POTD: Winchester “Seal Gun” Single Shot Bolt Action Experimental Pistol
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a strange corner in history. This is the Winchester Seal Gun. The Winchester Seal Gun was developed at the request of the Canadian government in the late 1970s. The fur trade – and seal fur trade, specifically – was alive and booming, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that the then normal procedure of clubbing was probably not the most human thing in the world. In fact, the Canadian government deemed it perfectly acceptable and humane, but there were whole hosts of reports of “tired, undertrained, or apathetic harvesters” that would botch the whole clubbing aspect. This led to them taking an average Winchester single shot bolt action 22 rifle and downsizing it into a pistol-like platform. This meant it was easy to carry around and the caliber was not enough to damage furs.
“The Seal Gun, designed to government specifications, uses a Winchester single shot 22 caliber bolt action as the base, with a smoothbore barrel and a pistol grip designed to be used with a low-powered shotshell; testing on the ice floes of Canada showed that this combination was clean and efficient for kills at close range, with reduced damage to the fur compared to clubbing and minimal chance of harming a fellow sealer through their heavy garments in event of an accidental or careless discharge. Overall length is 14 1/2 inches, with a brass bead sight on the 6 inch solid chamber non-firable barrel, Winchester “WP” proofs, and the serial number on the left side of the receiver. Fitted with a smooth one piece stock, with a lanyard swivel on the base. Included with the pistol are photocopies of correspondence between the Canadian Committee of Seals and Sealing and both Winchester Canada and Remington, pages from “Sealing Report for 1980 Sealing Season, Gulf of St. Lawrence” (which covers the smoothbore 22 and it’s alternatives), and correspondence from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms to noted Winchester collector Peter Murray.”
Lot 1300: Winchester Seal Gun Pistol 22 shot. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/61/1300/winchester-seal-gun-pistol-22-shot.