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Traditional M/L Guns from India

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After a couple of acknowledgements and the interest generated in the Ottoman Guns Thread, I thought I would start a new Thread here on the locally made/used Indian guns during the Ottoman Empire era.
They are unique in their stock design and barrel making techniques.
The most common and best known example is what is commonly referred to as the Indian Torador musket. It's amazing these muskets were still in use by the locals and irregulars till at least about 1880. The fact that they were made and used for this long of a period is the likely reason there are so many original specimens still available today. The matchlock mechanism is a simple lever-type that would date back to the 16th Century. The stocks were typically made in two pieces and spliced together about the middle of the fore stock. The long, square shape of the butt stocks has always been a curiosity. It's my opinion that the long butt stocks were designed to be positioned under the arm pit while firing. And it does help to balance the long, heavy barrel. You do indeed get a sight picture holding the gun this way.
I've never found any historical evidence to prove this, but it's the only theory that makes sense. The barrels were typically tapered and flared round in figured Damascus forged around a mandrel. A simple brass bead front sight and a simple slotted rear sight that was forged to the breech of the barrel or to the breech plug itself. The breech plug was forged welded in place versus threaded. In fact, the entire gun was made without a single threaded screw. The overall design of the gun was so simple that there was really nothing to break or go wrong while in the field. I've read that the locals became so expert with these matchlocks that they insisted on using them even if a more modern gun was offered. But, as with many of the Eastern guns, there is little historical written information on their design and use, other than study of the guns themselves. I do have in my library an actual period witness account of how the barrels were made for these Torador muskets. It's so different (even compared to other Ottoman period barrels) that it's almost worth a separate Thread on it's own. And as with other Ottoman period guns, the Toradors would be built from very plain to highly decorated, and all points in between.

Here are some pics of my only Indian Torador musket in my collection. This one is a good, solid, middle of the road munitions grade musket that sports a Hoyt barrel liner and is now a .62 caliber smooth, standard cylinder bore. It has a new pan cover (original broken and missing) and a new, taller brass front bead sight. Besides the liner, Bobby had to drill out the original forged in breech plug and make a special sleeve and threaded plug. So it now has a removable, threaded breech plug. I'll explain the reason for this in a later post.

Rick
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Yay, thanks for making this thread!

I have a couple of general questions about the type:

Is the powder pan dovetailed to the barrel, or part of the forging?

Is the hole the match holder comes out of often damaged? Yours looks to be in better condition than that part on a lot of auction site guns.

Are barrel bands or wire wrapping the norm for holding the barrel to the stock?
 
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I have another question that isn't related to the design of the gun. Expanding on the end of your post, does anyone know how these were employed in battle? Were Indian gun armed soldiers in their own units and firing by rank? I have fairly limited knowledge on pre English Indian history, but I have seen mention that sword and shield armed troops existed through the 19th century, so I assume there was some sort of mixed infantry combat? I do not know how many Indian members we have, but there were an impressive amount of area participation in the Ottoman thread.
 

Pukka Bundook

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Rick,
Thank you for starting this thread!
Will be back as soon as I get freed up a bit!
John,
Google" Moghal miniature paintings, war and hunting", or Mughal matchlock, or some such.
There are beautiful and very amusing paintings of the use of toradors in some of the miniatures!
Yes, we will likely come across folk who say the right spelling is Toradar, but in a country the size of India, there were many names for these guns.
Thank you again Rick, these guns hold a special interest to me.
146.jpg
19836024.jpg
 
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Rick,
Thank you for starting this thread!
Will be back as soon as I get freed up a bit!
John,
Google" Moghal miniature paintings, war and hunting", or Mughal matchlock, or some such.
There are beautiful and very amusing paintings of the use of toradors in some of the miniatures!
Yes, we will likely come across folk who say the right spelling is Toradar, but in a country the size of India, there were many names for these guns.
Thank you again Rick, these guns hold a special interest to me.View attachment 182872 View attachment 182873
Love the display of the melee features of the Toradar
 
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Yay, thanks for making this thread!

I have a couple of general questions about the type:

Is the powder pan dovetailed to the barrel, or part of the forging?

Is the hole the match holder comes out of often damaged? Yours looks to be in better condition than that part on a lot of auction site guns.

