Pedersoli Howdah: To buy, or not to buy?


January 30, 2013, 09:24 PM
So I've been drooling over the Howdah ever since I started shooting BP a couple of years ago, but I've never been able to justify the cost. I just checked Cabelas website, and the 20x20 Howdah is on sale for $650. Normal price is 750. Now, I know I shouldn't blow 650$ on another gun right now, but I really really want to. So, a couple questions for y'all.

1-Is that a pretty decent price that I should jump on?
2-What accessories am I going to need to get up and running with this beast? (holster and such can wait a while)
3-Anything I should know about the Howdah?
4-Talk to me about shooting one with a shoulder stock vs. freehand.
5-20ga slugs out of this one? Is that going to be a realistic shooting experience? I see the .58 rifled barrel is no longer carried by Cabelas.

My current experience with BP is playing with an 1858 NMA and an 1851 Navy Sheriff.

I have no illusions of hitting anything with it, but words can not express the level of pleasure I would take in annoying the codgers at the local trap range with something like this. Just one round, that's all I ask. :neener:

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January 30, 2013, 10:29 PM
That's been on my black powder list for a while but I haven't quite gotten there yet. So take this all with a grain of salt.

1. Probably. I *think* I've seen it as low as $600 but wouldn't swear to it. Dixie has all the different configurations for $750.
2. Powder, caps, cleaning stuff. If shooting patched ball you'll need patches and balls. If shooting shot or balls with cards you'll need shot or a ball and cards.
3. I've heard that there's a problem with side by sides where you shoot one side and the ball on the other side will end up moving, so whatever you do needs to be pretty secure.
4. If you want to shoot it with a stock Pedersoli makes a couple of different short barrel side by side shotguns that probably make more sense. If you're concerned about recoil just keep the loads reasonable.
5. Sure, why not? Should be accurate enough at handgun distances.

My understanding is that it attracts attention. Should be a good time. Hopefully if I'm very good I'll get one for Christmas.

January 30, 2013, 11:31 PM
Hey Packman,

What do you need it for? Is there a legitmate need for the weapon to be in your arsenal? If not, pass for then you're needlessly coveting. If I were in the market for a double gun for home defense, my choice would be a coach gun cause then I could at least hunt with it.

It might be nice to have on your leg while on safari in Africa should your blunderbuss fail to bring down that charging pachyderm...

January 30, 2013, 11:33 PM

January 31, 2013, 12:14 AM
"legitmate need" seriously? If that's the criteria all the black powder guns are going right out the window.

January 31, 2013, 03:05 AM
"legitmate need" seriously? If that's the criteria all the black powder guns are going right out the window.

That depends on how you define it and what is included in it of course.

One can have a legitimate need for a concealed carry sidearm, personal defense, carbine, shotgun and rifle in black powder AND smokeless for example. And let's not forget those who shoot in those Cowboy Action matches, IDPA, etc.

January 31, 2013, 03:45 AM
It's huge. Basically it's a Kodiak double front stuffer with reduced barrels and a pistol grip instead of a shoulder stock. The size is what's kept me away from them. I don't care for a handgun that heavy. But it will get attention at the range and is a hoot. It's a novelty gun. Fun but of no really practical use.

but words can not express the level of pleasure I would take in annoying the codgers at the local trap range with something like this.

What about a musket? I just picked up an 1842 Armi replica from Dixie for a little more than you're looking at with the Howdah. It's a surprisingly well-balanced beast and would certainly work for the shotgun range. You could actually hit something with it, too.

Dave Markowitz
January 31, 2013, 07:13 AM
If you want it and buying it will cause no financial hardship, I don't see that any other justification is needed.

If you want to get a gun of the same type but at less cost, Middlesex Village Trading Co. sells a similar pistol ( for $475. It won't be as nicely finished as the Howdah and you may need to tune the locks a bit, but it will save some money. MVTC also offers a double barrel flintlock pistol if you prefer.

Pete D.
January 31, 2013, 07:35 AM
I was going to suggest the Howdah available from Middlesex....but the last post beat me to it.
I have one. It is a hoot to shoot. Nominally, it is twenty gauge but I found that I needed 17 gauge components to get the right fit.
The Middlesex version is handier than the Pedersoli as it has shorter barrels.
I keep meaning to take it into the field, especially in brushy cover for close shooting of grouse but have not done so. Need a bit more work with backyard Trap first.
Note....about tuning the locks. VERY true. The Middlesex Howdah that I have had absolutely the worst triggers I have ever tried to pull. No kidding....they had to be 40 pounds. It took two fingers on the trigger to get the hammer to fall.
Fortunately, the locks are not difficult to work on and respond to polishing and judicious filing quite well. After considerable work - I polished every part and every bearing surface and reduced the thickness of the main and sear springs - I was able to reduce trigger pull to about 10 lbs.

