The Bug-A-Salt “Rifle”

Killing Critters With A Common Condiment
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Behold the mighty hunter about to embark on his (ig)noble quest.

A nice haul of deer and houseflies. We’re still trying to determine if there is a bag limit.

I am pretty sure I have the world’s coolest job. I get to play with guns, write about it and then tell the IRS with a straight face it was actually work. Along the way I have reviewed some of the most remarkable hardware.

I’ve written about old German machineguns, gangster weapons, tank cannons, high-speed race guns, sniper rifles and survival iron. All of it was honestly fairly worthless from a practical perspective. Then my friend and boss Brent here at GUNS sent me an email about the Bug-A-Salt. Amidst a sea of cool scary firearms, I think this may be the most practical.

The Bug-A-Salt looks like a toy, but it is so much more. For starters, the thing is fairly heavy, much heavier than the kiddy toys it apes. These guns are available in several different color schemes and at least three different generational versions. They are manually powered and fire ordinary table salt. Against exposed skin the Bug-A-Salt is quite literally harmless. When unleashed against offending insects, however, the Bug-A-Salt becomes an insectoid Weapon of Mass Extermination.

The Bug-A-Salt is readily available online. However, I bought mine at the local Shaw’s ACE Hardware. The good folks at Shaw’s are way friendlier than the Internet and they can answer any hardware-related question ranging from plumbing to fasteners to house paint to pest control. I also kind of like the feeling you get when you pick something like this off the shelf.


The Bug-A-Salt looks sort-of like a gun, but Will notes it is far more useful in everyday life!

The Setting

I live way out in the middle of no-place and have the best neighbors in the world. These are the kind of pals who would show up packed and jacked with a black rifle and half a dozen magazines on the strength of a quick text. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

There is a modest downside to such wilderness living. Now the kids are gone and our old farm dog, Dog, has passed on, we don’t ourselves maintain any animals. However, some of the nearby neighbors raise cows — this means bugs, some of which are pretty darn gnarly.

My most despised are horseflies. Horseflies are true flies. The male of the species feeds on nectar and are fairly harmless. Lady horseflies, however, are the devil.

These things can grow to astronomical size. They also drink your blood. Their mouth parts include these two big honking blade-like things. Sit still long enough and they will stab you, lap up your blood and use the protein to make more little horseflies. I loathe them.


Will’s mobile shooting range for the Bug-A-Salt.

The most dangerous game — Will dropped this big boar wasp on the wing but it
took another six rounds at close range to finally put him down. Col. Askins would be proud!

Wasp larvae aren’t terribly challenging, but now there will be
four fewer murder hornets in Mississippi next year.

War Story

I was coming home from work and my hands were full. I had ordered some ammo and a book to be shipped to the clinic, and I was stoked about tearing into the boxes. It was a late summer day but I still had maybe an hour’s worth of daylight.

Horseflies are diurnal. Unlike their nearest natural relative, the common Transylvanian vampire, horseflies only hunt in daytime. The horsefly in question was about the size of my thumb. Okay, not really, but it sure seemed like it. As soon as I cleared my pickup truck, she dove in to attack.

My wife cuts my hair, and I like to keep it as close to the skin as possible. People come see me professionally asking for hair. I wish I could give them mine. I have little use for the stuff. I’m ugly, and my wife loves me anyway. Hair doesn’t make things better, and I’m okay with it. On this fateful day, however, sporting an airborne high and tight haircut just made me a more lucrative target.

The diabolical rascal landed on the back of my head like an MV-22 Osprey and stabbed me with those aforementioned ginormous mouth parts before I could do anything about it. I screamed like a little girl and made a beeline for the door, trying and failing to swat the thing without dropping 1,000 rounds of cheap 9mm ball and a book about Thompson submachine guns.

I stumbled into the house looking like the deranged star of a cheap horror movie. I dumped my burden in the kitchen and retreated downstairs to retrieve my SPAS-12 autoloading shotgun, all the while mumbling some insensate murderous diatribe directed against insects in general. Throughout it all my bride never looked up from her favorite Jane Austen tome. We’ve been married a long time.

