Howdah pistol

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The howdah pistol was a large-calibre handgun, often with two or four barrels, used in India and Africa in the mid-to-late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, during the period of British Colonial rule. It was typically intended for defence against tigers, lions, and other dangerous animals that might be encountered in remote areas. Multi-barreled designs were initially favoured for Howdah pistols because they offered faster reloading than was possible with contemporary revolvers, which had to be loaded and unloaded through a gate in the side of the frame.

The term "howdah pistol" comes from the howdah, a large saddle mounted on the back of an elephant. Hunters, especially during the period of the British Raj in India, used howdahs as a platform for hunting wild animals and needed large-calibre side-arms for protection from animal attacks.

The first howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off rifles, typically in .577 Snider or .577/450 Martini-Henry calibre. Later English firearms makers manufactured specially-designed howdah pistols in both rifle calibres and more conventional handgun calibres such as .455 Webley and .476 Enfield. As a result, the term "howdah pistol" is often applied to...
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