Friday, July 20, 2007

Big guns

Over on Shooting the Messengers Fits ran this picture:

On the left is a S&W .500 Mag, in the middle is a 45/70 rifle and to the right is a 2 gauge. The bore diameter of the 2 gauge is 1.33" or nearly 34 millimeters. It fired half a pound of shot or a single 8 oz. (3500 grain) ball.

The 4 gauge and larger were intended for use by professional waterfowl hunters. They were called "punt guns' because they were designed to be mounted on a low slung boat called a punt for firing. The recoil from one of these monsters is so powerful that if someone were to attempt to fire one from the shoulder the result would be broken bones.

A shotgun like this could kill as many as 50 ducks at a time. Typically professional hunters would fire at ducks resting on the water with the punt gun then shoulder an 8 gauge shotgun and pick off a few more when the survivors took flight. In the view of the professional hunter the 10 gauge shotgun had some value for law enforcement, the 12 gauge was for wealthy weaklings who liked to play at hunting and 20 gauge and smaller were toys for children.

Below is a video of Tom Knapp shooting one of these big shotguns.

Note how the gun had to be tied to the table with somewhat flexible ropes. If it had been braced against something unyielding the stock would have shattered.