Taylor’s & Co. Howdah Pistol PC2/210246 45 Colt/.410

The Howdah is similar to the Ithaca Auto & Burglar model made from 1922 to 1933. The action was stiff to open, but started to loosen up after use. There was minimal recoil. Practicality is not the Howdah’s strong suit, but it is a fun gun to shoot and could be used for self defense.


The Howdah is similar to the Ithaca Auto & Burglar model made from 1922 to 1933. The action was stiff to open, but started to loosen up after use. There was minimal recoil. Practicality is not the Howdah’s strong suit, but it is a fun gun to shoot and could be used for self defense.

The .410-bore cartridge has made inroads in the past few decades to become something other than an expert sub-gauge choice for skeet shooters or bird hunters. Now, the shotshell is being offered in massive revolvers with multiple-projectile payloads as well as other modern loads used to harvest turkeys at seemingly unbelievable ranges. Could a .410 be a viable defense gun that bucks the norm and makes a 9mm striker-fire pistol look plain and uninteresting? Don’t get us wrong, we are not going to trade in our semiautomatic pistols for defense purposes, but life offers options and the Henry Brass Axe, Taylor’s & Co. Howdah, and Bond Arms Defender are alternatives. Would we recommend one of these .410s instead of a pistol, revolver, shotgun, or rifle? Nope, but we embarked on this match-up journey with an open mind and discovered these three .410s are capable and darn fun to shoot.

The Taylor’s Howdah and the Bond Defender are also chambered in 45 Long Colt, giving the user the option to shoot shotshells or bullets. We’d opt for the shotshell option and choose cartridges such as Hornady’s Critical Defense .410 Triple Defense. This round fires three projectiles at once, and when the gun has only a two-round capacity, the more projectiles flying at the same time helps level the playing field between you and your adversaries.

How We Tested

the Howdah shot 3.6-inch groups with 45 Colt on average. Patterns with shot were 18 inches. Hornady shells patterned at 4.5 inches.

We tested the Taylor’s and Bond with both cartridges and shells. The Henry only takes shotshells. For the .410 bore rounds, we fired Winchester Super X No. 71⁄2 shot game loads, Federal .410 Handgun loaded with No. 4 shot, and Hornady’s Critical Defense loaded with a .41-caliber FTX slug and two .35-caliber round balls. For 45 Colt pistol cartridges, we used Federal American Eagle loaded with a 225-grain jacketed soft point, SIG’s V-Crown with a 230-grain jacketed hollow-point bullet, and Hornady Critical Defense pistol rounds with 185-grain FTX bullets.

For action shooting, we used Thompson Target B27STOP Upper Torso Silhouette Targets, which are plain white or brown cardboard, depending on what side you use, with immobilization zones outlined. The perforated outlines are difficult to see from a distance, and the idea behind these targets is to be able to identify center of mass and smaller A-zone shots. These were set at 10 yards. For accuracy testing, we fired with a two-hand hold with no support. These defense guns are designed to be used at close distance, and 10 yards could be considered the maximum effective distance. Translated into real-world terms, that means the distance across a bedroom and down a hall or the length of a parking spot. While firing, we looked for pattern density and tight groups, ease of use, and reliability. Here’s what we uncovered.

Gun Tests Grade: A-


The original Howdah was a large-caliber pistol used to track wounded tigers in India during the days of the Raj. Taylor’s calls this pistol a Howdah, but it is more like an Ithaca Auto & Burglar model made from 1922 to 1933. The model name referred to automobiles and was designed as a vehicle weapon, as well as one to have near the night stand if the boogie man paid you a visit. Ithaca stopped making the Auto & Burglar after the National Firearms Act of 1934 required a tax stamp to buy it. The Howdah’s rifled barrels make it a pistol, so it’s legal to own with no tax stamp.

Action TypeBreak action
Overall Length16.3 in.
Barrel Length10.0 in.
Barrel Twist Rate1:35 in. RH
Sight Radius7.5 in.
Overall Height5.7 in.
Maximum Width2.9 in.
Weight Unloaded4.1 lbs.
Weight Loaded4.2 lbs.
Frame FinishCase hardened
Barrel/Cylinder FinishBlued
Frame Front Strap Height2.7 in.
Frame Back Strap Height3.7 in.
GripCheckered wood
Grip Thickness (Maximum)1.5 in.
Grip Circumference (Maximum)6.2 in.
Front SightBrass bead post
Rear SightFolding V-notch
Front Trigger Pull Weight3.2 lbs.
Front Trigger Span3.7 in.
Rear Trigger Pull Weight4.0 lbs.
Rear Trigger Span2.7 in.
SafetyAutomatic tang safety
Warranty1 year
Telephone(540) 722-2017
Made InItaly (Uberti)
There is an extractor (arrow) on the barrel assembly that helps dislodge sticky cases.

