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.

A sword is a bladed weapon intended for slashing or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Pistol type of handgun

A pistol is a type of handgun. The pistol originates in the 16th century, when early handguns were produced in Europe. The English word was introduced in ca. 1570 from the Middle French pistolet. The most common types of pistol today are the single shot and semi-automatic.

Revolver handgun that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel

A revolver is a repeating handgun that has a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The revolver allows the user to fire multiple rounds without reloading after every shot, unlike older single shot firearms. After a round is fired the hammer is cocked and the next chamber in the cylinder is aligned with the barrel by the shooter either manually pulling the hammer back or by rearward movement of the trigger.



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.

Flintlock firearm using a flintlock mechanism

Flintlock is a general term for any firearm that uses a flint striking ignition mechanism. The term may also apply to a particular form of the mechanism itself, also known as the true flintlock, that was introduced in the early 17th century, and rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the matchlock, the wheellock, and the earlier flintlock mechanisms.

Dagger Fighting weapon with a sharp point

A dagger is a knife with a very sharp point and two sharp edges, typically designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. Daggers have been used throughout human experience for close combat confrontations, and many cultures have used adorned daggers in ritual and ceremonial contexts. The distinctive shape and historic usage of the dagger have made it iconic and symbolic. A dagger in the modern sense is a weapon designed for close-proximity combat or self-defense; due to its use in historic weapon assemblages, it has associations with assassination and murders. Double-edged knives, however, play different sorts of roles in different social contexts. In some cultures, they are neither a weapon nor a tool, but a potent symbol of manhood; in others they are ritual objects used in body modifications such as circumcision.

Wild boar species of mammal

The wild boar, also known as the wild swine, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia, North Africa, and the Greater Sunda Islands. Human intervention has spread its distribution further, making the species one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widely spread suiform. Its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability mean that it is classed as least concern by the IUCN and it has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range. The animal probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene, and outcompeted other suid species as it spread throughout the Old World.

Military use

Elgin Cutlass Pistol at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia Elgin cutlass pistol.jpg
Elgin Cutlass Pistol at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia

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 ]

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

Bowie knife Pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife

A Bowie knife is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife created by James Black in the early 19th century for Jim Bowie, who had become famous for his use of a large knife at a duel known as the Sandbar Fight.

Percussion cap type of firearm igniter

The percussion cap, introduced circa 1820, is a type of single-use ignition device used on muzzleloader firearms that enabled them to fire reliably in any weather conditions. This crucial invention gave rise to the caplock or percussion lock system.

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]

Patent set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee so that he has a temporary monopoly

A patent is a form of intellectual property. A patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, usually twenty years. The patent rights are granted in exchange for an enabling public disclosure of the invention. In most countries patent rights fall under civil law and the patent holder needs to sue someone infringing the patent in order to enforce his or her rights. In some industries patents are an essential form of competitive advantage; in others they are irrelevant.

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]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

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]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

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]


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. Deleaxhe Apache pistol 7mm.jpg
Apache pepperbox knuckleduster popular among turn-of-the-century French street gangs.

Related Research Articles

Carbine shorter version of rifle

A carbine, from French carabine, is a long gun firearm but with a shorter barrel than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full-length rifles, shooting the same ammunition, while others fire lower-powered ammunition, including types designed for pistols.

Machine gun fully automatic mounted or portable firearm

A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire rifle cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine for the purpose of suppressive fire. Not all fully automatic firearms are machine guns. Submachine guns, rifles, assault rifles, battle rifles, shotguns, pistols or cannons may be capable of fully automatic fire, but are not designed for sustained fire. As a class of military rapid-fire guns, machine guns are fully automatic weapons designed to be used as support weapons and generally used when attached to a mount- or fired from the ground on a bipod or tripod. Many machine guns also use belt feeding and open bolt operation, features not normally found on rifles.

Pepper-box revolver

The pepper-box revolver or simply pepperbox is a multiple-barrel repeating firearm that has three or more barrels which revolve around a central axis. It mostly appears in the form of a multi-shot handheld firearm. Pepperboxes exist in all ammunition systems: matchlock, wheellock, flintlock, caplock, pinfire, rimfire and centerfire. While pepperboxes are usually handguns, a few rifle-sized guns were made: Samuel Colt owned a revolving 3-barrel matchlock musket from India, and an 8-barrelled pepperbox shotgun was designed; but never went into production.

