Check out some of history’s biggest firearm flops.
Human history is full of amazing developments in weaponry; our history can, in fact, be traced by the weapons we built. While that history is littered with amazing firearms that even long after their development continue to be popular and/or influential (AK 47 anyone?), history is also littered with duds-weapons that suffered from an ill-conceived design, shoddy construction… or both.
While some guns are bad due to poor construction (or a host of other reasons), some are merely ill-conceived; bad designs that never should have left the drawing board, much less been put into production.
Here’s our list of the top 10 most ill-conceived guns ever made.
During WWI, the French Army used the Chauchat as its standard light machine gun. While one of the first machine guns light enough to be carried and operated by a single solider, the Chauchat suffered from extremely poor quality.
So poor was its construction, in fact, that parts were not interchangeable from one gun to the next. The magazine was also an open design, allowing the gunner to see how many rounds he had left. What it actually did though, was let the gun get jammed with dirt and mud fairly easily. Stories abound of French soldiers trading Chauchats as soon as they were issued, in exchange for… anything else.
2. FP-45 Liberator
The FP-45 liberator was conceived and designed as a clandestine weapon for use behind enemy lines during WWII. The theory was that they could be airdropped to resistance forces and used to kill an enemy at close range (effective range was less than 25 feet) and take his or her weapon. While chambered for the powerful .45 ACP cartridge, the liberator took longer to reload than it did to manufacture (seriously). In fact, they were shipped with 10 rounds of ammo and a “tool” for extracting spent cases… which was a stick.
These were cheap to manufacture and some were actually deployed to China and the Philippines, there are no accounts of one ever being used in combat.
3. Cochran Revolvers
Produced in the early 1830s, the Cochran was a revolver (there was a corresponding rifle as well) whose cylinder rotated horizontally. Which meant that every time someone fired a round forward, there was one pointed back towards them.
No thanks, I’m satisfied with the number of holes my body currently has.
4. Nock Volley Gun
Conceived as a weapon for maritime use during the Napoleonic Wars, the Nock Volley Gun (or Nock gun) was a flintlock weapon that was supposed to ward of boarders during ship-to-ship combat.
All the barrels were fired simultaneously, meaning that the fireball that resulted from firing one tended to catch a ship’s rigging (or even sails) on fire. Worse than that, the recoil had a tendency to break the shoulder of the unlucky soul who fired it.
Have ever tried to fire two 3 1/2 12 gauge barrels at the same time? Triple the recoil and add a small flamethrower a foot in front of your face, and you’ll have some idea of what the nock gun was like. Unsurprisingly, they were never widely adopted.
While not technically a firearm in and of itself, the Krummlauf was a bent barrel attachment designed to be fitted to the German Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle during WWII (there were versions for the MG-42 as well). The curve of the barrel varied from 30-90 degrees, giving soldiers the ability to fire from behind cover or to cover the area immediately surrounding a tank.
In practice, however, the extreme forces exerted on the bullets often caused them to shatter within the barrel, often producing an (unintended) shotgun-like effect. Barrel life was also an issue; the 30-degree version had a lifespan of only 300 rounds, while more extreme bends had an even shorter lifespan.
6. Zip .22LR
ZipFactory, a fairly new firearm brand, is an offshoot of U.S. Fire Arms. Their first product is the neat looking zip .22, and while it seems like an interesting design and some have reported that it shoots very accurately, it has several crucial design flaws.
Because its plastic bolt is completely internal, this futuristic looking pistol is built with an external charging capability. This, unfortunately, is where things go wrong.
There’s no other way to say it; both charging handles- one to load a new round, and the other to reset the striker but not move far enough to pull a round out of the magazine- are right above the muzzle.
Yep, you read that right. To operate this firearm, the user must be willing to place their digits over the barrel of a loaded firearm.
Sounds like an ill-conceived gun to me.
7. Double-Barreled Cannon
Designed and built by a private in a home-guard unit of the Confederate Army in 1862, the double-barreled cannon was just that; a cannon with two barrels with three degrees of offset. It was designed to fire two six-pound balls connected by a chain simultaneously, mowing down whatever was in its path. Despite killing a nearby chimney (and a cow) in initial testing and never being officially adopted, it did see service in the defense of Athens, Georgia.
It remains in Athens… pointed north, of course.
8. Desert Eagle .50AE
While the reports of this weapon’s unreliability abound, it’s the concept that bothers us the most.
For starters, the round for which it’s chambered is massive, meaning everything on the gun is super-sized. Unless you’ve got hands the size of an NFL lineman, merely holding it will pose a problem. In addition to being expensive, that round also presents another huge problem: recoil. Just watch this:
Warning: Adult Language
While it may be fun (if you’re one of those people), this weapon has no practical purpose and is too expensive for the average person to enjoy regularly.
The question, then, is “what’s the point?
9. Type 94 Nambu
While the type 94 is certainly the world’s ugliest pistol, its issues don’t stop there.
Produced for the Imperial Japanese Army between 1934 and 1945, it fires the anemic 8x22mm nambu cartridge. Its accuracy was horrific, the cartridge expensive and not very powerful, and the sear is exposed… which means holstering the weapon, handing it off to someone else or even laying it on its side can set it off.
The danger factor alone lands it on our list of the 10 most ill-conceived guns ever made.
10. Breda 30
The Breda 30 was the standard light machine gun for the Italian Army during WWII. It fired the 6.5×52 cartridge from a side-mounted box magazine, and since either the magazine or its latch became bent, the weapon was rendered unusable. The blowback from the closed-bolt action was violent at times, leading to inconsistent extraction. To help counter the extraction problem, it featured a system that lubricated each round before it entered the chamber.
Yep, you read that right. A closed bolt (i.e. hot!) gun with wet, oily rounds meant as the barrel and action heated up the gun would “cook off” rounds without the intention of the gunner.
While many guns are great ideas that suffer from poor execution, these 10 were doomed from the beginning.