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Old December 29, 2018, 06:45 PM   #1
TXAZ
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"Scattergun"

(This thread does not care about 'plasma scatterguns' or other such virtual weapons used by gamers)

Some claim a shotgun and a scattergun are one in the same. But in reading other accounts from 100+ years ago, I'm wondering if there was a "scattergun" that like a shotgun was not rifled, but unlike modern shotguns was muzzle loaded with powder then "stuff" from nails, bolts, rocks, etc were placed in the barrel after the powder and possibly some separator or wadding.


One account implies a weapon like the Brown Bess (smoothbore musket .75 caliber) only larger bore was used as a scattergun as described above.
It seems like a very inefficient weapon to put in powder then dump hard objects down the barrel and hope for any type of range or accuracy.

Does anyone know if such a weapon was used?
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Old December 29, 2018, 07:18 PM   #2
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I think the “ Blunderbuss” best meets your description
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Old December 29, 2018, 08:00 PM   #3
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I've heard of cannon being used with whatever was available to substitute for grape shot.

I could be wrong, but I've always heard, and used the term "scattergun" as a slang term for a shotgun.
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Old December 29, 2018, 08:20 PM   #4
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So I'm not sure on the origin of the term scatter gun but I think there are a few things to talk about here.

The blunderbuss was known to be stuffed with well...stuff. Anything that could hurt someone really.

The brown bess/smooth bore musket thing was grapeshot. I would imagine was a pretty similar concept used when the user was out of musket balls.

Most muskets at the time didn't have rifling so they wouldn't have differentiated between shotgun and rifle the way we do today.
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Old December 29, 2018, 09:34 PM   #5
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Scattergun, using loads to make the shot spread out; not really applicable in todays's world, but a helluva lot better than anything "shottie" related
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Old December 30, 2018, 12:07 AM   #6
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"Scattergun" has been slang for shotgun for well over a century and probably was before modern shotguns.

Muskets are not rifled. They all work with shot, ball, "buck and ball" and to a lesser extent, anything you dump down the barrel. And it was quite common for people to use anything available if they didn't have proper shot or ball. All the old muzzle loading smoothbores are essentially the same in this regard, be they muskets or fowling pieces. Big (large caliber) smooth bores are short range effective with shot, even if the shot is a handful of gravel. Not as good as real shot, but better than nothing.

The "blunderbuss" had a flared bell shaped muzzle, which people believed spread the shot (but really doesn't do much along those lines), it was often a "coach gun". The one real benefit to the bell muzzle was to aid speeding reloading because it acted like a funnel.

Scattergun is appropriate for any arm firing multiple shot instead of a single projectile. For the past century plus, that's been commonly understood to be a shotgun.
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Old January 1, 2019, 09:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
The blunderbuss was known to be stuffed with well...stuff. Anything that could hurt someone really.
That is an enduring myth about the blunderbuss. As noted in an earlier post, the BB was used as a coach gun (and as a boarding weapon on fighting ships). The flared muzzle was an aid to loading under difficult conditions and had no effect on "scatter". NRA testing of a BB showed a yard wide pattern at 50 feet about what is expected from a cylinder bored gun.
Anything other than "pea-sized" shot* would a) be dangerous to fire b) produce a remarkably inefficient load c) be harder to load than standard round shot.
Pete

* A common load was 120 grains of BP and 20 "pellets of buckshot". Gauge unspecified.
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Old January 3, 2019, 03:46 AM   #8
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langrel/langridge, grape shot and "stuff"

Langrel and langridge were terms applied to improvised loads typically used in muzzleloading cannon's. Hollywood has made much of that practice and there are contemporary scenes that sway folks perceptions. My thought is that it was a last ditch arrangement in desperate circumstances. It indeed would consist of "stuff", but I cannot believe it would have done the bore of the gun any good, or had any sort of useful range past rail to rail or over a rampart.

Grape shot is another muzzle cannon load consisting of comparatively large balls (golf ball size plus? ) held in a "stand" by bar and discs, or by lash and bag, or some combination of same. It was largely replaced by "cannister", which we will not get into for purposes of brevity. Even in period literature the terms are often used interchangeably, but they are technically not the same.

"Load(ing) that bear gun with nails" (more Hollywood) would certainly not do a rifled small arm any good, and though plausible, would again have to be last ditch.

