Punt guns

Have you ever heard of a punt gun?

A punt gun is a type of extremely large shotgun used in the 19th and 20th centuries for shooting large numbers of waterfowl for commercial harvesting operations. Punt guns were usually custom-designed and so varied widely, but could have bore diameters exceeding 2 inches and fire over a pound (.5 kilos) of shot at a time.

(From Wikipedia.org)

2 inches is over 50mm!

20mm is considered a cannon in the military! Unfortunately not many punt guns exist these days and most are not capable of being fired.

Here are some photos of punt guns and two videos showing one in operation.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • The second picture down is of a gun made for the fourth Tremors film-


    “There are few working punt guns in existence so the one used in Tremors 4 was custom built for the show. It had a two inch bore which according to the Gun Barrel Proof Act of 1868 is calcified as an, “A Gauge”, the largest size on record. Prop master Bill Davis had our gun designed around a real H&R 12 gage shotgun. The entire trigger assembly of the punt gun dropped down to allow the loading of the internal shotgun with triple load 12 gauge black powder blanks. This design made the gun much simpler and safer to use on the set than a real muzzle loader. The total weight of the gun is 94 pounds and the overall length is 8 feet 4 inches. For more authenticity, WD-40 was sprayed into the barrel before firing to create extra smoke.”

  • So thats an A Guage! Thanks for the info.

  • Frank Cambra

    I am looking at a shotgun that has a 7/8 inch bore (an 8 ga ??) for sale that has no markings, no proof stamps, no identification…..

    She weighs 18 pounds. Fires on a nipple with cap by hammer.

    The barrel varies from octagonal to round and is 40 inches long.

    The stock is fair. The barrel is mildly pitted.

    There are no visable cracks or damages. All appears to be original.

    If safe (if………….. safe !!) what load might one shoot?

    Is this a punt gun or a bank gun?

    I have seen such guns in Scotland that date back to about the same period. They were referred to as the village gun………… ducks taken for the community on rivers.

    What might this be worth………… a range is good.

    Again, there are no markings, engraving, nada……….



    • Hi Frank, I have absolutly no idea what it is worth. I would be interested in some photos, if you have them. My email is on the “Contact” page.

  • I have wanted a Punt gun since I first read about them but didn’t think they would ever be in my price range. I actually saw one on display at a Pro Bass Shop about 15 years ago. It was mounted on a boat like the one pictured here.
    Would it be leagle to build one of these? They also remind me of the old Wall Guns that were found in the middle east.

    • Arthur, its really just a muzzleloading cannon so I imagine it would be legal to build if your state allows you to build blackpowder muzzleloading cannons.

  • Robert Mauk

    It would be legal to build, but it would NOT be legal to use for the original intended purpose. Don’t let the fuzz BS you into buying a “license” for it, either. Muzzleloaders AND replicas, are legal to own without the hassle of the BATFE.

    It’s POSSIBLE they’ll try you, though. I would just build it and keep it in your collection and, if you want to shoot it, get it verified SAFE, by a licensed gunsmith and get permission from someone with a safe place to shoot it. Don’t forget to get them to sign a permission slip. That IS the law.

    Have fun,


  • furiousC

    I recently read a book called ‘Chesapeake’, written by James Michener, in which a similar type of gun was mentioned. In fact, it was very similar to the gun pictured on the boat above. I think it had multiple barrels though…In the book it was used to hunt ducks, but was eventually outlawed. Also covered were the efforts of the local LE to confiscate the gun. Very interesting fictional work. It is a small part of the overall book, but it is a great book in my opinion.

  • LES


  • paul j. weighell

    My understanding is that punt-gunning activity of any sort is now illegal in the US and although it is still legal here in the UK, seems to have just about died out.

    Colonel Hawker’s books “Shooting Diaries” and “Instructions to Young Sportsmen” are worth buying for anyone keen on punt gunning as he was literally the man who wrote the book on gunning as he called it.

    He developed many wildfowling facets including gun and boat design. Hawker worked in conjunction with legendary gunsmith Joe Manton from whose workshops emanated trained youngsters like Purdey!

    Hawker also developed a double barrel punt gun (made by Durs Egg) activated by a single trigger. One barrel was fired by flint lock and one by wheel lock (I think), the slight time difference between the two methods allowed the birds to rise from the water on the first report and then be killed when just in-flight by the second barrel.

    One of Hawker’s guns is in the Birmingham Proof House Museum and is believed to have killed some 14,000 birds in its lifetime!

    Half-killed birds were many and the main punt gun firing was proceeded by the ‘cripple-chase’ where boats, dogs and guns were sent across the mud following injured birds until they could be dispatched by hand guns etc. and bagged up.

    Powder loads of up to 2 lbs were used and Hawker records kills in excess of 100 birds at a time although mostly it was a 0 bag game as it only needed one other hunter to loose off a single shot and the mass of birds would fly away and an entire nights work would be lost.

    Not a sport for the impatient…

  • Joe

    There is a Punt Gun going up for Auction on February 4th, 2011 at Allen & Marshall Auctions in Parsonsburg, MD.
    It is 10′ long with original green milk paint! It is an awesome thing to see.
    Any questions feel free to go to allenmarshallauctions.com .
    We will have online bidding for the auction. We have over 365 firearms to be sold at auction.


  • waco

    I have what I thought was a Punt Gun. The BBl. is 69″, bore to be about 3/4 ” ID. overall length is 81 1/2 ” long. near full length stock, broke off 9 ” from muzzle. 3 metal bands holding bbl to stock. Bands also hold the Ram Rod. Does anyone know what this ??

  • Steven J Brashnivsky

    “Not a sport for the impatient…”

    Ummm…Paul? You’re talking about shooting birds with a small cannon. It is in no way a “sporting” activity – its a strategy for bringing the most game to market quickly, with the least amount of work possible. It isn’t hunting, its harvesting.

    Attitudes like that are partly to blame for how poorly hunting is received by lots of folks who otherwise wouldn’t care less. Those of us who are sportsmen pay the price for that kind of assclownery.

  • paul j. weighell

    Steven J Brashnivsky

    You are of course entitled to your own purely subjective definition of what is or is not a sport and what was or was not a sport in the 1800s.

    Punt gunning was an English invention and activity to help prevent winter starvation amongst the coastal poor who supplemented their diet with shot birds during our terrible winters of the early 19th century.

    It was taken up by ex-soldiers after the Napoleonic wars and through their sporting competition with each other the methodology improved and the harvesting became more efficient.

    Simply because something has a practical use does not make it less of a sport and if you think really hunting should have no practical use other than pure sport then you are mistaken.

  • paul hood

    I recently came across a large muzzle loader in italy. it was 8-9 feet long and was a match lock gun. the stock was crude, not refined shape. Would this gun be used a gun of the line, of a ship or could it be a punt gun?

  • physco

    Any one heard of a puny gun pistol?

  • physco

    Any one heard of a punt gun pistol?

  • Hi! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing! http://www.feedbooks.com/user/328580/profile