October 23, 2009
Bourjaily: Beretta’s Real Dinosaur Gun
By Phil Bourjaily
Some of you expressed disappointment that the new Beretta A400 -- billed as a dinosaur gun -- turned out to be a mere 3 ½ inch 12 gauge. While I think the A400 should be a dandy gun for ducks, geese and pheasants, it is admittedly on the light side for one-shot kills on larger sauropods. I would want more gun. In fact, I would want one of these.
Here is a picture of Beretta’s real dinosaur gun, which I saw during my tour of the factory. It has a bore of 40mm (1.6 inches) and shoots about a pound of shot. Berretta made lots of punt guns like this one for local use on nearby Lake Garda, some with bores up to 53mm (just over 2 inches). This gun and boat date to the 1940s.
The idea of punt gunning is to sneak up on rafted ducks and geese in a low profile boat and shoot the flock on the water at about 40 yards with a lot of shot from a very big gun. This video shows you what a punt gun can do to a bunch of balloons:
Most punts have a single sculling oar that sticks out the stern, allowing you to lie down out of sight and paddle one handed. This one has three sets of oarlocks for rowing around the lake. Then, when it’s time to pull a sneak on a flock rafted ducks, the crew lies down and turns the cranks (you can see one just behind the breech of the gun) that drive two little propellers in the stern. The drive system reminded me a little of the Civil War submarine Hunley, albeit a little more refined.
It should be noted that Lake Garda, like any large lake in the world, is said to be home to a lake monster, probably some type of pliosaur. I think a pound of shot upside the head would permanently discourage the largest marine reptile, don’t you?