Discussion in 'Cannon' started by Free Plunder, Mar 29, 2017.
Carbine isn't bore size, it's bore length.
How about this for a definition: a cannon is a crew served weapon, a punt gun is not.
Pardon me for asking BUT at what point does a smoothbore/rifled bore become a light cannon??
(The famous Gonzales Cannon, of TX Revolution fame, was only 1.15 inch bore & only 21 inches in length.)
Note: I was privileged to be a member of The Cannon Crew during THE TEXAS SESQUICENTENNIAL, when we fired "The Little cannon That Could", according to TEXAS MONTHLY MAGAZINE in FEB1986.
(I also got to help pay for the windows of houses that the report broke out.- numerous $$$$$$$. = CHUCKLE.)
Do you believe that my planned 57mm/2.25" bore punt-gun is an "oversized shotgun", some sort of artillery piece OR something entirely different than either??
Artillery technically becomes artillery when the weight of the (iron round ball) shot is at 1/2 pound or greater. For rounding purposes, that's right around 1 3/8", for a smooth bore, or, for modern pieces a minimum caliber of 20mm (.816") if a rifled bore. I'm not sure if the gun in those case has to be capable of taking a fused shell or not. that provides some confusion too, because some of the old English SxS big 4 bore doubles also were rifled. There may be other definitions out there too, but that's the one I found some years ago. If you use the rule of thumb that artillery is generally big, and designed to be fired dismounted from the body, (not counting recoiless weapons) then it's artillery. Confused?
Well here's a "Punt Gun" that appears at least to look like it could be shoulder fired. HOWEVER It may have rested in a boat supported by a yoke in front and braced against stout timber at the back. It doesn't appear to be unique....,
Here is another site with another "stocked" Punt Gun and if you scroll down you have an example of the "Punt" as well. And more information on Punt Guns may be found on this link. Some good shots of the use in the punt as well.
I should think a 4-Bore should help you limit out in rather quick fashion. I've often thought about getting an undrilled swivel gun at the Fort Fred Market Fair (you find them there from time to time) and having it drilled and then lined with very good steel so that it's .80 or 10 gauge. Then fitting a shoulder stock below and trying it on geese...providing it met the other legal requirements. I figured a swivel would handle a 6 dram charge and four an a half ounces of Bismuth.
THANKS for the EXCELLENT post.
Every bit of factual information that I find/receive from others adds to my "fund of knowledge" on building my own Big Gun later this year in Latin America.
That last article reads like it was written (or translated) by someone for whom English is a secondary language.
Good information for those wanting to know about punt guns. I was glad to see the practice was outlawed in the US at a fairly late date. I Saw a TV program about a man in England who shot one. I can't remember if he killed any ducks with it, but it was an involved process to sneak up on the birds.
I regularly correspond with a British wildfowler who BUILT his own BREECH-loading Punt-gun from start to finish.
(My planned punt-gun will NOT be at all like his, as it will be a flintlock ML & 57mm bore.)
Wildfowling with the Big Guns is still fairly common in the UK & Ireland.
Note: I'm about 90+ percent sure that the second punt-gun in the series of photos is THE WIELMAN out of Easton, MD & which is now in The Smithsonian's collection.
Here in the US, we're restricted to 10 ga. max for waterfowl shooting.
I'm on a SxS board, where one of the members is (or was) from Russia. Over there, he said, part of the skill of the hunter is to call geese in to land or nearly land rather than shoot them in passing.
YEP. - That's said to be true in much of Europe.
Btw, a MODERN 10 gauge magnum is MORE deadly that the 2, 4, 6 & 8 gauge shotguns of the 19th Century.
(Several wildfowlers that are on the www.pigeonwatch.co forum shoot 8 gauge SxS shotguns & at least one hunts with a 6 gauge DB that dates from the 1850-60 period.)
Lord Robert Baden-Powell said in his first book, FIELD NOTES ON SOUTHERN AFRICA, (Really his "first book" was really a pamphlet that preceded his famous book, SCOUTING) that he knew a big-game hunter that had/hunted with a TWO-BORE double-barrel rifle, that, "- - - - - weighed near unto three stone."
(A British stone was about 14 pounds.)
Note: To quote the famous big-game hunter, Harry Selby, "- - - - a heavy caliber hunting rifle is 'feather-light', when carried for you by a professional gunbearer."
The loads for what B-P called the "fire-breathing monster" was reportedly a 1/3 pound conical bullet, in front of 8 drams of BP.
(Shooting that 2-bore, imVho, would be about as much "fun" as going a few rounds with George Foreman in his prize-fighting days.)
If you're talking range on single birds, certainly. But the point of punt guns was to kill or wound lots of birds in a flock with a single shot. A modern 10 would be pitiful for that. The shoulder fired shotguns of various bores were used to follow up when chasing down single cripples.
