Skip to main content

8 Most Impractical Handguns in History

8 Most Impractical Handguns in History

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 Gyrojet

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. '

2mm Kolibri

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.

LeMat Revolver

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€¦ '

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Jeremy Stafford traveled to Gunsite Academy to compare the speed of stock sights against express, three-dot, suppressor-height and red dot sights.

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

It is unlike any other rifle on the market because it offers features no one else does; those looking for a rifle that fits like a custom-made firearm should look no further than the Benelli Lupo.

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

Leupold launches its new DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot sight, a low-profile red dot sight designed specifically for concealed carry and personal defense firearms.Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight — First Look Optics

Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight — First Look

Guns & Ammo Staff - December 31, 2020

Leupold launches its new DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot sight, a low-profile red dot sight designed...

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

See More Trending Articles

More Industry

From the National Shooting Sports Foundation.NSSF Q&A: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

NSSF Q&A: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

National Shooting Sports Foundation - July 23, 2020

From the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

We all have mentors in life, but for many of us the most influential among them are our dads. As Father's Day approached, I found myself reflecting on my own.Father's Day Thoughts Industry

Father's Day Thoughts

Keith Wood - August 20, 2020

We all have mentors in life, but for many of us the most influential among them are our dads....

A closer look at gun sales from the first half of 2020, and what it says about the market.10 Takeaways from the NSSF Firearms Sales Report Industry

10 Takeaways from the NSSF Firearms Sales Report

Brad Fitzpatrick - November 06, 2020

A closer look at gun sales from the first half of 2020, and what it says about the market.

The editorial staff of Guns & Ammo has put together a one-of-a-kind Gear Box with their favorite items from their most recent testing and reviews. Guns & Ammo Gear Box Industry

Guns & Ammo Gear Box

Guns & Ammo Staff

The editorial staff of Guns & Ammo has put together a one-of-a-kind Gear Box with their...

See More Industry

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now