The Worst Guns of the Past
There are countless number of guns that have been built in the last few centuries, a select few lay claims to being seriously the worst. Some are so weird that they could have only come from the mind of a madman. Others among the worst weapons were products of necessity, designed and built during desperate times by nations at war. Still a few of the worst firearms in history are new spins on an old product, but just aren’t reliable.
Bad guns have many differences, but a few key similarities, no matter if it’s a tiny Kolibri pistol, a nuclear warhead firing Davy Crockett rifle, an Anti-Tank rifle, or a ludicrous volley gun. They tend to be hard to fire, bulky, inaccurate, and prone to jamming. They’re impractical, often to the point of being useless.
Issued to soldiers but most threw them away, and civilians who bought them demanded their money back. At their very worst, they have a nasty habit of hurting their owners through horrible recoil and flying parts, yes very unsafe. If you were fending off pirates in the 1800s or target shooting in 2015, these are things you don’t want in a gun.
Here are some of the worst, most impractical and un-reliable guns ever made.
- Cochran Turret Revolver
With the advent of the Colt Revolver in the early 1830s, a number of gun manufacturers tried to develop their own versions of the iconic revolving mechanism. Likely the strangest was the concept of the “turret gun.” The turret was a round disc with holes bored into it that would hold powder and a ball. To fire the next ball, you moved the disc from an empty hole to a loaded one.
It’s not the worst theory, but it winds up with the shooter essentially having a loaded gun pointed at them. If the gun misfired, which it did often, the other chambers could discharge – including the one pointing at the shooter. Needless to say, turret guns did not spark the public’s imagination.
Soldiers in World War I needed light, powerful machine guns that could be easily moved during attacks, and provide copious firepower for defense. Unfortunately for French troops, they had the Chauchat light machine gun. Its construction was so shoddy that parts weren’t interchangeable, while the distinctive magazine had large holes that easily became caked in mud, making the weapon useless. It jammed easily, overheated, and was impossible to aim. Troops who were issued Chauchats often threw them away, preferring to use anything else they could get their hands on.
- 2 mm Kolibri
A tiny pistol that fired a bullet about half an inch long, the Kolibri (German for “hummingbird”) was designed in 1914 by an Austrian watchmaker to be the ultimate concealed self-defense weapon. In practice, it was so small that handling and firing it were next to impossible. If you did manage to get a round off, you probably were better off delivering a swift kick to the shin. The bullet had no spin, no velocity, and was so weak it could only penetrate about an inch – of pine board. Kolibri pistols are now collectors’ items.
- Nambu Type 94 Pistol
While popular with Japanese servicemen, the Nambu Type 94 was plagued with a number of design problems. It was difficult to reload, and had delicate parts that would break easily when being disassembled. The magazine would also fall out if the pistol was jammed in a holster too hard. But by far the worst problem with the gun was that because of its design, it could accidentally fire without pulling the trigger if tapped on the side too hard. Urban legends abound of Japanese officers shot when they tried to hand over their Nambus, only to have them accidentally go off.
- Davy Crockett
Seeking a way to give infantry the power of killing millions, the US developed the Davy Crockett ultra-close range nuclear recoilless rifle. It was hard to use and inaccurate, but would theoretically form a first line of defense against Soviet tanks rumbling past the Inner German Border. NATO commanders were less than enthusiastic about them, since they’d escalate a conventional conflict into a nuclear one – and they’d likely kill a lot of US troops, as well. Nonetheless, the US Army manufactured over 2,000 Davy Crocketts, and deployed them from 1961 to 1971. A Davy Crockett test explosion was the last above-ground nuclear test in US history.
- Nock Volley Gun
What’s better than one shotgun firing seven times? One seven-barreled shotgun firing once! At least that’s the theory behind the Nock Volley Gun, a massive flintlock rifle used by the Royal Navy in the early days of the Napoleonic Wars. The gun was to be used at close range against enemy ships preparing to board you, with the thought that seven barrels firing at the same time would cut a devastating swath through boarding troops.
In practice, the Nock was almost impossible to aim, and recoiled so hard that it would badly injure the shooter. It also had a tendency to set anything around it on fire – including the sails of British ships. It was discarded quickly, but found a second life in movies and TV many decades later.
- Glisenti Model 1910
An Italian World War I sidearm, the Glisenti was designed to upgrade turn of the century revolvers used by officers. Instead, it was a mess. It was designed to fire the weak 7.65 millimeter bullet, but higher-ups wanted it to fire the more powerful 9mm. When the bigger bullets were forced into the Glisenti, they would often blow the gun apart, due to its weak frame and poor construction. The pistols also wore out quickly, jammed frequently, and had little stopping power. Many officers ditched them and secretly hung on to their revolvers.
- Arsenal AF2011-A1
While this gun looks like an April Fools’ joke from a gun magazine, it’s a real firearm. Made by Arsenal Firearms, it’s basically two 1911 style pistols welded together for extra firepower and coolness. Released in 2015, the AF2011 didn’t win any points with gun enthusiasts, who felt the bulky weapon was virtually impossible to shoot, hard to use, awkward, inaccurate, and hugely overpriced. The gun got some time in the public eye in late 2015 when it was used in SPECTRE by henchman character Mr. Hinx.
- LeMat Revolver
New Orleans gunsmith Jean LeMat cooked up the LeMat Revolver for the Confederacy to use in the Civil War. It was a regular old revolver, except for one special feature: a 20 gauge shotgun slapped underneath it. LeMat and several Confederate generals envisioned the revolver as a close-quarters cavalry weapon, but a variety of factors led to the weapon never seeing extensive use. It was expensive to make, and the Union blockade of New Orleans meant not many made it the front lines. It also used non-standard ammunition, was extremely inaccurate, and difficult to reload. About 2,900 were made in total.
- Boys Anti-Tank Rifle
Mildly effective at the start of World War II, the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle was a man-portable rifle that could put a slug into an enemy tank at long range. It was also crushingly heavy, at over 35 pounds, and had recoil so severe that users often suffered arm and shoulder injuries while firing it. It was taken out of service when heavier tanks began to appear – but still found some use as a vehicle-mounted sniper rifle.
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So what other awful guns have you seen but not on this list?, let us know below so we can add to this list.
Sources: FTB, Wikipedia, Ranker, Reddit, Flickr, Mike Rothschild