Ancient Pirate Gun? I think not!

This article was published in the June 1934 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine (via. Modern Mechanix) …

Weighing 150 pounds and resembling a cannon more than a firearm, a huge, brass-barreled, portable field piece has been recovered from the sea, where a pirate lost it, and added to a collection of ancient guns in Pasadena, Calif. The gun was one of those used by the pirate, Hippolyte de Bouchard, when he and 400 followers sacked Monterey in 1818. In returning to their ship, the men lost this gun when a small boat overturned. In later years it was recovered by fishermen who saw it on the ocean floor at low tide. Another firearm almost as remarkable is a gun with a very long barrel used by Spanish settlers in hunting. They believed that the longer the barrel, the further the ball would carry, and so used long-barreled guns to kill game at long range. The long gun has an over-all length of about ten feet.

That pirate gun is almost certainty a Punt Gun. While nifty, they are not uncommon.

What is more interesting, at least to me, is the very long Spanish “sniper” rifle. That barrel would probably have decreased velocity, not helped it, but the long length and weight would have it easier to hit a moving target, much like how shotgunners use longer barrels today.

[ Many thanks to Sven (Defense and Freedom) for emailing me the the info. ]

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.


  • Steve,

    In India many of these old guns with unusually long barrels were used as rampart guns and mounted on swivels on forts. The sheer impracticality of loading a muzzleloader with a barrel several feet long must have hastened their demise – there are several in the Arms and Armor Gallery of the Madras Museum at Egmore in Chennai where I used to live a long time ago. As Chennai is a port town that has seen seafaring from the Roman Era (when it was known as Poompuhar) and as several Europeans settled in and around it including the Danes, the Dutch, the French (who established their colony at Pondicherry, further on the coast) and the British whose empire in India began there, I now wonder if these guns were probably (if briefly) used on ships as well?

    It would not be unknown for seafaring Europeans’ experiments to be replciated around the world. After all, Elihu Yale (who founded Yale University) served in India before he was sent to the American colonies by the British and Cornwallis who presided over the loss of the British American possessions became Governor General of India later on. This particular article throws up a fascinating possibility that I must explore when I visit India next. There are several museums with old watercolors and oils of ships and battles and I need to look at them to find out if these long barreled guns had any naval history to them.

    • Mehul, very interesting! Thanks for the history.

  • James

    While the pirate gun may be a punt (aka market) gun, given the supposed age, it could also be a wall piece or wall gun. This was an oversized very large bore musket fitted with a yoke that could be plugged into a socket in a ship’s rail or a fort wall. It functioned like an old style swivel cannon. It is unlikely shch a heavy weapon would be carried on shore, but may well have been mounted in the bow of a boat to make an improvised gunboat.

  • We tend to think of the Punt Guns as being an East Coast weapon. Interesting that one turned up in California. An exact date of it’s recovery would be interesting. The second firearm is also interesting.

  • Sam Suggs

    I call bullshit