(See this link for some very helpful info about locks:

January 31, 2013, 09:37 AM
I have never bought a gun that I "needed". Only those I wanted.
You want it? Can you afford it?
If the answer to both of the above is "Yes", go for it.
You know the Howdah style pistol was designed to kill tigers that were attacking the howdah(basket of the back of an elephant). Normal range of the shot was around 5 feet. Huge impact, equally big recoil. Life or death so recoil was unimportant.
Are you aware that you can still buy modern ones that load up to elephant sized smokeless rounds?

loose noose
January 31, 2013, 10:39 AM
Noz, has my sentiments exactly, never bought a BP gun I needed, but bought quite a few I wanted. Also sold a few I regretted.:eek::scrutiny::uhoh:

January 31, 2013, 06:58 PM
Well, after careful consideration, 3 hours on youtube and google, some research on usage and loads and such, along with pondering on y'all's replies...I placed my order for the Howdah. The way I figure it, Noz and LooseNoose nailed it. I don't need it, but I want it, and I'm not spending my rent money or anything, so shoot...I bought it.

In truth, I don't need any of my BP guns, or most of my long guns, or all but 1 of my carry guns. BP is a diversion from reality for me. I like putting on my cowboy boots and my hat, and taking a big ol' box full of BP paraphernalia to the range and making big clouds of smoke. I have a pith helmet at my parent's house that my dad gave me when I was a kid, I think I'll wear that and my best khaki to go shoot my new howdah. I just shoot black powder because I rather enjoy it.

In the end, is there any better reason to do something?

January 31, 2013, 07:01 PM
Oh, and it goes without and a range report will be forthcoming! Might take a little bit though, I still need to order balls and such. This will be a new segment of BP shooting for me, I'm not accustomed to dealing with patches or shot or anything like that. I've just played with revolvers so far.

Keep that input coming if you've got it! I know there's a couple of you floating around here with them, I'd love to hear whatever you'd like to share!

January 31, 2013, 07:22 PM
Howdahs are a blast! Enjoy!

January 31, 2013, 07:27 PM
They are tons of fun!!!!!!!! The only bad thing I have ever heard about the Pedersoli is from guys that wished they would have bought the 20ga.:neener:

Why buy one???? Because you can't spend that money after the lid slams shut and they are pat'n you on the face with a shovel:banghead:

If you get one, look closely before you buy, some of them come with a loose wooden ramrod. Others come with a steel ramrod that is held by a swivel...The steel rod is nice since you can't drop/lose/or break your ramrod.

One thing I have always been going to do is add a rear sight to mine...someday.

There is a design issue with them...MAKE SURE if you load shot, that you DO NOT let any shot pieces fall into the ramrod hole in the end of the stock. This hole will funnel the shot right into your locks. I have heard of several seers being broken. With mine it just failed to catch at full cock and nothing bad happened.

It took me a while to figure out because at first, I had no idea what was causing this problem because it always seemed to "Fix" itself and I could never get it to do it with the gun apart....then I found that it was the #6 shot messing things up. Now I am more careful when loading the shot.

Malachi Leviticus Blue
January 31, 2013, 07:37 PM
Good for you! Don't worry about it. Anyone financially in such rough shape that $650 is going to put them under is probably a lost cause anyway and may as well go out happy.

January 31, 2013, 08:17 PM
You will not find a BP gun that is more fun than the Howdah.
I had absolutely no legitimate need for a 20 gauge Pedersoli Howdah.
I'd always wanted a sawed off double, like in Mad Max, but couldn't afford one and didn't want the hassle of NFA paperwork.
I still don't need it, but I wouldn't sell if.
It's so much fun, it's almost carnal.
I"m going to carry it as a backup gun to my BP rifle, when hunting deer/hogs during BP season.
60-80 grains of BP under a round ball is loads of fun.
I cast mine from wheelweights. They penetrate nicely.
Shot loads are fun, too.

January 31, 2013, 09:41 PM
They are pretty neat guns. I bought the Pedersoli 20X20 variation when they first came out. The .60 patched round ball works well - my favorite load is a patched round ball with #4 Buck on top of it. Patterns well and gives you a little more "affect."

