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The Worst Guns in History

Updated March 9, 2020 22.1k votes 5.0k voters 1.5m views20 items

Among the countless number of firearms designed and built in the last few centuries, a select few lay claim to being the worst. Some are so bizarre 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 don't work as well.

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, a futuristic Gyro Jet, 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 pointless. At their very worst, they have a nasty habit of maiming their owners through horrible recoil and flying parts. Whether you're 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, least effective guns ever made.

  • 5

    2 mm Kolibri

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

    A tiny pistol that fired a bullet about half an inch long, the Kolibri (German for "hummingbird") was patented by an Austrian watchmaker in 1910to 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 and no velocity. Kolibri pistols are now collectors' items.

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  • 6

    Glisenti Model 1910

    Photo: Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

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  • 7

    Northover Projector

    Photo: Malindine (Lt) War Office official photographer / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    With the looming threat of German invasion, Great Britain needed a cheap and easily produced way to arm Home Guard reservists with weapons that could stop German armor. So, Winston Churchill authorized the production of the Northover Projector, a simple anti-tank gun. But the Northover was a difficult weapon to use. It was heavy and hard to move, and gave off so much smoke when fired that its position was instantly identifiable. 18,000 Northovers were made, but few ever made it into combat.

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  • 8

    Davy Crockett

    Photo: US government DOD and/or DOE photograph / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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. 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.

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