Pistol sword

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A pistol sword is a sword with a pistol or revolver attached, usually alongside the blade. It differs from a rifle with a bayonet in that the weapon is designed primarily for use as a sword, and the firearm component is typically considered a secondary weapon designed to be an addition to the blade, rather than the sword being a secondary addition to the pistol. In addition, the two components of these weapons typically cannot be separated, unlike most bayonet-fixed rifles.

Contents

History

Historically, some flintlock pistols of the 17th and 18th centuries were constructed as gun-swords, with the barrel of the pistol attached to the side of the blade of a shortsword or dagger. A shell guard protected the firing mechanism when it was used as a sword. These were used by French and German hunters to kill wounded wild boar. [1] Examples of these weapons can be found in the armoury of Wawel Castle (Kraków, Poland). Similar weapons were made in India, [2] including the Katar (कटार), a thrusting dagger, modern variants of which may feature a single-shot pistol built into one side.

Military use

Elgin Cutlass Pistol at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia [3]

In 1838, the United States Navy developed the .54 caliber, single-shot smoothbore Elgin pistol, which was equipped with an 11.5-inch Bowie knife blade [4] and was intended for use by boarding parties; it was the first percussion cap gun in naval service, [5] but only 150 were made. The Navy specifically intended them for the Wilkes-South Seas expedition. Reportedly, in 1840 a naval landing party used the pistol to good effect when Fijian warriors attacked the sailors on the island of Malolo. [6] A few Elgin pistols were still in use during the US Civil War, [7] but proved unpopular. The Navy quickly replaced them with the M1860 Cutlass, which remained in service until the 1940s. Some found their way into civilian hands and some ended up in the Old West.[ citation needed ]

Pinfire cartridge gun-swords were produced in Belgium during the mid-19th century, although in limited quantity. [8] [9] These custom-made weapons were sometimes used by European officers and featured a loading gate behind the basket hilt. [8] In 1866 T Rauh of Solingen filed a United States patent on the design of a 9mm caliber pistol sword with a 32in blade. [8]

During World War I, the British manufactured a limited number of Webley revolvers with folding blades, similar in design to the Pritchard pistol bayonet. [10] These were used by officers in the trenches for close quarters fighting as the confined space made it difficult to use a sword. However, few were produced due to the expense and scarcity of raw materials. [11]

A rare variant of the World War II Japanese Nambu automatic pistol was a pistol sword. It is possible that this non-regulation weapon was privately purchased by an officer as only one example is known to exist. [12]

Civilian use

Another notable example of a pistol sword was the Swedish 1865 Cutlass Pistol; 500 were ordered by the government and issued to prison guards. [13] It was a breech-loading 2 shot weapon with a 14in by 2in blade weighing 2.5 lb. A few ended up on the other side of the Atlantic and one became part of Buffalo Bill's gun collection. [14]

In the late Victorian era, some French swordsticks had built-in pinfire pepperbox revolvers to increase their lethality; these were carried by civilians for self-defence. However this idea was far from new; combination swordsticks and wheel lock pistols have been in use since the 16th century. [14]

Disadvantages

Pistol swords were not widely used and became uncommon relatively quickly, due to their expense and because instead of getting two weapons in one, one got a heavy pistol and a heavy, off-balance sword, as shown by the poor performance of the Elgin pistol. [15]

Modern versions occasionally appear on the market, however, as novelties or collectors' items, including the Sierra Madre knife pistol. [16]

Similar weapons

Apache pepperbox knuckleduster popular among turn-of-the-century French street gangs.

References

  1. Davis, J.M. (1996). "Swords & Knives". Archived from the original on 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  2. Ellis, Robert (1851). Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue.
  3. Patterson, C. Meade, "George Elgin's Pistols", The Gun Collector, No. 3, Nov. 1949.
  4. Shideler, Dan (2008). 2008 Standard Catalog of Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Krause Publications. p. 1502. ISBN   978-0-89689-608-6.
  5. Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 59. ISBN   978-1-85109-470-7.
  6. Bodinson, Holt (May 2006). "Shoot & slash? PKP knife pistol". American Handgunner . Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  7. "US Civil War Weapons". Real Armor of God. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.Elgin Pistol
  8. 1 2 3 Ruble, Ron (2003). "Pinfire sword gun". Ron Ruble Enterprises. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  9. Biever, Dale E. "Civil War News book review". Civil War News. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  10. "Pritchard pistol bayonet". Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  11. "Fake, fantasy and reproduction bayonets". Archived from the original on 2013-01-13. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  12. "Japanese Sword Pistol". Neatorama. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  13. Frost, Gordon, Blades and Barrels (1972) p.61
  14. 1 2 Arnow, Chad. "Spotlight: Combination Weapons". MyArmory.com. Archived from the original on 28 February 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2008. Sword cane with wheel-lock firearm from the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
    Dated to the end of the 16th century, this sword cane (already a combination weapon) also incorporates a wheel-lock firearm.
  15. Kinard, Jeff (2003). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 59. ISBN   978-1-85109-470-7.
  16. Powell, J. "History: Sierra Madre Knife Pistols". San Juan Enterprises. Retrieved 29 October 2008. Modern knife pistol
  17. 1 2 Howard Ricketts, Firearms, (London,1962) p.29.
  18. Boarding axes
  19. Howard Ricketts, Firearms, (London,1962) p.11.
  20. Ricketts
  21. William Pinnock; W. Edwards; James Burkhart Gilbert (1833). The Guide to Knowledge. proprietor; and published. p. 589.
  22. "The Tudor Room — Tower of London Virtual Tour (London Online) Accessed 18/12/2008". London Online. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  23. Rummel, James R (11 November 2006). "Is That an Apache in Your Pocket? Archived 2008-07-19 at the Wayback Machine ." Hell in a Handbasket blog. Retrieved on 23 December 2008.
  24. 1 2 Frost, Gordon (1972). Blades and Barrels: six centuries of combination weapons .
  25. Defender pistol