Is There a 2 Gauge Shotgun?

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2 gauge shotguns were quite popular in the late 19th century, but have since been overtaken by modern shotguns. The older hunters will tell you that there was a time when this model was one of the most preferred guns. 

So, have you ever thought of killing two waterfowls with a single firing? There is no doubt this is the dream of any hunter. One way in which hunters maximized a single shot is by use of a 2 gauge shotgun, and this made the firearm become one of the most popular guns for hunters. It would kill more than one waterfowl in a single shot, reducing the time you spend out hunting.  

It was also a darling to most of the hunters because it was economical. You only needed to fire once to make a perfect kill.  

Shotgun Gauges Explained

  The definition of a gauge in a shotgun is the measure related to the diameter of the smoothbore. And the size of the shot shell is designated for the bore. In most cases, shotguns are classified by gauge. The smaller the gauge number, then larger the shotgun bore. The following are the standard shotgun gauge you find: 10 gauge, 12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge, and 28 gauge.

The approximate diameter of the bore equal to the lead balls’ size determines the gauge.  For example, to weigh one pound, it would take a 12 gauge shotgun bore with the same diameter with 12 lead balls. Today it is not as hard as it used to be to measure the gauge. It can be measured the same way as a caliber; you measure the inside bore diameter.

How Do You Check the Gauge of a Shotgun?

To know the gauge of a shotgun, you will be required to check the factory box. It is generally on the shells, and also it is marked at the rear of the barrel.   Each gauge should shoot shells of the same gauge.  For example, if you need to fire 12 shell gauges, you should use a 12 gauge gun.

Brief History of the 2 Gauge Shotguns

A 2 gauge shotgun is also known as a punt gun, or you will hear other people call it a Scattergun.  This type of gun was among the large shotguns used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

In the early 1800s, this is when the 2 gauge shotgun was invented for duck hunting. This resulted from a rise in demand for meat and feathers that were used to make women‘s hats.  The invention of the weapon made it easy for hunters to kill multiple ducks at once and with much ease. Therefore, after firing ones, the task was to collect so many waterfowls that would be lying on the water surface.

They were preferred for hunting waterfowls for commercial purposes. One of the characteristics of a punt gun is that they are large. Not only was it hard to shoot from the shoulder, but also carrying the shotgun alone was very difficult for hunters, and therefore you could see more than one person carrying it. 

During shooting, the 2 gauge shotgun was mounted on watercraft, and one person could do this. The boats that were made were long and slender but were artistically made in a manner that they could hold the weight of the gun and that of one hunter. 

There is a slight variation between the early model and the latest ones since the latter has done away with the full-length stock and to allow them to be fitted to a pintle.  They were made of mounting hardware fixed to the gun.  On the other hand, the traditional models appear similar to the oversized version of shoulder guns and have full-length wooden stocks built with a normal-shoulder stock.

Operation and Use

2 gauge shotguns were custom –designed and varied significantly.  They could have a barrel diameter above 2 inches, and in a single shot, they could fire a shot that was over a pound (0.45). They killed more than 50 waterfowls in just a single shot.  But to achieve the intended outcomes, it had to be mounted on punts, so they got the name punt gun.

The punts made it easy for the hunter to manipulate the gun by simply moving the boat using pole or oars, which helped avoid startling the flock. These guns were so very powerful, such that when you fired, they propelled the punts several inches backward or even more. 

Punt guns are similar to riffles and are usually muzzle-loaded.  In the 1890s, Holland and Holland, through a customs order, offered models using breech-loading and standardized shotguns shells.  Also, there existed double-barreled in the smaller 8- gauge loading.  In most of the cases, the double-barreled guns were work-fire arms with slight adornment in surviving examples. Those appealing in the modern auctions have signs of upgrade or repair in the most fashions, such as upgrading a flintlock action or refinishing by rebluing the piece. 

Setbacks Experienced When Using a 2 Gauge Shotgun

The 2 gauge shotgun had its share of setbacks.  First is that a hunter could not fire it by hand since it was too heavy, and also the recoils were very strong.  Therefore, you had to have a boat and mount it. However, not all the shotguns were mounted on boats when in use.  There were smaller ones like the ones that were crafted by the German gunsmith August Herfurth e.g., Herfurth’s Cannon.  The company manufactured one of the most miniature 2 gauge firearms in terms of size.  They measured 63 inches in length (160cm) and had a Remington octagonal barrel that was 46 inches (116 cm) and the one-inch diameter.

