Darne “Canardière Portatif” Shoulder-Fired Punt Gun

In the days when market hunting was a normal practice, hunters would use pretty huge shotguns to harvest large numbers of waterfowl. These were called punt guns, named after the small shallow-draft boats which they were used on – punts. The largest punt guns had bores of up to 50mm (2 inches) and cannon-type breech mechanisms, and could only be fired from their boat mounts. However, smaller punt guns were also made which could be fired from the shoulder, and this is one of those.

This is a French Darne “Canardière Portatif”, or mobile fowling gun. It is a nominal 4-bore (1 inch) shotgun (although its .920 inch bore actually makes it closer to a 6-bore) with a 1.2m (48 inch) barrel and a rolling block action. It could be fired form the shoulder or mounted to a rope breeching rig on a boat to help absorb recoil. This type was manufactured form 1905 until the 1930s, when market hunting fell out of common practice.


  1. “Market hunting fell out of common practice” Well, yeah. They had reduced the populations of the birds to the level that even a 2″ bore punt gun would only bag one or two.

  2. Don’t forget that the punt would be free floating so when a punt gun was fired a good deal of the recoil would result in making the punt go backwards. I wonder if the added bracket was for clamping to the boat?

    • It makes sense that they still allow it. Ultimately it’s the bag limit that should matter and not the gauge of the gun. If you have too many on the water you’d have to abstain from taking the shot. As someone who likes mucking about in boats and hunting I can certainly understand the appeal.

  3. As used in England (and all I once read was about England, not Scotland, Wales, or Ireland) the punt gunner lay face down in a punt hours before the sun came out; spent hours using oversized wooden spoons to paddle for a shot; fired. By the time your dogs had brought back all the ducks they could find there would not be a live duck anywhere near. A punt gun could kill loads of birds, but a few shots a day would be all.

  4. Is there any lock for the breechblock other than the bolt handle root?

    And a punt gun is a plot point- almost a character- in James Michener’s CHESAPEAKE.

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