Sometimes life throws you for a loop. I mean we’ve all had situations where our favorite type of firearm, one beloved by at least one U.S. President, suddenly gets banned from use, right? What do you do now? (It isn’t just me that’s happened to, right?)
But seriously, there is a certain type of firearm that President Grover Cleveland liked so much that Colt made a custom model for him. Later, though, the firearm was legally banned (at least in the U.S.) from being used for certain uses (well, at least banned from being used to hunt migratory birds). If you had this type of gun, an 8 Gauge Shotgun, what would you do with it now?
Answer: You’d sell it to the maintenance crew at your local power plant (going through the proper legal channels, of course). I’m not kidding. Robert Sadowski writes,
While the 8 gauge is as extinct as the Labrador duck in the traditional sense, it is still used for industrial purposes today. From the mid-20th century throughout today, the 8 gauge has found another role, just not in duck blinds or on African plains.
The 8 gauge is used for tough industrial jobs found in power plants, incinerators, kilns, silos and other work environments for certain tasks. In silos, for example, an 8-gauge shell can be used to clear out excess build-up. In places like power plants, these loads are designed to be deployed as part of the maintenance process to prevent excessive ash accumulation while the plant is online.
To fire these shells, massive single-shot industrial 8-gauge shotguns are used. They’re mounted to an assembly with large elevation and traverse wheels for aiming and have a lever or lanyard for the operator to pull as a firing mechanism. There are two major versions of these in use, one from Remington Industrial called the Masterblaster and one from Winchester Industrial Products called the Ringblaster.
Other models are designed for use in smaller spaces that are more portable, but these still require a tripod that suspends the shotgun from a chain. These smaller models are Remington’s Boiler Gun and Winchester’s Western Industrial Tool, and they’re specifically used in large power plant boilers for blasting off gunk that would take too long to remove by hand. While 8 gauge is no longer used in a traditional sense, the existence of these tools is enough to keep it from truly being considered extinct.
I can’t say that I ever imagined that I’d learn that a shotgun, which can’t be used for most bird hunting in the U.S., still has a use as a cleaning tool, even one as specialized as this.
But I’m sure that Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame would be proud, and this just goes to show that firearms have many more non-criminal uses than many people in the world want to acknowledge. And that’s good information to spread, too.