The "ultimate" shotgun
A long time ago (I think close to two decades), my family and I were having dinner at the home of our good friend, John Coningham, at this home in Campinas, Brasil, and after dinner the conversation moved towards guns.
I can only describe Mr. John, as we cal him, as a renaissance or maybe encyclopedic man, due both to his abilities and broad interests and field of knowledge. In over seven decades Mr. John was a non-commissioned officer in the Brazilian Army (first Coastal Artillery, then Cavalry), a technician at the Winchester Ballistic Laboratory, cattle manager at one of the largest ranches in the world (Fazenda Bodoquena), bridge builder in the Amazon in the 1970's, languages teacher and nowadays a tourist guide in the Brazilian Pantanal do Mato Grosso. Besides all that, he is a great writer (his books are finally available at Amazon Kindle), sketcher (the cover of the superb "Bodoquena - An Odyssey of the Brazilian Pantanal was done free hand with color pencils), accomplished artisan in both leather and wood, and a better than average naturalist.
But let's go back to our distant dinner conversation. As we were discussing guns and ammunitions, their designs and uses, Mr. John made the point that at that point in time, every gun that needed to be invented had already been invented, with one exception: a very precise gun that had enough power to kill a fly, but not enough power to damage walls, windows or household furniture.
And it is difficult to disagree with Mr. John. By the late 1990's, and to be truthful, much before that, the standards by which every other guns are measured were already mostly in place, and in my opinion they are the following:
- Revolver: the Smith & Wesson K-38.
- Semi-Automatic Pistol: the Colt 1911 Governmental Model.
- Hunting or target rifle: Mauser "98" action (the Blaser R-93 has great merits, but I just don't see it unseating the Mauser "98").
- Shotgun: here things can get a little more complicated depending on your personal preferences. There were no breakthroughts in side-by-side (lets select the Holland & Holland sidelock action, but from a functional standpont we could also pick the much simpler Anson & deeley boxlock), over-under (the Browning Over-Under, Beretta 680 or Perazzi MX-8 are all great examples), and pump-action (Winchester Model 12) shotguns. The exception is that the Italians continue to be particularly successful in developing the semi-automatic shotgun, and I am particularly fond of the Beretta A-400 design.
We eventually took different paths, Mr. John relocated to the Brazilian hinterlands and I moved abroad, first to the Netherlands, and then to United States, where I live today, and the "fly gun" became a distant memory, until early this week.
During a business trip to Georgia, my colleague Bill Bridenbaugh told me about a Christmas gift that his son gave him, a plastic shotgun that shot table salt to kill flies or other pesky pests. That immediately got my attention and I had to find out more about it.
This "shotgun" is the Bug-A-Salt (www.bugasalt.com). Basically it is a pump-action single-stroke pneumatic airgun with a magazine that is loaded with table salt. Everytime you pump the action a pinch of salt is loaded in the barrel or chamber, air is compressed and a safety engaged. When you shoot the gun that pinch of salt comes out like a minuscule shot charge, and depending on the distance puts a pattern a couple inches in diameter over the intended target.
Since it is much easier to hit a close target with a shotgun than a rifle, the Bug-A-Salt designer effectively by-passed the "rifle training" issue and presented us a concept that can be used by basically anyone with minimum hand-eye coordination.
I just ordered one and will eventually report on its performance, but I already foresee that this breakthrough gun can have siginificant impact on our future: Obama and Feinstein will want it banned due to its 80 shot magazine capacity, ATF will want to regulate it because it has a barrel under 18 inches and overall length under 26 inches, PETA will try to impose a ban on fly, in particular, and pesky insects hunting and culling in general, and the states DNR's and Fish-and-Wildlife will want to regulate "fly season"!
In the mean time, I just wanted to congratulate Mr. Lorenzo Maggiore for bringing us the gun that needed inventing!