Lancaster 4-Barrel Howdah Pistol : A Brief (From FireArm Blog

Lancaster 4-Barrel Howdah Pistol
The above pistol was made by Charles Lancaster of London and dates from the mid 19th century.  The pistol is chambered in .476 calibre centre fire, which possibly dates the pistol to the 1870s, and has four barrels which are fired in sequence by a rotating firing pin mechanism housed inside the pistol’s receiver.  Howdah pistols like this one, and those percussion pistols which preceded it, were extremely popular with British officers between the 1840s and the 1890s.  Typically they were large calibre pistols with two or more barrels.  The idea originated from the need for a large calibre defensive pistol for European hunters traveling in India - the word ‘Howdah' comes from the Hindi name of the platform which was mounted on an elephant's back during a hunt.  The early Howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off double barrel large calibre hunting rifles.


Cigarette card showing a Howdah during a Tiger Hunt (source)

However, Howdah pistols also became popular with serving officers who needed a reliable sidearm which was capable of stopping an attacker while on campaign in India or Africa.  As such they were often carried in the field as backup weapons, firing larger calibre bullets and generally being more reliable than early service revolvers.  
The example shown above has a break-open action with a robust locking latch and a built in automatic ejector.  Some other interesting features of the pistol are its trigger system which has a folding trigger extension which allows the firer to pull the trigger back actuating a hair trigger which allows the pistol to be fired more accurately - not unlike a single action trigger.  The other interesting feature is the pistol’s progressively twisting oval rifling - patented by Lancaster.
The Lancaster family were an established London gunmaking firm set up by Charles’ father.  The younger Lancaster was a proponent of oval rifling, a system which uses a slightly oval bore rather than rifling to impart spin on projectiles. This made the weapon less susceptible to fouling but does affect overall accuracy.  The system was popular in the 1850s with it being tested in everything from rifles to pistols to artillery.  However, it proved more successful in artillery than in small arms. Lancaster also designed the Lancaster carbine which was adopted in limited numbers by the British Army in the late 1850s.  Lancaster’s privately commissioned pistols, rifles and shotguns war finely crafted and extremely well made with many surviving today.
Image Source Lancaster 4-Barrel Howdah Pistol
The above pistol was made by Charles Lancaster of London and dates from the mid 19th century.  The pistol is chambered in .476 calibre centre fire, which possibly dates the pistol to the 1870s, and has four barrels which are fired in sequence by a rotating firing pin mechanism housed inside the pistol’s receiver.  Howdah pistols like this one, and those percussion pistols which preceded it, were extremely popular with British officers between the 1840s and the 1890s.  Typically they were large calibre pistols with two or more barrels.  The idea originated from the need for a large calibre defensive pistol for European hunters traveling in India - the word ‘Howdah' comes from the Hindi name of the platform which was mounted on an elephant's back during a hunt.  The early Howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off double barrel large calibre hunting rifles.


Cigarette card showing a Howdah during a Tiger Hunt (source)

However, Howdah pistols also became popular with serving officers who needed a reliable sidearm which was capable of stopping an attacker while on campaign in India or Africa.  As such they were often carried in the field as backup weapons, firing larger calibre bullets and generally being more reliable than early service revolvers.  
The example shown above has a break-open action with a robust locking latch and a built in automatic ejector.  Some other interesting features of the pistol are its trigger system which has a folding trigger extension which allows the firer to pull the trigger back actuating a hair trigger which allows the pistol to be fired more accurately - not unlike a single action trigger.  The other interesting feature is the pistol’s progressively twisting oval rifling - patented by Lancaster.
The Lancaster family were an established London gunmaking firm set up by Charles’ father.  The younger Lancaster was a proponent of oval rifling, a system which uses a slightly oval bore rather than rifling to impart spin on projectiles. This made the weapon less susceptible to fouling but does affect overall accuracy.  The system was popular in the 1850s with it being tested in everything from rifles to pistols to artillery.  However, it proved more successful in artillery than in small arms. Lancaster also designed the Lancaster carbine which was adopted in limited numbers by the British Army in the late 1850s.  Lancaster’s privately commissioned pistols, rifles and shotguns war finely crafted and extremely well made with many surviving today.
Image Source Lancaster 4-Barrel Howdah Pistol
The above pistol was made by Charles Lancaster of London and dates from the mid 19th century.  The pistol is chambered in .476 calibre centre fire, which possibly dates the pistol to the 1870s, and has four barrels which are fired in sequence by a rotating firing pin mechanism housed inside the pistol’s receiver.  Howdah pistols like this one, and those percussion pistols which preceded it, were extremely popular with British officers between the 1840s and the 1890s.  Typically they were large calibre pistols with two or more barrels.  The idea originated from the need for a large calibre defensive pistol for European hunters traveling in India - the word ‘Howdah' comes from the Hindi name of the platform which was mounted on an elephant's back during a hunt.  The early Howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off double barrel large calibre hunting rifles.


