6 Awesomely Insane Guns People Actually Used (Pt. 2)
Mankind's relationship with the gun is, well, a little creepy at times. It's not even an American/Second Amendment thing, either -- for centuries inventors have been trying to cram bullet-firing capabilities into every gadget they could think of, practicality be damned.
This "who cares if it works, it'll be cool as hell!" approach to gunsmithing has given us such delights as ...
Lord Horatio Nelson's Gunblade
What, you thought a "gunsword" was just a particularly ridiculous weapon sketched out by the Final Fantasy design team under the pressure of a looming deadline? That up there belonged to British admiral and all-around badass Lord Horatio Nelson, who was responsible for leading his nation to some of the most decisive naval victories in British history. In 2012, bidders lined up to purchase the very weapon used by Nelson to shoot-stab enemy combatants during the Battle of Trafalgar -- his last-ever engagement.
Spoiler: The French lost. Nelson kicked butt.
Developed by weaponsmith H.W. Mortimer, the sword-pistol features a 25-inch blade with an attached tap action flintlock mechanism. Imagine Lord Nelson squaring off in a duel with a Spanish marauder, each man posing with his blade, before Nelson just pulls an Indiana Jones and shoots his ass.
We have no evidence that actually happened, but how could it not?
In 1805 -- and despite his ridiculous weapon -- Nelson was incapacitated by a bullet that entered through his shoulder and passed through his spine. He died several hours later, and his fancy gun-sword was relinquished to Sir Thomas Hardy, the captain of Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory. History does not record whether or not he was ever able to behead someone and then shoot the severed head between the eyes as it flew through the air, but let's assume he was.
And that person left the mortal realm knowing they had died the most awesome death possible.
The gunblade was displayed it at the National Maritime Museum in London before it was sold at auction for a cool 11,000 pounds. And yes, before some smartass points it out, the sword-pistols weren't very effective in battle. They ended up as a novelty brandished by officers of high rank, useful only when Nelson couldn't be bothered to manually remove the fools who had so peskily found themselves lodged to his blade. But who cares? It's a SWORD that is also a GUN. The moment you tell somebody you own it, you've won the only battle that matters.
The Mace Gun Used by Henry VIII
This little treasure is from the arsenal of Henry VIII, who will be making multiple appearances on this list.
As well as the upcoming "badass pieces of cutlery" list.
You might be surprised to learn this, but Henry VIII was sort of a dick. After all, there's his axe-shaped distrust of divorce proceedings, penchant for gluttony whilst his kingdom starved, and his bizarre bespectacled-demon mask. Oh, and the fact that, in a move that surely put everyone within a 100-foot radius on edge, he substituted his walking cane with a freaking mace/gun combo weapon.
That's right -- alongside the ferocious spikes, the mace played host to several cleverly concealed gun barrels. In the event that the king was besieged by enemies, removing them would have been a matter of simply aiming the mace and lighting a fuse at the end of the handle.
"Hang on, gents -- just give me a sec to find a way to quickly make a fire here in the 16th century."
Sadly, there's no record of him using this weapon, which makes sense given that the concept is, well, not the most practical in the world. But once again, this requires the narrowest possible definition of "using" a weapon -- impressing other dudes at parties is also a "use."
The Pistola Con Caricato & the Nock Gun: Because You Can Never Have Too Many Barrels
Let's start with the pistol: The Italian-made Pistola con Caricato looks like something an Antonio Banderas character would use to avenge his wife's death at the hands of a drug lord. This three-barreled, 18-chambered toy for the criminally insane is even hefty enough for melee use, should it ever malfunction due to the immense gravitational forces caused by its own bulk. In Italian, Caricato can mean "caricature" or possibly even "stuffed" -- presumably because any punkass that messes with its holder will shortly find himself saturated with enough lead to wallpaper every X-ray room in the country.
Your index finger is insanely buff, right? You'll need it ...
This early 20th-century Italian offering is built with a locking mechanism that allows the frugal shooter to fire a single bullet from any of the three barrels. Or one can fire all three at once, producing a miniature buckshot effect as the bullets travel slightly outward. It's also easy to load, as it simply pops open:
Need more bullets? Just take out a second mortgage, and you'll be all set.
Sadly, the Pistola's particulars are lost to history, as there's no mention of this great destroyer of worlds in any record. It's also mysteriously absent from the Encyclopedia of Bitchin' Guns. The only clue is a marking on the gun that reads "01-CAL .6.35." It's believed that the "01" denotes the gun as a prototype and possibly as the only such revolver in existence.
And 6.35 is the number of people the gun wounded after one shot.
Now, if you prefer your gun to be even more impossible to conceal, you could go for this:
So sexy you gotta wear latex while stroking it.
That's the Nock gun, a volley gun invented sometime in the late 18th century to answer the age-old question, "What has seven barrels, dislocates your arm, and lights your own fortress on fire when shot?" The gun's seven smoothbore barrels fire at once, so it has the kickback of seven flintlock muskets all being focused neatly into your fragile arm bones.
Everyone who fired it in the 1700s is now dead.
