Bug-A-Salt Review: The Urban Hunter’s Dream?

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Skell Incorporated has marketed their Bug-A-Salt guns as both a pest control system and a new sport. Since its original creation, millions of Bug-A-Salts have been sold and the products have been featured in numerous major publications.

Since our original review in 2018, the Bug-A-Salt armory has grown quite a bit. We’re back to share our thoughts on both the original products and new additions.

See Also: Are Flies Beneficial In Any Way?

What Is the Bug-A-Salt?

The name isn’t just a nice pun, it actually describes the system perfectly. Bug-A-Salt is a salt gun for flies. Just aim, fire, and the effect is like using a shotgun on a deer. Of course, it does go a bit deeper than that.

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Bug-A-Salt 3.0

The History

This is one of those amazing success stories, which dates all the way back to 1994 when artist Lorenzo Maggiore created the prototype Bug-A-Salt rifle. It took 18 years of struggle, but in 2012, Lorenzo was granted an official patent of invention.

The rifle was placed on Indigogo in search of crowd-funding. By October, he had drawn the attention of the Wall Street Journal, which featured the Bug-A-Salt in a front page article. The year ended with 20,000 orders and over $570,000 raised from pre-orders!

Since then, Lorenzo’s company, Skell Incorporated, has added several variations of the gun, a laser sight, and even signature sauces to their lineup.

How It Works

Grab the salt shaker off of your table (the company recommends Morton brand salt crystals), and load the magazine the top of the gun. A little side window allows you to monitor your ammo magazine, which holds approximately 80 shots.

The weapon is cocked using pump action, which pops up the sight to show it’s ready. One thing I really like about the Bug-A-Salt is that the pump will also automatically pop the safety button so that there’s less risk of an accident while the gun is primed.

To fire, just aim, turn off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. Also, considering Lorenzo has an excellent sense of humor, it’s something of a treat to watch his instructional videos. Here’s an example:

Extermination for Sport

Never mind genocide, the Fourth Doctor should have just supplied the Daleks with Bug-A-Salts and a few buckets of maggots! While the gun itself is used primarily for getting rid of those pesky flies, gun enthusiasts have latched onto the fact that flies are a seemingly limitless prey animal which can be hunted without needing a license.

The Guns

Lorenzo isn’t happy with just “good” and continues to improve the Bug-A-Salt design. The current model is the 3.0 with eight different paint options. You can buy the guns individually or in discounted multipacks. There’s also an air-powered Shred-Er pistol to bring out your inner cowboy.

The main Bug-A-Salt line is meant to propel ammo without requiring fuel (i.e. compressed air, gunpowder, etc.), limiting its power. So while it’s very effective for normal house flies, sweat bees, and small spiders, it typically won’t get the job done against large cluster flies, horse flies, and larger spiders. For those, you’ll need the new SHRED-ER.

The official Bug-A-Salt YouTube channel contains instructional videos for cleaning and troubleshooting your weapon, as well as some entertaining demonstrations. Pure and simple, they are the perfect weapons if your flies haven’t been genetically engineered to fly out of an open window instead of landing on the pane.

Note: Using kosher or sea salt isn’t recommended, as their compositions can cause clogs. However, ordinary table salt or the official "edible ammo" works just fine.

Bug-A-Salt 3.0

Bug-A-Salt 3.0

Introduced in 2020, the Bug-A-Salt 3.0 is once again redesigned to offer improvements over the previous model.

With a new “cross bolt safety”, you no longer have to disengage the safety switch prior to every shot. Now it’s a simple ON or OFF setting that stays until you change it. For anyone that’s used a Bug-A-Salt in the past, this is big.

We’ve all been in the situation where a quick shot is necessary but because the safety automatically re-engaged after the last shot, you missed your chance.

Other improvements include:

  • Added Partridge Sight for better accuracy,
  • A redesigned and more durable salt hopper with easier loading
  • An improved trigger mechanism which requires less effort to fire
  • More power per shot with a smaller spread

It does a much better job of killing larger insects and spiders yet still only requires regular table salt. Whether it’s a housefly, lanternfly, brown recluse, or hobo spider, they don’t stand a chance.

If you’re no too crazy about the bright yellow exterior, a sleek “Black Fly Edition” is available, as well as six other limited and regular edition color schemes. Samantha bought the limited edition Bug-A-Salt Realtree Camo 3.0 for her father, who’s an avid hunter.

Bug-A-Salt 2.5

Bug-a-Salt 2.5

The third iteration of this unusual bug killer was the Bug-A-Salt 2.5. Replacing the older 2.0 and 1.0, the 2.5 is still being produced. You can get it in Reverse Yellow, Black Camofly (based on a pair of Lorenzo’s shorts – no, really!), and the value-pack exclusive Army Green with included Bug Beam.

