Taking Stock #4
The Howdah Pistol…
Ah, the golden age of British colonialism. “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” was a common expression in the 19th century, as, armed with superior weapons and tactics, the British flung a colonial net across the entire globe. It was natural that the same intrepid, daring spirit that animated such conquests would also motivate individuals to seek adventure on the outskirts of the empire.
adventure in such ways. Braving wind, desert, native uprisings, and the like, many a proper British gentleman of the period sought the adrenaline-charged thrill of close contact with danger. However, whether hunting, exploring, or simply walking the dirty streets of less-civilized environs, it was considered prudent to have a last-ditch companion that might be useful in a desperate struggle. Enter the Howdah Pistol.
The term comes from the howdah, a large saddle mounted on the back of an elephant. Hunters, especially during the period of the British Raj inIndia, hunted tigers and other dangerous game from this platform. In an era of single shot rifles, a less-than-fatal shot might turn into a vicious attack, and without a follow-up capability, such hunters needed a readily available sidearm, of large caliber, for protection from animal attacks.
Howdahs came in all sizes and shapes, from cut-down rifles, to custom-made affairs, such as the elegant, powerful, and fearsome .65 caliber double-barreled, cased J. Beattie, Gunmaker, Howdah that recently came into Lock, Stock & Barrel.