Zulu Shotgun

A while back I picked up an interesting single shot shotgun with a bronze receiver. A little research showed it as a ZULU shot gun.

The history of this weapon goes back to the end of the muzzle loading era. With the civil war  ushering in the era of the breech loading metallic cartridge firearm. With large stocks of muzzle loading weapons on hand countries needed a way to convert these weapons to a breech loading weapon. One of the first methods was the Snider or Tabatiere conversion.

By the late 1870’s large quantities of French converted rifle were on the surplus market with no buyers. A decision was made to convert them to a inexpensive shotgun. This was accomplished by reaming out the rifling in the barrels to make them smooth bore, scrubbing all the original marks off the rifles and then proof them with Belgium proof marks, cut down the stocks to a sporter configuration and removing the rifle sights and installing a front sight bead.

This example is a bronze receiver that was made during the Franco-Prussian war from French church bells that were donated because of the material shortage at the time.

Right side view

DSC_1636cssLeft side view

DSC_1641csClose up of the receiver area



DSC_1642sBelgium proof marks on the breech block


DSC_1646sMarking on the inside of the breech block


DSC_1649sThe spring that acts as a breech locking device and firing pin retaining pin.




DSC_1654sThe angle of the hammer and the lack of a gripping surface make it very difficult to pull the hammer back and to drop the hammer by hand. The spring pressure on the hammer is quite high

DSC_1658sThe trigger guard is  from a M1857 rifle musket

DSC_1659sThe standard butt plate from a M1857 rifle musket

DSC_1653sThe front barrel band looks like a piece of copper pipe hammered to fit.



17 comments to Zulu Shotgun

  • Pete

    Interesting what was done during an era when things were not scrapped willy nilly but were repurposed.

  • where can I find the schematic for an 1857 Zulu Rifle trigger mechanism showing the spring and any other parts in the trigger assembly?

  • Where can I find parts for an 1857 Zulu rifle/shotgun conversion?

  • nunchuck

    Zulu, Snider action, 1853/1867 conversions. Bronze actions worth more (do not know how much more)
    Nice example ! 10 gauge or 12 gauge ?

  • Fred Welsch

    I have a P. G. Zulu comverted shotgun from a rifle.

    M Greatgrandfather carried in the cuvul war. He was

    in the Ohio 189 infantry. 1 year.

    The gun was made in Belgium. It has proff marks on it.

    The mechanism was, I believe original. They just bored out the barrell.
    Shortened it.

  • Axel Waschke

    I have one and it’s for sale, interesting to realize that the springs still are that strong after 147 years. Mine has a steel breech block and original front barrel band.

  • Jim Kenney

    Have one myself. Love it! Bronze with shortened barrel.shoots great. Homemade black powder 12

  • Dennis Kluge

    Received one of these rifles from my Dad, from his & his Grandfather. Undetermined where my Great Grandfather obtained it, but he came from old Germany and was in the Army there at the time. The rifle I have has ZULU stamped in the barrel, is serial #4323 (stamped in the breach), but has a steel breech – not the brass one. A very long barrel, overall rifle is 51″. I also find on the side of the barrel a stamped circle with what appears to be a “F” on the top, with BG below it; outside the circle is the #7 and some other unusual stampings. Being that it is steel – does that make it earlier vintage? I am looking to clean it up and keep it as a family keepsake.

  • Ronnie Moore

    I have a Zulu shotgun with the number 637 on the barrel with other marks on the barrel. Steel breech and barrel band 51.750 over all inches long. I would appreciate any additional information.

  • Eric Wojcieszak

    Dennis, please send a photo of the Zulu barrel stamp. Can’t find it with my 40x. My dad picked up a later-learned Tabatiere, but has a unique block to all I’ve seen in hours of searching. Has a hole on the left that appears to have been place for a block lock/release. Thanks, Eric.

  • Can someone with a Zulu rifle please send me a picture of the inside trigger components. All of the inside mechanisms are missing on my Zulu. I would appreciate it. I have just the hammer and the Breach Block but nothing inside of the plate.
    Please use my E-Mail if possible.
    Sal Stabila

  • Charles K. Jonker

    I have a ZULU Shotgun passed down from my Grandfather I believe. Don’t know how to post pics here. It has a different Hammer than what I’ve seen.

  • Tony Crescimanno

    Hi, how much is a Zulu shotgun worth in working condition. Thanks Tony

  • Randy

    I have two of these converted to 12 gauge. Of course they are black powder so DO NOT load with modern day store bought shells. I bought a 25 round box of 3″ brass hulls. Ii had to primer them as I make them as no primers come in the brass shell hulls. They take a large pistol primer. Mine are Magtech brand and others make them and found online. They have U-Tube videos of loading with black powder and easy. About the parts….. I am very knowledgeable about finding about any gun or rifle part. I have never seen parts for these available.

  • Stephanie

    I have a Zulu rifle I have been using for years. Yesterday the firing pin retainer broke and firing pin fill out, I was unable to find. Were can I find new parts or have made.

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