View Full Version : Help identifing an old "zulu" or "zuzu" muzzleloader.

December 28, 2007, 10:07 AM
Is any one familar with an old brand of muzzleloader called "Zulu" or "Zuzu"? I'll post pictures later tonight, but I'm trying to find any information out that I can. We have no idea exactly how old it is but we would guess around 100 years or so.

Thanks for any info you might have.

December 28, 2007, 12:00 PM
Okay - little research on my own. This is a converted muzzleloader that now has a breechloading trapdoor set up. The trapdoor is hinged on the right side unlike the usual models that are hinged towards the front. There are no sights on this gun.

There are no other marks other than proof marks and zuzu or zulu on the barrel. The gentleman that owns it believes it might be german in origin as that is the family heritage.

December 28, 2007, 12:39 PM
Something like this?


December 28, 2007, 03:21 PM
Invssgt -

That is it exactly! Not sure how you knew that, but the stock is even cracked in roughly the same place. The example I'm researching is in slightly better shape however.

Thanks for your help!

December 28, 2007, 06:49 PM
Thanks again Invssgt -

This shotgun/rifle/muzzleloader has been in my friends family for years. It once hung over his mantel but he took it down cause he had no idea what it was. After some research, thanks again for your help, he plans on hanging it back over his mantel because he now has a good story to go with it.

December 28, 2007, 08:23 PM

You're quite welcome. Sorry it took me awhile to get back. I got a big box of old gun books from the 50's-60's given to me when I was 12 years old- which was about 1968. I have been absorbing everything gun-related I could get my hands on, ever since. Been shooting everything I could get my hands on for a tad longer than that. You can't help but accumulate some information over that length of time.

The only problem is that the more of that time and information that piles up, the harder it is to pull something out of there;)

December 28, 2007, 10:42 PM
not to hijack the thread but one of those is in an upcoming local auction. Is there any collector value to them? The only pic i've seen does not show a cracked stock, but it's much darker/dirtier and doesn't appear to be converted to a breachloader

4V50 Gary
December 28, 2007, 11:34 PM
It looks somewhat like the Snider breechloader conversion for the Enfield. The lock however is a backaction lock (unlike the Enfield) and the stock looks like a sporterized surplus stock. Was this a Bannerman put together?

December 29, 2007, 12:49 AM
It's my understanding that these were converted from several different models of French military rifles utilizing the Snider system. Later on most were converted again to shot shells. Most stocks have been cut down like the one in the pic.

December 29, 2007, 08:45 AM
I don't know about now, but 10 years ago they were not worth much. The sellers always had a good story, like they were civil war(HA) foraging guns etc. I think they were converted obsolete European muzzleloaders for the "native" trade or something like that, for cheap beaters to use like a breakopen single shot shotgun is used in 3rd world countries for shooting monkey meat etc. I don't think they have any military usage as they are now. I never bought one, they were cheap, but the BS from the sellers put me off. Don't spend much for one!

James K
December 29, 2007, 10:06 PM
First, lest there be a misunderstanding, those guns were not converted from muzzle-loaders to make cheap shotguns. They were first converted from muzzle-loading muskets into breech loading rifles for the armed forces of Britain and France. The Snider conversion of the Enfield had a breechblock hinged on the right side and its front action lock was that of the original musket.

The French equivalent was called the "Tabatiere" (snuff box) from its resemblance to the lid of a snuff box. The Tabatiere converted the French Mle. 1857, which had a back action lock, to the Mle.1867. After those nations went on to purpose-built breechloaders, thousands of converted muskets became obsolete, and many were sold and converted to shotguns by replacing the barrel.

They were primarily intended for sale in the European colonies in Africa to natives who could not afford (and/or could not be trusted with) more modern guns, hence the name "Zulu." In the event, many were sold here and in Europe to those who wanted a cheap shotgun. Most are 12 gauge, 2 1/2" shells. I have seen them sell for around $50 as a novelty, which is 10-12 times what they sold for around 1900.


December 29, 2007, 11:09 PM
so, unless its an unconverted musket i should keep my hands in my pocket when the bidding starts, correct?

December 30, 2007, 08:37 AM
So they are actual cutdown conversions of gun for mil. use? Well I did read something about them long ago but they are off the radar screen for anything I have referenced around here anymore. Still, the ones I have seen looked pretty poor condition and not like anything you would want to actually shoot. And certainly none of the sellers had a reasonable explanation for what they actually were. LIke I said, got all kinds of BS from sellers. Frankly they looked like some kind of cheap Belgian trade guns or something by the time they made it here, to me.

James K
December 30, 2007, 10:50 PM
If you want an neat talking piece and something with some history, a Zulu might make an interesting piece to hang on the wall, but I don't think I would shoot one.

I'll try to clarify the history. When fixed cartridge rifles were introduced about the time of the U.S. Civil War, every country was suddenly stuck with hundreds of thousands of obsolete muzzle loading muskets. To try to salvage something out of the mess, various means were developed to convert those muskets to breech loaders. In the U.S., it was the Allin conversion, a front-hinged breechblock we call the "trapdoor." In Britain, the conversion of Enfield muskets used the Snider system, and in France conversion of their Model 1857 musket was done with a system they nicknamed the "snuff box" or "tabatiere". Those conversions were issued to their respective armies, some in small numbers, others in large quantities.

After a while, it became obvious that conversions were not working out too well and those nations went to rifles made from scratch as breechloaders. Then they sold off their old conversions to arms dealers.

The arms dealers resold many of those conversions "as is", but there was a demand, especially in Africa and South America, for cheap shotguns for use by the natives. So the arms companies took the old conversions, removed the rifled barrels and installed shotgun barrels, thus creating the "Zulu" shotgun.

So, yes, the guns were ex-military ("milsurp" in today's slang) guns, converted twice, once from muskets to breech loading rifles by an army, then again from breech loading rifles to breech loading shotguns by civilian gun dealers.

As noted above, the ones with back action locks were originally French muskets.