12 Gauge Shotgun Bow: Real Or Fake?

It’s time once again for everyone’s favorite comments section game: Real or Fake? This week we’re looking into this 12 gauge shotgun bow. Why use arrows when you can fire shells? This gentleman has apparently removed the stock of a 12 gauge shotgun and positioned the barrel as if it were an arrow. When he releases the bowstring the gun fires.

Take a look a the quick clip after the break and let us know what you think. We’ve fired a 12 gauge and the kick is surprising. Although the sound matches in this video, we think he’s got arms of steel if he can control the weapon that well with one outstretched arm. But then again, perhaps our arms are just too wimpy from all that intricate surface mount soldering we do.

If you’ve missed out on this game in the past be sure to look back on the last couple features.

81 thoughts on “12 Gauge Shotgun Bow: Real Or Fake?

    1. Same here. My Grandpa’s brother had a 12-guage double-barrel pistol (kind of a sawed-off shotgun). Can’t fire it too much without ending up with a sore wrist, though.

      1. I have no idea where my reply went. Seems to be gone.

        OK, so here it is without any links. If you were to fire a shotgun at a wall about 50 feet away from you, expect a pattern only a couple inches wide.

        You seem to think shotguns operate like they do in videogames. They don’t, unless you saw the barrel off a couple inches from the chamber.

        1. Shot pattern has nothing to do with length of barrel, that is velocity only, Pattern spread is dictated by the barrels chokes. Otherwise, you can saw off about as far as you want and still get a small pattern, but then you lose velocity. Your chokes you installed is what matters, that and ammo selected needs to match the choke you are running. If both of those match, then you can pretty much get it to pattern how you want.

      2. This is actually @barry99705 but there’s no reply button on his post so…

        That can affect it but the biggest factor is barrel length and the choke, which is the narrowing of the barrel near the end of the tube. The tighter the choke the tighter the pattern.

    1. In that a practiced user can consistently hit what they are aiming at, shotguns in themselves can be very accurate. This would make an inaccurate shooter more inaccurate.

    1. I’m sure hitting the plunger that’s attached to the firing pin will do that. Though if it goes sideways, I’m not sure what I’d fear more, the back of the gun flying back at me, or what’s left of the cable whipping at my face.

  1. Would be curious to get a better look at the firing mechanism. When my son was taking archery lessons, the instructors, local experts, etc, FREAKED-OUT if anyone dry-fired a bow (pulled back and released with no arrow properly cocked). So, not understanding why this was such a bad thing, I’m wondering if it is a bad thing and if so, how has this guy compensated for that.

    1. it can be a very bad thing,
      it allows the string to vibrate and oscilate and it sends shocks through the wood or fiber used for the main body,

      if there is a slight weakness there it can literally split the bow at that point leaving you with a handfull of splinters and expensive firewood.

      1. I’ve actually done this, to someone elses recurve bow. No one got hurt but the limbs were history, made a heck a of a bang.

        Nothing like learning a lesson the hard way.

    2. The arrow resists the force applied. WIth no arrow there’s no resistance. The bow absorbs the energy instead. This can easily split the bow in two. This can be dangerous.

      The more dangerous version is when the bow has been weakened by doing the above but has not actually split. The next time someone tries to fire the bow, it could split even before the string is released. This results in three pieces of pointy wood and metal flying all over the place. Two of which are attached to your hand by a piece of string.

    1. Looks Real to me. You can see that the draw weight has been reduced, so dry firing this bow is not that bad. That and it looks like a composite bow, not a wood bow. also you can see the firing mechanism is a large pad that the string hits forcing it to trigger the shot gun. If someone proves that this is fake… I guarantee I could build a real one ;-)

    2. A single shot just barely warms the barrel. Takes multiple shots in a fairly rapid succession to heat the barrel to where it’s uncomfortable for working hands to handle.

    3. I own a clay shooting facility so can easily say one shot wont make any difference to the temperature. After shooting a round of 5-stand (25 shots) in a short time it gets warm, but still not bad enough you can’t easily handle it.

