Firearms Oddities

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Firearms Oddities

This page is more about firearms technology, rather than specific Western History. The point being the fast pace and the interesting variety that always came to the marketplace. The rest of it, just for fun, runs from old to modern. See both pages of Mike’s Revolvers* for the important changes in Western Guns.
*Photo Gallery Index – Weapons Photos – Mikes Revolvers Page 1
*Photo Gallery Index – Weapons Photos – Mikes Revolvers Page 2

It was always about how many shots,
how you set ’em off,
and how quick, you could make it happen…

OWDR Oldest Revolver 02OWDR Oldest Revolver 01The oldest known revolver, is over 400 years old and still in excellent condition. Markings on the piece indicate that it was fabricated by “weapons blacksmith” Hans Stopler, in 1597. The revolver is fully engraved, inlaid with gold and has a personalized silver butt plate bearing its owner’s name (“Georg Reichwein 1636”), a German officer hired by Norway.

OWDR Oldest Revolver - smiths markIt is a flintlock, with a single barrel and a hand rotated cylinder with eight chambers. Cocking the hammer does not turn the cylinder. Each cylinder has a sliding pan cover which travels in tight tracks and is individually sprung to prevent the covers from opening unintentionally. The cylinder is indexed to ensure proper barrel alignment and locks into a spring-loaded detent. The frizzen has been mounted to the barrel lug, in front of the cylinder. Cock the hammer, turn the cylinder, slide the pan cover off, set the frizzen and fire. Eight shots from a very portable gun in the 1500’s!

OWDR Oldest Revolver maufacture c 1590'sThis firearm is not a working prototype or proof-of-concept. It’s a highly refined firearm which would stand out without any embellishments. It may be the oldest known revolver, but it’s clear to see, that it is built, on established conventions. This definitely is not, the earliest revolver ever made. Displayed on special occasions at the Maihaugen Museum in Lillehammer, Norway. Note how crisp, the makers mark appears (a stirrup). The period engraving shows us some 15th century gunsmithing techniques. Photos: above, © Camilla Damgard/Maihaugen Museum – Fair use.

Newer, but still flintlock ignition…





The flintlock revolver appears somewhat more modern in design, but the flintlock revolving rifle appears to be more closely descended from the revolver pictured above.

Ignition had to catch up to engineering…

A Hybrid…

This revolver is most unusual as it truly represents the transitional period in multi-shot firearms. This gun is a marriage between newer barrel and and bullet loading technology and an older mechanical and grip design. With the ring trigger, the back end could be from an existing single barrel or pepperbox design. This .28 cal, percussion piece bears no markings what-so-ever. However, It is very similar to work produced by Belgian gunsmith Henri-Joseph Colleye (c. 1850 – 1860) and French gunsmith  Jean-Louis François Devisme, c. 1855. Numerous variants of these guns exist. I know of no American gun of similar mixed design and it is unlikely that some, if any, pieces such as this appeared on the American frontier but it is certainly an interesting example of the rapidly changing firearms technology of the times.  Photo: © Harry Spijker {013}, by permission  {001 & 013, with additional info from Aaron Newcomer}
As we know, things can get a little crazy in the world of firearms design now and then and here is a wonderful example. 48 shots! You design the quick draw holster for this one! Certainly brings a new perspective to “Load on Sunday, shoot all week”. As above in the “hybrid transitional revolver”, note that with what we can see in the photo this is old style grip and ignition technology. This too, looks like it might have been a pepperbox frame; I’d bet it has a ring trigger. Photo: Endo Gun Blog via Facebook  {001}


Here is another of the odd attempts to obtain multiple shots from a handgun; no doubt, hand operated. This one is certainly older than the “revolving, revolver” shown above. If anyone has a clue to the maker of this piece, please let me know. I’m pretty sure it’s European manufacture. Another tricky “quick draw” holster. Photo: posted by J.W. Hardin in Guns of the Old West  [FB group]  {001}




Revolver-Multi-Shot-c.-1880s-- Firearms Oddities

European – they always were…

I’m a little suspicious that this ones fires three at a time, six times. Otherwise, there’s some mighty tricky mechanics going on in the back end of this piece. Hammer/barrel selectors or who knows. Complications that can cause unfortunate delays when time is of the essence, as was often the case with firearms in those times. Wide and heavy too. Anybody actually know? – Doc


Multi-Shot-pistol-unknown - Firearms Oddities

Yet another try at multiple shots…

Ten Round Pistol - Firearms Oddities

Ten Round Pistol
Maybe a tad barrel heavy?








