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From the History Books

Gonne Shield

by Garry James   |  July 11th, 2011 3

Over the centuries, two-fers have always been popular, in firearms as well as in other areas of endeavor. One of the odder combination weapons is a 16th century “gonne shield” ostensibly made for England’s King Henry VIII’s bodyguard. It consisted of a round shield about 18 inches in diameter, through which a breech-loading matchlock pistol protruded. The thought was that you could have an offensive and defensive arm all in one. Makes sense, but the only problem with the thing was, it was awkward as hell to use.

I had the chance to play with one a few years ago, and can attest to the fact that unless King Henry’s guard was composed of a phalanx of octopuses, its almost impossible to manage easily, even under the most controlled circumstances. Too many things to have to do with too few hands. Interestingly enough there are a number of gonne shields still extant, so we can only assume that Hank Ocho, realizing their impracticality, stuck them away in the Tower and turned his attention to other more fun, practical things–like blowing off Pope Julius II, establishing the English Reformation and lopping off the heads of sundry spouses.

Garry James

About Garry James

Garry was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1944. At age 11 he was given a Civil War vintage Remington revolver, and this began his passion for firearms. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, he joined the U.S. Army, eventually becoming an Ordnance ammunition officer. After discharge, he joined the staff of "Guns & Ammo" magazine in 1971, where he eventually served as Editor for several years. As well as acting as Arms & Armour Expert for the auction firm of Sotheby Parke Bernet, Garry has been a technical advisor for films and television, including the popular series, “Story of the Gun,” "Tales of the Gun"(for which he was series advisor,) "Mail Call," ”Unsolved History,” “Lock n’ Load,” “American Rifleman Television,” and “Top Shot.” Garry is currently Senior Editor at “Guns & Ammo,” and a contributor to “Guns & Ammo Television” and other Intermedia Outdoors TV productions. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts on the history and the technology of firearms, and has a first-hand knowledge of everything from medieval hand-cannons to the most modern full-autos.

  • Antonio

    I can't help thinking that I'd like one with red and white circular stripes on the outside and a white star bound in blue in the center. Then maybe we upgrade the firing mechanism.

  • robert38-55

    Another wacky gun invention! hahh This thing looks more like an early satelite dish!!!!!!!!!!! I can see where it would be clumsy and hard to operate.

  • Royce McIver

    Looks like junk. bulky, someone had a bad dream

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