With all of the hubub, websites and Telegram groups dedicated to 3D printed guns, I always offer the warning that if it’s too good to be true, it’s not true. Or it won’t be true for long. We saw this with bump stocks, a story I actually broke in 2012, and in the recent event with reset triggers. I suspect we will see the same thing with the birdshead grip shotguns, and eventually arm braces which have already come under attack. Once the government gets a gun law through, they don’t give it up so easily. Ask suppressors.
But there is a class of no FFL firearms that almost nobody attacks. Muzzleloaders.
Few states have regulated them at all, and the Federal government does not even consider them firearms. Even California, with all of their insanity when it comes to guns, has no appreciable muzzleloader laws. If you have been unable to leave that awful state, you can still ship a muzzleloader right to your door. The same is true for everywhere in the US except New Jersey, Washington D.C., New York City and Illinois, where they have to be shipped to an FFL dealer, but they are not forced to do a 4473.
One of the most viral stories ever here at GunsAmerica Digest was the Diablo 12 gauge shotgun pistol. It actually came up in my wife’s Facebook feed from one of her friends who was not a GA subscriber (she is now). Created by a small company called American Guncraft, this little shotgun is a standard smoothbore muzzleloader, that fires a 209 shotgun primer. The Diablo was a novel idea that got turned into a solid and fairly robust product. I love it, and that article and video sold them out for quite some time.
This gun is the Desperado, Diablo’s big brother. The direct sale price is $639, and it is due to come back available next month. It likewise uses a 209 primer, and breaks down just like a standard double barrel shell gun.
Desperado has an 8″ barrel instead of a 6″ barrel, and the grip angle is slightly different, even though it looks the same side by side. There is also an 11″ version, but I haven’t been able to get one yet.
I don’t like to waste people’s time, in articles or video, so I am not going to bother with working up loads for this gun. I shot it with what is now my standard load for the Diablo, which is 100 grains of Hodgdon Triple Se7en in the FFFG granulation. If you watch the video to the end you will see that I did include some FFG velocities as the end as well, also with 100 grains.
In an 8″ barrel, it could be that velocity is not going to top out with 100 grains, but it’s frankly all I am wiling to shoot. This is a punishing load, even with the lightest of the projectiles I use, and I have actually dropped the gun when I did not hold onto it properly.
I offer my tests as an example of my experience, not instruction. These guns at these loads are not for those slight of build. If you fall into this category, please see my other articles and videos of this series. A ’58 Remington, or even a Ruger Old Army, also can be shipped to your door, and is an equally effective self defense weapon. The Diablo and Desperado are really novelty guns that just happen to be able to cut a man in two, or take down a Grizzly Bear.
For these tests I returned to what has become my standard for these guns, paper cartridges. I will post the video below on how you make them. There is only one source for the kits available, Star & Bullock Hardware, at cartridgekits.com. They are sponsors of this column, and their products have been featured at length. I was deeply involved in the engineering of this kit, and it works really well. And there is a full article and video on the bullets and paper cartridges involved, including bullet casting.
The projectiles I kept to those that I know you can get bullet molds for right now, or that are generally available. The original article and video on the paper cartridges encapsulate most projectiles made for a 12 gauge, and grain for grain, the weights should produce similar velocities to those you see here in relation. I hope to return to these guns at some point soon to experiment more with actual head to head penetration. I have never experimented with accuracy on these guns, because they only have a shotgun bead, and the gun is a smoothbore.
Shooting the Desperado is almost as punishing as the Diablo, but there is enough of a difference to note it. I discovered that if you do not put your second hand behind the butt, the gun does not hurt to shoot with these loads. It rolls back easier than the Diablo, and the 2″ of extra barrel adds weight, so you get less of an unhinged “howitzer” kind of feeling when you shoot it. The tradeoff is that this gun is much less of a belt gun. It has a “horse pistol” feeling, and American Guncraft actually does sell a drop holster for such an approach.
Please don’t post moron comments about the Russian bullet molds. Anyone who believes the official government story about anything at this point is a complete fool. And the comments will never see the light of day. What I can say is that if you want one of these, you should buy them now, because there probably will not be anymore in the country for quite some time. Star & Bullock did not raise the prices to benefit from the crisis.
The balistics were really impressive. I only used 100 grains of Triple Se7en, and in the FFFG granulation, this is what I got:
Zeverboy (segmented) 520 gr. 891 feet per second/916 foot pounds.
Botfly (segmented) 535 gr. 802 feet per second/763 food pounds.
Paradox (full size) 630 gr. 788 feet per second/868 foot pounds
12 gauge (.69 cal) roundball 780 feet per second/682 foot pounds
Ballistic Product LBC Slug 1140 feet per second/1037 foot pounds
For an apples to apples comparison, that LBC slug in a standard 24″ 12 gauge deer barrel will probably clock at just over 1,500 feet per second with a 2 3/4″ shell. And it will pack a punch of over 2,500 foot pounds, but I believe this highlights the problem I have always had with “muzzle energy” calculations.
In any standard calculator of muzzle energy, velocity is squared in the equation, multiplied times itself before multiplying it against the weight of the bullet, which is only factored once. This leads to extravagant numbers for light projectiles, and makes heavier projectiles look inferior. Couple that to some mythology created and repeated over and over again by the Strassbourg Goat Tests. This was a fake news story propagated by magazines in the 1970s and repeated ad nausium by gun writers since, and that was admitted later to be faked by those involved. It said that lighter bullets moving faster were more effective.
This is a point blank gun. Most likely it will go right through any living thing in front of it, and create devastating damage due to the width of the 70 caliber hole…no matter what the projectile. But I think a heavier bullet is going to be more effective on barriers, and large dangerous game. Just my 2 cents.
I also tried a couple rounds of 9 pellet #00 buckshot, and got a similar velocity just under 900 feet per second. A standard Winchester military load of the same stuff travels at just over 1,300 feet per second through a standard 20″ riot gun. That’s not too shabby for a handgun.
The one caveat I would say about the buckshot is that this particular Desperado seemed to be a little tighter choked than the Diablos I have, which were very early guns. Getting the paper covered plastic wad down the bore, especially after shooting several rounds, was a challenge. Clean, or maybe the first reload after shooting the gun the first time, I think it would be easier, but I didn’t have it in me to shoot that gun anymore that day. With the paper cartridges you can always break off the powder charge and thumb it in, then put the projectile in with the paper removed. The shot paper cartridges need a cardboard overshot card regardless, and you build that right in.
The only negative I see to this gun is the same that I did with the Diablo, and that I feel obligated to mention. The Desperado will fire from half cock, unlike almost every other single action I have ever owned. So if you are sloppy with putting your finger in the trigger guard before are ready to fire at an intended target, it is not safe to put the Desperado on half cock as if it was a safety of sorts. I hope they modify that in future versions of these guns. The holsters sold for these guns usually have a strap across the hammer so that it can be carried on full cock.
But other than that, the Desperado does not point as naturally for me as the Diablo, but it is easier to manage recoil. I would say I prefer the Diablo. Both guns are surprisingly robust, and totally awesome IMHO.