Are barrel bands or wire wrapping the norm for holding the barrel to the stock?
Hi John

The pan is forged with the barrel as well as the rear sight. I would think this would be difficult to do. But every Torador barrel I've seen is made in this manner.

The serpentine (match holder) and trigger mechanism is very simple. A slotted hole is bored through the stock and allows the serpentine portion to be mounted with a single pin.

Barrels were held to the stock with bands made of brass, iron, wire, and even rattan (rope). LOL A combination of what was available and the builder's technique.

Here is a good, short introduction to these guns, per Pukka's mention above:



Rick
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After a couple of acknowledgements and the interest generated in the Ottoman Guns Thread, I thought I would start a new Thread here on the locally made/used Indian guns during the Ottoman Empire era.
They are unique in their stock design and barrel making techniques.
The most common and best known example is what is commonly referred to as the Indian Torador musket. It's amazing these muskets were still in use by the locals and irregulars till at least about 1880. The fact that they were made and used for this long of a period is the likely reason there are so many original specimens still available today. The matchlock mechanism is a simple lever-type that would date back to the 16th Century. The stocks were typically made in two pieces and spliced together about the middle of the fore stock. The long, square shape of the butt stocks has always been a curiosity. It's my opinion that the long butt stocks were designed to be positioned under the arm pit while firing. And it does help to balance the long, heavy barrel. You do indeed get a sight picture holding the gun this way.
I've never found any historical evidence to prove this, but it's the only theory that makes sense. The barrels were typically tapered and flared round in figured Damascus forged around a mandrel. A simple brass bead front sight and a simple slotted rear sight that was forged to the breech of the barrel or to the breech plug itself. The breech plug was forged welded in place versus threaded. In fact, the entire gun was made without a single threaded screw. The overall design of the gun was so simple that there was really nothing to break or go wrong while in the field. I've read that the locals became so expert with these matchlocks that they insisted on using them even if a more modern gun was offered. But, as with many of the Eastern guns, there is little historical written information on their design and use, other than study of the guns themselves. I do have in my library an actual period witness account of how the barrels were made for these Torador muskets. It's so different (even compared to other Ottoman period barrels) that it's almost worth a separate Thread on it's own. And as with other Ottoman period guns, the Toradors would be built from very plain to highly decorated, and all points in between.

Here are some pics of my only Indian Torador musket in my collection. This one is a good, solid, middle of the road munitions grade musket that sports a Hoyt barrel liner and is now a .62 caliber smooth, standard cylinder bore. It has a new pan cover (original broken and missing) and a new, taller brass front bead sight. Besides the liner, Bobby had to drill out the original forged in breech plug and make a special sleeve and threaded plug. So it now has a removable, threaded breech plug. I'll explain the reason for this in a later post.

RickView attachment 182716 View attachment 182717 View attachment 182718 View attachment 182719 View attachment 182720 View attachment 182721 View attachment 182722 View attachment 182723 View attachment 182724
Great posting! And who knew Mr. Hoyt did this type work, also! You, sir, are a scholar!
 
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Hi John

The pan is forged with the barrel as well as the rear sight. I would think this would be difficult to do. But every Torador barrel I've seen is made in this manner.

The serpentine (match holder) and trigger mechanism is very simple. A slotted hole is bored through the stock and allows the serpentine portion to be mounted with a single pin.

Barrels were held to the stock with bands made of brass, iron, wire, and even rattan (rope). LOL A combination of what was available and the builder's technique.

Here is a good, short introduction to these guns, per Pukka's mention above:



RickView attachment 182903 View attachment 182904

Thanks for the additional photos!

The mechanism of the gun is genius in its simplicity.
 

Pukka Bundook

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It may sound odd, but I keep one of these handy in the kitchen for skunks and other varmints.
It is a very reliable gun. The one in question is so light it is like it starved to death! A mere stick for a stock, and a very light barrel about 40 inches if I remember right.
It's from up in Rajasthan. It needed work, had parts missing and barrel was plugged.
When I got the latter unplugged I found it was loaded with fireworks and a six inch nail!
It needed some fine boring, and the barrel is still pretty awful but it throws shot well enough.

These arms are so hard to date, as those depicted in the miniatures of Akbar or his Grandson, Shah Jajan, are identical to many seen nowadays.
So, Are they 16th century or 19th ? There are a few differences in some, but others are very difficult to tell!

