I’ve always been a fan of “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. From time to time, a firearm will pop up on the program, but they are few and far between. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to take High Caliber History LLC on the road to Top Gun Shooting Sports in Taylor, MI, for an event I call “Gun-Tiques Roadshow.”
Among the guns to show up was this gigantic punt gun – at least that’s what I’m calling it – that weighed at least 50 pounds and took up almost the full length of an 8-foot table. Unfortunately, the owner knew nothing about the piece. He bought it 5 years ago just because he thought it was cool – and who could blame him!?!
To be fair, it isn’t exactly a true punt gun because it has a rifled barrel. I don’t know the actual caliber, but I can say with confidence that it is bigger than a 4 bore. Two holes in the receiver lead me to believe that it was probably designed to be bolted onto a swivel of some kind.
The action was also unusual: the breech block – which looks like someone just took a hunk of metal, added a hinge, and said, “Good enough!” – opens like a sideways trapdoor on steroids. The firing mechanism utilizes a back action shotgun lock with an external hammer that falls onto the external portion of the firing pin.
The entire gun is solidly constructed by someone who knew what they were doing when they made it, and yet, it also exudes overall qualities that would make “Bubba the Gunsmith” proud.
The only markings anywhere on the gun were two tiny ones stamped on the breech block that had gone unnoticed since it had been purchased. The first was a breech proof known as a Perron, and the second indicated what proofing inspector performed the action.
Based on this information, I was able to determine that the gun was made in Belgium sometime between 1952-68 or 1974-80 due to a break in employment by the inspector. As for who made it and why … well, that’s anyone’s guess. Most likely, the answer is, “just because.”
If you have any ideas as to the “who” or the “why,” please chime in. I’d love to know!