A friend who owns a gunshop went to a gunshow up on Morgantown , WV over the weekend and came back with this old piece. At first I thought it was an old civil war arm converted to shotgun.

You can see the breech open above. You pull back on the block to extract the fired case. You can see the extractor below.

Model 1857/67 “Zulu”, Fabrique d’Armes, Liege, an 1857 French muzzle loading musket converted to a 12 gauge shotgun with “Tabatiere” Snyder style breech system by the Belgians in 1867, sold surplus on the African trade and elsewhere as an affordable shotgun. Manual ejection. Walnut stock. Stamped “ZULU” on the barrel, Belgian proof marks on the breech block. Takes an obsolete 2″ shell. 34″ barrel. 52″ overall. .


  1. When I was a kid, half a century ago or so, an old guy down the street had one of those contraptions. He shot regular 2 & 3/4″ shells thru his. I don’t know if it had been rechambered or was just loose enough for that to work or more likely, he had a dozen guardian angels hovering over his shoulders. I’m certainly not saying it was a good idea. In fact I’m specifically saying that’s a gun better left standing in the corner, unused. But that’s what he did.

  2. This is a dumb question, but what stops somebody from feeding over-long shells in a shotgun not designed for them, like 3” shells in a 2 3/4” gun? Don’t shotshells headspace on the rim? Couldn’t you theoretically drop in a 12” shell or something crazy, as long as it were a break-action gun?

    I get that this isn’t safe (though I guess I’m a little foggy on the “why” of that too), but is it theoretically possible?

    • You are correct – shotguns headspace on the rim.

      What stops someone from feeding over-long shells into a shotgun? The forcing cone, perhaps, and not much else. It will depend on the steepness of the forcing cone.

      Forcing cones used to have a steep angle to them, right in front of the opened length of the shell, because shotgun ammo used a disc of felted wool or similar fabric (the ‘wad’) to plug the bore behind the shot column and prevent the gas from blowing through the lead shot. So shotgun makers used to have a steep angle to the forcing cone, and then bores were often under-sized compared to nominal diameters.

      This drawing might help understand the issue here:


      If the shell cannot fit into the forcing cone, that will be what prevents loading of an over-length shell into the chamber of a shotgun. Modern shotguns will have longer, less steep angled forcing cones.

      Bore diameters: I’ve measured bore diameters (measured 9″ behind the muzzle, which is the typical point to measure bore diameters and wall thickness by gunsmiths working on shotguns) of 0.722″ on 100+ year old 12 gauge double guns. The nominal diameter for a 12-ga gun is 0.729″. Today, “back-bored” shotguns might exhibit a 0.734″ bore diameter, because the new plastic wad/shot-cups have skirts that will expand under pressure to fully fill the bore, whilst leaving the main body of the wad/cup with less friction as it travels down the bore.


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