4The 18th Century Machine Gun (was Racist)
In 1718 Britain, a guy named James Puckle patented the world's first rapid fire weapon: the Defense Gun, also known as the Puckle Gun. Resembling a giant revolver on a tripod, this gun claimed to be able to fire 63 shots in seven minutes (which in modern mathematics is known as "nine shots a minute"). That may not seem like much, but when you consider that the most skilled musketeers at the time could only fire three shots a minute, it was a vast improvement.
"Kills three times as many Frenchmen!"
The official reason why the Puckle Gun never caught on with the British Army is that it had way too many cylinders -- like three or four. Clearly this was more cylinders than British gunsmiths could keep track of.
"We're soldiers, blast it, not wizards!"
And the reason why the Puckle Gun had so many cylinders, by the way, was its blatant racism. Wait, what?
You see, included in the patent for the gun was the concept of interchangeable cylinders: one shot regular musket balls meant for "civilized" people, and the other shot square bullets at Muslim Turks. Why? According to the patent, the square bullets hurt more and were meant to teach the Turks the "benefits of Christian civilization."
"A square hole in my chest! This completely changes my attitude on religion!"
There were several reasons why this was a bad idea: First of all, there's no way to test whether a square bullet hurts more than a round bullet without actually shooting one at a volunteer, and that would require finding someone who was willing to convert to Islam beforehand. Secondly, the unnecessary number of extra parts made the gun harder to manufacture, which is why it was never mass produced.
Also, this was pretty impractical for the shooters as well, since they had to make sure to change the cylinder depending on the religious convictions of the enemy in front of them -- lest they accidentally condemn a Christian to eternal damnation by killing him with a bullet meant for a Turk. The Puckle Gun was primarily intended for shipboard use -- but what if the ship should ran into a gang of multi-ethnic pirates? What then, Mr. Puckle?
Via National Portrait Gallery, London
Obviously you didn't think this through.
3The Ridiculous FP45 Liberator
The French Resistance is one of the most famous guerilla organizations in history, and the one thing keeping the French from looking totally incompetent during the biggest war the world has ever known. The United States really wanted to help them out, but they also wanted to not spend a lot of money doing it. Thus, the FP45 Liberator was born: a weapon specifically designed to be low in cost and easy to mass produce.
The average cap gun today has a higher build quality.
The Liberator was also seemingly designed to suck balls.
First of all, the gun had an effective range of about 25 feet, which coincidentally is about as far as you could throw it. The idea behind it was that a resistance fighter could use it to sneak up on an unsuspecting Nazi, shoot him at close range and then steal a weapon that didn't completely suck.
If all the Nazi was carrying was a corkscrew and some lint, you were still trading up.
However, if you missed that first shot then you were completely fucked, because the Liberator was a single-shot gun. In order to reload it, you needed to force a wooden dowel down the barrel of the gun and retrieve the spent shell casing, which is never something easy to accomplish when there's a pissed off German coming directly at you.
To top it all off, the gun was shipped in a cardboard box with a comic strip instruction manual:
And a little sign saying "Ages 4 and Up."
It's like they took some cheap toy guns from the dollar store and retrofitted them to fire live ammo. Despite all the obvious shortcomings, the U.S. government actually produced a million of these guns with plans to secretly drop them all over occupied Europe. Historians claim that only a few were actually used by resistance fighters, probably because it was very hard to carry one of these things without feeling like someone at the other side of the Atlantic was laughing at you.
"Hahahahahahahahaha, oh shit, hahahaha"