When I was in the 6th grade we read a book which was a collection of smaller books (or stories), which was perhaps a text book compilation. This book included The Jungle Book, but also had a few stories that I don't recall the name of.

In one of the stores a man travels to an alien planet with a disintegration gun, there he field tests the weapon on some hostile monkey-like creatures. Things go poorly, he gets injured, he shoots part of his ship with the weapon, leaving him stranded on the alien planet. At the end the people who hired him come looking for him and find him living on the land with a bow and arrow, and using the gun as a hammer.

Since the story continuously called the disintegration gun "the weapon" I expected it to be called that, but I couldn't find anything similar online.

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    It may help to know how long ago 6th grade was. 10 years, 20 years, 30 years? – user1027 Mar 23 '11 at 23:26
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    From Jack's profile I deduce that it must have been 18-19 years ago – Darius Mar 24 '11 at 1:50
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    Can't resist quoting: "Well, what do you know? It disintegrated!" – Daniel Roseman Jun 4 '11 at 19:47

The Gun Without a Bang by Robert Sheckley.

From a very similar question:

An astronaut lands on an alien world armed with an experimental weapon that disintegrates matter in a cone shape in front of it. However, the weapon makes no noise or flash, nothing. The alien planet is filled with aggressive creatures that attack him instantly.

Flash forward, and the astronaut is picked up -- my friend couldn't recall if the astronaut was rescued from a mishap or lifted off the planet after a field test of weapon. The landing party locate the astronaut using this fancy, high-tech weapon as a tool to hammer tent stakes, having fashioned "traditional" weapons to deal with the aggressive natives: spears, knives, etc. The astronaut explains that, although the gun functioned perfectly, it proved worthless as a psychological deterrent because it didn't make a boom or a nifty light show. Although the gun was great at wounding or killing the animals and primitives, it did nothing to scare them off because they lacked the reasoning skills to equate the killing or wounding of their numbers with anything he (the astronaut) was doing to them.

You might be able to find a copy of it here or here.

Having read it in 6th grade, you may have encountered it in a Great Books Anthology.

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