Welcome to Glenn's Gun Room
A short update: April 10th 2009
Life got busy and I haven't had as much time to spend with the Howdah as I'd wanted to. A 16 ga shotgun shell will fit the chambers almost perfectly. They just need to be shortened to 1.6”. I have turned down some 50 BMG brass for cases, they work well, but are time consuming to make. I have tried some Magtech 16 ga brass shells as well as paper and plastic hulls. The plastic hulls work great. I know they are far from traditional, but they are easy to work with and do an excellent job.
The pistol locks up very tight and is in excellent shape, especially considering it is about 160 years old. The grip looks odd until you hold it. Once in the hand it feels perfect.
Here is a short run down of loading for the Howdah:
A hole is drilled from just above the rim down into the primer pocket. Spent 209 shotgun primers have one side milled or ground down and the guts removed. A no. 11 muzzle loader cap can be placed open side up into the primer body and pushed back into the primer pocket of the cut down 16 ga hull. A no. 3 or 4 finish nail is cut to about 5/8” long and is pushed down into the drilled hole till it rests inside the no. 11 cap. (The Pin Fire part is now made and can be reused.) The primed case is now placed in a loading block that protects the pin from being hit.
A charge of FF Black Powder is dumped in the top and a 16 ga fiber wad is pushed down on top of that with a short piece of 5/8” hardwood dowel. The plastic case holds the wad snugly. Now your bullet of choice is seated down firly onto the wad and the loaded round is ready to go.
The barrel groove measures .700” and the twist rate is
rather fast so it was made for a conical slug instead of a round
ball. I have the info and pics somewhere and will post them when
I find them. A 12 ga slug that is made to go inside a shot cup is
a near perfect fit. I have a couple of moulds, the Lee 1 oz and
Lyman hollow base 1 oz have worked well with the limited testing
I've done. I have shot the Lee slug the most and with charges up
to 50gn FFg Goex the barrels print about 1.5” apart at 15'.
I did most of the testing at close range as I had the chrono on
the back side of the target so the target would stop the wad and I
could get some reading on the slugs. 50 gns FFg gives about 500
fps and is a rather pleasant load to shoot. My 10yo Son has shot
several rounds loaded with 20gns and can't get enough. We took
the Howdah to the Linebaugh Big Bore Seminar in Cody WY in 2008
and had a line of guys waiting to shoot it at the range. It does
hit much higher than point of aim. I'm hoping that maybe changing
bullet weight or the powder charge will help.