The 2.5 is internally reengineered to provide fewer jams, smoother cocking, and improved accuracy. Since the Bug-A-Salt is based on rifles, this model still has an accuracy range of about three feet. Anything further and the salt spread becomes too great to do adequate damage. However, the spray’s limited range is a worthwhile sacrifice for a weapon that can kill bugs without damaging fragile surfaces.

We had a lot of fun testing every iteration of the gun and have to admit, the 2.5 is a huge improvement over the 2.0 (which we also loved). 

Lawn & Garden 2.0

Bug-A-Salt Lawn and Garden

Sometimes you want a larger spray using a larger gun. If so, then the Lawn & Garden 2.0 is the model you want. Designed for a bigger grain size, the L&G is even closer to a shotgun and may actually blow holes in your target.

It’s best used outdoors to avoid dinging windows and other fragile surfaces. Due to the increased power, this version can take down a variety of garden pests (including beetles, camel crickets, and June bugs) and stun stinging insects long enough for you to squash them.

Just be warned that excessive shooting in the garden can harm your plants (due to their natural dislike of salt).

We had a lot of fun using this one against slugs and it’s a great gun in its own right. However, the L&G is being phased out in favor of the new Shred-Er, so grab one while they’re still available!

SHRED-ER

Bug-a-Salt Shred-Er kit

The SHRED-ER is hands-down the most powerful weapon yet in the Bug-a-Salt arsenal. When this first came out, we just HAD try it out!

It comes as a starter package containing 240 rounds, a set of five CO2 canisters, the gun, and ever-important manual. While this means it’s double the price of a Bug-A-Salt, you literally get more bang for your buck.

The New Sheriff Has Arrived!

bug a salt shred er gun

Unlike the Bug-A-Salt, the SHRED-ER is based on a revolver design. Ammo cartridges are used to arm the gun, giving it 10 rounds per cartridge. Also, instead of pump-action, this gun is powered by CO2 canisters for intense firepower. It’s fully compatible with the Bug Beam, Bug-Cam, and/or a scope.

While the Bug-A-Salt is still rated for small to medium bugs, the SHRED-ER can be used on the big boys. giant roaches and carpenter bees (both issues for the other guns) are literally blown to pieces. And yes, we’ve run quite a few tests (admittedly far more than necessary) to verify this claim. A single CO2 cartridge can power up to 60 shots.

Our Test Results

With a fixed front sight and adjustable rear sight, aiming is a snap. However, we kind of got carried away and a few of our staff began recreating movie scenes in the testing room. They tried shooting from the hip, over the arm, and even behind their backs. The kill rate obviously dropped at this point, since none of our staff is a crack shot.

But that does bring up a major point. The Bug-A-Salt isn’t a toy, and the new SHRED-ER is powerful enough that you need to treat it like a real gun. It can cause serious injury if mishandled.

Our testing range is designed to ensure staff safety, and we were always very careful with the SHRED-ER even while having fun. DO NOT put this weapon in the hands of children or irresponsible adults!

Bug-Beam Laser Adapter

Bug-Beam laser sightWhether you need to improve your shot or just like pretending you’re the Terminator, the laser adapter is an excellent addition to any Bug-A-Salt gun.

We all loved that it’s powered by the included button batteries and installed via the included Allen wrench. The less time we spend scrounging around our tool boxes (or drawer, in Samantha’s case) or buying additional parts, the faster we can get to taking our stresses out on six-legged vermin.

The laser sight can be calibrated easily to give you excellent line-of-sight accuracy. As the laser’s motto goes: “Once they’re red, they’re dead”. Best of all, you can buy the laser as an add-on or in a bundle with just about any Bug-A-Salt variant.

Extra Ammo

Bug-A-Salt ammoMost Bug-A-Salt users use plain old table salt and Morton’s is most often recommended. While a little more pricey than a pack of Morton’s, the official Bug-A-Salt… salt… is perfect for both ammo and cooking.

The 26oz container helps ensure you have a good grain size and never have to worry about someone emptying the salt shaker right before a target appears.

Live in a high humidity area? The inventor of Bug-A-Salt recommends small poppy seeds (the smaller the better) in place of salt for more effectiveness. Just be sure the seeds aren't really bugs!

As for the SHRED-ER, you can purchase ammo cartridges in a 12-pack or as a case of 144. The CO2 cartridges come in packs of five or a case of 60. There’s even a combination belt and holster for your SHRED-ER ammo!

Related: Will Salt Kill Ants?

Bug-Cam

bug a salt bug camThe nifty little Bug-Cam is an attachment for your Bug-A-Salt (sadly not the SHRED-ER, though) which allows you to mount your phone. It can mess with your aim a bit if you rely on scopes, but those who use the sights still get a clear view thanks to a tunnel in the cam’s mount.

