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The Worst Guns in History

Updated March 9, 2020 22k votes 5k 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.

  • 9

    Duck's Foot Pistol

    Video: YouTube

    Almost certainly the most impractical firearm ever made, the Duck's Foot Pistol suffers from one obvious flaw - none of its four .45 caliber barrels actually point in the direction you're aiming. Instead, it's designed to blast out in a wide range, which is great if you've got an enemy horde on top of you, but not so useful any other time.


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  • 10

    Puckle Gun

    Photo: Mike Peel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Possibly the world's first automatic weapon, the Puckle Gun was designed in 1718 by James Puckle, a British lawyer and inventor. Essentially a huge revolver on a tripod, the Puckle was meant to pacify angry native populations. Instead, it was clumsy, difficult to aim and ill-suited for warfare of the time. Likely the strangest thing about the Puckle was its ability to fire a square bullet, designed solely to be fired at Turks.

    Why design a bullet just for shooting at one particular religion? Because square bullets were thought to cause more damage, and would teach the Turks the benefits of living under Christian civilization. Needless to say, the bullets were impossible to aim, and, like the Puckle Gun itself, were a failure written off as a historical oddity.

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  • 11

    "Ring of Fire" Guns

    Photo: U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Not so much one model of pistol as much as a type, "ring of fire" guns were also known as a "Saturday night special." They were cheaply made, fragile, and inexpensive pistols meant for concealed carry - but often suffered from jams, poor accuracy, lack of durability, and accidental discharges.

    They were used in a number of robberies and shootings. The cadre of gunmakers who cranked out these pistols were mostly based in the south Florida and Los Angeles areas.

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  • 12

    Nock Volley Gun

    What's better than one shotgun firing seven times? One seven-barreled shotgun firing once! At least that's the theory behind the Nock Volley Gun, a massive flintlock rifle used by the Royal Navy in the early days of the Napoleonic Wars. The gun was to be used at close range against enemy ships preparing to board you, with the thought that seven barrels firing at the same time would cut a devastating swath through boarding troops.

    In practice, the Nock was almost impossible to aim, and recoiled so hard that it would badly injure the shooter. 

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