Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Coach Shotgun by Zina Abbott

A coach gun is a more modern term for a double-barreled shotgun generally with barrels, generally with barrels from 18" to 24" in length placed side-by-side. These weapons were known as "cut-down shotguns" or "messenger's guns" because of their use on stagecoaches by shotgun messengers throughout the American West. They came in 10 and 12 gauge black powder. The barrel length differed from standard shotguns used for bird hunting with their 28” to 36” barrels. Earlier used for protecting stagecoaches had only one barrel.
Double-barrel, break-action coach gun
The use of coach guns originated in the British Isles where they were also used to protect carriages from highwaymen. Known as a blunderbuss, these earlier versions of the more modern coach gun were a short-barreled firearm with a flared end that used shot. They were muzzle-loading weapons.

English Flintlock Blunderbuss
The shotgun that became known as a coach gun began to be produced in the 1850s. They were 10 or 12 gauge caliber break-action weapons using a bead for the sights.
Musketoon, blunderbuss, and coach gun from American Civil War era
It’s always nice to have a resident expert. My gun specialist is my husband. He has been a firearms enthusiast for years and serves as a range safety officer at our local shooting association. He shared with me a more modern coach gun he uses in gun safety training to demonstrate different types of firearms, their uses, and their dangers. This one has a double barrel. It has a lever release, or break-action, for loading the shells.

Center lever opens breech

Compare this more modern coach gun with this antique muzzle-loader shotgun.

Top: Antique muzzle-load shotgun; Bottom: Breech-load coach gun
He also has this handy item for displaying the shot sizes. There are different sizes of shot for different types of uses. For hunting birds or other small game/vermin, a small size shot is used. Water fowl requires a larger size of shot, where the bigger sizes of shot are referred to as buckshot.
Largest size shot shown is double-aught buckshot
In my story to be released next week, I have a scene involving a shotgun messenger who comes to the rescue of another stagecoach employee—not on the stagecoach, but in a saloon. After he warns the women to get out of the way, he also warns the bartender. Most bartenders kept kept a shotgun under the bar. 

The following is an excerpt from Mail Order Lorena:

          Lorena widened her eyes at the sight of Al reaching a hand below the bar. He’s going for his shotgun. “Al! No!” Behind her, Lorena heard the sound of a gun lever being cocked.
          Danny’s voice filled the room. “No one reaches for a weapon. Ladies, please move up the stairs or to the back of the building. All of you gentlemen, including you, bartender, move to the far side of the room. Keep your hands where I can see them. I want you to understand, this coach gun sprays wide. My double-aught buckshot is designed to discourage either hostiles or road agents from getting near the stagecoach. Even if my shot doesn’t hit anyone, it will take out the mirror, glasses, bottles, and half the wall. I suspect it will cost more to replace everything than the amount owed this woman.”

Mail Order Lorena is the second of three of my books in the Widows, Brides & Secret Babies multi-author series. It is available on preorder and will be released on July 3, 2020.

The first book in this trio, Mail Order Roslyn, is currently available for sale and at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The third book in this trio, Mail Order Penelope, is also on preorder and scheduled for release on August 14, 2020.


kathleen Lawless said...

Such an interesting post. How fortunate to have your own resident expert. Loving this series!

Julie Lence said...

Thank you for sharing. Great pics. My son and hubby recently purchased an old Russian shotgun/rifle from one of the WW( I don't know which war or which gun is which). Nice, but have no clue what they plan to do with it. Probably display it somewhere.