There are literally thousands of different guns in the world and the technology has been around for over 650 years already. It’s safe to say they’re really effective at killing things and we’re pretty married to the idea of using them for all our law enforcement and war-based needs. The basic idea of them – a cylinder that holds a projectile which is fired via an explosive charge, has remained basically the same after all this time, with various improvements on range, accuracy, lethality and ability to shoot bazllions of rounds in a very short period of time. So how is it, with this same basic idea not changing for almost 700 years, so many of these random and really awful design ideas pop up? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Turbiaux Palm Squeezer Pistol
When the French weren’t making useless machine guns, they were busy making stealthy little firearms you could use if you ever needed to shoot someone in a library or maybe at the Louvre. I have no idea really, but it’s a secret little palm-shaped gun so presumably you were offing someone on the sly with it. Unfortunately, if you design a tiny, little palm-sized gun, you can imagine that it also takes tiny, lame little bullets(extra short 32caliber bullets to be exact) that are not so much lethal as annoying. The gun held seven shots specifically because one was definitely not going to kill anyone. You needed all 7 to put someone down and if that didn’t work, hopefully one of the bullets took your victim in the knee so you could run away.
Nock Volley Gun
Imagine the power of 7 barrels blowing the ever loving crap out of whatever’s in front of you. Double barrel shotguns wish they could cause this kind of destruction. This is the weapon you’d use to bust a hole in someone’s wall Kool-Aid Man style before leaping in and cleaning house! Except for one problem. Have you ever tried to shoot 3 and ½ double barrel shotguns at the same time on the same shoulder? The recoil of the Nock was devastating, enough to literally break shoulders. On the other end, since this had 7 barrels firing at once, the muzzle flare was basically a small flamethrower and using it on a ship at sea, as was intended, ran the risk of lighting sails and rigging.
The Royal Navy put in an order for 500 Nock rifles and barely used any of them before retiring the weapon thanks to how dangerous and difficult to use it was.
The French machine gun known as the Chauchat was infamous for its uselessness. The gun was designed with wide open spaces as though the gun innards were in need of fresh air, but completely lost functionality when it got clogged with dirt and mud. It’s said French soldiers would throw the guns away almost as soon as they were issued in favor of just about anything else since you could pretty much guarantee a Chauchat would fail you in no time flat.
The design itself was one of the first machine guns capable of being shot while on the march, and one of the first to be used by a single operator without a heavy tripod, making it seem like it should have been awesome. But because it was designed on the cheap, the open cartridge would routinely get clogged with dirt which was unavoidable in the trenches of World War 1. Also it would cease operation when it was overheated until it cooled down again, meaning in the middle of some heavy fire you needed to give the poor dear a rest to catch its breath. It took about two months for the French to ditch this as a weapon.
Don’t you hate it when you have 4 guys you want to kill and instead of standing single file in front of you, they stand shoulder to shoulder? The Duckfoot Pistol was made for you! Named thanks to its resemblance to the splayed foot of a duck, the multiple barrels pointed off in all directions for those sketchy situations in which you need to shoot at everybody in the room.
In a hilarious twist of logic, none of the barrels of a duckfoot pistol was straight, so you could never actually aim at anything. You’d instead shoot at everything “in general” and hope for the best. So if there was anything in the room you didn’t want to shoot, it either had to be right in front of you, or something you weren’t that emotionally attached to because you were probably going to shoot it.
You know what’s better than just shooting your enemy? Blowing him to smaller pieces that are maybe fizzling and sputtering with awfulness. A traditional gun would fail at this, but a mortar, now that blows things up! Why not put a mortar in your hand?
The answer, in 2014, to this question should be obvious. But back when a hand mortar was invented it was less so, which is sad because it was even more dangerous to use explosives back then, since you had to actually light a fuse on fire before you loaded the now ready-to-explode device into the gun in you hand. If it worked right, then you shot a grenade into the distance. But if the fuse bends and burns faster, if a spark from firing sets it off, or if the fact you’re shooting a live and dangerous explosive round with the help of more explosive force causes something to go awry, then people are likely to refer to you as Lefty thereafter.
Cochran Turret Revolver
What’s not to love about the Cochran revolver? It looked at the traditional revolver and said “No, none of this vertical crap. Let’s revolve horizontally!” Now take a minute on your own to consider what would happen if you loaded a revolver and the bullets rotated horizontally instead of vertically. You’d be constantly playing a game of Russian Roulette with yourself. This was precisely the problem with the Cochran, every round facing forward had a round behind it facing you. If the gun was machined improperly or anything was out of place, shooting one bullet forward could just as easily fire a second right back at you. Best case scenario is a ruined gun, worst case is you with a new orifice.