The Pistol-Sword Was a Terrible Idea

WIB history October 20, 2016 0

A hunting flintlock pistol-sword. Source A blade weapon makes a pretty crappy firearm by MATTHEW MOSS In November 1916, John Krasnodemski of Wausau, Wisconsin filed a...
A hunting flintlock pistol-sword. Source

A blade weapon makes a pretty crappy firearm

by MATTHEW MOSS

In November 1916, John Krasnodemski of Wausau, Wisconsin filed a patent for a modern version of a weapon that had its roots in the late 17th century — a pistol-sword.

Yes, a sword that could fire bullets.

Pistol-swords appeared with the introduction of the flintlock, which offered a more reliable ignition system for firearms — and which was easily mated to the body of a sword.

Initially developed in Europe as a hunting weapon for killing wounded boar and game, the pistol-sword eventually found its way into military circles, although it was never a very practical weapon. The firearm typically has the effect of upsetting the sword’s balance, while the grip angle of the sword’s hilt isn’t conducive to good accuracy.

A Belgium-proofed pinfire revolver mounted on a sabre, circa mid-19th century. Source

Despite this, inventors, sword-makers and gunsmiths repeatedly returned to the basic concept through the early 20th century, producing a wide range of single-shot, muzzle-loading flintlocks and pinfire revolvers wedded to blades.

Krasnodemski’s Pistol-Sword is a prime example of the later versions of the hybrid weapon.

The Krasnodemski Pistol-Sword combined a “sword of the usual form” with a striker-fired automatic pistol of an undisclosed caliber by attaching it to the side of the sword’s hilt. The magazine well forms the front of the weapon’s guard — if struck and deformed while parrying, the pistol might have then failed during firing.

Albert Pratt’s Hat-Gun. Source

The swordsman fired the pistol by depressing a thumb trigger on the right side of the sword’s grip — hardly ideal for right-handed swordsmen. Thoughtfully, Krasnodemski also incorporated “a safety lock preventing the actuation of the firing mechanism.”

It’s unclear whether anyone ever actually built Krasnodemski’s Pistol-Sword, but Krasnodemski did manage to score a U.S. government patent in August 1917.

For all its conceptual and ergonomical faults, Krasnodemski’s weird invention is significantly more practical than, say, Albert Pratt’s Hat-Gun — which was granted not one but two patents.

Originally published at www.historicalfirearms.info.