Cigarette card showing a Howdah during a Tiger Hunt (source)

However, Howdah pistols also became popular with serving officers who needed a reliable sidearm which was capable of stopping an attacker while on campaign in India or Africa.  As such they were often carried in the field as backup weapons, firing larger calibre bullets and generally being more reliable than early service revolvers.  
The example shown above has a break-open action with a robust locking latch and a built in automatic ejector.  Some other interesting features of the pistol are its trigger system which has a folding trigger extension which allows the firer to pull the trigger back actuating a hair trigger which allows the pistol to be fired more accurately - not unlike a single action trigger.  The other interesting feature is the pistol’s progressively twisting oval rifling - patented by Lancaster.
The Lancaster family were an established London gunmaking firm set up by Charles’ father.  The younger Lancaster was a proponent of oval rifling, a system which uses a slightly oval bore rather than rifling to impart spin on projectiles. This made the weapon less susceptible to fouling but does affect overall accuracy.  The system was popular in the 1850s with it being tested in everything from rifles to pistols to artillery.  However, it proved more successful in artillery than in small arms. Lancaster also designed the Lancaster carbine which was adopted in limited numbers by the British Army in the late 1850s.  Lancaster’s privately commissioned pistols, rifles and shotguns war finely crafted and extremely well made with many surviving today.
Image Source
Lancaster 4-Barrel Howdah Pistol
The above pistol was made by Charles Lancaster of London and dates from the mid 19th century.  The pistol is chambered in .476 calibre centre fire, which possibly dates the pistol to the 1870s, and has four barrels which are fired in sequence by a rotating firing pin mechanism housed inside the pistol’s receiver.  Howdah pistols like this one, and those percussion pistols which preceded it, were extremely popular with British officers between the 1840s and the 1890s.  Typically they were large calibre pistols with two or more barrels.  The idea originated from the need for a large calibre defensive pistol for European hunters traveling in India - the word ‘Howdah' comes from the Hindi name of the platform which was mounted on an elephant's back during a hunt.  The early Howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off double barrel large calibre hunting rifles.

Cigarette card showing a Howdah during a Tiger Hunt (source)
However, Howdah pistols also became popular with serving officers who needed a reliable sidearm which was capable of stopping an attacker while on campaign in India or Africa.  As such they were often carried in the field as backup weapons, firing larger calibre bullets and generally being more reliable than early service revolvers.  
The example shown above has a break-open action with a robust locking latch and a built in automatic ejector.  Some other interesting features of the pistol are its trigger system which has a folding trigger extension which allows the firer to pull the trigger back actuating a hair trigger which allows the pistol to be fired more accurately - not unlike a single action trigger.  The other interesting feature is the pistol’s progressively twisting oval rifling - patented by Lancaster.
The Lancaster family were an established London gunmaking firm set up by Charles’ father.  The younger Lancaster was a proponent of oval rifling, a system which uses a slightly oval bore rather than rifling to impart spin on projectiles. This made the weapon less susceptible to fouling but does affect overall accuracy.  The system was popular in the 1850s with it being tested in everything from rifles to pistols to artillery.  However, it proved more successful in artillery than in small arms. Lancaster also designed the Lancaster carbine which was adopted in limited numbers by the British Army in the late 1850s.  Lancaster’s privately commissioned pistols, rifles and shotguns war finely crafted and extremely well made with many surviving today.
Image Source
(via historicalfirearms)

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