Ethan Allen (armsmaker) Armsmaker

Ethan Allen was a major American arms maker from Massachusetts. He is unrelated to the revolutionary Ethan Allen. His first firearm, the "Pocket Rifle" was developed in 1836, and his first patent was granted in 1837.

Pinfire cartridge

A pinfire cartridge is an obsolete type of metallic firearm cartridge in which the priming compound is ignited by striking a small pin which protrudes radially from just above the base of the cartridge. Invented by Frenchman Casimir Lefaucheux in the 1830s but not patented until 1835, it was one of the earliest practical designs of a metallic cartridge. Its history is closely associated with the development of the breechloader which replaced muzzle-loading weapons.

.410 bore shotgun shell

The .410 bore or .410 gauge, is the second-smallest caliber of shotgun shell commonly available. A .410 bore shotgun loaded with shot shells is well suited for small game hunting and pest control. The .410 started life off in the UK as a garden gun along with the.360 and the No.3, No.2 and No.1 bore rimfires. .410 shells have similar base dimensions to the .45 Colt cartridge, allowing many single-shot firearms, as well as some derringers chambered in that caliber to fire .410 shot shells without any modifications.

LeMat Revolver

The LeMat revolver was a .42 or .36 caliber cap & ball black powder revolver invented by Jean Alexandre LeMat of New Orleans, which featured an unusual secondary 20 gauge smooth-bore barrel capable of firing buckshot. It saw service with the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War of 1861–65 and the Army of the Government of National Defense during the Franco-Prussian War.

A sword bayonet is any long, knife-bladed bayonet designed for mounting on a musket or rifle. Its use is thought to have begun in the 18th century and to have reached its height of popularity throughout the 19th and into the early 20th centuries. When unmounted from a musket or rifle, sword bayonets with their typical hilts and long blades also could be wielded as short swords. While modern military bayonets typically have knife blades, they are usually too short to be called sword bayonets and are more akin to fighting/utility knives.

Apache revolver handgun which incorporates multiple other weapons, popularized by Les Apaches in France in the early 1900s

An Apache revolver is a handgun which incorporates multiple other weapons, made notorious by the French underworld figures of the early 1900s known as Les Apaches.

A combination weapon is a close-quarters weapon combining the features of both a firearm and an edged melee weapon. Examples of gun hybrids include knife/pistols and pistol/sword combinations.

Antique firearms

An antique firearm is a term to describe a firearm that was designed and manufactured prior to the beginning of the 20th century. Although the exact definition of what constitutes an "antique firearm" varies between countries, the advent of smokeless powder or the start of the Boer War are often used as cut-off dates. Antique firearms are usually collected because of their historical interest and/or their monetary value.

Handgun short-barreled firearm designed to be fired with only one hand

A handgun is a short-barrelled firearm that can be held and used with one hand. The two most common handgun sub-types in use today are revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

The Colt New Model Revolving rifles were early repeating rifles produced by the Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1856 until 1864. The design was essentially similar to revolver type pistols, with a rotating cylinder that held five or six rounds in a variety of calibers from .36 to .64 inches. They were mainly based upon the Colt Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket Revolver developed by Elisha K. Root. Colt revolving pistols and rifles were attractive mainly because of their high rate of fire. They were used to a limited extent on the Pony Express, and made a brief appearance in the American Civil War. However, the rifles were generally disliked by soldiers, and were ultimately discontinued due to serious design flaws.

Cylinder (firearms) rotating cylindrical part of a revolver

In firearms, the cylinder is the cylindrical, rotating part of a revolver containing multiple chambers. The cylinder revolves around a central axis in the revolver to bring each individual chamber into alignment with the barrel for firing. Each time the gun is cocked, the cylinder indexes by one chamber.

Lancaster pistol multi-barrel pistol

The Lancaster Pistol was a multi-barrelled handgun produced in England in the mid-late 19th century, chambered in a variety of centrefire pistol calibres—chiefly .38 S&W, .450 Adams, .455 Webley, and .577 inch. The designer, London gunsmith Charles Lancaster, began his career in 1847 as an apprentice to his father, Charles Sr. During the 1850s he invented oval bore rifling and the gas check bullet.

Mughal weapons

Mughal weapons significantly evolved during the ruling periods of Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. During its conquests throughout the centuries, the military of the Mughal Empire used a variety of weapons including swords, bows and arrows, horses, camels, elephants, some of the world's largest cannons, muskets and flintlock blunderbusses.


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    Dated to the end of the 16th century, this sword cane (already a combination weapon) also incorporates a wheel-lock firearm.
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  25. Defender pistol