The Terminator’s favorite scattergun now locked and loaded, I advanced outdoors. This time I used my skinned cranium as bait. As expected, Satan’s horsefly returned for a fresh nibble. When she got within range I enveloped her in an impenetrable cloud of Number 8 birdshot and then cleaned up the mess with a moist sponge.

The aforementioned tale is true, everything except the bit about the shotgun. This part I just hallucinated up as I nursed the back of my sore head where the devil bug bit me. On that fateful evening I made a pledge before all creation — as God was my witness, I would devote my remaining days to killing horseflies and their close relatives, any other flying buzzing insects. All that remained was to obtain the proper hardware. Cue the pulsating music …


The Bug-A-Salt (top) is bigger than the Skorpion vz. 61 (middle) or the MP5
K-PDW (left) but provides arguably greater value around the average homestead.

The Gun

If my life were a movie — lamentably, it isn’t — this is the part where I would stroll into some ludicrously overstocked armory and select the state-of-the-art military hardware I would use to exact my vengeance. As it were, I just unboxed the Bug-A-Salt counter-insect weapon I picked up at Shaw’s. In a way, this is better.

The Bug-A-Salt is the coolest invention since Seth Wheeler invented toilet paper on a roll back in 1891. While this begs the question how everybody managed prior to 1891, the Bug-A-Salt is clearly in the same league with Wheeler’s inspired invention. The Bug-A-Salt sports the obligatory orange bits so some moron doesn’t run through a shopping mall with it and get shot for his trouble. You’d have to be pretty darn near-sighted to mistake this rascal for a real firearm.

To load, you pop open the loading port up top and fill the magazine with ordinary table salt. That’s really all there is to it. There is a simple crossbolt safety behind the trigger. The pistol grip is nicely ergonomic. The forearm cycles back and forth to charge the action. A full magazine is good for around 80 shots.

Once you cycle the gun and make it ready for action, the rear Patridge sight emerges from the receiver to indicate the gun is armed. Aim the Bug-A-Salt at an offending insect, push off the safety, and squeeze. The trigger is stiff and ugly. However, this is a bug-killing utility gun shooting table salt, not a precision sniper rifle and the trigger is altogether adequate for the mission. It takes a little intentionality to cock the weapon, and recoil is, as expected, a non-event.

The Bug-A-Salt is indeed delightfully accurate at appropriate ranges. The ideal tactical engagement distance is about 24″, though I made long-range kills out to 36″. The instructions recommend using aluminum foil as a practice target. If the salt will penetrate the foil, it will do a job on a bug. Give it a shake between shots to settle the salt in the magazine and the gun is 100% reliable.

The Bug-A-Salt is ideally configured for houseflies. Adolescent horseflies and comparably sophomoric cockroaches are appropriate prey, as are modest spiders. Big honking horseflies and those ghastly giant Southern wasps might require a bit more gun. However, the Bug-A-Salt is fully capable of knocking them down, even on the wing, so you can stomp them at your leisure. Don’t aim at anybody’s eyes and it remains harmless to humans.


Will’s Bug-A-Salt came from Shaw’s ACE Hardware, an Oxford, Miss. institution.

“The folks at Shaw’s (below) are way cooler than the Internet,” Will notes.

The Hunt

On the day I obtained my Bug-A-Salt, the house was lamentably free of houseflies. That’s because the house is my wife’s space. My workshop, however, is all me. It is therefore the sort of place that feral swine would deign to traverse.

I guarantee you there are people out there who have dumped 10 grand on some exotic hunt or other and didn’t have as much fun as I did stalking around my workshop in pursuit of insects. The Bug-A-Salt will kill the bug without pulverizing it, so cleanup is a snap.

The Bug-A-Salt is absolutely perfect for the notorious fly-crawling-on-the-dining room window. Tidying up the salt afterwards is certainly no worse than policing up the residue after the same chore with a conventional fly swatter. The Bug-A-Salt is also perfect for reaching tough corners and crevices.

I gave $50 for my Bug-A-Salt. After a day behind it in my workshop, the thing is easily worth twice. They’re cheaper online, but the staff at Shaw’s really is cool. Prepare to have your life changed.

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