I recently watched a "gun" show on TV where they were making a "modern blunderbuss" and found most of the commentary hockey puck, with the "load anything" comments in the belled muzzle repeated frequently. They used a lot of fruit as projectiles, which demonstrated and proved little if anything. Gunny Ermy did a piece with a blunderbuss and I cannot recall all the dialogue, but was about as well done as any on the type.

The blunderbuss was a military, law and coach gun, and filled a specific niche, and I have to wonder how many really were in private hands? As such, and a single shot arm, with a low rate of fire, often equipped with a folding bayonet, how common and necessary were improvised loads? Just because something can be done, does not mean it was done frequently. A hand full of pistol balls, certainly common, would make more sense to anyone. The blunderbuss was not used with grape shot, as noted, that is an artillery term/load.

For the homesteader of frontierman, the common fowler would be far more practical, and later, the long rifle of which we are all so fond. Again, I think, Hollywood sways much perception on the blunderbuss.
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Old January 3, 2019, 10:48 AM   #9
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Mythbusters loaded a cannon with tableware. Results were not great even at pistol shot.
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Old January 3, 2019, 01:30 PM   #10
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"...the belled muzzle..." Mostly about aiding loading while on a 'rocking and rolling' coach/ships like darkgael says. Mind you, a great big hole on the end of a firearm pointed at you can be more intimidating than a smaller one.
The story about what was loaded being whatever was handy applies mostly to where and when one was doing said loading. English stage coach guards supposedly used whatever was handy due to frugal coach line owners. Quite possibly more about a deterrent too. Bits of nails and stones making nasty wounds that would fester quickly. A pressed Royal Navy type would be assumed to have proper shot more readily to hand.
Read a story(supposedly true. Don't remember where I read it.) long ago about a skirmish/battle on a ship(Spanish, I think) that had been blown inland during a hurricane. Local natives attacked and the ship's crew used round cheeses as ammo. The ship's crew won.
Scattergun is a term that refers more to how the shot flies vs a single bullet from a rifle. Said rifle being a far scarcer piece of kit than a shotgun(Greener SxS) on the American Frontier.
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Old January 3, 2019, 03:22 PM   #11
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Hollywood shapes people's perceptions of a great many things, seldom with any degree of accuracy, and often "improving" reality for dramatic effect.

Mythbusters is a show I often enjoy, but they often declare a myth "busted" when they can't do it. Two that I remember that they "busted" were things that I've actually seen the real life proof that it can happen.
One was the classic "banana peel" burst barrel. You know, the one where Bugs, or some other cartoon character plugs the barrel with their finger, and the barrel Ka-booms peeling back like a banana peel. They did finally get the gunbarrel they were using to split, but not in the classic banana peel shape, so "myth busted". I've seen barrels that had banana peeled. Not common, but it has happened.

The other one I remember they busted was the "sniper shoots enemy sniper through his scope". They tried, couldn't do it, so declared the myth busted. However, their tests did not come close to replicating the reality of instances where it actually has happened. For one thing, Mythbusters shot a modern 3x9 scope, which is quite different from the scope on the rifle Carlos Hathcock did it to. That VC sniper's rifle is on display (though I can't now remember where) so I know that "myth" really happened.

I'm pretty sure someone, somewhere, at some time did load a blunderbuss with whatever stuff he could grab, but I really doubt it was any kind of a common practice.

While I haven't seen Mythbusters do it (I don't watch every show), there is the "myth" that "for greater effect" old west scattergun users would load their shells with dimes. Never saw anyone prove that, but have seen it done in movies. I doubt it would have been done, even though a dime will pass through an unchoked 12ga barrel, think of the cost of a stack of dimes (say $1) in an era when a cowpoke or farmer might earn $7 a month!

The Lone Ranger shot silver bullets, but then, he had his own silver mine..

Colt and Winchester may be the guns the "won" the West, but the West was tamed by the scattergun in the hands of farmers and settlers. It was the most useful overall, and most common, and could be anything from a purpose built "modern"(1870s) gun firing shotshells to a pre-Civil War muzzle loading musket loaded with shot.

