Practicality may not be something shooters think about all the time; if that was the case, .50-cal rifles would be a lot less popular on the civilian market . However, while we may look at some guns and think, "Now why would anyone need THAT?" chances are the Herculean handgun that looks like it was hauled in by a flatbed trailer doesn't hold a candle to some of the most impractical handguns in history. Whether they were too costly to make or just plain ineffective, here are eight of the most impractical handguns in history.
The Apache Revolver
Ah, the Swiss Army Knife of awful weaponry. For those of you looking to bring not only a knife, but brass knuckles to a gunfight, the Apache revolver is the gun for you. Made by the French (of course it was), this pepperbox revolver could fold up and fit compactly in the user's pocket. Seems awesome enough, but with no sights whatsoever, the Apache was practically impossible to aim. Its limited 7mm caliber didn't exactly help matters, and the entire axle holding the cylinder in place had to be removed in order to reload. In addition, the knuckle dusters were only 1½ inches across, meaning you'd need to have ridiculously tiny hands to use them, and with a blade the same size, almost every facet of this weapon seems utterly useless.
The Duck's Foot Pistol
Of all the insane volley guns
ever created, the duck's foot pistol is up there as one of the most impractical. Featuring four -- sometimes more -- branching barrels, the duck's foot pistol is of course meant to hit four targets at a time, and in a more general sense, to basically spray a mob with bullets. As you might have guessed, however, there's really no way of aiming; it's more drawing and firing, and praying that you didn't hit one of your own guys. One thing's for sure, though: We'd love to see the holster for this thing.
The idea behind the Gyrojet family of guns (shown above, two pistols, a carbine and a rifle) sounds awesome enough: Make a gun that's essentially a mini-rocket launcher. Sounds great on paper, sure, but in practice, it's another story. That was apparent when the Gyrojet made its debut in the 1960s. Firing mini rockets called 'Microjets ' -- which differed from conventional bullets in that they continued to accelerate after leaving the barrel, and achieved maximum kinetic energy just after expending fuel -- the Gyrojet offered low combustion, and therefore low recoil. However, this thing was expensive; rounds were known to cost $100 a pop and became far too costly to manufacture, and Army tests proved it to be cumbersome and unreliable.
Henrion, Dassy & Heuschen Revolver
At one point or another, many of us have probably wished our revolvers could match the capacity of any given semi-auto. However, we never expect cylinders to straight-up shatter mag capacities. The Henrion, Dassy & Heuschen Revolver features an unbelievable 20-round cylinder. Its laughable design is coupled with the fact that the manufacturers tried to brand it under manly names like 'Wild West, ' 'Redoubtable, ' and we're not even making this one up, 'Terrible. '
The lilliputian Kolibri pistol and its equally tiny cartridge, the world's smallest commercially available centerfire cartridge (shown above next to a .45 ACP cartridge), showed that when it comes to guns, smaller isn't always better. Introduced in 1914, the Kolibri and its firearm series was designed with self-defense in mind, but as is common with extremely small guns, shooters soon found the Kolibri had almost no power, being unable to fire through a piece of pine board 1.5 inches thick. When your gun can be deterred by wearing a piece of wood, maybe it's time to trade -- or trash.
Have you ever been at the range and thought to yourself, 'Gee, handguns are fun and all, but it would be so much more fun if I could tape a shotgun to this puppy. ' Sounds ludicrous, but in keeping with gun nuts' lust for more and more firepower, the LeMat Revolver combined the best of both worlds; the caliber cap & black ball powder revolver featured a smoothbore barrel capable of firing 16-gauge buckshot, made possible by a novel pivoting striker on the hammer. Innovative, maybe -- and that's a BIG maybe -- but the LeMat didn't see much service beyond the Civil War.
Protector Palm Pistol
The need for a compact handgun
can't be understated; it's always nice to have a good carry gun just in case. The French jumped on that bandwagon in 1882 with the Protector Pocket Pistol, a .32-caliber seven-shot pistol that was unique in the way it was operated. Rather than firing with a conventional trigger, the Protector was fired when the shooter squeezed it in the palm of his or her hand. Though innovative, efficiency took a backseat; the gun featured very limited range and lethality, and shooters had to disassemble the entire gun just to reload.
Arsenal Firearms AF2011-A1
Last month, Arsenal Firearms introduced its double-barreled take on the 1911, prompting many gun enthusiasts to wonder if it was an early April Fools' joke. Nobody's laughing, though: The AF2011-A1
is very real. With a bigger butt than your extra large Aunt Marge, our faithful readers were reviled by the Frankengun, and even G&A blogger Iain Harrison
poked a little fun at it: 'Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a brilliant idea that involves a couple of Glock 17s and a tube of JB Weld€¦ '