Admittedly, jokes abound (even on the official site) regarding the giant fly sitting on a piece of poo which adorns the mount. Beyond this bit of marketing fun, the mount itself is fully adjustable and will fit just about any phone on the market. It’s great fun to use the Bug-Cam when you want to record the massacre, although this is one accessory you can easily skip if you’re on a tight budget.

Opinions are Like Flies… They’re Always Buzzing About

Being old-fashioned, I usually prefer home remedies and inventing my own techniques for getting rid of insect pests. As a result, I wanted to see what other people have said before making any final judgement on this unique bug gun. My creed: “Research should always come before a purchase”.

What Others Like About the Bug-A-Salt

Similar to the only good scene in Titanic, the best part of using the gun for many people is the satisfying sound when salt pings off of the target. But that’s not to say they didn’t enjoy the entire hunting experience.

Many users claim the Bug-A-Salt is an addiction that has cost them dearly in the effort to find fresh prey. Other enthusiasts use it as a point defense when cooking outdoors.

Two stories I ran across really stood out though.

  • The first comes from families who have decided to make supper less boring by shooting their food to season it.
  • Secondly, the gun appears to be quite popular in military zones where it’s reported troops like to use the gun during their downtime to hunt desert bugs.

What Bugged Others About the Bug-A-Salt

The gun isn’t water-proof, and still has a habit of jamming in naturally humid environments. This is especially true for residents bordering the tropics (ex. Floridians like Samantha).

  • Making sure you use regular table salt and empty the gun before storing.
  • Always store the gun in a dry place to minimize the risk of jams.
  • As noted above, using small poppy seeds in place of salt is recommended by the inventor of the salt gun.

We’re pleased to see how many people comment on Skell Inc.’s customer service and readiness to correct any such issues although we’ve never needed to call them ourselves.

Note that in past a few people did receive more than one defective product before landing a good one. However, quality control has greatly improved with the latest models, and previous issues with magazine jams are largely addressed in the 3.0 and SHRED-ER.

One other problem isn’t as easy to remedy. The gun has a very limited range of only three feet (the SHRED-ER can hit up to four feet with good aim), making it good for close-range defense but less fun for hunting distant targets if you lack stealth.

This is a necessary evil, as it allows the Bug-A-Salt to be used safely around fragile objects and the rifle design causes a natural salt spread over distance.

Our Own Two (non-Canadian) Cents

Morgan was the first to buy a Bug-A-Salt and this is what he had to say about the 2.0:

I couldn't resist and ended up buying my own Bug-A-Salt due to crazy amount of flies we've been having this week. A few thoughts:

  • The salt chamber only holds about a tablespoon of salt which is still good for 80 shots.
  • It's easy to forget to flip the safety switch before each shot and by that time, the fly is gone and probably laughing.
  • Houseflies are easy kills from a couple feet away. The hard part is tracking where in the kitchen the dead fly landed if you have dark floors.
  • Yellow jackets and wasps are tougher. A good first shot will usually stun or knock them down but your shoe might have to finish them off.
  • Shooting your leg from a couple feet away stings.
  • Would buy again.

Morgan K was reluctant to try out the Bug-A-Salt at first, preferring a zapper so he could feed the corpses to carnivorous plants and cohabitating house spiders (much to his wife’s annoyance). He did finally cave and buy one so he and his wife could battle the local lanternfly invasion and now has a few.

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Samantha is a newer addition to the team ands missed the early rounds of testing. However, she’s now the proud owner of four Bug-A-Salt 3.0 guns of different colors, and is saving up for a second SHRED-ER so she can double-wield.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people likely won’t buy the Bug-A-Salt for fun, which is a huge part of the attraction to these products. There’s definitely a sporting value for hunting enthusiasts who can’t get out during open season.

We can also confirm it’s good for seasoning steaks on the grill. But most importantly, the Bug-A-Salt line is an interesting conversation piece or gift for most paintball/hunting/laser tag enthusiasts.

Morgan

7 thoughts on “Bug-A-Salt Review: The Urban Hunter’s Dream?”

  1. I’ve eliminated three spiders, 4 flies and a handful of mosquitoes that made their way into my house this summer. Awesome device. Totally happy with my purchase!

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  2. I bought the 3.0 orange crush and the bug-beam. The gun works great but the laser beam stopped working after 3 shots. I think it’s because of how the packaged it, batteries come in it with no plastic bearer so it continues to pull power from the batteries even if not I need use. I contacted the company (bought off bug-a-salt website) and hoping to hear from them soon. Hoping I don’t get charged for restocking or shipping and handling because this is their mistake.

    Reply

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