The new Pedersoli Howdah double pistol from the Italian Firearms Group is an historic design with a lineage that dates back to late 19th century Europe and development of the first Howdah-style double barrel pistols for big game hunters. In America the handful of Howdah-style percussion pistols and later cartridge pistols, both side-by-side and superposed versions that found their way to our shores, were quickly copied by gunsmiths, as well as those with little more than a hacksaw and an idea. A real Howdah Pistol, however, was a far more elegant sidearm, as is this new Pedersoli 45/410.
- Chambering: .45 Colt/.410 ga.
- Barrel: 10.25 inches
- Action: Single non selective trigger, internal hammers
- OA Length: 17 inches
- Weight: 4.1 pounds
- Stock: Walnut
- Sights: Silver bead front, folding leaf rear
- Finish: Blued barrels, color casehardened steel furniture
- Capacity: 2
- Price: $1,250
The design is based on the 10-inch barrel length Flues Model of the break-open, double barrel pistol introduced by Ithaca in 1922 and manufactured through 1925. The most important difference is that the Pedersoli has rifled barrels and is chambered for 3-inch .45/.410 shells. The grip shape is nearly identical to the early Ithaca models, including the integrated spur to stabilize the gun in the hand during recoil, a design seen on many European Howdah pistols. The Pedersoli also uses a sliding thumb operated safety and break-open lever like a shotgun, but the pistol has a slightly longer wrist than the original Ithaca, thus increasing the length of reach to the trigger. It was also decided to offer both traditional double triggers or an optional (special order) non-selective trigger for the Pedersoli, firing the barrels sequentially right and left. Another change is the addition of a folding rear leaf sight to allow better accuracy with .45 caliber cartridges and .410 slugs. The vast majority of original smoothbore Ithaca models were chambered in 20 ga. although other gauges were produced, including approximately 20 in .410 ga. like the Pedersoli.
Ithaca built 4,500 of the double barrel smoothbores under the name Auto & Burglar in two models, the elegantly-styled first version, also referred to as the Model A, and the c.1925 – 1934 New Improved Double (NID) or Model B with a revised pistol grip design, longer 12.2 inch barrels and chambered for 2¾-inch shells. The Model A was chambered for 2½-inch shells, as is the Pedersoli. Around 1,500 of the NID versions were sold through 1934, the year the National Firearms Act (NFA) was implemented, which brought an abrupt end to Ithaca’s production of the Auto & Burglar.
Modern vs. Original
The Pedersoli Howdah .45/410 has rifled barrels and is thus not subject to NFA restrictions; it is actually more akin to the late 19th century Howdah pistols made famous by Holland & Holland and James Purdey & Sons, Ltd., among others. The Pedersoli’s hammerless integrated boxlock action is based on the Anson and Deeley design developed in 1875 for the Westley-Richards Company. The silver welded barrels use a monoblock with two lugs, and a horizontal wedge inserted on the frame that fits inside the lugs when the action is closed. The Pedersoli Howdah has a handsomely hand checkered splinter forend and hand checkered pistol grip with spur, a color casehardened receiver and tang, high polish blued barrels, triggerguard, trigger, lever, and checkered sliding manual safety. The 10.25-inch barrels have a broad center rib to allow the folding rear leaf sight and a ramped silver dot front sight.
From a 1920’s point of view, being on the wrong end of a double barreled pistol was one place a criminal did not want to be. An old Ithaca advertisement about the Auto & Burglar’s use stated that, “…[Chicago policeman and] Detective Harry J. Loose … first induced the banks in and around Chicago to use it, then its use spread to sheriffs, police departments, paymasters, watchmen, express messengers, and it’s a wonderful home protector.” Indeed, with today’s excellent .45 caliber personal defense rounds like Hornady Critical Defense 185 gr. FTX pistol cartridges, and the option of loading one of many .410 ga. 000 buckshot and personal defense loads like Winchester’s PDX1 410 Defender, (combining a dozen plated BBs with a trio of plated “defense discs”) the concept of the Howdah and old Ithaca double pistols still works in the 21st century.