Hollywood rarely shows us that...
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Old January 3, 2019, 09:52 PM   #12
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I believe that Taofledermaus on YouTube tested a dime loaded shotshell. if interested just search on Youtube for dimes in a shotshell.
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Old January 5, 2019, 01:06 AM   #13
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Scatter gun ? isn't that a load that scatters all the game out of the county ?
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Old January 5, 2019, 07:06 AM   #14
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Clyde Barrow referred to his sawed off BAR as his "scatter gun"
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Old January 5, 2019, 06:00 PM   #15
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I thought they called the sawed-off BARs "whippets",.. as they could whip them out from under a long coat...
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Old January 6, 2019, 12:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
I thought they called the sawed-off BARs "whippets",.. as they could whip them out from under a long coat...
I remember reading that they called their Rem. Auto shotguns as whippets. But could be his BAR also (that’s a crime to cut down a BAR)

But, in Jr. High that was a different gun...
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Old January 6, 2019, 09:47 AM   #17
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IIRC, the term "whippet" was the term for a sawed off hammer-less double
barrel shotgun, with a cut down stock fashioned in the shape of a
pistol grip. Bonnie Parker was famous for using a 20 gauge scatter gun
of this type.

But it could just be a general term for any concealable rifle or shotgun
modified in this manner.
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Old January 6, 2019, 12:14 PM   #18
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The first mention of a "whippet" I saw was a Remington Model 17 (predecessor of the Ithaca Model 37) cut off at both ends. But the term obviously went generic very soon.
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Old January 7, 2019, 12:59 AM   #19
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fowler

After reading the OP, what the author is describing, in terms of a full length muzzle loader with smooth bore, (reference to the Brown Bess) does indeed sound like the "fowler" or early flintlock shotguns. Fowlers were what were likely in abundance on the Green at Concord and along the way back to Boston, facing the Brown Bess, despite our love of the longrifle.

Loading them with "stuff" is more hockey puck.

Just for the sake of a proper time line, 100+ yrs ago would be about the onset or end of WWI, 1914-1918. There were airplanes and machine guns in that war. The American Revolution was 1775, ......243 years ago.

Just sayin', no malice intended. My Dad taught US History.......it mattered to him and he made sure I knew too.
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Old January 15, 2019, 09:41 AM   #20
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I have seen 2 shows on TV that kinda prooved that shooting dimes is BS. Both shows used
target loads that they pulled the wad and swapped shot for dimes. If they did this with a
Black Powder load results would have been different. Also in a smoothbore that has parallel
bore that's as open as it can get. Some of the old Cutts chokes were slightly belled right at
the muzzel which had no extra effect on pattern.
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Old January 15, 2019, 10:17 AM   #21
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I have heard of a smooth bore shotgun that early market hunters used for waterfowl. If I recall correctly it was called a punt gun, and was approximately 4 gauge. It was mounted on the front of a boat and the hunters would float down River and shoot into the sitting flocks of ducks. Rumor had it they used shot, nails, rocks, scrap metal bits. Not sure about improvised projectiles being commonly used, but I could see a desperate use of rocks when the market was down being plausible, but not likely.
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Old January 15, 2019, 12:18 PM   #22
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I think

I think the boat mounted guns used by the market hunters were larger than 4 bore.
Seems like I have seen pics of shoulder held 4 bore guns.

The guns mounted on rowboats were huge and heavy, way more than a man could hold up and fire, not to mention the recoil.

James Michener's book Chesapeake mentions a bit about market hunters and the boat mounted guns. Great read BTW.
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Old January 15, 2019, 01:30 PM   #23
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I can't google recent details, but there were 45 active punt gunners in England in 1995. I saw brief mention of punt gunning in 2016.

The maximum allowable modern punt gun bore is 1.75", but Greener refers to a 1.5" with 1 1/2 pounds of shot as standard in his day; or the 1.25" with 1 1/4 pounds of shot.

Best carry along a 12 bore to finish off the cripples.

I saw a picture of a gimmick gun, a double barrel with one percussion lock and one flintlock. The theory was that when pulling both triggers the percussion barrel would shoot the flock on the water and the longer lock time and recoil of the gun in the breeching rope would catch more of the ducks as they flushed.
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Old January 15, 2019, 01:55 PM   #24
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A "Punt" is a certain size/type of boat. A "punt gun" was a large, smoothbore gun, usually a muzzle loader, mounted on the boat, used for shooting flocks of waterfowl on the water. Bore diameter was usually 1.5-2" but there were many variations.

Used by market hunters, NOT sportsmen. In a time when there were essentially no rules and very few laws governing the taking of wild game.

The punt would be rowed or drifted within range of a flock on the water, then the punt gun fired, killing a dozen or more with a single shot. Today this practice is not just illegal, it is morally indefensible. Back then, it was just "business as usual".
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Old January 15, 2019, 01:57 PM   #25
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"Morally indefensible"?
I wouldn't mind a few punt gunners around to knock down the Canada goose population around here ..
They are out of control
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