Short Barreled Double Rifles

Discussion in 'Double Rifles' started by buckstix, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. buckstix

    buckstix AH Veteran

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    Hello All,

    What is the shortest barrel length found on double rifles? I have heard there were "Howdah" doubles.
     
  2. spike.t

    spike.t SPONSOR AH Ambassador

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    hi buckstix welcome to AH. the howdah guns were large calibre pistols usually double barreled, but some times with up to 4 barrels. they were named after the hunting rigs used on the backs of elephants in india etc during the time of the british empire and after. they were the last back up if the tiger managed to charge and climb aboard the elephant. most double rifles have 24 to 26 inch barrels with a few of the older nitro ones having 28 inch ones. the shortest barrels on a double i have seen were on one of the rifles in a matching set of three double rifles a friend had for a while. i think it was the one chambered in .470 and it had 22 inch barrels. it looked a bit out of proportion. remember doubles are usually 5 to 6 inches shorter than a bolt rifle in the first place.
     
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  3. DUGABOY1

    DUGABOY1 CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    As has already been said the Howdah firearms were usually double barrel pistols, in large chamberings starting at about .500 cal, but most were chambered for a short brass cartridge of about 1 ï½½ inch to about 2 inches, and a .577 lead bullet like the 58 Berdan musket shell.

    The Howdah is the large basket atop the elephant's back, usually a scabbard on each side inside the walls of the Howdah for these pistols so they were readily available to the occupants to stop a tiger who often charged right up the elephants face to get to the occupants in the Howdah. Most used double rifle for the initial shots on the tiger but most had normal length barrels for the day and chambering. The Howdah pistols were the last ditch hedge against bite and scratch, and usually had barrels of about 10 to 12 inches.

    Howdah pistols are today highly sought after collector items, and are priced accordingly. If you want an original you need to float a lean on your house!
     
  4. miroflex

    miroflex AH Member

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    Hello Buckstix,

    I had posted a link to another site where a Westley Richards Howdah Rifle with 16 inch barrels was described and discussed. The post was deleted as links to other sites are not permitted.

    You can PM me for details.

    Regards.
     
  5. buckstix

    buckstix AH Veteran

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    Hello miroflex,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I just now ran across your reply. I think the link you referenced was my rifle from a few years ago. I thought to list it here as it might be of interest to others.

    Some of you may have seen a post back in January 30th and May 24th 2013, about a Westley Richards .375 x 2½" Nitro Express with 16" barrels thought to be original. When this rifle came up for sale on Guns International, I couldn't resist it. What a fun little rifle this is. It tips the scales at a stout 8 pounds 10 ounces, and has an overall length of 32-7/8". That's over an inch shorter than a Winchester Model 94 Trapper model with the same 16" barrel length.

    The large Butt Plate and stock with a 14-1/2" LOP, means it wasn't meant for a kid. I'm betting this was an upgrade over a Howdah Pistol. I've researched high and low for Short Barreled Howdah Rifles, but find only Howdah Pistols. Some of those pistols had barrels nearly as long as this rifle. Some Howdah Pistols even had shoulder stocks attached making them a primitive form of a carbine. When used from the Howdah atop an elephant, this would have been much more controllable than a pistol, and a lot less cumbersome than a full length rifle in the confined space of the Howdah.

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    It has many very interesting features: Horn Forearm Tip, Horn Grip Cap, and Horn Butt Plate with the Westley Richards Logo. Super condition wood. Sling Eyes. One standing and 4 folding leaf rear sight, 50/100/150/200/300. Lots of original Case Color in protected areas, and a Bore as sharp and bright as any I've seen. Overall finish of the metal is a superb original "purplish-brown" that shows its character from use years ago. Nice overall Engraving with a "Buck Deer" on the bottom of the action, a "Crouching Tiger" on the bottom of the trigger guard, and a "Saber-Tooth Deer" on the back of the Lever. If you close your eyes when you "swing" the rifle into position, you'd never guess the barrels were only 16" long. Its balance and swing is that of a full size double rifle.

    Here are all the interesting details shown:

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    After I received the rifle, I wrote to Westely Richards for a Factory letter to confirm if the configuration was original with 16" barresl. Not only did the letter confirm the 16" barrels, it also showed that the rifle was shipped to Bombay, India. I'll bet it really did shoot a tiger or two.

    [​IMG]
     

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    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
    ve7poi, ChrisPy, spike.t and 3 others like this.
  6. larry4831

    larry4831 AH Enthusiast

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    That is one smooth looking double rifle sir.
     
  7. 8 x 60

    8 x 60 AH Senior Member

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    Great thread. A question was asked and the questioner seems to have answered it!
    I doubt any double rifles were made any shorter. This one is a surprise so who knows.
    Fascinating Westley in the pictures.
    Buckstix, did Westley Richard advise if this was the only one they made so short and do you, have you , used it on a hunt?
     
  8. buckstix

    buckstix AH Veteran

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    Hello 8 x 60,

    Thanks for the reply.

    When I talked with the Gentleman at Westley Richards, I asked him that very same question. He told me that it was the only one he had run across in searching the records over the years, but didn't know for sure if it was the "only" one with 16" barrels. He said; "Perhaps".

    I've used it for hunting Whitetail Deer here in Wisconsin, but nothing larger, ....... so far.

    Here's where this rifle would come in handy.

    [​IMG]
     

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  9. DUGABOY1

    DUGABOY1 CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    A good friend and I had sixteen lion and bear hounds that we ran in the mountains of New Mexico. That Pueblo Creek country is not only high altitude, but there is no level ground at all. In that country the weight and size of your rifle is damned important to keep up with the dogs and lion or black bear till treed or run to bay! I had two little double rifle built on S/S Browning 20 ga shotgun actions. These two little doubles were barreled chambered in one for 41 Rem Mag and the other barreled for 30-30Win and both with 18 inch barrels, and were perfect for the purpose. These two little rifles could be carried all day in the rugged mountains, and either chambering was up to the task for treed or close in bayed lion or black bear. When I left West Texas and New Mexico, I sold my dogs and the little rifles to my partner. Wish I had kept at least the little one chambered for 41 Rem mag as I carry a handgun so chambered while hunting in the lower 48, and Alaska. Both would be perfect camp guns when in camp in Alaska, as the only rifle for following the dogs.

    Some laughed when they first saw them and called them coach guns or blunderbuss till they carried one or the other for a day and did a little shooting with them.
    ..................................................................................................................................:cry:
     
  10. buckstix

    buckstix AH Veteran

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    Hello DUGABOY1,

    Thanks for the reply.

    That 41 cal double sounds like a fun gun.
     

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