Howdah Pistols

Ttiger Taming The Old School Way

T/C Handgun

All custom, Reeder’s Howdah series (here a T/C G2 frame in 356 GNR) are all 100 percent custom guns and can be had just about however you want one!

A howdah was a platform placed on an elephant’s back where a hunter would ride. Way back in the day, tigers were hunted in India while the hunter rode jumbo. Occasionally the tiger would charge — climbing onto the elephant in order to dismember the hunter. A large caliber handgun was used to keep the man-eating feline from disassembling the elegant Elizabethan gent riding the elephant.

In the 1970s, Lee Jurras introduced his Howdah pistols using the T/C Contender as the platform. He originally developed the Howdah in five of his own large calibers. Today, Gary Reeder of Reeder Custom Guns is offering Howdah pistols in memory of his good friend and handgunning icon, Lee.

Gary will be offering two Howdahs, built on the Thompson Center G2 and Encore frames. In collaboration with Lee, Gary designed the Howdahs to Lee’s preferences, offering them in six calibers, including one of Lee’s favorites, the 356 GNR. The 356 GNR is available in both the G2 and Encore. Other calibers, including the 375 GNR #2, 416 GNR, 440 GNR, 450 GNR and 476 GNR, are based on the Encore. Gary is only building 10 of each caliber, with every gun numbered. Lee’s signature Lion’s head logo will be featured on one side of the frame, with the GNR logo on the other.

You can have your choice of barrel lengths of 12″ or 14″. Forends can either be full-length or short and wood can be your choice of plain or fancy. Sights are custom, in the form of a gold bead in the front and V-notch rear. Remember, you’re shooting a tiger as he climbs up an elephant to chew your leg off so who needs a scope?

Encore Frame

Reeder’s Howdah pistol based on the Encore frame in 470 GNR. A handful of big game stopping power, for sure.

Real Life Shooting

The 356 GNR was one of Lee’s favorite during the last decade or so of his life and after shooting the G2 in 356 GNR, I can see why. It’s a dandy cartridge, accurate and enjoyable to shoot. The 356 GNR performed well on the G2 frame and makes for an easy packing rig for hunting.

The Encore came with beautiful wood, full-length forend and chambered in 470 GNR. This is one of Gary’s creations, which is simply a 500 Linebaugh necked to 0.475″ and exceeding the 475 Linebaugh’s punch by a considerable margin. This is serious medicine and will assuredly handle anything on this planet — and probably the entire galaxy. For the handloader, Reeder offers dies for each caliber. No worries if you don’t reload, there’s a company loading these rounds for you. Both the G2 and Encore are custom handguns and can be ordered with your choice of caliber, barrel length and number, all in an attractive wood presentation case.

475 Linebaugh

Reeder’s Howdah revolver we tested was chambered in 475 Linebaugh. That’s a Kim Ralston knife and Barrantti leather sheath.

The “Other” Howdah

Gary has also fashioned a Howdah revolver basically made totally in-house with Reeder’s frame, barrel, cylinder and whatnots. This revolver is chambered in 475 Linebaugh and Gary is only building 100 of them. Some are medium frame like the one I tested. Others are built around Reeder’s stretch frame capable of handling longer cartridges such as the 460 S&W and 500 S&W Mag. Interested parties can get their personal choice of caliber, barrel length, grips, finish and serial number. This is truly a full custom rig from the ground up. There are a lot of options and I appreciate the fact this revolver is available in any of the smaller calibers, all the way up to the 500 Linebaugh.

The fit and finish on the revolver is superb. The sights feature a gold bead front with a V-notch in the rear. These sights are easily aligned and designed for expeditious target acquisition. The attractive and durable Corian grips appear as if they grew out of the frame.

My gun came with a 6″ barrel and balanced perfectly. I was very impressed with the smooth action and the crisp trigger pull was sweet, indeed. Reeder’s deep-dish crown, maxi-throat and action job enhance accuracy. The frame, cylinder and barrel are blued, with a stainless Bisley hammer, trigger and cylinder pin.

You don’t have to shield yourself from man-eating tigers to appreciate and enjoy shooting a Howdah. Any Howdah would make a serious hunting handgun too. Lee Jurras requested Gary to bring back the Howdah Lee developed almost 40 years ago — so Gary did it. Whether you’re a hunter, shooter, or just enjoy owning a special handgun with an interesting past — the Howdah delivers. And, a bit of old-world, old-school thinking can still be comforting in these days of real-life bogie monsters out there, eh?

For more info:, Ph: (928) 527-4100

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