      Self plug, if you are near Montgomery you can come and shoot. http://www.LWSSc.com

  2. I would vote for real. While it seems kinda dumb to do that, in its own way its a very interesting idea and I would honestly like to have/make one of these just for the conversation aspect of the piece.

  3. plausible, but i think fake.
    its possible to do, its like a variant on shooting a bullet with a pair of pliers and a hammer. i imagine that device he has hooked up there is hit by the string and in turn that hits the starter in the shell firing the bullet.
    i say fake because i don’t think he actually fired it, the kick was too fake, like kid with a cap gun fake. i think it’s possible but i dont think he did it.

    1. I agree. My first thought was there was too much time between the sound of the shot and the exaggerated recoil reaction.

      It looked put on to me and led me to believe either it is a fake or he ruined his credibility because he thought he needed to embellish to make up for using a blank in his demo.

  4. I could understand a “over and under” like shotgun bow combo where the shotgun is used as a stabilizer when not being used that allows for the unimpeded use of the bow with arrows. To use the bow as a trigger mechanism is idiotic.

    1. @steligius: Thinking the same thing here. When I first saw the picture, I thought the barrel was for improving accuracy of the arrow, or adding stability while keeping you from smashing your hand with the string.

      I wasn’t expecting anyone to use the bow to trigger the gun.

  5. I’d say it’s plausible. However, I’d have to see a close-up of the mechanism. It’s shot from too far away with a grainy video.

    Plus, who dry-fires a compound bow? Even if it’s one of the newer composite models, it’s a great way to snap the string and give yourself a huge welt/gouge on your face.

  6. Real, you can see the recoil through the gun and arm at the moment it shoots (happens very fast) He has his arm held out and locked, so you won’t see a lot of recoil, and i’m assuming he’s just using a sporting clay load, which wouldn’t generate a lot of recoil anyway.

  7. It looks like the slingshot guy, but the audio is muted or not there when he speaks. If it is him it is real. It could possibly work to use the string to hit a firing pin, which if it is real I think the guy above suggesting they are shooting blanks is correct. If he is not , and it is real he is an idiot the way he fumbles with it towards the end. (unless its no longer loaded)

  8. FAKE gun goes up in air BEFORE sound..
    I have fired 12 gauge many times, They donot kick up
    in the air.
    They kick back into your shoulder that is why people
    put rubber pads on the end of the stock at their shoulder.

    1. Sound in a flash video is not exactly a useful measure.
      Also, he’s holding the contraption below the barrel. Assuming the gun kicked straight back, the whole thing is guaranteed to swing up.

    2. I’m not going to make a declaration one way or the other on this, but… The muzzles of all firearms lift. To what degree the barrel rotates is dependent on the amount of control built into to gun, and the shooter exerts. Tell the unsuspecting shooter of a .44 Magnum revolver who has had their face marked by the gun’s hammer, that recoil doesn’t lift the barrel, and anything attached to it. Personally I have never been marked by a 44 mag because I’m the sort that does learn by observing the mistakes of others

    3. The bang sound is also coming from the right of whatever is in the camera view, I have no idea if the bang comes from the gun or the shell hitting the target, but I was under the impression it was from the shell being shot out of the gun?

  9. A mechanism like that will destroy the bow. You are essentially dry firing, and the limbs of a compound bow like that will eventually shatter.

    Lack of ear protection is also a fail.

    The bow should kick back further. The balance point of a bow is the top of the hand, and in the video, the top of the bow hardly moves back. Also with a grip like that his elbow has to be bent, or the string will hit his arm. I did not see any bending of the elbow when the shot was fired. This is either a fake or the guy is shooting a hand filled shot with less charge then normal.

    1. Dry firing occurs when you release the string with no resistance. He doesn’t have an arrow nocked, but something is there providing resistance- probably more resistance than an arrow.

  10. I am pretty convinced it’s fake. Watch the video frame by frame and you’ll see the shotgun fires one frame before he releases the string.

    That indicates to me that he was triggering it with the weak hand and the bow string is for theatrics.

    That COULD be a weird camera phone artifact but i really doubt it.

