Once we invented the gun, that was pretty much it, right? Sure, all technology advances, new features are added and the design gets tweaked a little over time, but it usually stays more or less the same. Cars always have four wheels, a couple of pedals and some seats, no matter how much we end up fussing with them. So guns consist of one handle, one trigger, one barrel and then the bit that kills people. It's a tube of death; why mess with the concept? Because you're a crazy person, that's why. And that's how we got these:
7The Duck's Foot Pistol
The duck's foot pistol, so named because its four splayed barrels were shaped like the foot of a duck (back in the 18th century, when ducks were gargantuan, terrifying steampunk monstrosities with pistols for toes), was designed to take on large groups at close range. It was most popular with officers on sailing ships, who often carried a pair of them to, uh, "discourage" potential mutineers in the cramped quarters.
Advantage: Skinny guy standing between two fat guys.
The immediately apparent problem here -- that the rational person would've spotted instantly, but the completely insane gun maniac clearly missed because he was too busy firing indiscriminately into crowds -- is that you can never hit what you're actually aiming at with a standard duck's foot pistol. You can only hit everything else around it, because none of the four barrels point straight ahead. But that just means you have to remember to think a little differently when handling one: Instead of aiming at the thing you want to kill, you just aim at the one thing you like and kill the rest of the world around it.
First used in the 16th century, key guns allowed a jailer to keep his weapon throughout the entire extremely vulnerable process of opening a cell door, thus never leaving him unprotected. Well, all except for the times when he's actually using the key/barrel end of the pistol to disengage the lock. That's right, key guns weren't just shaped like keys to throw people off or disguise their nature as pistols -- they're both functional keys and functional pistols (presumably so that if some uppity lock ever has the balls to stick on your watch, you can just shoot it off like a Renaissance Bruce Willis).
"Firepower is the key to victory. Did you get that? Was it too subtle?"
We get the feeling that not all implications were fully considered here. For example: Where do you keep your keys? If you said "dangerously close to my crotch," well, that's a weird way of saying "pocket," but no less technically correct. Plenty of people keep guns in their crotch area, sure, but what separates this is that the loop of the key (i.e., the place where you hold or pick it up) usually serves as the trigger for a key gun as well. So what are your Weaponized Door Access storage options? You could always hang it from one of those giant old-timey key rings that medieval jailers use in the movies. But then wouldn't you be suspending the pistol by its trigger and shooting yourself in the thigh with every jangle? Shit, we give up: If you have a convenient way to handle this thing without turning your own legs into gunshot-wound pie, speak up, because we're drawing a blank (unlike that unstable key gun pointed at your crotch).
This one had to be lit with a cigar, because any cigarless man in the 1850s deserved to die.