Question of the Day: What Gun and Ammo for Shooting Fish in a Barrel?


My main squeeze is cooking a proper Southern breakfast. (My arteries are hardening in anticipation.) I’m sitting here blogging about the USDA’s recent purchase of 85 submachine guns. I told her that sometime this job is like shooting fish in a barrel. Hmmm. How easy is that, anyway? What kind of barrel are we talking about? What kind of fish? Which gun? What ammo? So I’m asking TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia to ignore the image above and please suggest a proper experiment to prove the validity of this piscine adage. Note: no fish were harmed in the making of this post. Although I can’t make the same promise for the follow-up . . .


  1. avatar Mjolnirknight says:

    M134 with a wooden barrel ought to do the trick.

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      Confirmed! by Mythbusters.
      They also had success with a 9mm and a shotgun.

    2. avatar Mjolnirknight says:

      Now that I think about it though a Milkor MGL might be more effective…

  2. avatar Chris. says:

    hmmm, 55 gallon drum – You lose a LOT of energy fast in the water (plus aiming would be difficult due to distortion looking through the water) – I’d say 12 gauge buckshot.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Naw, you’re over thinking it. Shoot the barrel at the bottom and let the water drain out. There’s your fish with no bullet damage.

      1. avatar Stinkeye says:

        That’s some great lateral thinking. A+ for you.

      2. avatar Chris. says:

        but then you haven’t “shot” the fish.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      USDA? Sub guns? Why? Is raiding dairy farms over raw milk that dangerous? Stop raiding them if it is.

      1. avatar Travis says:

        Have to be careful of heavily armed Amish. They all have assault beards.

        1. avatar Bob72 says:

          I briefly heard about that…briefly. It makes you wonder what kind of man assaults the Amish with SMG’s to inspect milk. Or, should I wonder if they are men? It is like we suddenly woke up in Nazi Germany. I wonder how many will claim they were just following orders.

      2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

        The USDA is issued the submachine guns to fend off the barn cats when raids are made of dairy products located in the milk room of the barn. In addition, the Border Collies, Scottish Collies, and Shetland Sheep Dogs are very territorial and will try to defend the barn and farm from all intruders. The USDA is issued No Hesitation Targets of various farm cats and dogs as well as Lutheran, Mennonite, Hutterite, Amish, and Apostolic Christian milk maids.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Milk maids. Brings to mind something other than sub machine guns.

    3. avatar Anonymoose says:

      How about an HK P11?

  3. avatar cmdrlimpet says:

    I was thinking M67

  4. avatar Roll says:

    Obrez pistol, I’m impatient and would like to fry the fish with the muzzle blast at the same moment I shoot it.

    1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

      then that is the correct choice.

  5. avatar TheBear says:

    If the goal is to literally hit the fish with a bullet, I’d say .22 shorts. If the goal is to kill all the fish in the barrel, I’d say 3″ 12 gauge slugs.

  6. avatar lolinski says:

    Double barrel shotgun with the barrels so short that a 12 gauge supermag shell (3.5 inch shell IIRC) protrudes. Fire both barrels at once.

    It’ll be like a hand grenade going off.

    1. avatar AznMike says:

      Gotta make sure the fish don’t know it’s coming, that way you’re killing them softly.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        You got my reference, nice.

        Though I am curious about how bright it would be. Especially if you used handloaded blanks (3.5 inch shell with no projectile or wad filled to the top with the slowest powder available). Would give a heck of a concussion that would knock them fish out. Seriously, somebody has to do it.

  7. avatar Cyrano says:

    I think the most creative would be a taser. One shot, many fish, little damage. Wood barrel. A few more pulses and you could have poached fish.

    1. avatar James R says:

      Gives a whole new meaning to hydrostatic shock

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Electrostatic Hydrostatic Shock?…

        (Shock It To Me)?

        Cripes, I’m showing my age…

  8. Cross Bow with a tethered bolt.

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    “88 magnum. It shoots through schools”

    Danny Vermin

  10. avatar Gray05 says:!/image/3897808587.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_804/3897808587.jpg

    30mm depleted uranium projectile should work fine. Won’t even know the barrel or fish is there. It could be a fish in a tank for all this thing cares.

  11. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Remember the Groucho Marx joke, “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

    With a bit of a twist on your request, how about a crocodile in a bathtub? Armament? Let’s do something funky like a old English thingy with Nitro/Rigby/Holland or Jeffery in its name?