    1. I saw the same thing you did. also the audio would have clipped severely had it been real. looks to be shot on a cell phone and those typically suck when recording high audio levels, so that close to a shotgun, the audio should have clipped.

  11. It’s real, but he was firing blanks. Watch the barely visible muzzle blast. Also notice no wading is visible.

    Additionally, this is not a 12 gauge. If you do a bit of research you will find it is a .410…

    Frankly this is the stupidest modification to a firearm I have ever seen. It is highly dangerous and completely useless.

  12. I’ve seen a similar mechanism used to fire paintballs. a spring-loaded piston that compresses air to launch the paintball in a barrel above.

    wouldn’t be that complicated to attach a barrel to the end of the piston, and a firing pin to the front of the plunger. and the recoil wouldn’t be that bad with a low-recoil load.

    I’ve also seen airguns in africa converted to fire 12ga shells by welding a pipe cap with a hole to the end of the barrel. you insert a shell into the 12ga barrel and crew it onto the pipe cap. then you load the airgun with a pellet or BB. when you fire the airgun the pellet strikes the primer of the shotgun shell. this wouldn’t be all that different.

  13. I would love to have an Air-Row gun. They were made in the 1980’s.

    What that was, was an arrow shooting rifle. It had an inner and an outer barrel. Aluminum arrows were prepared by removing the nock so the tube could slide over the inner barrel. The outer barrel was small enough that the arrow had to be twisted a bit to get the fletching in.

    The twisted fletching imparted a spin as the gun was fired.

    With compressed air, velocities up to 500FPS were possible. CO2 gave lower but more consistent speed.

    IIRC it was tested by Guns & Ammo magazine and proved to be so accurate the shooters had to aim at different parts of the target because they could easily stuff one arrow up the butt end of another one in the target.

    What makes that trick difficult with a traditional bow is arrows do not fly straight, even from ones with an offset in the middle. The arrow bends as it’s launched by the string then whips back and forth like a spring.

    The Air-Row’s air launch applies force inside the arrow’s tube at the front end, right behind the head. Thus they don’t flex and whip, which allows them to fly much straighter than arrows shoved from the back end by a bowstring.

    The Air-Row was NOT at all like theatrical low speed air powered arrow guns used to stick arrows into padded actors from just off camera. Those have a lot of blow-by and push the arrows out just fast enough to poke into the padding.

    1. I was going to ask if a bow’s accuracy could be improved by mounting a tube onto a bow like that and firing the arrow through it, but you said so much in your post, you answered the question and more. Thanks for the informative post.

      (Now we just have to have Darryl build one for the third season of The Walking Dead!)

    2. http://www.swivelmachine.com/html/stealth.htm

      Looks like they might make CO2 and 22 Rimfire powered versions of what you’re talking about, even using the AirRow moniker. Not a lot information on their site, but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKtGl3PB9hg shows the CO2 powered one up close.

      Tagdagger over on TalonAirgun.com’s forum has played with conversion kit for the AirForce Condor air rifle as well:

  14. In the event it can be seen I missed it. Seeing the spent shell being ejected would have made it more convincing. The profile of the gun suggests its one of the lightweight “survival” guns, it is probably a .410 not a 12 gauge. So shooting it the way wouldn’t be any worse than shooting a 44 mag with a single hand, easier yet if he was firing the .22 barrel, although the retort doesn’t sound like a .22. Having said that the video does appears to have a deceiving quality to it.

  15. Fake. He doesn’t recoil, he pivots from the hip, rotating his up. If it we’re real, his wrist and elbow would break, and the “gun” would move towards him. His left shoulder would move back, followed by the rest of him. Also, nothing is coming out the barrel – go to youtube and watch videos of people shooting tactical shotguns with pistol grips.

  16. I think it real and real dumb because all the recoil forces go through your wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. That can’t be good for you. Also, there may be a problem with gun regulations concerning over-all length.