As Rick can attest, these barrels have a rather huge powder chamber, a narrower "neck" to prevent a ball entering said chamber, then a normal straight bore to the muzzle.
One of mine I have used quite a bit holds 5 drams in the powder chamber and goes off with a terrific noise! (136.5 grains) The bore takes a .535 unpatched ball very nicely, with either a cow dung (Dried!) wad, or felt wads if you prefer.
The cow dung is traditional, and somehow keeps the bore from fouling badly! Yes, that Does sound Ironic! LOL
This gun came from Jaipur.
I believe it was solely a sporting gun. You will see now and again toradors with two hamsa, one on either side of the stock behind the tang area. These are birds, goose or swan like and known as Hamsa in Hinduism. They are mythalogical birds with various spiritual meanings.
I believe that only Toradors from Jaipur and Amber bear these likenesses inlet into the stock.
These guns also have a few other identifying features, like the hole behind the breech in which to extinguish the match. Many others have a metal snuffer attached to the lock side.
Here are a couple f pictures of mine, rather dirty after a shooting session, plus the steel target!
the last photo shows the 'wadding'. :)
DSCN2897.JPG
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It may sound odd, but I keep one of these handy in the kitchen for skunks and other varmints.
It is a very reliable gun. The one in question is so light it is like it starved to death! A mere stick for a stock, and a very light barrel about 40 inches if I remember right.
It's from up in Rajasthan. It needed work, had parts missing and barrel was plugged.
When I got the latter unplugged I found it was loaded with fireworks and a six inch nail!
It needed some fine boring, and the barrel is still pretty awful but it throws shot well enough.

These arms are so hard to date, as those depicted in the miniatures of Akbar or his Grandson, Shah Jajan, are identical to many seen nowadays.
So, Are they 16th century or 19th ? There are a few differences in some, but others are very difficult to tell!

As Rick can attest, these barrels have a rather huge powder chamber, a narrower "neck" to prevent a ball entering said chamber, then a normal straight bore to the muzzle.
One of mine I have used quite a bit holds 5 drams in the powder chamber and goes off with a terrific noise! (136.5 grains) The bore takes a .535 unpatched ball very nicely, with either a cow dung (Dried!) wad, or felt wads if you prefer.
The cow dung is traditional, and somehow keeps the bore from fouling badly! Yes, that Does sound Ironic! LOL
This gun came from Jaipur.
I believe it was solely a sporting gun. You will see now and again toradors with two hamsa, one on either side of the stock behind the tang area. These are birds, goose or swan like and known as Hamsa in Hinduism. They are mythalogical birds with various spiritual meanings.
I believe that only Toradors from Jaipur and Amber bear these likenesses inlet into the stock.
These guns also have a few other identifying features, like the hole behind the breech in which to extinguish the match. Many others have a metal snuffer attached to the lock side.
Here are a couple f pictures of mine, rather dirty after a shooting session, plus the steel target!
the last photo shows the 'wadding'. :)
View attachment 183115 View attachment 183116 View attachment 183117 View attachment 183118 View attachment 183119
136.5 grains for .535??? Thats a lot of bang.

Do you have an example of how the powder was carried?
 

Pukka Bundook

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John,
Two things;
Firstly, the gun isn't used Inside the kitchen for skunks and varmints!...LOL! Just kept there handy.
(Re-reading it could be took by some wag that I was shooting indoors!)
secondly.
If you google "Moghul Powder Horns" all sorts of beautiful work shows up.
powder flasks/horns were made of normal cow horns, jade, ivory, shell, and metal/ some are made like fish and are flexible too.
My little priming flask is goat-horn but homemade. He has ivory teeth and horn eyes!
Plain grade guns were made, and the flasks would be made accordingly, and the high end guns had high end acsessories.

Some of my favourites are the very folky looking horns carved in the shape of a running antelope. He's at full stretch and sometimes painted like an antelope too.
Some of this type can be seen in Robert Elgood's books onRajput arms, and his book "The Rathores and their Armoury at Jodhpur Fort".

1671199267561.png

This image from a sale in the UK some time ago.
 
