The Four-ten in the Flour Mill
Peter, I was reading up about the guns they used in the ‘Wild West’, such a big variety, all sorts, Colts, Winchesters, a big buffalo gun called the Sharps 50, and …
Well, my father took me once to visit a friend of his in the flour mill — The Manawatu Flour Mills, up along Broadway, the Ruahine Street end — and we went into this big tin shed — huge it was — all made of four by two timbers and covered with corrugated iron. And I was of an age when the gun-madness was in my brain, and when we went inside I could see that someone had been using a gun inside the shed. INSIDE! And I could tell from the evidence they’d been using fine shot, a light gauge. I could tell from the marks on the walls, and timber, and the dents in the iron that is had been a fine shot load. I had an eye for that sort of thing. So I had a look around, and sure enough, there on a table was a little Four-Ten, ready to hand. The 4-10 was about the smallest barrel size you could get in a shotgun, and it had two barrels. I think it was the smallest ever made, used in orchards and the like, and filled with bird-shot. Very good for mass bird-murder. It came with different length barrels, about 30 inches at most, or cut down to about 20 inches. It seemed they had a plague of rats in the flour mill, and the gun was there to pop them off when they showed up.
It was really a bit of a joke of a gun — a scattergun, a close-range weapon — not for the likes of us died-in-the-wool hunters. We’d go for a 12 bore, which meant 12 bullets to the pound, or a 10-bore which was even heavier — 10 shots to the pound. But the .410 was easy to handle, fast, and had very little recoil.
Of course rats were a ‘No-no’ in the flour mill. It was entirely against the law, even then, to fire off a shotgun inside the town area, but they evidently made up their own laws inside the flour mill. I saw the evidence.
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