Flint-Percussion Rifle - Firearms Oddities

A Flint-Percussion Rifle
Here is a try at bridging the technologies,
and retaining priming options on a long gun


 How about a four barrel percussion rifle?
This one might have been a bit on the heavy side!


Canes , Knives and Swords – Disguised  Guns


The whole business of carrying more shots definitely got better as revolvers improved. It improved again with percussion cap ignition and then took a grand step with metallic cartridges. But along the way, and particularly at the personal level, there were some other issues. How would you carry some of these odd shapes on a daily basis? Do you want people to know you are armed? And… there is always the question: “What do you do when the thing runs dry or decides not to fire?” Obviously, many of the pieces above would certainly become a bludgeon in that situation. Included below, you will see some of the other traditional answers to that pressing question. Some a bit more practical, portable, concealable, etc. than others. Some, very clever and effective in their design.  {001}






Top left: A cane with a .410 shotgun surprise!  Top right: Another style of shotgun cane.
bottom left: A revolver/knife combo, also, similar pieces are often seen with a single shot flintlock pistol.
Middle right: A sword/revolver combo.  bottom right: Single-shot pistol/knife combo.

This is a modern version of the classic knife/gun combo. The Photo comes via David Ferguson (Collectors of Antique Firearms [FB group]) who found it in the Timeline Photos section of The Atheist Artists [FB] page]. Anybody know the maker? I will note them when I find out. {001}




Brass Knuckles/Knives and Guns








The Apache Revolver
Made in Belgium, designed by Dolne Brevete; manufactured by L. Dolne à Liege, c. 1860’s to about 1900 in various versions, plain to fancy; 7mm (.27 cal.) pinfire pepperbox with a two inch blade and brass knuckles. No barrels, no safety, folded up and carried in the pocket, relatively safely, with the hammer in the notch between the cylinders. A contact weapon for sure, for any of its “modes” to be fully effective. Although the revolver was probably accurate enough, well beyond arms-reach. A few probably crossed the pond to the Old West. Highly collectible today, a fine example might bring $4,000. Photo: © Rama, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr  {001}

More “Hidden” Guns


Chicago Firearms palm pistol - Firearms OdditiesHere’s a couple of palm pistols. Looks like the LH one might be a .38. A pretty good handfull!
Photos: LH U.S. PD internet – RH U.S. PD internet, a Chicago Firearms palm pistol.







Does this thing only play: The .410 to Eternity.


Little All Right Pistol - Firearms Oddities

Little All Right Pistol

The one above is a Spanish copy,
NOVO folding revolver.
the other one is a true Belgian Novo.
Both in 6.35 mm Auto caliber.
Photo: Marcel Cansee {014}









These contraptions are also called squeeze guns…


 OWDR Watch Pistol






Is it time to go?  I think you would have to be close enough to hear these things tick before they would do too much damage. Usually European in manufacture, there were, no doubt, a few banging their way around the American frontier. Usually about 2mm.  Photos: U.S. PD? internet.  {001}

Cut & Shoot?

“I assume it is a “Trancheer couvert” (Don’t know how to translate, sorry) from an early to mid 18th Century ship-owner or captain of a sailing ship, due to the civil blazonry, with a 3 master in the lower cartouche. It has nothing to do with royalty or knighthood (no crown or ournament? duel helmet). Corresponds with the 18th Century screw-head, with the stylised Tudor rose and  the serpent-like garland with leaf. I would date this between 1720 and 1760. It is obviously Dutch, considering Utrecht is mentioned on it.”
OWDR Contributor Dirk Lagerwij {006} Not Western at all of course, but this page is also dedicated to a look at the unusual and fun. {006 & 001}

Sleeve Gun - Firearms OdditiesThis stamp manufactured wonder is a sleeve gun.
I think you would want to take care
not to shoot your own finger off. Photo: U.S. PD.


Key Gun - Firearms Oddities

Key Gun




22 .cal Pen Gun - Firearms Oddities

Oh, is that font .22? A Pen Gun







>22 cal. Telephone gun - Firearms Oddities

Hello! This is operator .22…

Tire pressure gage gun - Firearms Oddities

I suspect that this one only checks .22







Cross Pendant Gun - Firearms Oddities

A bit of a mixed
message here?




Ronson Lighter Gun - Firearms Oddities

I guess this thing could
shoot off the end of your cigarette?