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John,
Two things;
Firstly, the gun isn't used Inside the kitchen for skunks and varmints!...LOL! Just kept there handy.
(Re-reading it could be took by some wag that I was shooting indoors!)
secondly.
If you google "Moghul Powder Horns" all sorts of beautiful work shows up.
powder flasks/horns were made of normal cow horns, jade, ivory, shell, and metal/ some are made like fish and are flexible too.
My little priming flask is goat-horn but homemade. He has ivory teeth and horn eyes!
Plain grade guns were made, and the flasks would be made accordingly, and the high end guns had high end acsessories.

Some of my favourites are the very folky looking horns carved in the shape of a running antelope. He's at full stretch and sometimes painted like an antelope too.
Some of this type can be seen in Robert Elgood's books onRajput arms, and his book "The Rathores and their Armoury at Jodhpur Fort".

View attachment 183151
This image from a sale in the UK some time ago.
I assumed that it was taken outside haha. Don't want all the produce in your kitchen tasting like Sulphur.

Wow, I really need to start doing some research on these arms and accoutrements. That horn is amazing. So much life and grace.
 
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Pukka Bundook

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Its hard with these guns to say where they originated many times. They could be spoils of war ad moved great distances from where they originated.
Lord Eggeton's book help, but we still do not know or sure quite often.
I have two barrels to stock up, and according to Eggerton, it looks like they come from Oude by his description and pictures.

r ind c.jpg
r ind d.jpg
RH ind barrel a.jpg
RH ind barrel b  S Cleaned a bit...jpg

Both barrels are about 53 inches long, the first about .55 cal, the second about .70 cal.
The latter never had a hinged pan cover.
Some were made with a cover that slipped over the pan and was attached with a chain. Others had no pan cover at all. The priming was mealed, and pressed in and stuck.
I believe for horseback use the type with no pan cover was used more.
 
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Its hard with these guns to say where they originated many times. They could be spoils of war ad moved great distances from where they originated.
Lord Eggeton's book help, but we still do not know or sure quite often.
I have two barrels to stock up, and according to Eggerton, it looks like they come from Oude by his description and pictures.

View attachment 183158 View attachment 183159 View attachment 183160 View attachment 183161
Both barrels are about 53 inches long, the first about .55 cal, the second about .70 cal.
The latter never had a hinged pan cover.
Some were made with a cover that slipped over the pan and was attached with a chain. Others had no pan cover at all. The priming was mealed, and pressed in and stuck.
I believe for horseback use the type with no pan cover was used more.
Stocking them will be a neat project.

Is there a consistency to when and where certain bore diameters were used? For eastern arms, Tanegashima seem to have a narrow range of bore, but .55 to .70, for Toradar, is a very big spread.
 
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Pukka Bundook

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John,
Sporting barrels were made in all sizes and weights. Some fine small bores were made for ladies and children. It is a fact than a great many Rajput ladies hunted and were expert with the tulwar /sword other weapons.
So, for birding a light gun, for antelope etc a heavier barrel of a smaller bore, but normally for big game a larger bore.

Having said that, the .53 -ish bore size seemed to work well on tiger/lion. Buffalo and elephant would require a heavy ball.

all best !
Richard.
 
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Here's the one I picked up that Richard and Ricky helped me review and identify, especially the gold 'koftgari' which is hammered into designed chiseled into the metal. I only paid $500 for it. I had my jeweler test the silver and all I'll say is that his eyes went wide!

These are the auction photos. that strapping tape has since been removed, as has the barrel, as she is being restored, but I've yet to send the barrel out to Bobby Hoyt. This is the auction info:

"Early 18th century silver mounted Indian matchlock “Toradar” musket. Indian muskets are called toradar, although the erroneous term ‘torador’ is also commonly used. Such early black powder firearms were introduced into north India at large by Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire. The barrel is finely damascened in pure gold designs. Barrel bands and stock mounts in pure silver, with action features also decorated with gold fill. There is slight damage to right side of stock near the match serpentine and one gold decorated iron barrel band strap is missing. This one is still a most beautiful matchlock musket; one worth restoring or enjoying as found. Estimated: $1,100-1700."


BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock01.jpg
BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock02.jpg
BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock03.jpg
BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock04.jpg
BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock05.jpg
BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock06.jpg
BP, 54-cal Indian Toradar Matchlock07.jpg
 
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