The Howdah Pistol is a term referring to several different types of 19th-century large-caliber multi-barrel handguns. They were developed by the British hunters in India for close range, last ditch, defense against Tigers and other dangerous game. Many different English gun makers produced Howdah style handguns.
A Howdah was the basket that hunters rode in on top of elephants in India. Tigers were known to climb up the elephant to reach the hunters in the Howdah. At such close range a long barreled rifle was less than effective. The Howdah Pistol was perfect for such a close and dangerous scenario. They typically had two or four barrels, though three barreled models were also made. The double barrel models can be found in either the side by side or over and under configuration.
Howdah pistols were massive, powerful and delivered a hell of a wallop at both ends. However it was believed that in a life and death situation heavy recoil would not be noticed. Howdahs were also carried and used by British officers in many of England's colonial conflicts during the 19th century. At that time revolvers were considered to be not very mechanically reliable and many British officers were less than impressed with the stopping power of the 36 caliber ball that the Colt Navy revolver fired. The heavy lead slugs fired by the Howdah pistols were very powerful and considered to be just the thing for either a charging tiger or a charging native (remember it was the 19th century, a time of empire and imperial wars) at close range. Nowadays, Howdahs are very collectible.
The three examples shown on this page are by Alexander Henry, Lancaster, and Holland & Holland.
The Howdah Pistol and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:
|Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb||.||on the walls of Gen. Ripper's office||.||1964|
|The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly||.||.||.||1966|
|Buck and the Preacher||Sidney Poitier||Buck||.||1972|
|The Ghost and the Darkness||Michael Douglas||Remington||.||1996|
|The Ghost and the Darkness||Val Kilmer||Colonel Patterson||.||1996|
|Sherlock Holmes||Hans Matheson||Lord Coward||.||2009|
|Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven||2002|
|Assassin's Creed Syndicate||Lancaster 4 Barrel||2015|