Invented by James Wilson and manufactured by Henry Nock, the Nock gun was used by the British Royal Navy during the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. And we do stress the word "early" because it didn't take long for the navy to realize how impractical these weapons really were. The recoil of seven barrels' simultaneous discharge was enough to dislocate, fracture, and otherwise maim its wielder. Also, the recoil would sometimes blast the gun completely out of your hands and onto the deck below, where you would have to scramble to find it and reload it, which took as long as you would imagine reloading a seven-barrelled flintlock rifle would be.
It was also highly inaccurate, as it's pretty much like aiming a malfunctioning fire hose by yourself, except this fire hose sprays bullets and lights fires. However, in their favor, volley guns like the Nock gun were never meant to have precision aiming. We mean, look at that shit.
Aaaand we just burned our house down.
The Nock gun had a specialized use on ships because the sailors would be more tightly packed, and it was easier to hit them all with your enormous cone of death from atop the rigging where you would just aim down somewhere and pull the trigger. This seems like the best place for Nock guns, until you found that all the resultant muzzle flash could, and did, light the sails and rigging on fire. Even though ships are on the water, they are still notoriously hard to fight fires on, especially during a battle. You basically had to hope the enemy was so impressed by how crazy your ass was that they'd just call off the battle.
The OSS Glove Pistol Let You Punch With Bullets
Imagine the scene: you're on a covert operation deep behind enemy lines. An enemy sentry spots you. He's about to raise the alarm ... until you punch him and his head explodes into a fine mist. Thanks to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) and their dedication to crazy bullshit, this was a reality on the battlefields of World War II.
If someone approaches you wearing gloves, shoot them first just in case.
Consisting of a single-shot .38 pistol mounted onto a leather glove, this ingeniously named "glove gun" was designed specifically for assassinations and other secretive purposes -- really any time you needed to murder someone in the face but don't want to get your hands messy. Officially called the Sedgley OSS .38 glove pistol, it was manufactured in the World War II in Philadelphia. In order to use it, the only things that the wearer had to do were to cock the gun and throw a punch. On hitting the enemy, a plunger would be pressed, firing off a single round into whatever extremity you didn't want to exist anymore.
Is that blood? Because it looks a lot like blood.
In one famous anecdote, a naval officer in the Pacific Theater was provided with one to use against any enemy forces that boarded their boat. More specifically, he was instructed to surrender immediately and raise his hands above his head, thus hiding the gun barrel until an enemy got close enough. Fortunately for the enemy forces but unfortunately for the litany of great gun stories, no one ever boarded said boat.
Also, if you're wondering where you've seen this gun before, it was Inglourious Basterds.
The Gun Shield
The aptly named gun shield is a shield with a gun in it. They were around in the 16th century, invented by the Italians to be used by the British. This shield is often associated with the aforementioned Henry VIII, who must have had his own Q working in an old-timey weapons lab under his castle. We're just barely joking about that -- Henry was known in his day for being sort of eccentric (not just because he loved killing his wives) and expressed interest in weird new technologies. When he saw this Italian monstrosity, he just fell in love and had to have it. We suspect that looking like a giant boob also factored into his decision.
Boobs and pies were Henry's two favorite things.
The gun was nested inside a standard small shield about 1.5 feet in diameter. Records are spotty on the firing mechanics, but the style seemed to be a rear-loaded matchlock musket pistol, which means that when someone was charging you, or just walking if they were feeling lazy, you had to whip out your match to light the fuse to fire the musket ball. And you probably had to make sure not to aim your shield down too much, or the ball would just roll right out onto the dirt.
At that point, you probably had to just throw the shield at them, like Captain America.
The Billy Club Gun
In the early 20th century, the police had a problem: switching between their clubs and guns during battles with criminals was taking precious time away from administering old-timey beat downs. To this end, they created a prototype weapon capable of smoothly transitioning from cracking skulls to filling perps full of lead. What could possibly go wrong?
"You know what, let's just skip right to the lawsuits."
Christened "The Compensator" (by us, just now), it consisted of a standard-issue Smith & Wesson Model 10 with a wooden billy club attached bayonet-style onto the barrel. As you'd expect from a weapon of such awe-inspiring complexity, using it was simply a matter of deciding how you'd like to ruin whoever was unfortunate enough to be doing crime in your vicinity. Of course, the club had a hole in it to allow you to gun down anyone who you failed to beat sufficiently.
Needless to say, this design didn't come without its flaws. For starters, have you tried accurately aiming a gun with the equivalent of a chair leg weighing down the barrel? If the police ever needed to fire a projectile, they would have been better off dismantling the damn thing and throwing the club itself. Meanwhile, swinging the billy club was an awkward affair that, had it been tried in the real world, would have ended with someone either getting shot in the face, or the bad guy wrestling the gun away. Plus there's the fact that you would always be on the verge of accidentally shooting somebody, since you're gripping your billy club by a live trigger. That may be why the gun was never put into mass production. But here us out: What if you replaced the club with ... a Taser?
For more insane weapons, check out 5 Advanced Weapons Clearly Invented by a 6-Year-Old and If 5-Year-Olds Were In Charge of Weapon Design.