The Hower 12-Shot .357/.50

A One-Off Marvel of Home Engineering!

Hower’s 12-Shot revolver is a break-top, single action.
Note the center .50 caliber barrel.

Last Summer I drove the two-hour drive from Oklahoma to Kansas to visit my independent 91-year-old dad. With him in tow we arrived at my aunt and uncle’s farm for a visit and some serious can-homicide. It was here I learned from Uncle Mike he had a friend who had made his own 12-shot .357 Maximum revolver. He asked if I would be interested in a drive to see his friend’s pistol. My answer was quick and to the point, “Let’s go.”

One call to his friend and a short drive later, we arrived at Kenneth and Carolea Hower’s farm and home. After a brief introduction we were invited to come in. When I entered the kitchen my eyes snapped to the red cloth on the table. Resting on the red cloth was the biggest revolver I had ever seen.

I’m an avid shooter, collector and have spent all my adult life as a cop — but I’ve never seen such a beautiful, huge revolver. I asked and received permission to pick up the break-top single-action mammoth, and Kenneth began to tell me about his creation. I broke it open and marveled at his craftsmanship as he spoke. I noticed — and was told — you cocked the hammer, exposing the barrel selection lever, also acting to transfer the hammer strike to the upper or lower firing pin. It was all simply marvelous.

At 11.1 pounds, 8.5" tall and 18" long, the Hower 12-Shot is massive.

LeMat Influence

Four years earlier Kenneth bought a Navy Arms cap and ball LeMat revolver, sporting a 20-gauge second barrel. He loved the two barrel concept of the LeMat. However, he envisioned a version which would use cartridges in lieu of the cap and ball. He also conceived this creation to have a 28-gauge center barrel. Being a machinist, Kenneth designed his pistol on paper while watching television in the evenings. He told me he decided on the .357 caliber as it was close to the LeMat’s .36 caliber. Kenneth explained he just took the dimensions and chamber thickness needed and expanded from there.

Kenneth knew if he added a 28-gauge smooth bore into this concoction, the finished product would become troublesome in the law’s eyes. To overcome this he added rifling to the 28-gauge bore and called it the “.50-28 Hower.” Kenneth said he can put a .50 caliber lead bullet into the 28-gauge shell, making it the .50-28 caliber.

As he went to work he first made the cylinder with 12 .357 Maximum chambers. This caused the cylinder to measure 2.87″ wide. When finished, the Hower .357 12-Shot Revolver would be 8.5″ tall and 18″ long, tipping the scales at a whopping 11.1 pounds! Keeping in mind the Ruger Super Redhawk .480 weighs in at a little over 3.6 pounds helps to keep things in perspective here!

The Hower 12-Shot .357 Maximum single-action revolver has a .50-28 center barrel. The basic concept of this beast comes from the French LeMat.


Kenneth’s wife Carolea, an accomplished artist and carver, knew if she was going to engrave the beast, she’d better get it right the first time. Carolea then took plates of the A36 steel and worked one hour a day for two years to prepare for her part in this joint creation. In the end Carolea did an excellent job of engraving the frame and adding 24K gold inlay on the barrels, cylinder and around the rear sight. The finished firearm is a one-of-a-kind beauty and definitely not for sale!

Kenneth told me he test fired it, but does not plan to shoot it any further. Before we left, he also showed me his next project, a .22 caliber Gatling gun. I plan on going back to see the final Hower .22 Gatling fun-gun and will report back after my visit. I promise!

These Amazing People

Kenneth Hower is a farmer and retired professional machinist. He attended and graduated the Gunsmithing School at Trinidad State Junior College. Carolea Hower is a well-known published artist. Her many other accomplishments include carving and engraving.

Kenneth Hower has since placed the Hower 12-Shot .357/.50 in the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest, NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. NRA Whittington Center, 34025 U.S. 64 West, Raton, NM 87740. (800) 494-4853 or if you’d like more info and want to see it in person.