  17. I agree its a 410, barrel looks too small a diameter to be a 12g. You wouldn’t see a shell eject because its probably a single shot gun that doesn’t eject the cartridge until the action is “broken” and even then not all shotguns will eject the shell, sometimes you have to yank them out with your fingers! The bowstring is most likely striking a firing pin to fire the shot. Some criminals in the uk have been known to build “rubber band guns”, lengths of galvonized water pipe with a blanking cap on one end, this would have a very small hole drilled through the centre of it into which a long, small diameter nail is pushed. A strong rubber band acts as the spring for the nail firing pin which you simply pull back then release to fire the “gun”. As dangerous to the gunman as it was to his intended target!!

  18. I didn”t read through all of the comments, so if this was said before then i appologize.

    As someone who owns and uses both a compund bow and a 12 guage shotgun, i find this very wasteful for both items to be combined – all accuracy is gone, it is merely a noise maker..

    as for the real or fake factor – it looks real enough. i’d be worried to what kind of mechanism is keeping the casing in the breech (section that holds the casing so it doesn’t fly back at the shooter). other than that issue to be worried about, it looks fine. controlling it with one hand would be fine in that position, especially for someone used to bows – bow hunters normally hold at the draw position for a while when game is getting into position. the torque applied at your wrist would be a lot, but controllable. I’d say ten shots and you’d be too sore for any more. from the looks of the video he might be going with a light powder load…

    I’f i were to combine the bow with a long rifle, i’d go .22LR – virtually no recoil and it would be repeatable.

    Or maybe he’s used the .410 shotgun and called it 12 guage…. it kicks probably close to the video, and would sound the same…

  19. i think someone should build a crossbow that fires rocket propelled bolts, firing them with the crossbow away from the shooter then igniting the rocket engine for extra rangea!

  20. Another point on the (relatively) low recoil impulse: The mass of the bow itself also serves to dampen the recoil. (recall m1*v1=m2*v2, if m2 and v2 are constant, m1 is increased significantly then v1 is reduced proportionately). That v1 is the theoretical max velocity of m1, the bow/gun contraption rearward assuming that the line of action of the recoil was through the centroid. The arms of the bow also substantially increase the rotational moment of inertia so more of that recoil impulse was accounted for in that comically large, but slow, muzzle flip. Since there is no shoulder stock, in some ways it is less of a shock to the firer since he is free to let the contraption move rearward and/or upward, using his arm as a shock absorber with a longer travel than his shoulder would be conventionally. Add to that the low recoil load and .410 or other smaller caliber speculation and there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the video (sound issues notwithstanding).
    As per BATFE caring, I doubt it. So long as the barrel is unmolested (of legal length) and the shortest linear length measurable is 26 inches or more the contraption is simply a shotgun. In theory they could argue that the contraption is a newly manufactured firearm and if it is more than a .5 inch barrel inside diameter then it is arguably not a type that is generally accepted as being suitable for hunting or sporting purposes and thus is a destructive device. I doubt this would fly because you could easily argue to a judge that the changes are merely modifications to an existing legal weapon that do not fall in any of the descriptions of the NFA. Also, BATFE has generally only pulled the “not suitable” argument for combat shotguns they decide they don’t like such as the Armsel Striker / Streetsweeper and Franchi SPAS. There are various new shotguns on the market that I wonder if they will be declared DD’s or unimportable in the future at BATFE’s whim.

  21. FAKE.

    As a former 3D character animator, I note the following.

    The “kick” from the bow is entirely created in his body and not motivated by the bow/gun. There is no compression of his arm into his shoulder and resulting cascade of reaction down through his torso, hips, legs, and feet.


  22. i think that it’s all real except for the 12ga shotgun part. i think it’s really a gun set up to fire with a bow string release. however, the barrel is too small to be a 12ga. perhaps a .410. but i don’t think so. it doesn’t make a shotgun type sound at all. there’s no ‘boom’, just a ‘crack’. i think he’s shooting a .22LR.

    as to the one handed issue, not a problem. i’ve shot my homemade pistol grip sawed off many a time one handed. usually with 2 3/4″ buckshot. however, were one to use a birdshot round, there’s actually not that much recoil.

    have a lovely day, all.


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