1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Pistolet à grenaille

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by James Brandon, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    What is a "pistolet à grenaille" in English and what does it do, precisely? In what ways is it different from other types of pistol?

    Thanks.
     
  2. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Il y a peut-être une explication de grenaille ici.

    Je n'ai pas de traduction à proposer.
     
  3. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hello,
    It's simply a "Pellet gun", in your particular case, one held in one hand. It's different from an ordinary pistol in that, it doesn't fire bullets, but only pellets. So while it might still have your eye out, it won't killl you.
    (Excuse my not so technical explaination ;) )
     
  4. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    It's an air gun or more specifically a pellet or BB gun.
     
  5. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Evenin' Pedro,
    An airgun is an "Arme à air comprimé". Without more context it's not necessarily the answer to the original question ; depends on the calibre of the gun.

    Un pistolet à grenaille pourrait tirer des munitions à blanc ou à gaz. (The latter is an airgun, the former is still a pellet gun though.)
     
  6. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    You're right, though I thought the only difference in pellet/BB guns was the type of "ammunition" used, both remain air guns, or am I totally off-track?
     
  7. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    From what you have said and my own limited knowledge of weapons (including weapons of mass destruction :D), I would say it must be 'pellet pistol' or 'pellet gun', because 'grenaille' refers to the ammunition and would be 'pellet', as you have pointed out.

    I believe 'air gun' is 'arme à air comprimé', or something similar.

    I suppose any gun can fire blanks (cartouches à blanc): that is yet another issue.

    Is there a link between 'air gun' and 'pellet gun'? Technically, is a pellet gun always an air gun? In other words, are pellet guns one category of air guns among others? I am not sure I fully understand the picture, here, due to lack of technical knowledge.

    Finally, what do you call 'a BB gun' and what does 'BB' stand for?

    In French, I know that 'pistolet à grenaille' is usually found in reference to thugs and small-time criminals (not the real bad guys, as it were), who use pellet guns (if that is the term) to scare people more than anything else. But of course, you can take someone's eye out if you aim well and, with a bit of (bad) luck, at close range, you might even be able to wound someone very seriously with such a gun. They are not exactly toys.
     
  8. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Sorry to throw the cat among the pigeons, but I have a strong impression we're talking about several different things here.

    Pistolet à grenaille seems to be a short-range firearm typically firing .9 calibre cartridges full of lead shot.

    Pellet gun seems to be an air-powered weapon firing a single .177 calibre waisted pellet.

    BB gun is like a pellet gun but firing single Ball Bearings.

    Can anyone confirm or refute?
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  9. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    Keith,

    I believe your explanation/comments are accurate. I would have 2 questions:-

    1 What is the difference between the pellet we are talking about and lead shot? Or, to put it differently, does the firearm fire only one pellet as opposed to many small pieces of lead? As you can tell, I am not an expert in firearms...

    2 If we agree that your definition of pistolet à grenaille is accurate, what is the exact term in English, which was my original query? You give a definition, not a translation. Maybe there is no exact word for that in English, or people would simply say a .9 calibre handgun.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  10. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Sounds fine to me. But both pellet guns and BB guns remain types of air guns, correct?

    If so, can we also say that "un pistolet à grenaille" is a type of air-gun too?
     
  11. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Look, I'm no expert in this either; my knowledge of firearms is for theatrical purposes only. But as I understand it:

    Lead shot is a solid ball; it comes in many sizes and a single firearm cartridge may contain between 4 and 200+ pieces of shot, depending on the intended game. This is what a (long-barreled) shotgun shoots and I get the impression that your pistolet à grenaille shoots it too because the word gerbe was used on one site, meaning a spray of shot.

    A lead pellet is hollow and mushroom-shaped and most airguns shoot one at a time. They do not of course come in a cartridge as there are no explosives involved. There are also plastic pellets which are small solid balls. And of course ball bearings which are steel or other metals.

    I'm sure Mr Google knows more about this than I do. I'm still not sure how to say pistolet à grenaille in English, sorry, but I'm pretty sure it's a firearm, not an airgun. Try googling "pistol shotgun"...
     
  12. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    Keith,

    Thank you for explanations regarding lead Vs pellets. From your explanations, I would draw the conclusion that 'pistole à grenaille' would be a 'lead-shot handgun' or 'pistol' but not much comes up if I Google this term.

    A more general search throws up too many false leads - and promoters/sellers of firearms, as you would expect ("Why a shotgun is better than a handgun for self-defence in the home..." etc.).

    I have also tried 'shotgun-pistol' and 'pistol shotgun'. I would have thought that the closest to the French term would have been the former and not the latter, since it is a pistol that operates like a shotgun. More seemingly relevant references come up under 'shotgun-pistol'.

