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The weapon both these men used was the short-barreled version favored by private strongbox guards on stages and trains. These guards, called express messengers, became known as shotgun messengers , since they rode with the weapon loaded with buckshot for defense against bandits. Passenger carriages carrying a strongbox usually had at least one private guard armed with a shotgun riding in front of the coach, next to the driver. This practice has survived in American slang ; the term "riding shotgun" is used for the passenger who sits in the front passenger seat.
The shotgun was a popular weapon for personal protection in the American Old West , requiring less skill on the part of the user than a revolver. The origins of the hammerless shotgun are European but otherwise obscure.
The earliest breechloading shotguns originated in France and Belgium in the early 19th century see also the history of the Pinfire and a number of them such as those by Robert and Chateauvillard from the s and s did not use hammers. In fact during these decades a wide variety of ingenious weapons, including rifles, adopted what is now often known as a 'needle-fire' method of igniting the charge, where a firing pin or a longer sharper needle provided the necessary impact.
The most widely used British hammerless needle-fire shotgun was the unusual hinged-chamber fixed-barrel breech-loader by Joseph Needham, produced from the s. By the s hammerless guns were increasingly used in Europe both in war and sport although hammer guns were still very much in the majority. The first significant encroachment on hammer guns was a hammerless patent which could be used with a conventional side-lock. This was British gunmaker T Murcott's action nicknamed the 'mousetrap' on account of its loud snap action.
However, the most successful hammerless innovation of the s was Anson and Deeley's boxlock patent of This simple but ingenious design only used four moving parts allowing the production of cheaper and reliable shotguns. Daniel Myron LeFever is credited with the invention of the American hammerless shotgun. This gun was cocked with external cocking levers on the side of the breech. He went on to patent the first truly automatic hammerless shotgun in This gun automatically cocked itself when the breech was closed. He later developed the mechanism to automatically eject the shells when the breech was opened.
One of the men most responsible for the modern development of the shotgun was prolific gun designer John Browning. While working for Winchester Firearms , Browning revolutionized shotgun design. In , Browning introduced the Model Lever Action Repeating Shotgun , which loaded a fresh cartridge from its internal magazine by the operation of the action lever.
Before this time most shotguns were the ' break open ' type. This development was greatly overshadowed by two further innovations he introduced at the end of the 19th century. In , Browning produced the Model Pump Action Shotgun, introducing the now familiar pump action to the market. And in , he patented the Browning Auto-5 , the world's first semi-automatic shotgun. The Browning Auto-5 remained in production until The decline in military use of shotguns reversed in World War I. American forces under General Pershing employed gauge pump action shotguns when they were deployed to the Western front in These shotguns were fitted with bayonets and a heat shield so the barrel could be gripped while the bayonet was deployed.
Shotguns fitted in this fashion became known as trench guns by the United States Army. Those without such modifications were known as riot guns. Due to the cramped conditions of trench warfare , the American shotguns were extremely effective. Germany even filed an official diplomatic protest against their use, alleging they violated the laws of warfare. The judge advocate general reviewed the protest, and it was rejected because the Germans protested use of lead shot which would have been illegal but military shot was plated.
This is the only occasion the legality of the shotgun's use in warfare has been questioned. During World War II , the shotgun was not heavily used in the war in Europe by official military forces. However, the shotgun was a favorite weapon of Allied-supported partisans , such as the French Resistance. By contrast, in the Pacific theater, thick jungles and heavily fortified positions made the shotgun a favorite weapon of the United States Marines. Marines tended to use pump shotguns, since the pump action was less likely to jam in the humid and dirty conditions of the Pacific campaign.
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Similarly, the United States Navy used pump shotguns to guard ships when in port in Chinese harbors e. The United States Army Air Forces also used pump shotguns to guard bombers and other aircraft against saboteurs when parked on airbases across the Pacific and on the West Coast of the United States. Pump and semi-automatic shotguns were used in marksmanship training, particularly for bomber gunners. The most common pump shotguns used for these duties were the 12 gauge Winchester Model 97 and Model The break-open action, single barrel shotgun was used by the British Home Guard and U.
Since the end of World War II, the shotgun has remained a specialty weapon for modern armies. It has been deployed for specialized tasks where its strengths were put to particularly good use.
It was used to defend machine gun emplacements during the Korean War , American and French jungle patrols used shotguns during the Vietnam War , and shotguns saw extensive use as door breaching and close quarter weapons in the early stages of the Iraq War , and saw limited use in tank crews. Nonetheless, shotguns are far less common in military use than rifles, carbines, submachineguns, or pistols. On the other hand, the shotgun has become a standard in law enforcement use.
A variety of specialty less-lethal or non-lethal ammunitions, such as tear gas shells, bean bags, flares, explosive sonic stun rounds, and rubber projectiles, all packaged into 12 gauge shotgun shells, are produced specifically for the law enforcement market. Recently, Taser International introduced a self-contained electronic weapon which is fired from a standard 12 gauge shotgun.
The shotgun remains a standard firearm for hunting throughout the world for all sorts of game from birds and small game to large game such as deer.
The versatility of the shotgun as a hunting weapon has steadily increased as slug rounds and more advanced rifled barrels have given shotguns longer range and higher killing power. The shotgun has become a ubiquitous firearm in the hunting community. Action is the term for the operating mechanism of a gun.
There are many types of shotguns, typically categorized by the number of barrels or the way the gun is reloaded. For most of the history of the shotgun, the break-action breech loading double was the most common type, typically divided into two subtypes: the traditional "side by side" shotgun features two barrels mounted one beside the other as the name suggests , whereas the "over and under" shotgun has the two barrels mounted one on top of the other.
