Scott and Mary Hargood took their three sons out to the canal at Pitford Lane in Oldbury at the weekend for a go at magnet fishing, a hobby the family picked up to entertain their three children over the school holidays.
But after uncovering several harmless items such as sheets of scrap metal, money boxes and even a mobility scooter, the Hargoods were stunned when 12-year-old McKenzie pulled a loaded sawn-off shotgun from the water.
WATCH the moment the shotgun was pulled out:
After a quick inspection, 43-year-old Mr Hargood called the police and an armed response team swooped in immediately.
The family have since said they feel ‘incredibly lucky’ after they claim officers revealed the gun could have gone off at any moment – with pictures showing a smiling McKenzie pointing the weapon at 10-year-old Finley’s foot.
Mr Hargood said: “My sons have pulled out a sword, a safe door, an empty money box – but this time we got this shotgun.
“McKenzie knew he had something as he said it felt a bit heavy. As soon as I saw it, I was like ‘woah, let me help’ as I didn’t want to put him in danger. We took it home and gave it a wipe down.
"Then when we realised, we called the police. We were shocked. We didn’t even know it was loaded.
“It’s not something you think you’re going to find in the local canal.”
Mr Hargood, a carer to his wife Mary, added: “When I rang the police they said they would send someone the next day at 4pm, but when I told them the serial number I had someone call me 10 minutes later and said they needed to come and get it now.
"I don’t know if that means it had been used in a crime or something.
"They said with how corroded the trigger was it could have gone off with the slightest slip.
“We feel very lucky to be honest. The police said to us if we ever find something like that again to call them immediately.”
Since the incident on Sunday, Mr Hargood has not been put off taking his sons, Logan, aged 14, McKenzie, aged 12 and Finley, aged 10, out for more magnet fishing.
Magnet fishing involves searching in outdoor waters for metal objects which can then be pulled in with a strong neodymium magnet.
The Hargood family run a YouTube channel called Crazy Magnet Family Hargood where they share their finds.
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “We were called to an address in Tipton on Sunday at around 4pm by a member of the public reporting that his son had pulled a sawn-off shotgun from a canal while magnet fishing.
"The weapon, which is believed to have been under water for some time, was recovered by specialist firearms officers and will be analysed in due course.
“We would urge anyone who comes across a firearm to call police immediately.
“Weapons should not be touched as they could in a dangerous condition.”