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American Gun Craft’s Diablo 12 Gauge: The Coolest Mail Order Shotgun Pt. 1

When I first realized that I was going to get one of these little shotguns, I don’t know whether I was more intrigued or excited. By the day of its arrival, the excitement had won out. The Diablo 12 gauge shotgun is a double-barrel, 12 gauge, muzzleloading pistol. Now, I know some of you were with me right up until the word “muzzleloading.” Stick with me and see why that one feature opens a ton of possibilities for you as a shooter.

How is this legal?

One of the first questions people ask me when I mention my new shotgun is, “How is this even legal?”

I can understand their confusion; after all, it is a short-barreled shotgun that I received in the mail.  The Diablo shotgun is the exception to the rule for the simple fact that it is a muzzleloader. Check out the United States Code below.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3):

The term “firearm” means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(16):

(16) The term “antique firearm” means—

(A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or

(B) any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if such replica—

Diablo 12 gauge double-barrel shotgun 1
Diablo 12 gauge shotgun - not a firearm

(i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or

(ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade; or

(C) any muzzleloading rifle, muzzleloading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “antique firearm” shall not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzleloading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof.

Although the federal law does not view muzzleloaders as firearms, some states do.  However, a muzzleloader would still be considered a “deadly weapon” in the case of law enforcement.  I realize some of you reading this may not reside in the United States, so please consider your country’s laws regarding muzzleloaders.

What are the advantages of the Diablo being a muzzleloader?

Other than ease of transfer and for legally donning a short barrel, what advantages are there of the gun being a muzzleloader?

  1. Back up gun during muzzleloading season – Now this advantage doesn’t apply in all states, because some states won’t allow a double-barreled muzzleloader during the season. But in the states where hunting laws allow a firearm like the Diablo, it would make a great small, packable back-up.
  2. Ammo variety – Most of us limit our shotgun ammo selection to whatever you can locally source at your favorite sporting goods counter. However, our muzzleloading ancestors were much more creative. When they ran out of lead, anything went: nails, rocks, coins, toenails, etc. But even when they had normal lead ammo, they had creative shot types like pumpkin balls (the round predecessor of our modern-day slugs), Buck & Ball (a pumpkin ball chased by buckshot) or even mixed shot (a mixture of different sized shots).  With a muzzleloading shotgun, you can experiment with shot types and shot amounts to find the pattern and reaction you are looking to accomplish.
  3. A person prohibited by law from possessing a firearm can own a black powder firearm – Now that might sound like a negative to some readers, but when you account for the fact that most people with felony records are guilty of victimless, nonviolent crimes, we must ask ourselves whether it is right to take away their God-given right to protect themselves. This provides them with a viable option without violating the terms of their probation.
Diablo 12 gauge double-barrel shotgun 5
There are several options to choose from including wood and high polish chrome

What are the Possible Uses?

In my unboxing video, I ask viewers to comment on some of the possible uses for the Diablo shotgun. Below you’ll find a few ideas that my viewers and I came up within our collaboration. 


    1. Small game – This gun would be an absolute blast to use to chase squirrels and bunnies. In fact, as soon as I get a new action camera, I intend to get some footage of the Diablo dropping a quail or two in front of my pointer.
    2. Waterfowl – Sometimes ducks and geese (particularly geese) will let you cruise right up to them on your kayak. Because this gun can handle steel shot, it would make an excellent jump shooting gun in my kayak. Also, it could add an extra element of challenge to your duck set from blind shooting as well.
    3. Spring Gobbler Hunting – This is the use I am most excited about! Imagine this scenario: it is mid-to-late spring. The grass is getting a little taller, and you are hiding behind a full strut decoy picking a fight with a territorial gobbler. When he comes in blazing his spurs… BOOM!   There is nothing more exciting than calling a big gobbler in super-close. Now, I wouldn’t try this maneuver on public land, but on my farm … oh yeah!
    4. Close Range Deer Hunting – If you are looking to add a little extra challenge to your deer hunt, the Diablo could be a fun option. With options of the pumpkin ball, buck & ball, buckshot or any combination of the former in either of your two barrels, you would be able to take a deer at close range.


    1. Anti-Carjacking Gun – In a carjacking situation you need a “get off me” gun. You aren’t aiming; you aren’t in a high round count shoot out; you are just trying to get away. Whether you escape by discharging a barrel full of lead at close range, or if just the sight of those two barrels looking back at the carjacker is enough to deter the would-be assailant, the Diablo might be your ticket out of a sticky situation.
    2. Post-Felony Home Defense – Once again, if you are a felon (or live with a felon) without your Second Amendment rights restored, the Diablo is a viable and legal option for the protection of your home and family in the absence of more efficient modern firearms.
    3. Concealed Carry – Ok this one is just a joke, but we all know someone who would try.


Never discount the option of fun.  Whether it is the good humor of pulling this out on range day and watching every bay at the range gawk at your new toy or using this gun at your next Skeet shoot, this gun is just a handful of fun. If you never use this gun for hunting or self-protection, the fun factor can and should be enough to feel good about this little shotgun.

I plan on testing the capabilities of this little Diablo shotgun. Between range testing, patterning the shot, in-field hunting or just generally blowing stuff up with it, I am going to have some fun with the Diablo 12 Gauge!  If you would like to follow along, you can stay tuned to this blog series as well as follow me on my social media links below. If there are any purposes of use I didn’t cover, or an idea you would like to see me try, social media is an excellent way to reach me.  Also, go on over to American Guncraft’s website and check out the various models of the Diablo shotgun. https://americanguncraft.com/products/  Let them know Modern Mountain Man sent you!

Until next time, God bless you and go take your mountain.

Key Features: Diablo Break Open, 12 Gauge Pistol

Barrel Length: 6″ Length Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Barrel Type: Break Open Double Barrel Side-by-side, smooth-bore
Overall Length: 10”
Caliber: 12 Gauge – Conventional 209 Primer Breech Plug Design BP muzzleloader
Finish: Black Oxide with Black Grips
Weight: 3.2 Lbs
Type: Single Hammer, Double Barrel, Single Trigger, 209 Primer Ignition ML
Stock: Synthetic Grips
Grips: Midnight Black
Sight Bead: Choose sight bead installed or not
MSRP: $479 as tested

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