Fold Up Your Tiny Gun, Slip It In Your Pocket
Benjamin Loomis was a Civil War veteran and a successful inventor. One of his most interesting patents, from February 1866, is for a folding revolver. From the patent description, it’s obvious that safety was Loomis’s main priority. “The object of my invention is to secure greater compactness and safety... Read more
This Fountain Pen Is a Pistol
In 1954, Sol Harry Gaylord, Jr. and James Tollinger filed a patent for a “fountain pen pistol.” The U.S. government granted the patent to the inventors’ company in July 1958. The pen pistol features a receiver that resembles a fountain pen, but with a short rifled barrel inside. In... Read more
This Mystery Gun Is Very, Very Weird
This unusual, bolt-action, manually-repeating pistol has three tube magazines running along the barrel. We don’t know who made this weapon, nor when or where. Given its general aesthetic and mode of operation, it likely dates from the 1880s. The prototype, which sold at auction in 2010, is in-the-white and... Read more
George Reaben’s ‘Torpedo Crossbow’ Seems Problematic
In November 1919 George Birkley Reaben of New York filed a patent for an explosive torpedo that could be fired from a crossbow. Reaben’s patent describes “an arrow which is provided with means for exploding a torpedo upon the arrow striking end foremost the target.” The explosives detonated by... Read more
Pray and Spray With the ‘Special Case’ Briefcase Gun
Gun-maker Heckler & Koch’s Spezialkoffer — “Special Case” — is a clandestine weapon for personal-protection details. Offering the firepower of an MP5K in a concealed package, the Special Case first appeared in the late 1970s and is still available today. While the MP5K is already a compact weapon and... Read more
The Gun That Killed James Garfield
Charles Guiteau used a British Bulldog pistol to kill the 20th president of the United States James Garfield on July 2, 1881 at the busy Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station in Washington, D.C. Guiteau had stalked Garfield for a considerable time. He reportedly believed that killing Garfield, thus elevating Vice... Read more
The Gun That Killed Abraham Lincoln
On April 14, 1865 U.S. president Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a single shot to the back of the head. The American Civil War had ended just days before with Southern general Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox when John Wilkes Booth, a well-known stage actor, shot Lincoln as the president... Read more
The Gun That Killed John F. Kennedy
On Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald fired two 6.5-millimeter rounds from an Italian Carcano Fucile di Fanteria Mod. 91/38 rifle and killed U.S. president John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the fourth American president to be assassinated. Oswald, a 24-year-old former Marine, fired from the sixth floor of... Read more
The Guns That Killed Malcolm X
On Feb. 21, 1965, Malcolm X, leader of Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, was assassinated during an Organization of Afro-American Unity meeting at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. Malcolm X had been a civil-rights activist and leader of the Black Muslim community in New York City... Read more
The Gun That Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.
At 6:00 P.M. on April 4, 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. stepped onto the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Seconds later, a single .30-06 round mortally wounded the 39-year-old civil-rights leader. King had arrived at the motel on March 29. He was in... Read more
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