  12. avatar Royal Tony says:

    How about an M79 with beehive rounds? Or fragmentation. Either way, should be fun thumping it in the barrel from distance.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      H.E.A.T. round… What barrel?

      (High Explosive Anti Tank)

      Obligatory Tom Clancy – “Woody, gimme a HEAT round!”

  13. avatar Lurker_Of_Lurkiness says:

    Ma Duece?

  14. avatar Ian says:

    Something low velocity if you want to kill the fish with penetration. If you want to give it a concussion .50 BMG looks like it would work good.

  15. avatar James R says:

    12ga with flechette rounds

    Also, on any gun a laser would be very helpful so you don’t miss due to the index of refraction of light in water vs. air.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Laser won’t help you there. It’ll get refracted just like the rest of the light.
      Try again.

  16. avatar Hannibal says:

    Concussion grenade.

  17. avatar T.G. says:

    Merr-Sonn Munitions Class-A thermal detonator…..what fish?

    1. avatar Eric says:

      Mon Cal or Quarren?

  18. avatar General Zod says:

    Dillion M-134 Minigun is always my first choice. Then I wind up choosing something that’s actually available to me…

  19. avatar cmeat says:

    if the fish were halibut in a barrel of monkeys i would use an ak, but i would not be shooting for any primates.
    if the fish were sturgeon i would use an anshutz, for the surgical precision.
    if the barrel were blue plastic i would use a colt sporter lightweight with a 15 5/8″ barrel.

  20. avatar Ralph says:

    Well, duh. To shoot fish you’d use a Marlin, of course. With ammo from Lake City.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      And the winner for most creative comment goes to Ralph!

  21. avatar A-Rod says:

    If it is a school of fish… then you are a no-go. GFZ after all.

  22. avatar JohnF says:

    Come on, guys, think outside the barrel! The answer is a speargun, of course! Particularly a Mares Sten Mini Rigged Speargun. Specs:
    > Shock cord and bungie
    > Included leg holster with two depth compensating straps
    > Ultra light weight
    > Black anodized aluminum
    > Hydrodynamic line retainer
    > Technopolymer shock-absorber bushing and piston
    > $260

    You know you want one…

  23. avatar Chadwick P says:

    The barrel should be one aged from the late 1700s.
    The fish are the worker bees supporting the barrels growing debt.
    The gun would be made from the oldest forms of locked breach evil… Greed, tyranny, ignorance.
    The ammunition of choice would be fear.
    The magazine would be a standard capacity drum but no worries there are two more in the backpack.
    Let us say the water is a masquerade of media all beamed into every home from very few state controlled sources.

  24. avatar former water walker says:

    See Mythbusters. And a lot of internet videos shoot into a barrel to test Hollowpoints for expansion. So it may not be as easy as “shooting fish in a barrel”. Wait are you eating the fish or just blowing em’ up? 🙂

  25. avatar Zachary marrs says:

    Pipe bombs

  26. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    As long as the barrel of fish isn’t near the primary heat exchangers, go with the M41A pulse rifle and the 10mm explosive tip, caseless.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Just nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  27. avatar KCK says:

    isn’t there a hydrodynamic bullet that can go past 10 feet in water apposed to 3 or less for regular projectiles?

  28. avatar FoRealz? says:

    M79 with buckshot or flechette round. Whee!

  29. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    High velocity rounds and hollow points are out because they won’t penetrate more than a foot or so of water. I’d go with slow and heavy, maybe .45acp 230gr FMJ or maybe .45LC 255gr. SWC.

  30. avatar An English Person says:

    FN P90.

    Fish in a barrel is an ‘ISIS’ reference, right?

  31. avatar TheYetti says:

    Milkor MGL with buckshot rounds? That seems like it would work pretty well

  32. avatar Cpprcrk says:

    In Virginia , on the Clinch river in Scott co. there is a fish shooting season from late April till mid May. Most people use 30-06 ‘ s or larger calibers . Trick is to use round nosed solid bullets like those used on large African dangerous game. I have done this with a 30-06 with Hornady 220 grain solids ( no longer manufactured) . You can kill fish on a rocky bottom with this rig to about 5-6 feet. Some use .375’s, .458’ s ! Only rough fish ( carp, suckers, fresh water Drum can be taken .

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