On weight, the Herfurth’s Cannon was featherweight compared to the punt guns. They weighed under 12kg, approximately 26-pounds.  The firearms being small in size allowed the users to hunt from the shore with proper bracing before you pulled the trigger.

Modern Uses of 2 Gauge Shotguns


Unfortunately, the new invention was not destined to last long.  One of its shortcomings was the long and cumbersome design that the weapons industry could not support. 

Secondly, is the destruction it caused to the population of ducks.  The killing of dozens of waterfowls in a single shot resulted in a significant reduction in the number of waterfowls.  This made the US government pass a law that saw both market hunting and game transport across states declared illegal. 

Later, a series of laws were passed that outlawed the use of 2 gauge shotguns on punt boats.  This was to salvage the decimated duck population. 

Today, 2 gauge shotguns are a novelty item. There are less than 100 of them being used across the world. In countries where they were highly used for the commercial hunting of ducks, such as in the United States, exist mostly as collector’s items or as a penchant for the unusual.  

The UK

A survey conducted in the UK in 1995 showed that punt guns are still in use though the numbers of active cases are fewer than 50. 

To limit the use of punt guns in Wales and England, a Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 was enacted that also covered Scotland.  It stipulated that the shotgun’s bore diameter should not be more than 44mm (1.7 inches). 

From 1897 in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, there has been a 2 gauge shotgun salute in every Coronation.  During the Diamond jubilee of the second Elizabeth, 21 2 gauge shotguns were fired separately.  

Fictional Usage

The 2 gauge shotgun has also been featured in the film industry. In “Tremors 4” (2004), the legend Begins featured a 2 gauge shotgun used in combat.  The gun was 8 feet high and weighed 43kg and a diameter of 2 inches. The weapon was classified as a gauge by the Gun Barrel Proof Act of the year 1868 in section B. 

They used a large prop and concealed a 12 gauge shotgun and fired triple loaded black powder blanks, with the barrel being sprayed with WD water displacer.  It produced a massive smoke cloud on firing. 

The 2 gauge shotgun was not only used in films but also is used in the literary scene. In his novel Chesapeake, James A. Michener detailed the historical use of the 2 gauge shotguns called “The Twombly.” The weapon was used for hunting ducks and geese on the Chesapeake Bay by watermen.

Besides James, Cormac McCarthy, in the novel “Outer Dark” describes the use of a Punt gun in the hunting of ducks.  Another book where the use of 2 gauge shotgun is described is in the Discworld novel “Pyramids” and also “The Tightrope Men” by Desmond Bagley. 

Other Guns of Similar Size and Applications 

Anti-materiel Rifle

This is a recoil-operated semi-automatic anti-materiel precision rifle developed by the American Barrett Firearms manufacturing company. 

Anti-tank Rifle 

This is an anti-materiel rifle that is designed to make penetration to an armored fighting vehicle 


This is a kind of firearm that is fired from rest mounted on a carrier and was formerly used in China and India.

Elephant Gun

They are black powder rifles and designed to hunt big animals such as elephants.

2 Gauge Shotgun Ammo

Shotgun ammo or a shotgun shell is a self-contained cartridge. It has multiple metallic shots, often loaded with metallic shots.  They are generally small in size with spherical projectiles. 

The shotgun shell is made up of various parts. They include the brass, shell case, powder, wad and shot, rim, and primer. But we have the exception of the shotgun slugs, which are more blunt bullets encased in a shotgun shell and are preferred when hunting a big game.

To function effectively, these parts work hand in hand. For example, the paper tube is mounted on a brass base that holds the primer.   The shots are contained in a small container inside a shell and have traditionally been made of lead.  Restrictions that have been made on this metal, tungsten, and bismuth are frequently used.

 A shotgun shell contains a shotgun slug with a single, large projectile.  They can also be made with non-lethal material n such as beanbag rounds or even be made of rubber. 

What Kinds of Guns Use 2 Gauge Shotgun Shells? 

There are no guns that use 2 gauge shotgun shells. A 2 gauge shotgun has a barrel of 33.7mm or 1.326 inches and fires 3500gr or 8oz and would fire ½ pounds of lead.  But they went out with the black powder in the 1800s.

Other Popular Shotgun Accessories

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People believe that if you still possess or you come across a 2 gauge shotgun, you can reap big in your pocket. This is because the 2 gauge shotgun is believed to have gone out with the black powder era in the late 1800s. 

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