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Hunting hare with a Davide Pedersoli muzzle-loading side-by-side shotgun

Hunters and their hounds

The breath-taking scenery of the Piedmont Langhe, the smell of gunpowder, a taste of the charm of traditional hunting.

The Team of / Alberto Bosa

Fine replica hunting and shooting guns are made by the skilful hands of Davide Pedersoli, and it was this passion for muzzleloaders that led to the establishment of the A.C.C.A (Cuneo Muzzle-Loading Hunters’ Association).

We were the guests of the A.C.C.A., shooting Pedersoli’s replicas, and what a wonderful day it was: a day’s hunting hare on a drive in the hills of the Tenuta Bonicelli game estate in Ceresole d’Alba, near Cuneo.

Hunting hare with a muzzle-loading shotgun

A clear morning, warmer than it should be for this time of year, started with the hunt master telling us where the stands were and precisely what rules we’d soon have to observe.

We were standing next to Bruno, the President of the A.C.C.A., who took the chance to explain just how deep his passion for historical hunting goes. He‘s really quite knowledgeable on the subject.

But, when you’re hunting, sooner or later it’s time to put theory aside and get down to business.

We started by drying the percussion nipples of our guns by firing off a few percussion caps with the gun pointing towards the ground. Then, with the stocks firmly resting on out boots, we poured in the powder, seated the wad and last but not least, added the shot. 

We took our places and waited, our hearts in our mouths, until the horn sounded the start of the drive. From that moment on, the baying of hounds, some more nervous than others, was interspaced by someone getting a shot off here or there. The extension of the game reserve didn’t help all the hunters bag a hare, but they’ll be back soon for that wily or lucky one that got away.

The gun, accessories and loading

Hunter with his Pedersoli shotgun
The elegant line of the Pedersoli 12-gauge muzzle-loading side-by-side shotgun.

All the hunters were equipped with the classic Pedersoli side-by-side shotgun.

It’s a double-barrelled smooth-bore gun, a faithful reproduction of an English model dating from the mid nineteenth-century and still used today by hunters who value tradition above all.

Available in 20- and 12-gauge, standard or deluxe versions, our guns were chambered for the bigger bore size, with a double trigger system and 72.5-cm internally-chromed slightly choked-down barrels. The overall weight of the gun is 3.2 kg with a total length of 1 metre and 125 mm.

Davide Pedersoli also provided the accessories needed to load the guns, an operation which is neither complicated nor slow, contrary to what one may be inclined to believe. 

It does have to be done meticulously and scrupulously though. To make operations in the field easier, we had plastic tubes containing the doses of powder and shot, so all we had to do was pour first the powder, seat the wad with the ramrod housed under the barrels, then pour in the 34 grams of shot. The time required for loading was never a problem or meant missing a shot, but it certainly is something that gives you a real taste of our passion for this sport, and makes it more of a real thrill than ever.

ModelCaliberBarrel length
Total length
725 mm
700 mm
1125 mm
1100 mm
3.200 Kg 
3.400 Kg
Cyl / mod 
Cyl / mod

Shooting the Pedersoli shotgun

We were hunting hare, which is fast, difficult game, with a gun we didn’t know, so most of us were convinced we wouldn’t exactly make a good impression. But, once we’d shouldered the gun and simulated a few shots, we felt immediately at home with the gun and started to think that perhaps the hunt might not go so badly after all. 

Firing the Pedersoli side-by-side shotgun
The cloud of smoke when the black powder ignites when taking a shot.

The gun is in fact excellent for hunting moving game such as pheasant, partridge, quail or hare, because it’s well-balanced and fast to aim and lead a little. 

The intensity of the recoil is about the same as that of a 12-gauge breech-loader, although it does feel a little different.

In fact, as black powder burns at a different speed to smokeless powder, the recoil is longer and therefore softer, so you can get off a second shot if you want. The energy transferred to the shot is all but identical, and all the shots that hit their targets – and ours always did – took the game down quickly and cleanly.

Here’s a video with just a few minutes of our day’s hunt. Enjoy the film.

For more information on this classic hunting shotgun, visit the Davide Pedersoli & C. website.

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