May 24, 2024
With modern repeating shotguns, rubber waders and mostly weatherproof shells a hunter from the 1950’s likely wouldn’t look out of place in a blind today. The final invention in that combination that would really bring this hunter into the contemporary era of hunting would be the advent of plastic hulls by the Big Green in 1960. This is where the truly waterproof shotgun shell met the truly waterproof hunter. Synthetic petroleum based plastics and rubber brought mass produced modern gear to the masses. 

By: Justin Hunold

Imagine you’re dead set on a day of jump shooting mallards on some local ponds or tanks. You took your time to sneak to the edge. You didn’t skyline yourself sliding up to the shooting position. All of your effort is going to feed your family, meat being a scarce commodity. You see the greenheads swimming there, you’re already thinking of plucking them. Then as you pull the trigger your powder frisen( pan) flames and smokes and those once still birds are gone in a flash…pun intended. Back to bread and lard for dinner. 

This was the problem the entire firearm world faced from the very earliest guns. Whether it was matchlock, wheellock or flintlock there was a telltale flash and smoke. A warning to every single shot.

In modern times we are worried about fast and reliable follow up shots, like using Inertia Plus systems on Retay USA shotguns. There was a bit of parallel thinking to solve this problem and history will tell us that god loves hunters more. The first patent for a percussion system was issued in 1807 was given to a Scottish Hunter, who was trying to solve the very problem mentioned above, spooking birds. 

This invention was the brainchild of Reverend Alexander John Forsyth. Was it divine intervention? It can’t be a coincidence that the first reliable fulminate ignition system was brought to market by a reverend. Just proof that as people change with the advent of technology Nimrod still has a place as a mighty hunter.

After this initial patent was defended by the good Reverend from 1807-1821 the percussion systems that followed exploded on the scene….pun still intended. And as always most of these advances were spurred by combat. Percussion firearms with paper and later brass cartridges were commonplace by The American Civil War. Variants of caps, primers and pin fire cases spurred technological advancements in the way of firearm ignition at a staggering pace. Some systems would last less than a decade. Some would evolve. 

When it came to self contained shotgun shells brass became the preeminent way to stoke the barrel. Between side by side shotguns and brass cases there was a relatively fast and reliable waterfowl combination. By the late 1800’s Winchester was loading brass shells for consumers and they maintained heavy use into the turn of the twentieth century.  

By the time the years started with 19 there became a debate in the world of shotguns whether it was better to have multi use brass shells or single use mass produced paper hulls. For a lot of applications those paper hulls won out. Save one. Waterfowl hunting. With paper being very not moisture resistant let alone waterproof. Brass shells would continue to be used until waxed and lacquered paper hulls finally won out. 

With the advent of the more modern shotgun actions, pump and semi automatics, and the “weather proof” mass produced paper hulls we can see the beginnings of what our modern waterfowl hunting roots look like. By this time the modern ideas of conservation were starting to take root, and more modern materials were allowing for more comfortable hunting all around. The wader was popularized around the beginning of World War I and rubber was perfected for the most part around World War II. 

With fast repeating shotguns, rubber waders and mostly weatherproof shells a hunter from the 1950’s likely wouldn’t look out of place in a blind today. The final invention in that combination that would really bring this hunter into the contemporary era of hunting would be the advent of plastic hulls by the Big Green in 1960. This is where the truly waterproof shotgun shell met the truly waterproof hunter. Synthetic petroleum based plastics and rubber brought mass produced technical gear to the masses. 

Remember back to that bank, jump shooting greenheads. Shotguns powered by flint and loose primer powder. One man, a Reverend, with a bit of divine inspiration, decided to bring waterfowl hunting into modernity. Without his loathing of the flash in the pan who knows where we would be today? He worked to build a reliable mechanism to hunt fowl with, and we continue with that tradition to try to bring you the best possible experience chasing game. Thanks for coming along with us and let’s tip our hat to Reverend Forsyth who’s forethought spurred us to get here. You’re Nimrod and we continue to do God’s work.