The Baker Cavalry Shotgun A Black powder Super Shorty
Ever wanted one of those groovy scatterguns with the abbreviated barrels, just big enough to fit in a shoebox? Well, instead of going the $5 AOW tax stamp route, there is always the old-school avenue that is the Baker Cavalry Shotgun.
In the days predating the US Civil War, the double-barreled percussion shotgun was the ideal gun for home defense, hunting, and sport shooting. It could be stuffed with an ounce of small shot for taking birds, squirrel and rabbit, or filled with a handful of larger caliber pellets for felling deer and feral hogs. Should someone come poking around the homestead with ill intentions, this same load could save the day.
Ezekiel Baker of Great Britain sold one of the most popular types of these guns for export into the US in the 1850s. These guns were sold across the country far and wide in the years before the Civil War and were often found hanging over many a mantle. It should not be surprising then that it was these guns that were reached for when the war broke out. Northern (Union) forces had access to an incredible manufacturing base and could count on new arms coming right from the assembly line. In the more agrarian south however, military arms were few and new recruits showing up for duty often had to BYOG. This meant several appeared with Baker shotguns.
This unidentified Civil War soldier's portrait in Confederate quantrillian battleshirt with double barrel percussion shotgun and cocked Colt Navy revolver shows how he reported for service. Odds are over time the barrels on the shotgun got shortened down a whole lot.
Over the course of the first few campaigns, these guns became shorter and shorter, especially when used by Confederate cavalry. Whereas bluecoat horsemen could count on a steady supply of new Sharps carbines and cavalry sabers, most greycoats made due with sawn off Bakers and a few revolvers as best they could.
After the Civil War, the shorty Baker inspired legions of Coach Guns, such as this one seen in the hands of actor Val Kilmer from the film Tombstone (photo from IMFDB) which was used extensively on both sides of the law in the Old West era.
A percussion sawn-off shotgun captured from the 1930s Florida-based Ashley gang showed this type of gun was still in use for generations. Photo from flickr user mainmanwalkin
It's with this legendary shotgun in mind that Pedersoli came up with the Baker Cavalry Shotgun
Made by Davide Pedersoli of Italy, this short, dual-lock, double-barrel shotgun would have made any Confederate cavalryman proud to sling over his shoulder. Casehardened locks, wedges, tang and triggers give it an authentic look while its hard-hitting 20-gauge caliber makes it effective.
Since it is a black-powder gun, its 11.25-inch long barrels do not fall under the ATF's NFA regulations about sawn-off shotguns. Normally shotguns with barrels less than 18-inches or less than 26-inches overall length have to be registered with the ATF and transferred as an AOW (Any Other Weapon) which means a lot of paperwork, fees, and hassle. The Baker eliminates all that while still giving you the look, feel, and performance of a vintage coach gun. Notably though, its overall length is still coincidentally compliant at 27.5-inches.
Its single trigger fires first left then right barrels and can be fired with either conventional black powders or substitutes like Pyrodex. Recommended load is 60 grains of FFg with 1 oz. shot, which is about comparable with standard high brass 20-gauge or low brass 12-gauge smokeless loads.
How to get yours
On the downside, these aren't cheap. Shopping around we found several out there on Cabellas, Pedersolis own website, and Dixie Gun Works ranging from $799-$1000.
While these are Federal (NFA etc.) complaint, may be not be legal under some state (we mean California) laws. So before you start rolling with your repro Baker, you are probably going to want to research that yourself in detail.