Cold Blue steel

When it comes to the inventions of the human race, there is a long line of things that we’re particularly proud of. Usually these items are pieces of art, scores of music, fine wines and food, but one of the more interesting creations that we’ve developed isn’t renowned for its beauty, but rather its ability to cause chaos.

This creation is not usually considered one of man’s more promising inventions, but the fact of the matter is it’s one of the best.

I’m talking about the 12-gauge Remington shotgun — a massive bastard of a gun running roughly a metre long, weighing in at 3.5 kilograms fully loaded and packing a recoil that can rip the shoulder off the most experienced hunter.

Even though some people are repulsed by the idea of a massive gun, with its ear-numbing noises and cold blue steal, I myself think it’s fairly awesome. The idea of holding an object that can blow a hole in the side of a minivan gives a person a feeling of fearlessness. Not from other humans of course — as the idea of shooting a person with a shotgun is something not even the most twisted person would care to think about — but pure security from the meanness of Mother Nature’s own vicious wild.

I fired a shotgun for the first time a little while ago and instead of the regular upland bird shells that someone might use to hunt prairie chicken or grouse, we we’re unloading massive 12-gauge, long-range slugs — massive balls of lead placed so neatly into dark purple shells with a deep brass bottom; these shells had kick.

We were unloading in the middle of the Manitoban wilderness, shooting a few glass plates — once dinner ware, now simple targets — set up roughly 25 metres away. They were obliterated not a second after the massive roar of the shotgun had broken the fairly silent scene.

The roar of the gun is not the only sound that is associated with the 12-gauge. The heavy “click” and “thump” of cold metal on metal when pumping another round into the chamber — unloading the spent shell while reloading a fresh one.

That sound alone, the sound of a 12-gauge shot gun getting reloaded, is a sign that we as a species have made it big.

The reasoning behind this claim is simple.

Any animal that hears this distinct sound will probably not be hearing any other sound ever again, as they’ll likely be meeting their maker shortly after — if they’d made the mistake of attacking even an inexperienced 12-gauge marksman.

Ernest Hemmingway once explained that “all things truly wicked start from innocence,” and if this is the case, then the shotgun, especially the 12-gauge, is truly wicked. Originally designed to allow people to feed their families, if used improperly it’s an extremely dangerous weapon, disastrous and rather inhumane.

That being said, I would highly recommend watching someone unload a full magazine of shells, or, better yet, unload the gun yourself. Remember, however, that one of the most important aspects of the shotgun is being responsible. It’s a deadly piece of work, not a toy by any means.

Actually come to think about it, I can’t think of anything more serious then a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded or not. There is nothing funny about it. It’s one serious tool.

This is why I think the shotgun is important. It seems that paintings, scores of art and wine are all fine and dandy for those who feel the accomplishments of humankind should be based on the quiet and the timid. But for those who feel that the best things are made of fine blue steal, gun oil and gun powder, then the shotgun is the ultimate invention, one that makes a human almost invincible in the wild and truly shows that we’re not a force to be ignored.