Never had a problem with loads moving from recoil??? As far as being useful??? I certainly would not be worried about taking small game. With Buck and Ball, it makes a pretty good hall sweeper. Did I really need it??? NO... But, I didn't need my C&B revolvers, rifle, or my flint lock Brown Bess either.

Jaymo - good point on the Mad Max comment that a lot of folks don't think about. The 11 inch barrels would be a problem with a modern shot-gun. Black powder doesn't fall under those guidelines. The Howdah is a smooth-bore, black powder pistol.

February 1, 2013, 02:25 AM
In the end, is there any better reason to do something?

To serve the Lord and lay up treasure in heaven???

February 1, 2013, 10:30 AM
I'd love to have one, but even at 650, they're a might steep for me right now. I should be in better shape in a couple of years, still moving in to a new place and buying things I need for the house/yard. Those things would make a pretty mean home defense gun loaded with maybe 3 buck, methinks. I currently keep a 20 gauge coach gun in the bedroom.

February 2, 2013, 10:32 PM
To serve the Lord and lay up treasure in heaven???

Actually, I'm an atheist. I don't normally go there, but since you did, I'll follow for one post and then resume my walk on the High Road. Ergo, I serve no lord, nor have any interest in laying up treasures for the afterlife. "It's not what you gather but what you scatter that tells the life you've lived." My guns, especially my BP guns, are owned solely to provide my entertainment, and will hopefully one day provide similar joy to my kids and grandkids.

February 3, 2013, 03:01 AM
Just use the holy black and all will be right.

February 5, 2013, 08:20 PM
It's here, it's here!

loose noose
February 6, 2013, 11:03 AM
OK Packman let's see some photos!

February 6, 2013, 07:17 PM
It'll provide you with entertainment, all right. It's loads of fun to shoot.
It's the closest I can get to a Mad Max scattergun, without the huge monetary investment and .gov paperwork.
My buddy's roommate took one look at it, gave a disapproving scowl, and asked me, "What do you need THAT for?"
My reply to him was "I didn't buy it because I needed it. I bought it because I wanted it and it's my right."
That's when he walked away.
I guess the antis don't know what to do when we refuse to let them put us on the defensive.

February 6, 2013, 08:53 PM

I'm sorry about the quality, all I had handy was my phone.

Overall impressions: The fit and function are very good. The right trigger and lock are both pretty decent, although a little stiffer than I would prefer. I can deal with it though. The left trigger and lock is pretty tight. It's just an estimate from my Mark One trigger finger, but I'd guess the trigger pull on the left is in excess of 25 lbs, and that's the rear trigger, which is much easier to bear down on. I expect I'll need to do a little bit of polishing and maybe a little bit of filing after some more research to make sure I'm not going to mess anything up.

The metal to wood fit is excellent, all the way around. I'm very impressed with this aspect. The wood itself is unremarkable in all regards. The checkering on the handgrip is shallow, with one obvious run line. I'm a little bummed about how soft the wood is. Very easy to dent, especially since removing the pin to get the barrel off requires some sort of tool. The easiest thing is a brass punch and a rubber mallet. The engraving on the locks is neat, but not super well executed. Shallow and largely oxidized over. With that said, the quality is acceptable, and it has an antiqued look to it, which appeals to me.

The bluing on the barrels is of pretty decent quality, definitely superior to my Pietta revolvers. I don't have much blued stuff, but it looks to be equal to what's on my Marlin .22 Now, although the bluing is of decent quality, I'm not a huge fan of the look. I'd like to case harden the barrels, because I really like that look. I'll need to do some more research into what's involved there. I've seen it on THR before, just need to revisit that. Alternatively, I'm considering antiquing the barrels, since that look also appeals to me. That would also remove the issue of the caps removing the bluing. If the barrels do get antiqued, I could care less about dings in the wood, as that just adds to the character of the gun.

As you can see in the pics, I've removed the attached loading rod. I don't care much for how it looks, and on the range it's just as easy to use a different ramrod. The gun has a much more streamlined look without it in my opinion. I'll need to figure out something to do with the screwholes. I don't want to completely incapacitate them, so I'm thinking maybe some sort of setscrew? Or just get a screw and cut it short so it'll sit flush.

Overall impression: I like it. I'm not dissatisfied with the purchase, although I haven't shot it. You've all probably seen my sister thread discussing ammunition sources, sizes and options. I hope to go make some smoke real soon!