In terms of handling, the Pedersoli is about as basic as it gets, think double barrel shotgun scaled down to pistol size, but with the same manual of operation, one lever to open it, load two rounds, close it, and the action is ready. The gun also has a manual tang safety, just like a shotgun. As a .45/.410 the Pedersoli is a lot easier to shoot than an old Ithaca 20 ga. and with modern .410 ga. buckshot nearly as effective at close range. Drop in two hard-hitting 185 gr. FTX .45 Colt rounds or Hornady Triple Defense with a .41 caliber FTX slug backed by a pair of .36 caliber lead shot, and this is a double barrel version of your favorite .45/410 Deringer or revolver, only with a 10.25 inch set of barrels.
For the range test I ran everything previously listed through the Pedersoli plus Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense 000 buckshot and Federal Premium Personal Defense 000 buckshot. The 000 2-½ inch shot shells deliver four .36 caliber lead pellets. This was a close-quarters evaluation with the test targets, B-27 “center sections” set out at 7 yards (21 feet) for buckshot and 15 yards (45 feet) for the .45 FTX cartridges. With 10.25 inch barrels and a weight of 4.1 pounds (empty) recoil with the .45 caliber rounds was moderate, as was Federal Premium Personal Defense 000 buckshot. The heavier hitting combo loads, Critical Defense Triple Defense and PDX1 require a strong support hand hold with fingers wrapped over the edge of the barrels. Recoil, as expected, is heavy but still manageable, and the Pedersoli does not ride back in the hand due to the grip angle and grip spur, which keeps the pistol centered in the web of the shooting hand. The best hold on the gun is with the strong side arm extended (a Weaver stance works well) with the support hand firmly grasping the forearm.
Trigger pull for the optional single, non-selective trigger on the test gun averaged 4.2 pounds firing the right and then left barrels. Average velocity for the .45 caliber Hornady Critical Defense 185 gr. FTX was 1,070 fps. Velocity with Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense 000 buckshot, Federal Premium Personal Defense 000 buckshot, and Winchester’s PDX1 410 Defender averaged 1,025; 1,050; 1,075 fps, respectively. Hornady Triple Defense sent its .41 caliber FTX slug and paired.36 caliber lead balls downrange at a hefty 1,458 fps.
I shot two sets of rounds with each brand of ammo with average shot groups measuring 2.5 inches to 3.25 inches with Hornady 185 gr. FTX .45 Colt, all in the 9 and 10 ring center body mass. Barrel regulation was very close at this range with the left and right barrels splitting the distance from POA. With the 000 buckshot, Remington HD clustered its four lead balls at 2.5 inches and Federal Premium, the easiest (lightest recoil) of the 000 buckshot grouping at 1.5 to 2.0 inches. The Triple Defense slammed into the target with the FTX slug and lead balls bunching at 2.0 to 2.25 inches, and PDX1 was simply the most devastating with its trio of plated defense discs bunching at 1.75 inches surrounded by a full pattern of plated BBs.
The Pedersoli is a near century-old design from the 1920’s, an era when personal protection was just as compelling as it is today. For modern day lawmen, the gun is relatively antiquated by 21st century standards but not impractical; as a home and personal defense gun, for carry in a vehicle, or encountering uninvited things that go bump in the night, a high-power .410 ga. double barrel pistol with very straightforward operation and handling is just as relevant today as it was in the 1920’s. In that one respect the Pedersoli Howdah .45/.410 is much the same as it’s legendary (and very expensive and hard to acquire) predecessor; a practical, effective, and accurate means of defending one’s self in close quarters. For an individual seeking a simply handled and, dare we say, menacing looking handgun sure to turn most individuals on their heels, you could do a whole lost worse! The Pedersoli .45/410 Howdah is imported by IFG (Italian Firearms Group) and has a suggested retail price of $1,250.
For more information visit http://www.italianfirearmsgroup.com/.
To purchase a Pedersoli firearm on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=pedersoli.