Side by side shotguns were traditionally used for hunting and other sporting pursuits early long barreled side-by side shotguns were known as "fowling pieces" for their use hunting ducks and other birds , whereas over and under shotguns are more commonly associated with recreational use such as clay pigeon and skeet shooting. Both types of double-barrel shotgun are used for hunting and sporting use, with the individual configuration largely being a matter of personal preference. Another, less commonly encountered type of break-action shotgun is the combination gun , which is an over and under design with one shotgun barrel and one rifle barrel more often rifle on top, but rifle on bottom was not uncommon.
There is also a class of break action guns called drillings , which contain three barrels, usually two shotgun barrels of the same gauge and a rifle barrel, though the only common theme is that at least one barrel be a shotgun barrel. The most common arrangement was essentially a side-by-side shotgun with the rifle barrel below and centered.
Usually a drilling containing more than one rifle barrel would have both rifle barrels in the same caliber , but examples do exist with different caliber barrels, usually a. Although very rare, drillings with three and even four a vierling shotgun barrels were made. In pump-action shotguns , a sliding forearm handle the pump works the action, extracting the spent shell and inserting a new one while cocking the hammer or striker as the pump is worked.
A pump gun is typically fed from a tubular magazine underneath the barrel, which also serves as a guide for the pump.
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The rounds are fed in one by one through a port in the receiver, where they are lifted by a lever called the elevator and pushed forward into the chamber by the bolt. A pair of latches at the rear of the magazine hold the rounds in place and facilitate feeding of one shell at a time. If it is desired to load the gun fully, a round may be loaded through the ejection port directly into the chamber, or cycled from the magazine, which is then topped off with another round.
Pump-action shotguns are common hunting, fowling and sporting shotguns. Tube-fed models designed for hunting often come with a dowel rod or other stop that is inserted into the magazine and reduces the capacity of the gun to three shells two in the magazine and one chambered as is mandated by U. They can also easily be used with an empty magazine as a single-shot weapon, by simply dropping the next round to be fired into the open ejection port after the spent round is ejected. For this reason, pump-actions are commonly used to teach novice shooters under supervision, as the trainer can load each round more quickly than with a break-action, while unlike a break-action the student can maintain his grip on the gun and concentrate on proper handling and firing of the weapon.
Pump action shotguns with shorter barrels and little or no barrel choke are highly popular for use in home defense, military and law enforcement, and are commonly known as riot guns. The minimum barrel length for shotguns in most of the U. The shorter barrel makes the weapon easier to maneuver around corners and in tight spaces, though slightly longer barrels are sometimes used outdoors for a tighter spread pattern or increased accuracy of slug projectiles. Home-defense and law enforcement shotguns are usually chambered for gauge shells, providing maximum shot power and the use of a variety of projectiles such as buckshot, rubber, sandbag and slug shells, but gauge common in bird-hunting shotguns or.
A riot shotgun has many advantages over a handgun or rifle. Compared to "defense-caliber" handguns chambered for 9mm Parabellum ,. The wide spread of the shot reduces the importance of shot placement compared to a single projectile, which increases the effectiveness of "point shooting" — rapidly aiming simply by pointing the weapon in the direction of the target.
This allows easy, fast use by novices.
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Early attempts at repeating shotguns invariably centred around either bolt-or lever-action designs, drawing inspiration from contemporary repeating rifles, with the earliest successful repeating shotgun being the lever-action Winchester M , designed by John Browning at the behest of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Lever shotguns, while less common, were popular in the late 19th century with the Winchester Model and Model being prime examples.
Initially very popular, demand waned after the introduction of pump-action shotguns around the start of the 20th century, and production was eventually discontinued in One major issue with lever-actions and to a lesser extent pump-actions was that early shotgun shells were often made of paper or similar fragile materials modern hulls are plastic or metal. As a result, the loading of shells, or working of the action of the shotgun, could often result in cartridges getting crushed and becoming unusable, or even damaging the gun.
Lever shotguns have seen a return to the gun market in recent years, however, with Winchester producing the Model chambering the. There has been a notable uptick in lever-action shotgun sales in Australia since , when pump-actions were effectively outlawed. Bolt-action shotguns, while uncommon, do exist. One of the best-known examples is a gauge manufactured by Mossberg featuring a 3-round magazine, marketed in Australia just after changes to the gun laws in heavily restricted the ownership and use of pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns.
They were not a huge success, as they were somewhat slow and awkward to operate, and the rate of fire was noticeably slower on average than a double-barrelled gun. The Rifle Factory Ishapore in India also manufactured a single-shot. The Russian Berdana shotgun was effectively a single-shot bolt-action rifle that became obsolete, and was subsequently modified to chamber gauge shotgun shells for civilian sale.
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Bolt-action shotguns have also been used in the "goose gun" application, intended to kill birds such as geese at greater range. Bolt-action shotguns are also used in conjunction with slug shells for the maximum possible accuracy from a shotgun. In Australia, some straight-pull bolt-action shotguns, such as the Turkish-made Pardus BA12 and Dickinson T, the American C-More Competition M26 , as well as the indigenous-designed SHS STP 12, have become increasingly popular alternatives to lever-action shotguns, largely due to the better ergonomics with less stress on the shooter's trigger hand and fingers when cycling the action.
Colt briefly manufactured several revolving shotguns that were met with mixed success. The Colt Model Shotgun was manufactured between and Later, the Colt Model Shotgun, based on the Model revolving rifle , was manufactured between and Because of their low production numbers and age they are among the rarest of all Colt firearms. The Armsel Striker was a modern take on the revolving shotgun that held 10 rounds of 12 Gauge ammunition in its cylinder.
It was copied by Cobray as the Streetsweeper. It comes in the original combination chambering of. The rifle has small blast shields attached to the cylinder to protect the shooter from hot gases escaping between the cylinder and barrel.