Allegedly, according to the wikipedia page, the Winchester Model 1897 was a favorite in the American Military. So much so that the Germans in World War 1 called for it to be banned due to it causing “Undue suffering”.
Even cooler than that, however, was its (alleged) preferred use: Shooting hand grenades! While in the trenches, they would keep a few soldiers skilled in Trap shooting, armed with these shotguns. When a hand grenade was tossed their way, the trap shooters were tasked with shooting them away from the trench while they were in the air. P-TING!
I wonder, which was more stressful: shooting stationary targets from hundreds of yards away that wanted to shoot you back, or trying to shoot little future explosions out of the air for the safety of yourself and your teammates?
Below, some comments on this fun piece of history, via Reddit:
[–]Imissreadthings 355 points
“No pressure, Private, but if you miss this shot we’re all toast.”
[–]bewjujular 108 points
In my mind WWI is getting weirder and weirder.
[–]n_reineke257 61 points
In my head it’s now a really long game of trench-hot potato.
[–]Dusty_Ideas 53 points
Just one grenade with a super long fuse being patty-caked between two expert trap shooters on either side.
“Dammit, Steinholtz, your lack of discipline killed 11 men!”
[–]skycoaster 6 points
“I’m a lawyer.” “I’m a doctor.” “I shoot hand grenades out of thin air.”
Best career day ever.
[–]Reecova 11 points
I learned this recently as well. Interesting fact, these soldiers brought this skill back home with them, replaced grenades with plates, and invented skeet shooting.
[–]CatrickStrayze 16 points
Weren’t they already good in trap shooting? Or are skeet and trap two different things?
[–]Reecova 14 points
I believe the difference comes in the direction of the clays. Skeet shooting more resembles the act of an enemy throwing a grenade (left to right/ right to left/ in your direction) whereas in trap shooting, the clay is projected away from your direction.
[–]Count_de_Ville 7 points
As someone who shoots trap from the mid twenties, I find it very hard to believe any skilled shooter could reliably deflect handgrenades with a 20-inch barrel, cylinder choke, and 00 buck shot shells from a distance far enough to make a difference.
Edit: Maybe I just don’t know what the lethal range of a grenade is. The shooter would have to take the shot well within 15 yards.
[–]PretendsToBeThings 10 points
My friend in the military told me that grenades are not as powerful as one would think. You could throw a grenade into a corner of a small room filled with 4 people, and the guy standing next to it might die and the others wouldn’t even get hurt. Or it could kill all of them. Very schizophrenic device.
Just remember, all the shooter has to do is keep the grenade out of the trench. If it lands outside of the trench, everyone is protected. Not their hearing. But nuts to that.
[–]Georgy_K_Zhukov38 9 points
Especially German grenades, which relied on concussion power rather than fragmentation.
by Sam Morstan
Sources: Wikipedia, Reddit