Talk about efficiency! The punt gun was an exceptionally large shotgun that was used for shooting large numbers of waterfowl for commercial purposes—a single shot could take down as many as 100 birds. This gun was used in the 1800s and early 1900s when market hunting was popular, and it’s the best example of getting the most return for a single shot.
The sheer weight of the shotguns, up to 200 pounds, necessitated that they be placed in a punt—a flat-bottomed boat—and paddled out to the flock. Punt-gunners typically set out at night to hide their approach.
While the roar of a punt gun was thunderous and deafening, the recoil was equally as forceful—it often pushed the punt backwards by several inches. With punt guns rapidly depleting stocks of waterfowl, most states banned the practice by the late 1800s. The Lacey Act of 1900 outlawed the transport of wild game and market hunting was outlawed in 1918.
One theory suggests punt-gunning led to one of today’s commonly used phrases—“get your ducks in a row.” That’s the formation early-day hunters waited upon before firing off a massive shotThis gun, plus many other historic treasures, can be seen at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., located on the first floor of NRA Headquarters.