THE 12-GAUGE, double barrel Diablo handgun is quite unlike anything I’ve ever tested. In fact, it’s quite unlike anything else out there. It’s most compatible to Howdah handguns of the past that were mostly used for close contact dangerous game by elephant riders and hunters.
At first glance the Diablo might look like it requires a tax stamp for ownership. And that would be correct if it were not for one simple detail—it’s a muzzleloader. Therefore, not only does it not require a tax stamp. Nor does it require a 4473 FFL transfer for ownership. It ships right to your door like any other muzzleloader since federal regulations don’t consider muzzleloaders “firearms.”
The Diablo might be a feasible defensive weapon for those traveling in otherwise restricted areas or states with infringements in place. For the rest of us, it can just be a fun and interesting range toy or even a challenging hunting gun.
Because it’s a shotgun, you are only limited by your imagination and safety limits for what you wish to shoot from it. My favorite loads were solid single .715-inch, 1.25 ounce lead slugs weighing in around 530 grains.
My chronograph showed these massive balls of lead moving approximately 300fps when launched with 60 grains of Triple 7 FFG powder. From 10 yards I learned my hold to be able to put them in the center of silhouette targets from 10 yards. Because the Diablo has two barrels with a center bead sight I found two drastically different holds. The right barrel hits right, so I had to aim around 12 inches left at 10 yards, and the opposite with the other barrel. Not ideal for defense, to have to keep that in mind, but perfectly fine on the range or in a close hunting situation.
Because there is no choke, 00 and 000 buckshot had a fast spread without a wad. I had to keep closer than 10 yards to keep all eight pellets on an IPSC target in an effort to see a rounded pattern. At close range, the Diablo would pack quite a punch. Of course, you would need to have a very clear background to put down a bad guy without collateral damage.
The mix of #8/#9 shot was also fun to fire. Because of the close range and quick spread, it was the most fun to hand throw sporting clays into the air to vaporize—even though it was hard to see the clay shatter because of the billowing white smoke cloud generated by the shot.
The Diablo has a single trigger and hammer; with the hammer including a selector allowing you to choose which barrel you want to fire. Loading process is the same as any muzzle loading shotgun requiring manual loading of powder, overshot cards, cushion wads, shot, overshot cards and finally, the primer. The primer nipples are easily removed with a 3/8-inch socket in order to clean or safely unload a barrel.
The Diablo starts at $479 from American Gun Craft and comes in few choices of finishes and stock options as well as longer-barreled, railed versions for hunting with double triggers and percussion cap options. You can find out more at americanguncraft.com and see me firing it on YouTube with a simple search or this direct link for our digital readers: https://youtu.be/wUB4apRcsek.
Email Dustin Ellermann at [email protected]