It's summer and you've undoubtedly heard the bass strings of the Jaws theme as you approached the surf's edge. To this day that movie, and its predecessor book, has kept swimmers nervously looking below the waterline for a great white nibbling on their toes.
Why do I bring up Jaws, here in an article about Weapons of War? Well, in the film the character Quint, played by the outstanding actor Robert Shaw, brings out a variety of weapons to kill the giant shark. But it's one in particular that wins a place at our odd weapons table. The "breakdown" harpoon gun you saw used in Jaws was a W.W. Greener harpoon rifle based on the Martini action.
The same design firm that produced the harpoon gun, also made a special shotgun for police and military use that was designed in the 20th century but utilized an action of the 19th century. And it bucked the trend of multiple rounds in favor of one round, and a special caliber that no one but the government could obtain.
In the years after World War I, the British government and it's colonial forces were looking for a reliable shotgun to be used to handle riots and prisoner control. Sure there were already numerous shotguns on the market, including the great M1917 "Trench Broom," but the colonial forces wanted something different. Something that was a single shot.
Thus was born the Greener police shotgun. The Birmingham, UK based small arms designer cast his eyes to the old, but super reliable and supremely rugged Martini action. The sturdy and well known through the British Empire, the Martini was the action that went into the famous Martini-Henry rifle. Operated by a lever, the Martini action is a tilting block style where the ratchet forward of the lever dropped the block, extracting the spent case.
However, with numerous shotgun calibers available to both military and civilians, colonial weapons requests wanted something proprietary and usable only in the Greener gun, available only to the government.
The Greener company in turn created the 14 gauge shotgun round. With 12 gauge and 16 gauge available to civilians, colonial officials believed the Greener 14 gauge was safe to ship out. The main worry stemmed from the possibility of criminals stealing these shotguns and using them with off-the-shelf sporting ammunition.
However, after the Greener guns arrived in colonial Egypt, guns started appearing in the hands of criminals. Did the lack of the 14 gauge ammunition render the shotgun nothing more than a club? Nope. Instead, enterprising, and brave, criminals used the smaller 16 gauge and wrapped it with layers of paper. The result, turned the 16 gauge into the 14 gauge, making ammunition readily available for the Greener gun.
Seeing this move, Greener then made a move that criminals couldn't easily circumvent, a bottlenecked shotgun shell.
Like standard ammunition of the time, these cases were made of brass, not the eventual paper and then plastic shotgun shells. The new 14 gauge had the bottom portion of 12 gauge, but was necked down to 14 gauge. Also, Greener designers created a special groove inside the base of the shell, encircling the primer, ensuring that this ammunition was the only kind properly seated in the shotgun breach.
This version would be known as the Mark III and was designed specifically for Egyptian forces. At the same time Green riot guns were also chambered in standard 14 gauge and 12 gauge 2 3/4 inch shells.