The Taylor’s Howdah is a mini side-by-side shotshell-firing pistol with a case-hardened receiver, deeply blued barrels and nice wood pistol grip and fore end. On seeing the pistol, one tester said, “This is so impractical, but I have to have one.” We found shooting the Howdah to be addictive since there was minimal recoil and it patterned pretty well. Taylor’s also makes an Alaskan variant with matte-stainless finish and black wood, plus a Vintage Howdah with manual hammers.

The checkered wood grip is designed like the handle of an old wood saw with a large spur at the top. The grip filled our hand. It features double triggers, and the front trigger was a reach, and in some cases caused the user to push the trigger. We had to be mindful of this when using the front trigger. The manual safety goes on when the action is opened to load or unload shell/case.

On the Howdah, rotate the skinny lever (arrow) to pop open the barrel assembly for loading and unloading.

The Howdah uses extractors. The action was stiff at the beginning, but started to loosen as the gun was used. Opening the action was awkward if we held the grip and pushed the top lever to break open the barrels. Holding the pistol by the tang made opening it easier. This is another slow-to-reload pistol, so we would make sure our first shots flew true. The rear sight is a shallow V-notch that can be folded down when using shotshells. This pistol is not designed for precision work, but it can be deployed quickly and deliver two powerful hits.

The Taylor’s & Co. Howdah (center) was unique and was literally a blast to shoot, but it was slow to reload.

The Howdah allowed the 45 Colt cartridges (aka 45 Long Colt, to prevent any confusion with 45 Auto) to produce good velocity out of the 10.5-inch barrels. The best group measured 2 inches with the SIG V-Crown 230-grain JHPs. Across all cartridges, groups averaged 3 to 3.9 inches. Recoil was very mild with the Howdah.

Moving to shotshells, the Howdah digested the Winchester and Federal rounds better and patterned tighter than the Bond derringer with a honest 18 inches at 10 yards. Not stellar and probably not incapacitating, but the Hornady shells proved again to be the better choice. Hornady shells patterned at 4.5 inches. Recoil with the .410 shell was very mild, and we found shooting the Howdah to be a lot of fun. However, reloading was slow. The Howdah worked without fail, and that’s the type of gun we’d want if we were tracking an angry tiger.

Our Team Said: The Howdah is a historic, vintage gun, which is a nice way of saying it is an outdated design, especially for self defense. That does not diminish the plinking fun you can have with the Howdah. This is a unique gun that still has teeth.

.410 Bore Shotshell and 45 LC Range Data

.410 Bore, 2.5 Inch

Winchester Super X ½ oz., No. 7½ shotHenry Brass Axe .410Taylor’s & Co. HowdahBond Arms Defender
Pattern Size6.0 in. 18.0 in.30.0 in.
Federal Personal Defense 7⁄16 oz., No. 4Henry Brass Axe .410Taylor’s & Co. HowdahBond Arms Defender
Pattern Size4.0 in.18.0 in.30.0 in.
Hornady Critical Defense .410 Triple DefenseHenry Brass Axe .410Taylor’s & Co. HowdahBond Arms Defender
Pattern Size1.5 in.4.5 in.6.5 in.

45 Long Colt

Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTXHenry Brass Axe .410Taylor’s & Co. HowdahBond Arms Defender
Average VelocityNA920 fps830 fps
Muzzle EnergyNA348 ft.-lbs. 231 ft.-lbs.
Smallest GroupNA3.0 in.3.2 in.
Average GroupNA3.5 in.3.6 in.
SIG V-Crown 230-grain JHPHenry Brass Axe .410Taylor’s & Co. HowdahBond Arms Defender
Average VelocityNA912 fps750 fps
Muzzle EnergyNA425 ft.-lbs.287 ft.-lbs.
Smallest GroupNA2.0 in.2.0 in.
Average GroupNA3.0 in.3.0 in.
Federal American Eagle 225-grain JSP Henry Brass Axe .410Taylor’s & Co. HowdahBond Arms Defender
Average VelocityNA860 fps760 fps
Muzzle EnergyNA370 ft.-lbs.281 ft.-lbs.
Smallest GroupNA3.4 in.3.0 in.
Average GroupNA3.9 in.3.8 in.
To collect accuracy data, five-shot groups were fired groups with no rest. Distance: 10 yards. Velocities were recorded using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle. *The Henry is not chambered for 45 Long Colt.


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