Re: RARA-AVIS: riot gun

Date: 10 Sep 2003


Re your question below:

> White refers to a cop's riot gun.
> What is this? I thought it was a pump action
> shotgun, but it shoots
> bullets not buckshot. If this is the case, did cops
> really shoot
> bullets into crowds of rioters as late as the 1950s
> (seems to me there
> would have been a lot more death in the civil rights
> movement if they
> did), or did it just retain the name from an earlier
> time?

"Riot gun" was a common term for a police shotgun. Ocassionally you still hear it. A hotgun is an amazingly versatile weapon. In riots, it can be used to shoot rubber bullets, or it can have an attachment affixed to it that that allows it to be used as a tear gas grenade launcher. I believe in days gone by (and, as you surmise, in days that had already gone by as early as the '50s), birdshot might be fired into a riotous crowd to force it to disperse, which is how police shotguns came to be referred to as "riot guns."

Though shotguns are usually loaded with some kind of multiple projectile buckshot, there is a single bullet, called a rifled slug, that is designed specifically for use in a shotgun. Since a shotgun is a smooth-bore weapon, rifled slugs have twisty ridges cut into the side of the projectile to give it some spin as it exits the weapon, thus theoretically enhancing accuracy. In a regular rifle, of course, this spin is accomplished by the rifling in the interior of the barrel itself.

The amount of spin you actually get with a rifled slug is, I'm told, actually rather negligible, but a shotgun loaded with slugs, while not exactly the last word on pinpoint accuracy, is a hellacious medium-range carbine-style weapon.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 10 Sep 2003 EDT