My old Zulu has been around. Not one of the Zulu’s who wacked the British at Isandlwana, but an old humble 12 gauge single shot shotgun.
This old thing started life as a musket in Napoleons Grand Armee. Well, soon after the Grand Armee became less grand. About 1835 this thing was hammered out. Smoothbore, around 70 caliber. It was more of an artillery peice than it was a musket. It fired a huge ball of lead that had to be aimed over the targets head to hit him. With a pound of lead you could only get 15 musket balls. Ballistics were terrible, and with no rifling, worse yet. It’s only saving grace was a lot of them in a group, just fire up in the air at the other group, and down comes a hail of lead.
Wars came and went, and along came the Franco-Prussian war. Breechloaders became the weapon of choce by then, and every available weapon was converted to the new system. The first line French troups were using Chassepot’s, but the rear area guys needed guns too. They were kind of on the back burner, as resources dwindled and the war dragged on. With Paris surrounded and beseiged, some enterprising soul thought of melting down church bells for the receivers conversion and lots were made under duress. With the Prussians on their doorstep, the French converted my old zulu to a breechloader, with a brass receiver and taking a huge short fat bullet. If anything, the ballistics were worse, but could be reloaded quickly!
Years later, some entrepreneurial Belgians bought up all those old breechloading muskets and converted them to shotguns for the American market. Poor people heading out west needed a gun to get food more than defending against Indians, and lots of them were bought up by these settlers. Sellers even gave them away with parcels of land. Not much of a weapon, but a 12 guage shotgun is still nothing to trifle with.
This old thing is quite handsome, and the old cut down musket stock, and brass receiver really stand out. Not many machines still work perfectly after 180 years, but this thing will still provide for the table. Can’t use modern shells in it, but an old brass 12 gauge shell and a pile of blackpowder and bird shot and your ready to go!
And it will give a real Zulu a run for his money…