 Ring Guns – a gamblers last chance…


5 shot Ring Revolver

7 shot Ring Revolver w/case

French made, a Dyson LePetit Protector Ring Pistol [5mm pinfire], c. mid-1800’s. Probably sold sold primarily to gamblers and maybe a few doves. There were 5’s, 6’s and 7’s, but all were pretty much the same. Usually cased with a screwdriver and a full load. Talk about an up close and personal weapon, you probably had to be in physical contact to do much damage to other than to your own finger. No doubt a few of these made it into the American west.  Photos: PD Guns of the Old West  {001}





This is a very old and popular segment of the world-wide interest in firearms. Sometimes, they are actually intended to be carry guns, (granted, it does bring an older perspective to the modern term “mouse guns”). You have already seen the scaling down, and often the disguise of working guns intended for last-ditch personal protection in the photos above.  Thus also, the fish hook gun, the key gun and numerous other such novelties.
But most of these tiny guns, and the best, are for the enjoyment of the engineering and technical marvels of reproducing familiar/famous working firearms and new designs, in miniature. And make no mistake, these are working, real guns! In the same mechanical  fashion as the full-sized piece. That Colt peacemaker is the real McCoy.  {001}

Fishhook Gun

Watch Fob Gun (from an internet auction)

Kolibri Mini-auto - Firearms Oddities

Kolibri Mini-auto
Available in:
2.7 mm and 3 mm



















If you find a fun one, send it to me! – Doc


The Miscellaneous, or… Why did they do this?


Here is another clearly modern gun but as you can see it had to be here in the oddities. An auto-revolver, it is a WTF Mateba MTR-8; firearms inventors never rest. I think this thing is awkward and unbalanced and every time it’s fired the balance would change because the lead is so far forward. Looks difficult to carry and draw as well. Photo: posted by David Ferguson in Collectors of Antique Firearms [FB group] .  {001}


A Treeby Chain Gun, .54 cal. percussion, c. 1854.  In the times, 14 shots rapid fire was a big deal, but reloading one of these would take a while. There were other problems… Here we see another attempt to add firepower to a single weapon, but still no good solution to loading issues and bulk. Yet, look at the gas seal accomplished when the barrel was turned back against the cylinder, better than any revolver of the times. Still, just another awkward, not quite there gun. Only two of these rifles were ever made. They were prototypes for a British Army contract which never came.   Photos: PD Internet, one of the still existing two guns.  {001}


Punt Guns


Did you ever wonder just how the old timers killed off an entire species, such as the passenger pigeon? Here is one of the principal tools, the punt gun ( Named after a type of boat used by many of the hunters). These giants were used by market hunters of two kinds, those after the meat and those supplying the millinery trade with feathers. We see the guns compared to people and in the lower illustration, how the gun was actually used in the field. Obviously if the flock was was too close to the gun, there would be nothing but feathers floating down from the sky and none of them would be usable. As with all such esoteric arts, I would imagine it took some time to become a skilled, economically effective hunter with one of these guns. However, in any case, they did in the pigeon and decimated quite a few other species as well. Public outcry, some regulation and changes in fashion finally ended this style of market hunting.* {001}

Scottish Punt Gun - Firearms Oddities

Scottish Punt Gun Photo: internet
from a Scottish newspaper
advertising an auction

Large Punt Gun
Looks about the same size as the one in the illustration.
Photo: U.S. PD? pre-1923

















*P.S. Any of you shooters think these old boys were wearing ear plugs?
Deaf as a cannoneer after a few years of it, is my vote! – Doc


Animal Killers


These unusual, special purpose firearms were made by England’s premier gun maker W. W. Greener. They are animal killers. Intended to be a humane replacement for previous methods of dispatching animals in slaughterhouses, etc. For Larger animals on the left, smaller on the right. Production began in 1895 and continues today with updated designs.  {001}




Slaughtering-Pistol - Firearms Oddities



Because it’s the only one there is…


This pistol is here because it’s the only one there is. OWDR Contributor Marcel Cansee {014}, lends this description, “The only known copy of a Root Sidehammer Colt. Cased and nicely engraved, no markings at all. Maker unknown. Based on John Fluck’s Monograph, this should be a close copy of the 5th variant, .31 cal with round barrel and full cylinder flutes. Although unmarked and possibly not of Belgian manufacture, this gun is also considered as a ‘Colt Breveté'”. Photo: posted by Marcel Cansee in Collectors of Antique Firearms [FB group]  {014 & 001}


A Powder Tester

A percussion powder tester - Firearms Oddities

A percussion powder tester


An Alarm Gun


An Alarm Gun - Firearms Oddities

An Alarm Gun
for yard or garden


Take a shot? It’s Movie Time!







The Doryu 2-16 is a pistol-shaped camera taking 16mm film, made from 1954 to 1956 by the Doryu company. The device is shaped as an automatic pistol, with a handgrip and a trigger. I don’t think I would be comfortable being the “subject” of a “shot”. The “camera” revolver, looks like it still is a revolver, with a camera hanging on it. Can you imagine trying to use something like these items is in today’s world? You would get yourself shot in a New York minute! Photos: U.S. PD ? Internet

A little Sci-Fi, anyone?


