost and the Darknessthe character Remington (Michael Douglas) carries a unique superposed double barrel Howdah pistol.
* Maze, Robert J. "Howdah to High Power". Tucson, Arizona: Excalibur Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-880677-17-2.
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