Why were shotguns legal in war?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Topgun, Apr 19, 2003.

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  1. Topgun

    Topgun member

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    Just did a search on "Geneva Convention" in shotgun section and saw 2 topics which both said the shotgun did not violate the convention.

    Why not?

    Lead balls. Is it lack of rifling?
     
  2. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    Topgun, why would you believe them to be prohibited?
     
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    On September 14th 1918, the Swiss ambassador sent a cable to Secretary of State Lansing, at the request of the German foreign minister:

    "The German Government protests against the use of shotguns by the American Army and calls attention to the fact that, according to the laws of war, every prisoner found to have in his possession such guns or ammunition belonging thereto forfeits his life."

    The Germans' objection to the 1897 was purportedly based on a passage of the Hague accords to the effect that "It is especially forbidden to employ arms, projections, or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." The American reply, again by the good offices of the Swiss ambassador, was to the effect that it was nonsensical to regard shotguns as falling under this prohibition, and that any execution of an American soldier under such a pretext would attract immediate reprisals. Nothing more was heard on the subject, save calls from the front for more shotguns.

    The '97 was not a particularly terrible weapon, as gas had been. But it WAS terribly effective at close quarters.

    Paul Jenkins recalled one incident when the '97s were used to give concentrated fire across a section of front, after the rifles and machine guns had done their best:

    "When those shotguns got going - with nine .34 calibre buckshot per load, six loads in a gun, 200-odd men firing, plenty more shells at hand - the front ranks of the assault simply piled up on top of one another in one awful heap of buckshot-drilled men.

    Jan Stevenson, The Handgunner, Ltd., Jan/Feb 1985
     
  4. Topgun

    Topgun member

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    El Tejon

    Because rifle bullets must be full metal jacket to comply. No lead bullets.
     
  5. Benjamin

    Benjamin Member

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    I think it's actually a the treaty of the Hague which regulates what types of ammunition are legal in war. IIRC (and this was 2 years ago, so I may not recall correctly) the wording was that it had to be FMJ or not designed to expand so as to cause undue suffering.

    Buck is a solid lead ball, not particularly designed to expand, or to cause particular suffering owing to the shape.
     
  6. Gordon
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    Gordon Contributing Member

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    And NOW all military buck is copper plated so its a moot point.
     
  7. Mike-SoCal

    Mike-SoCal Member

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    Brand of Copper Plated Buckshot

    Gordon,

    Do you know what brand of copper plated buckshot is in use by the military? Thanks.

    Mike
     
  8. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    During WW I the Americans countered the Germans and said that any German found with a saw-back bayonet was liable to execution, as well.

    Since there were a lot more saw-back bayonets in German service than shotguns in American service, it appears that neither the Germans nor the Americans ever pressed the issue.

    In the book "All Quiet on the Western Front" there's a passage that recounts how the section Sergeant and Paul, the hero of the book, took the saw-back bayonets from new soldiers coming into their unit and replaced them with standard bayonets.
     
  9. Porter Rockwell

    Porter Rockwell Member

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    Rules For War?

    You are kidding right?
    I wasn't aware the United States signed either Geneva or the Hague documents?
    In a sad sorta way this thread is amusing, do either documents mention nuclear weapons or carpet bombing?
    Speaking of the '97 trench gun I have to mention the USSC U.S vs Miller decision since the NRA doesn't.
    The only rule in war is to win, besides it's a great way to dispose of nuclear waste (DU ammo)!
     
  10. goon

    goon Member

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    I read somewhere that the veteran German soldiers immediately took the sawback bayonets off of new soldiers, because they feared what would happen to them if they were caught with that particular weapon.
     
  11. Detritus

    Detritus Member

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    my understanding is that the next stop for said blades, was the unit blacksmith (still horse drawn supply trains, and artillery) or machine shop. to have the serations ground away, filled in, whatever could be done to remove said "evil feature" from them. and that this continued up untill the end of ww2 b/c the german supply system never went back and got rid of or modified the Bayonets still in storage ofter the war and they continued to be issued.

    Ah the wisdom of issuing a pioneer's tool to all infantry!!
     
  12. ahadams

    ahadams Member

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    Actually FMJ requirements are due to the Law of Unintended Consequences

    okay to understand the treaty requirement for FMJ ammo in military weapons you need to back up one step farther. Both the Allies and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been experimenting with hollowpoint bullets - both sides realized that these would be *much* more effective than anything that had come before. The problem was in the quality control of manufacturing HP rounds - they tended to end up off balance. The Austro-Hungarians (aka "the Germans") solved this problem first, but then they ran into another problem: their issue battle rifle was designed to feed pointed - indeed I would argue by todays standards almost "spire pointed" ammunition ONLY. IOW, HP rounds wouldn't feed reliably, especially under field/combat conditions.

    They had two options: either stop the war and do a retrofit on ALL of their issue rifles (uh yeah, right...:rolleyes: ) OR find some way to make the hollow points function reliably in the issue weapons. Some technical expert came up with the idea that if they fitted a false point made of light wood that fit inside the HP round, the HP ammo would then function reliably, and (theoretically - note that word!) the light weight wooden tip would seperate from the bullet in the air, allowing the HP round to impact the target and do it's damage. All well and good in THEORY.

    IN FACT, however, something very different happened: most of the time, the wooden tip stayed in the bullet until impact at which point it splintered into tiny pieces. Remember in WW I there were no antibiotics, so each one of those pieces caused a seperate point of infection and many an allied soldier ended up dying slowly and painfully of the results. Of course the Allies all *said* they believed the "poison bullets" were intentional and made maximum propaganda value out of it, even though the bottom line is, our side would have issued HP rounds too, if they'd been able to produce them in the quantities neccessary. Thus the resulting treaty agreement was a requirement that both sides use FMJ rounds, effectively removing HP rounds from consideration, at least as far as conventional forces go.

    Odd how this stuff happens some times, eh?
     
  13. ahadams

    ahadams Member

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    oh duh! I forgot to answer the original question!

    The reason shotguns are legal is because they aren't firing hollow point or wooden tipped rounds. And yes that means that the new HP slugs are NOT legal in combat and that is also why miltary buckshot is plated.

    Oh and the sawbladed backs on some bayonets? the real reason the Germans issued those was to saw through the wooden posts used to anchor barbed wire across no-mans-land. Our side knew that too, of course, but hey - a propaganda advantage is a propaganda advantage, right?
     
  14. RustyHammer

    RustyHammer Member

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    There you go ... listening to the damn German's .... stop that! :banghead:

    America kicked their butts in two world wars, and now they're to limp #$%&*+ to get into this one w/ Iraq.

    Guess that shows you what a good butt kicking can do, at least!

    Shot guns have seen action in combat for decades ... and will continue to in one form or another.

    Lock and load,

    Rusty
     
  15. Jaegermeister

    Jaegermeister Member

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    Shotguns in Iraq

    I was up late watching FOX News when our splendid troops were starting to move in to Baghdad. I saw a few units working underground to clear tunnel and bunker complexes. A lot of the guys in the units had shotguns.

    Extremely practical in tight places, I thought.

    Were these Mossbergs, 870s, Winchesters or a mix?

    I admired their group tactics of cover and movement.

    If it hasn't been said enough here, Thank God for the Army, Marines and the Brits and other members of the coalition of the willing.
     
  16. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    I've seen a couple 870s and at least one Mossie. Shotguns have a way of turning up in combat zones. Some come through "Irregular" channels.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2003
  17. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

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