Here we have Rick Deckard‘s PKD* Blaster from the movie Blade Runner. A movie prop gun, cobbled from pieces parts: the bolt action and magazine from a .222 Steyr-Mannllcher rifle, the frame and grip from a .44 special Charter Arms Bulldog with four red and two green LED’s added for bling. This piece, a “Hero gun”**, for close-ups and such in the movie, is a one-off. It sold to collector Dan Lanigan in 2009 for $270,000 U.S.
*PKD – A nice nod to Sci-Fi author Phillip K. Dick, the source of material for the film.
**”Hero gun” – It’s what movie prop people call such things.

Trapdoor Flintlock?

While we are looking at movie guns, here is a very unnoticed, but common one. We have all seen these in action in the movies, we just didn’t know it. Here is a Springfield Trapdoor, modified to look like a flintlock. Before the replicas we see today existed, movie studios saved time and money by retrofitting this late 19th-century breech-loading firearm to give it the appearance of a flintlock muzzle-loader. The flintlock parts are dummies, they don’t do anything. When these guns fire, there is no puff of smoke from a priming pan because there isn’t one. It still loads and fires brass cartridges (blanks), single shot.
The studio prop house simply cast a dummy brass or pot metal flintlock cock (hammer) and frizzen (strike plate) assembly, then fitted them, via the Springfield’s original lock screw, over the original hammer and lock plate. In some cases a one-piece dummy flintlock hammer-and-flint piece was soldered onto the hammer, and the immovable frizzen was screwed into the lock plate.
Working with the then-inexpensive 1873
Springfield trapdoor rifle altered with the dummy pieces kept actors considerably safer and saved time because the they didn’t need to be taught to efficiently and safely, load, prime and fire a real flintlock. They could simply lift the hinged breechblock and inserted a blank .45-70  cartridge and the piece was ready to fire. It gave a more realistic look and considerably greater firepower to a scene and saved on expensive production time.

A background Indian actor loads a .45-70 blank cartridge into the breech of a studio dummy flintlock,
made from an 1873 Springfield trapdoor rifle fitted with a fake flintlock assembly.
Jackson Hole, WY, shooting location for The Mountain Me (1980).
— Photos and information for this article, courtesy Phil Spangenberger —

Photo Gallery Index – Weapons Photos – Firearms Photos – Long Guns The “Trapdoor”

History Riders please note:


Yes, this is obviously a modern firearm, but like so many others, it has deep roots in the Olde West…

And…so, …last and least, the one -shot per user, NASA Revolver. Demand for this tool, in our times, due to the ‘Round Robin‘ phenomena, has gone far beyond the agencies expectations and budget. A story beyond the purview of Old West Daily Reader.
However, the actual truth is, that this gun, was originally designed in the Olde Tymes for such as Pony Express riders, bank robbers and politicians who needed a tool to dissuade followers with unpleasant motives, while keeping a close eye on the trail ahead. Obviously, there were some accidents and miscalculations, involving bystanders, other gang members, horses, the shooters themselves and such…
Well, times change, and as the pool of potential users diminished and a modicum of civilization came to the Old West, the gun gradually fell out of use, forgotten, until revived and re-purposed, in modern times. Thus, noted here and shown in it’s modern incarnation.  {001}

A clubbed Shotgun

We close our wandering/wondering through odd-gun land with a good old western favorite. Here is a clubbed shotgun, don’t know for sure but I think its a 12 bore. These things weren’t too common but they were an attention-getter when they came out to join the play. This one is a mule ear Baker. I don’t yet know anything else about it. A lady walked into a New Jersey gunshop and sold a family heirloom, …no more details were provided. I hope to get more info…  Doc

Really don’t know where this page will go…
but I expect I will turn up some fun things from time to time.
If you run across anything that should be here, please send it to me. – Doc

See also:
Photo Gallery Index – Weapons Photos – Firearms – Long Guns – Girandoni Air Rifle
Photo Gallery Index – Weapons Photos – Firearms – Ammunition, Then and Now

Those with further interest in unusual guns should find Firearms Curosia
by Lewis Winant (1955) LOC: 54-7114
and an NRA edition (1996), perhaps easier to find.

Cut & Shoot!

Blades and Barrels - Firearms OdditiesThis is probably the definitive tome on the issue.
If you can find it.

barbed wire divider2 - Firearms OdditiesEnd: Firearms Oddities

{001} C 07/18; E 12/18: F 07/12; P 09/17

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