When is a hand held shotgun something else entirely?
That is when it is a muzzleloading double barrel pistol in 12 gauge super size.
I got a chance to test out the American Gun Craft Diablo in action and here is what it is all about.
American Gun Craft is an American company turning out handcrafted American weapons. My test pistol looks more like a sawed off double barrel shotgun than anything else. Well it sort of is…to a point. Since it is a straight up muzzleloading weapon it is not classified as a firearm. It is shipped right to your house with only an adult signature needed. It was well packaged for it’s journey and even came in it’s own soft cloth bag. A ramrod and a cleaning cloth also is supplied in the padded box with the Diablo.
The American Gun Craft Diablo has 6″ smoothbore double barrels that are 12 gauge in size. Loading is all done from the front and the hinge action is to allow access to the breech plug priming nipples that hold two size 209 shotgun style primers. These are easily removed with a standard size 3/8″ socket wrench for cleaning.
The trigger is a single select deal with the single hammer as the selector. Notice the lever pivots left or right to select what barrel you want to fire. There is a half cock position for the hammer but do not use that as a true safety as the hammer can still be dropped by the pull of the trigger in this position. While in my tests I could not get the Diablo to fire from the half cock position a small firing pin indentation was present afterwards on the 209 primers. Always keep your finger out of the trigger guard and away from the trigger when not actually ready to fire the Diablo.
Size wise the Diablo is a hefty 3.2 lbs. in weight. Overall length is 10″. In the below picture a SDS Imports Model 1911 Pistol is sitting next to the Diablo for size comparison. Yes that muzzleloader is not much larger than the old school 1911 service pistol.
The business end of the American Gun Craft Diablo is most impressive. The purchaser can specify whether or not they want the sight bead mounted or not. Either way that is a double barrel 12 gauge and nothing short of that.
The suggested load for the Diablo is 40 grains of FFG black powder and 1/2 ounce of shot. While this might seem a bit of a light load remember that short six inch barrel will only burn so much powder for velocity and the rest may be wasted. This is why many black powder weapons sport long barrels for complete powder burn. For this short range weapon it is not such a problem.
Range day came and I was armed with the Diablo and various projectiles to launch. First I loaded up 40 grains of Goex FFG black powder in both barrels with a modern plastic petal shot cup filled each with about one ounce of size 7.5 lead shot capped off with an overshot card to keep the shot contained until firing. Standing at 15 yards I fired off one barrel. I examined the target and found the shot pattern was quite open (as to be expected). The next shot I stepped closer and blew the center out of the target with the whole load of shot in a fist sized cluster. Yes up close is where shotguns do their best work. I shot more test loads and every time the Diablo fired with no issues. Nothing like white smoke and a hearty boom to be heard by all. Got to love black powder!
The next shots taken were with the same around one ounce 7.5 lead shot but with vintage one piece White Shooting Systems muzzleloading PowerCup shot cups. The patterns at 15 yards were incredibly tight. With just a couple shots on target the shredding was complete. Without the chance of shot cup petals on a standard shot cup opening up the shot loads were held close to the cup and made very tight patterns that would be game worthy up close. I was certainly impressed in my experience with these shot cups over a tight sealing over powder card and capped of with a single overshot card. Now onto larger projectiles…
Shotgun slugs were next. I tried tight fitting saboted slugs out of curiosity with 60 grains of powder. As expected the saboted slugs hit the target sideways (due to smooth barrel and no rifling). It certainly was fun blasting those big sideways holes in the target though. What was needed was foster style rifled slugs (which I had a supply of handy). Loaded with 60 grains of FFG black powder, an over powder card, the slugs itself and the over shot card to keep it all together and rammed down tight it was going to get quite interesting. While sighting with that big front bead is not easy all shots were on target. The right barrel grouped right and the left, well you know the rest. I recovered one of the lead one ounce foster slugs and the image proves there was no tumble. The slug shot true hitting head forward and smacked the dirt backstop with quite some force.
What about backyard barbecues for the 4th of July? I loaded up 80 grains of Goex FFG black powder and used on each barrel two over shot cards to keep the load tight. Upon firing into the air without any payload a roar was heard along with a very impressive fire ball ring. That is what I call a hand held signal cannon!
After firing the American Gun Craft Diablo make sure to clean thoroughly in your preferred and proven method. We do all have that certain way to keep the corrosive powder residue away and protect our front stuffers. During testing on occasion between shots I used a spray of alcohol onto a patch to remove the residue for easier loading. If you use a proper black powder substitute your cleaning might be a bit easier. Call me old school but I love the smell, smoke and even clean up of the ole magical black powder.
After testing the American Gun Craft Diablo I can attest to its sturdy build and hefty performance. I never had a fail to fire and the removable breach plugs made clean up easy. It ultimately is a fun weapon that will have everyone begging to try it out.