    I will investigate further when I have a minute!

    PS I thought your theatrical activities were just some sort of cover, and you are an underworld figure, really... :D
     
  13. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hi again,
    I think we should distinguish between shotgun which is a leathal weapon :
    and our " pistolet à grenaille" which (although a firearm) is fairly inoffensive, other than at close range, because of the spread of these pellets as they come out of the short barrel, as mentioned by Keith.

    post script : I wonder if "signal pistol" might fit, it covers starter pistols, flare guns and the like? See this link for details. (Downloads a pdf file)
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  14. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    The offensiveness of both weapons depends on (a) the size of the shot and (b) the spread. The pistolets à grenaille in the photos I've seen have much shorter barrels than even a sawnoff shotgun, but from news reports can still kill or put victims in hospital.

    Signal pistols are not offensive weapons at all (even I have a couple!) and don't fire grenaille. They just make a noise or shoot a flare. Quite a different animal.
     
  15. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    So, we still don't really know what 'pistolet à grenaille' would be in English! :(

    I agree with Keith that they are weapons and can actually kill: anybody handling one of them would do so either to scare the other person, or to wound, but at close range, I believe it could easily result in the target being killed. (Plastic bullets can kill too, for that matter.)

    If they fire pellets, a 'pellet (hand)gun' could be a translation that would fit, maybe, but it does not sound right. I have a feeling that, in English, people would refer to the make and calibre of the firearm, as opposed to using a generic term, but this is just a guess.
     
  16. Rinias Junior Member

    Washington, DC
    English/USA
    It seems from Wiki Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Munit05.jpg) it seems that the munitions are called "Flobert," and that this is also the "name" of a gun, i.e. a "9mm Flobert."

    However, further research turned up this site : http://forum.hardware.fr/hfr/Discussions/Sciences/questions-armes-sujet_27137_12.htm and in the response from hpdp00, there is some good information about the two "weapons." "Weapons" is in quotes, because I picked up from the original poster that "[il a] trouvé un vieu revolver a grenaille un mauserL100 cal 8mm(380 knall)", and thus looked up "knall." Knall, in relation to firearms, turns up only two kinds of guns : blank-firing guns and signaling guns. There are also many replicas listed.

    It seems, then, that the appropriate term might be "blank pistol," "blank firing pistol," or "blank gun." However, "replica" might be an equally appropriate term.

    I believe it fits with the description as well, as they seem to be (at least through popular "knowledge") a weapon of choice for petty crooks and are indeed deadly at close range.

    Riri
     
  17. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Eureka! I've found it!

    The English for pistolet à grenaille is scatter gun. Google it.

    (It's certainly not a blank gun which fires empty cartridges; whereas I've explained above that grenaille is lead shot. It's not a replica either.)
     
  18. Rinias Junior Member

    Washington, DC
    English/USA
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/scattergun

    I hope we accept a definition from "The Free Dictionary.com"

    So, if we are talking about shotguns, I would accept this response. I'm not sure that petty criminals are running around with shotguns, however, and "short range" for a "scatter gun" is rather large - depending on the type of shot used, it could be 100 yards. There are also cartridges called "shotshells", which are effectively the kind of small shot used in shotgun rounds but made for handguns/smaller caliber rifles.

    It is more than reasonable to assume that when we use the word "grenaille," we are talking about shot. In my opinion, it is less reasonable to associate the images found when searching for "pistolet a grenaille" with a shotgun.

    Have we considered the possibility that "pistolet a grenaille" is not using grenaille in the plural form, but making a comment about the "size" of the shot used? For instance, we have something called a "pea shooter" in English, which merely implies that the shot - a single round, not a bunch of balls - is very small. It doesn't imply that it shoots peas.

    Most images related to "pistolet a grenaille" are of pistols and rifles. It would be a very far stretch indeed to then imply that those guns are "scatterguns." Take a look :

    - Google image result for "pisolet a grenaille" : http://images.google.com/images?rlz...t a grenaille&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi
    - Google image result for "scattergun" : http://images.google.com/images?nds...&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=scattergun&spell=1

    So again, we all know that grenaille is shot, or at least small pieces/bits of metal. Does that imply that its use demands that there be a lot all at once (like bird shot), or does it perhaps imply that the rounds, collectively, of a gun are "small" and/or non-existant ?

    Just a thought...

    Researching a bit further, it seems that we don't actually have a word for this type of gun, because it is not a type of gun, but a type of shot used in a gun. What I mean is, if you have a 9mm Glock and you put shotshells in it, it's a "pistolet a grenaille." If you put 9mm slugs in it, it's still the same gun, but has a far different effect...