February 6, 2013, 10:14 PM
Matt, I've been coveting the Lemat ever since I started shooting BP a few years ago. I want one very badly, I just haven't been able to talk myself into the cost yet. Hopefully I'll be starting a new job soon, which would involve a comfortable pay raise in about 2-3 years, so my budget for boomsticks and smokepoles would increase dramatically.

Would you be so kind as to post a range report when you get around to shooting it?

February 7, 2013, 12:38 AM
I'm sure once you shoot it that you'll love it entirely. :-)

Ghost Dog
February 7, 2013, 07:03 PM
I've been away form the forum for a while but I picked up a 20X20 on GB last fall with a ball mold and some other accessories for about $500. and have been having a blast with it. I have'nt started casting yet so I've been loading it with OOO buck and #5 shot. An interesting note on top of 50 gr of Shockey's Gold the the OOO buckshot embeds itself in the 1/2" plywood I put my targets on, but on top of 50gr of 777 the OOO penetrates completely!
I have also loaded it with shot on top of 25 gr of powder for my daughter and nephews to shoot. They also really enjoyed it.


February 7, 2013, 09:43 PM
Got mine today. Mine has slightly nicer more attractive wood than yours (I think, just going from the picture) and I haven't measured it but the trigger pull seems entirely reasonable. One side is much louder then the other when I cock it, not sure what's up with that.

February 7, 2013, 10:50 PM
I disassembled the locks and I can see why the one is stiff. I don't know all the terminology yet, so bear with me...

The left side tumbler, where the trigger interfaces and locks in to prevent firing has a little bit of a burr on it. This is making the trigger spur/arm/lever thingy catch on the round tumbler doodad, requiring heavier pressure to overcome the friction and release the hammer. The right side lock doesn't have that burr, so it moves pretty smoothly.

I don't plan on doing anything to it until I shoot it.

February 7, 2013, 10:56 PM
Heh. I get the idea anyway. Depending on the details it may smooth out if you cock and decock it enough, but it should be easy enough to fix in any case.

I'll be interested to hear how you like it. I'll post when I shoot mine but it might be a little while.

loose noose
February 9, 2013, 08:24 PM
Packman, looks like a really nice piece of armory. What is that thing on the bottom of the butt it looks like some kind of plastic. Also the wood to metal fit is really nice BTW.

February 11, 2013, 06:57 PM
The thing on the bottom appears to be that color hardened steel. It's an attachment point for the optional stock. There's a screw holding it on. You could remove it if you find it unattractive but I'm not sure what's under it.

February 12, 2013, 08:35 PM
Late reply, sorry.

Loosenoose, my googling says it served as a counterweight to improve the balance of the gun, an endcap to protect the grip, and a last-ditch impact weapon. I can believe all aspects in a historical context. This particular one doesn't seem to have a whole lot of weight behind it, so I don't know how much balancing it really does. It's got some mighty pointy edges on it, and I would be righteously brained if I got hit with it, to be sure. It'd stop someone cold in their tracks if you slapped them upside the noggin. It does a mighty fine job of protecting the grip from what I can tell.

I haven't pulled it, but I think it just screws straight into the wood through the baseplate. I don't think you have to remove it to attach the shoulder stock, from what I understand there is a loop that actually wraps around that noggincruncher.

February 13, 2013, 12:15 AM
Right - the "loop" is octagonal or something similar and probably holds on to the knob thing pretty well.

February 14, 2013, 09:04 AM
The thing on the bottom appears to be that color hardened steel. It's an attachment point for the optional stock. There's a screw holding it on. You could remove it if you find it unattractive but I'm not sure what's under it.
The eight pointed cap on the bottom of the grip is designed to crush the tigers skull as he is biting into your abdomen. Seriously, check the origin of the name Howda.

February 14, 2013, 12:37 PM
That's a nice theory and all, but if you do a search on historic howdah pistols they don't have anything at all like that. Maybe a little thicker area and a ring to hang it on the side of the howdah but that's about it.

February 14, 2013, 01:39 PM
Isn't "Howdah" the name for the big saddle arrangement on top of an elephant?

February 14, 2013, 04:13 PM
It is. The idea that you have a couple of these in there so when you're going through the jungle and a tiger looks like it might want to eat you, you have options.

February 14, 2013, 10:06 PM
Ghost Dog, did you buy that Howdah from that pawn/gun shop in Monroe GA?
I followed that listing and almost bid on it. I would kind of like to have a second.
I finally found a left handed holster for mine. It turns out that Triple K makes/sells one.
I found it on their website.

Saddle indeed. More like a gazebo on elephant back. :D

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