I had the good fortune to grow up around two guys who were market hunters "back in the day." They both called their punt guns "skull guns" because they used them out of skull boats rather than punts. They still owned their punt guns, but I never saw them shot and I don't remember many particulars. I do recall that the bigger of the two launched 3 pounds of shot in a single charge. The owner reported that he fired nothing but BB, and he measured his "pattern" in terms of the size of the flock he was shooting at.
Here's one more detail straight from their mouths. You NEVER fired at a resting flock. Instead you banged a hammer against the side of the boat to flush them. Timing of ignition and shot travel was such that you pulled the trigger the moment the wings came up. By the time the shot arrived, the mass of birds was 1'-5' off the water.
Much of their shooting was done at night just before dawn by the light of a full moon. The flock was silhouetted on the water by the moon. Close approach was much easier in darkness. Dawn shooting was best for following up on cripples as the light increased. That was done mostly with 12 gauge SxS.
AGREED. - Fyi, I've read everything that I can get my hands on about the old days & the BIG GUNS.
(A curator at 2 museums actually let me touch/inspect their displays, after I told them that I was planning to build one, once we get settled in Latin America.)
Note: The TONSEL, a 5" bore punt-gun (with a 11 foot tube) from The Eastern Shore was often loaded with a POUND of BP & up to 5 pounds of mixed shot/scrap metal & nails.
(In one shot in 1884, The Tonsel accounted for 231 ducks of different sort, 11 geese & a swan.)
An old market hunter from Easton, MD told me in 1996 that he routinely kept four 12-bore doubles in his gunning skiff for "collecting cripples".
Yup. Sounds like the same frame of reference east and west. No mention of junk fired with shot, though.
These guys got the biggest bucks for brant and canvasbacks, so were pretty selective in their shooting. Wounded cans swim low and do a lot of diving, so are tough to kill. I can imagine the 12's got a good workout.
Around the Chesapeake, French Mallards, Canvasbacks & Canada geese brought the best $$$ according to the curator.
(Geese brought as much as 25 cents each in Baltimore markets.- Otoh, pintails brought a nickel each.)
The market hunter that I talked to said that "knocking down" the waterfowl was what was MOST important so that they could be shot by the back-up shooter.- Thus the nails/scrap.
(Also nails/junk was CHEAP & market hunting was always about $$$$$$.)
The old boys I knew wouldn't even think of putting nails and scrap down their precious bores. Another eastern thing, I guess.
Remember, punt-guns in the Chesapeake Bay area were mostly HOMEMADE or built by a local blacksmith & didn't cost all that much in the 19th century to replace, as necessary.
(The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum displays seem to indicate that the most common reason that punt-guns were replaced was the sinking of the gunning punt/skiff.)
SOME Big Guns were so poorly built that they were downright DANGEROUS to fire for the GUNNER!!
Addenda: THE BROWNWOOD was rebuilt at least twice during its 80+ year history. That punt-gun started out as about 10 feet in length & (when it was finally seized by MD Game Wardens in 1924) was only about 6.5 feet in length.
Over the decades where punt-guns were lawful (OR unlawful!), MANY watermen (and waterwomen, too!) died on The Bay from being struck by lightening, drowning, exploding Big Guns, attacks by pirates/lawbreakers, in the Oyster Wars, "being run-down" by larger vessels" & from numerous "other than natural causes".
Notes: In case anyone else (other than the member who messaged me & asked) is curious, ALL of the Big Guns were in the CB region "named for" the family that first built/used them.
The largest bore punt-gun that was ever on The Bay was PROBABLY the WILLIS-GLYNN, which had a 6.5 inch bore & was over 14 feet in length.
That's about a 34 Pounder! FYI, the primary cannons on the HMS Victory Were 42 pounder long guns (7" bore) and had to be carried on her lower deck to keep the weight lower in the ship. I imagine this monster of a punt gun had to be on some kind of carriage to keep the recoil from tearing the boat apart, and, quite a big vessel to begin with. Even so it still probably had to weigh in excess of 5000 pounds. Loaded with a square load of # 2's, that would be something in excess of 47,000 pellets per load. You sure wouldn't want to fire it when you were too close to a flock would you?
Frankly, I don't know any more than I told you about THE WILLIS-GLYNN, except that it had a percussion lock. Further, the punt-gun's current location is UNKNOWN & that is IF it still exists.
NO information on the "usual load", range, sort of boat that it was used upon, nor anything else is known to exist about that "monster".
(The late W.R. "Dick" W_________, who was one of the last "outlaw big-gunners", told me in 1988 that he had "heard of" the big gun but told me nothing else.= Those "outlaw families" are REALLY close-mouthed about talking to "outlanders".)
My guess (and that's all that it is) is that it may have been mounted on a BARGE, rather than a gunning skiff, as a FEW punt-guns are known to have been on barges.
(Neither do I believe that the curator at the CBMM knows any more about it than I told you, as I believe that he would have told me if he knew.)
Separate names with a comma.