If you lived 500 years ago, how would you go about catching an animal that could run faster than you? A popular weapon of choice among our hunter ancestors was the bola, a weapon that has two heavy balls at the end of an interconnected rope. Hunters would throw bolas at animals and the weighted ropes would wrap around the animal’s legs, ensnaring them.
A similar type of weapon was used in naval warfare. Chain-shot was a cannon ammunition that consisted of two half-balls connected by a chain. This chain-shot ammunition was particularly effective at shredding masts and other pieces of ship rigging.
The closest thing we have to the bola and the chain-shot nowadays it he bolo shot. It works on the same principle: two weights connected by a steel cable are fired out of a shotgun to create a unique spread pattern.
Jeff from Taofledermaus recently showed off his own custom-built bolo round. He combined two hand-cast lead discs with a cable and crammed the whole thing into a 12 gauge shotgun shell. Making your very own bolos in your garage might be a tempting alternative to market bolo shells, which can cost about $5 each.
But let’s see how a hand-built bolo round holds up on the field.
To be honest, the impact wasn’t quite as devastating as we expected. Bolo rounds are meant to shred through plant life, kind of like a saw that you can shoot out of your shotgun. It shouldn’t be surprising that a bolo round failed to do much damage against a hard hat. Still, we’re not sure if a real person would have survived this blow. The helmet stopped a lot of the damage, but the wearer probably would have come out of the confrontation with some serious brain trauma.
So, can you use homemade bolos to do some high-caliber landscaping? It’s hard to say for sure. The cord broke on this video, so you might have to opt for a higher-strength cable if you hope to cut through branches or other thick plants. We wish Taofladermaus had included footage of a store-bought bolo round so that we could compare a homemade round against the pricier option.
Alternatively, you could always go the nostalgic route and use bolo rounds to hunt. We wouldn’t count on bolo rounds wrapping around the legs of a buck, but we suspect that a solid hit from a bolo would bring a deer down all the same.