    Riri
     
  19. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    I have always been under the impression that a scatter-gun would be a shotgun, or some sort of shotgun - this is, however, debatable.

    As for pistolet à grenaille in French, it would definitely be a pistol, not a rifle. Typically, you read about yobs from 'les banlieues' carrying them around and pulling out such guns on rivals or innocent passers-by, to scare/injure (often in relation to wild rides in cars on a Saturday night). You could not do that with a shotgun, if you see what I mean...

    We should leave aside the notion of replica or blank cartridges: grenaille does refer to ammunition, although not conventional (and lethal) bullets.

    If we agree with Rinias that grenaille refers to the projectiles used and not to a type of gun - I always assumed it was a type of handgun specially adapted to this kind of projectile, but must have been wrong all along - then what would you say in English, precisely?

    From reading the latest posts, I suppose one could say a pistol shooting shotshells or lead shot, or a handgun loaded with lead shot. It would not be very satisfactory, but it would be a good-enough definition/description.

    PS I had never heard of shotshells...
     
  20. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    QUOTE: If we agree with Rinias that grenaille refers to the projectiles used and not to a type of gun - I always assumed it was a type of handgun specially adapted to this kind of projectile, but must have been wrong all along - then what would you say in English, precisely?

    Ria is right that the crucial feature is the projectiles, but I don't think that pistolets à grenaille are adapted at all - they're made to take shotgun cartridges.

    I don't see what's wrong with "shotgun pistol". Googling it (inside quotes) gets 40,000 hits including instructions on building your own, god help us.

    Strange that this nasty weapon seems so unknown in anglophone circles - or is it that we translators are such innocents...?
     
  21. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    OK for 'shotgun pistol', then, although it does sound a bit odd, in a way, insofar as a shotgun is a shotgun is a shotgun - not a pistol.

    In the UK, from what I read in the papers, kids carry knives and, nowadays, do not hesitate to use them - some kids anyway. When they 'graduate' and become 'bigger' in the local gang, they get hold of a proper handgun, firing real bullets. So, maybe, handguns firing volleys of small lead projectiles get left out of the loop, so to speak. (There are murders on a semi-regular basis in South-East London, where I live, involving teenagers and young men in their 20s firing handguns at each other. According to press reports, the Black community appears to be particularly badly affected by such gun crime.)
     
  22. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hullo,
    As this discussion is now winding down, I do think it still worth mentioning that French law concerning category 4 firearms is somewhat unique :

    I think one possible translation for "pistolet à grenaille" in this uniquely French context could be "home-defense gun". One of the reasons people use these pellet-filled cartridges, rather than real bullets, (which the handgun could legitimately take), is to avoid injury to neighbours or one's own family by bullets going thru' walls. So this munition-type is specifically for hitting an intruder in the same room as one's self.
    Hope this helps,
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2009
  23. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    One contributor made the difference between pellets and small lead shot and said that pistolet à grenaille would relate to the latter, not the former.

    Other than that, I can see what you are arriving at: a pistolet à grenaille is ideal if you want to shoot your wife dead (aim at close range in the middle of the living room), and you can be sure that you will not injure the neighbours' dog, in the flat next door. It does make sense. Keep issues in the family, as it were.

    :D
     
  24. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Provence
    français
    Hi, I think that would be a good idea :).

    Concerning the article, while it may be accurate regarding the law, it is strongly biased (of course it is mostly about Australian politics) and I don't think it may give you a good idea of what France is like.

    Most people in France don't have guns and don't want to do anything with guns. Also, I think home defense firearm certificates are much harder to obtain than suggested in the article.
     
  25. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    I was re-reading this Thread, as one does, and I thought I would give a recapitulation of the points that were established, from what I can see, as follows.

    A pellet is a small piece of lead (grain de plomb in French). A pellet gun, firing such projectiles, would be a type of air gun (pistolet à air comprimé). Similar guns are known as BB guns and they fire ball bearings (BB). None of these are pistolets à grenaille.

    Pistolets d'alarme are yet another type, which fire blanks, and contributors mentioned signal pistol, starter pistol, or flare gun as possible translations. I have also found alarm gun and Very pistol. None of these are pistolets à grenaille either, since a pistolet à grenaille does fire projectiles, and is not used in the way that an alarm pistol is.

    Grenaille is (lead) shot, i.e. pieces of shot or shotshells. Hence, a pistolet à grenaille is a pistol that fires shotshells or lead shot. Some contributors suggested that any pistol could be used to fire either 'real' bullets, or lead shot.

    Translations suggested for pistolet à grenaille, based on the above, were scatter gun (which may be a bit vague) and shotgun pistol (since a pistolet à grenaille would opearte in a way similar to a shotgun).

    I think this sums up what was said in the Thread.
     

Share This Page