I have a couple of these large Revolver rounds with the ELEY .577. S headstamp, the same headstamp is also on 577 2in. Snider cases, why so ?, it seems a bit sloppy of Eley to have just cut down Snider cases to suit or just use the Snider headstamp bunter , for Revolver cases, not very British at all, or did the S stand for something else on these Revolver rounds ? thanks Randy
Thats an interesting one and not a possibility I have ever considered. It does seem believable when you think about it. The .577 pistol round would not have generated much in the way of ammunition sales. The pistols don’t turn up very often on the antique/collectors circuits today which indicates to me that they didn’t sell in any significant numbers.
Also, pistols in those days were kept as an insurance and as such seldom if ever fired. This is true of all pistols of all calibres. There was no real concept of pistol shooting for sport.
This has come down to me in the form of an expression used many years ago by a dealer. He called it the “one box syndrome” What he meant by it was that most pistols only ever generate the sale of one box of ammunition. The box that is sold along with the pistol at the time of purchase never gets used up requiring the purchase of a second box.
So for the ammunition makers the volumes of .577 pistol ammunition perhaps didn’t really justify a special production run of cases.
Also, its possible that the maker of the cases, in this instance Eley wasn’t the company that put the ammunition togeather. There were a whole range of secondary ammunition makers around the London and Birmingham gun trades who were making a good living out of supplying the diverse market that existed at that time for ammunition.
They made a lot of the oddball and slow running calibres that wouldn’t have been economical for the big boys to produce.
In the Book “Eley Cartridges” it shows 2 headstamps:
. ELEY .577 . LONDON = .577 Revolver
ELEY .577 .S. = .577 Howdah Pistol - Solid case. Case 1.61"
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the replies, I can see your take on this problem Vince, it sort of adds up, on the other hand these big handguns were expensive to buy and every big game hunters friend wanted to fire them, ammo sales may have been OK, plus there are headstamped rounds without the S so why do some have it and some dont, maybe they cut down Snider cases for a late order after the round was discontinued ?, Armourer thanks for the info, so the same headstamp was used on the Howdah pistol as well, case length on my Revolver rounds is .79in and .80in for an OL of 1.18in Randy
I had the “pleasure” of firing a double-barrel Howdah Pistol chamber for the full-length Snider cartridge, that went through our store. We had brass-case Snider rounds at the time for sale - ten bucks a box of ten in green Kynoch boxes, a perfectly monstrous price for ammunition at the time. The gun was loaded with two rounds. We had a makeshift test range in the basement of our store when we were on 4th Street in downtown San Francisco (eventually oved to a much bigger and nicer store on 2nd Street).
I fired one round, and I thought it was the end of the world. My hand and arm were sore the whole day. The pistol almost hit me in the head in recoil. Flash and smoke! I think the whole damned two-story building shook. My God - I would rather have had the tiger on the back of the elephant eat me than shoot a second round - I did NOT fire the second round! If you ever had a “double” discharge with that pistol, it WOULD HAVE BEEN the end of life on the planet as we know it. What a dinsauer killer. Trouble is, it killed on both ends!
My friend and colleague Mike Carrick also fired it and I think the front of the trigger guard cut his finger as I recall. It has been a mere forth years ago or so, so I could be wrong about that.
Great story John, I am jealous!
I have several times queried the howdah pistol’s absence from the rankings when discussing the doubtful subject the worlds most powerful handguns. Purists seem to have written it off as a sawn off rifle.
Popular wisdom seems to have awarded the title to the Walker Colt up to 1935 and then the .357mag for a few years until the .44 mag came along. Today? who knows?
Vince - don’t be jealous. It was the worst shooting experience of my life. Almost analogous to chambering a ten pound rifle for the 40m/m Bofors cartridge. It was terrible recoil. Even though deep-chambered for the full length Snider round, I can’t believe that pistol was ever meant to be shot with that cartridge. Of course, not having ever shot the shorter-case “pistol” round, I don’t know. Maybe it is a true hand cannon for recoil as well!
John, I once fired a .600 H&H double rifle and that was a similar experience. That was about 38 years ago but the swelling on my cheek bone has only recently gone down. Even then the ammo was equivilent to over $10 a bang and I believe its over $100 a bang today.
I think to judge those pistols fairly we probably have to set them in the context for which they were intended. When thats all that stands between you and a very unpleasant death its probable that the recoil wouldn’t have been such a problem.
True howdah pistols are as rare as rare can be. Made to order by some of the top London gunmakers for Indian Maharajas they may total as few as 100 in number.
I have just had a search but cannot find any figures for the revolvers but they don’t come up very often. Holts (auctioneers) had an extremely nice one in their auction about a year or so ago. I’ll bet it went for a fortune.