The Obscure and Awesome – 9 Weird Guns Throughout History

Authors Columns Historical Guns Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

I love weird guns. I get they aren’t always useful or great for much more than looking and working weirdly. Still, there is something to be said about their creativity and design that makes them different than any other weapon. Weird guns are not often successful, but sometimes they make it. You know the FN Browning 1900 was probably weird when it premiered with a slide, but now every automatic handgun has a slide. 

Sometimes weird becomes standard, but not always. With that in mind, let’s look at a few weird guns that might not have inspired an arms revolution but were plenty weird. 

Mossberg Brownie 

Long before Mossberg built their first shotgun Oscar Mossberg and his sons were building the Brownie. The Brownie was Mossberg’s first gun, and it was an interesting design for the era, and of all the weird guns on this list, it was the most successful. The Brownie was a four-barreled, four-shot .22LR pistol with a rotating firing pin. 

It was advertised to trappers as a means to take game trapped in snares out. The Mossberg Brownie cost a mere five bucks and offered firepower similar to that of pocket pistols at the time, but it was a fraction of the price. It’s a weird first gun, but they sold fairly well. 

High Standard Model 10 

High Standard made some pretty standard shotguns for the era. Your typical pump guns, and then, out of nowhere, they developed the High Standard Model 10. This is a bullpup, semi-auto shotgun that uses a gas-operated system. Keep in mind it was designed in the 1950s and is still one of the weird guns on this list. 

The Model 10 was only 26 inches long overall but did weigh nearly ten pounds. The guns had an integrated flashlight built into the design. The Model 10 also features a lot of polymer in its construction, which was fairly innovative for its era. The Model 10 had numerous shortcomings and reliability issues, leading to a brief service life. 

The Gyrojet Pistol and Rifles

‘Gun’ is an open term, and weird guns take the term and open it up even wider. The Gyrojet series were not traditional guns. They used projectiles that fired small rockets instead of standard inert bullets. These microjets had a very slow velocity leaving the barrel but amped up to about 1,250 feet per second after about 10 yards of travel. 

There were both pistol and rifle Gyrojet firearms, but they were a failure. The ammo was finicky and unreliable, they were not very useful at close range, and the accuracy was abysmal. A few even went to Vietnam for testing, where they failed exceedingly fast. 

Calico Series 

The Calico started life as a submachine gun but eventually evolved into both a rifle and a handgun. They are all the same basic design but vary in size and select fire capability. These weird guns use a top-mounted magazine that is helical. Magazine capacities varied between 50 and 100 rounds. 

The gun did use a roller-delayed blowback system, but that was the most normal feature. The odd magazine is a standout, and it’s even odder because that is where your sights sit. The rear sight is part of the magazine, so I’m sure accuracy was an issue. Reliability certainly was, and these guns have been regulated to novelties. 

Knight’s Armament Revolver Rifle

Those post-Cold War, pre-GWOT days were some weird ones. They gave us some weird designs that special operations theorized they needed. One such design was the Knight’s Armament Revolver Rifle. Revolver rifles are already weird, but this particular model is also suppressed. 

The concept was to create a 100-meter sniper rifle that would be silent, compact, and rapid firing. They also didn’t want it to eject the cases. Thus a Ruger Super Redhawk was turned into the Revolver Rifle. It was fitted with a ten-inch barrel, stock, and Leupold 1.5 to 5X scope. The rifle used specially designed ammunition that allowed for suppressed operation in a revolver. 

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Cobray Pocket Pal 

Cobray might be the king of weird guns with competitors like the Terminator shotgun, the Pepperbox, and of course, the Pocket Pal. The Pocket Pal was a pocket revolver that certainly didn’t look like a revolver. The cylinder was encased inside the gun, and it was more or less an adoption of the Mossberg Brownie design, but with a cylinder and only two barrels. 

Two barrels, but only one was used at a time. One barrel was designed for .380 ACP and the other for .22LR. Users got two cylinders, one for .380. You dropped whichever cylinder for whichever caliber you wanted to shoot in the gun. You got three rounds of .380 and five rounds of .22LR. It’s an oddity, but I won’t lie and say I don’t want one. 

Arsenal Firearms AF2011A1

What’s better than one 191? Obviously, two 1911s. Not just two 1911s, but two 1911s that are seemingly welded together to create one handgun that has two slides, barrels, frames, magazines, etc. It really is just two 1911s welded together, more or less. I have no idea who wanted this, but Arsenal Firearms produced it. 

They didn’t produce very many of them, but they produced enough to get a whole bunch of them in movies. This includes Deadpool 2, Spectre, and Resident Evil. These oddballs were very expensive and made entirely for collectors. 

Dardick Revolvers 

Dardick Revolvers don’t look like revolvers. Instead, they look more like a gun from Flash Gordon. The Dardick guns were magazine-fed revolvers, at that. Oh, and they fired something known as a tround. A tround is a triangular-shaped case. The weird design of the cartridge is due to the weird design of the gun. 

The Dardick cylinder wasn’t like a typical cylinder. It had three chambers. At any given time, one cylinder will be grabbing a round from the magazine, while another line a tround up to fire, and the third ejects the empty tround case. The Dardick didn’t just look weird. It was weird all around. But yet, the weirdest gun is yet to come. 

Stoehr Machine Pistol 

The Stoehr Machine pistol appears to be a one-off prototype, but it deserves mention. The Stoehr Machine Pistol is a bullpup pistol designed to be rested on the user’s arm. That’s weird, but it gets weirder. The pistol has a pan magazine and fires the .22 Magnum cartridge. That’s pretty weird, but it gets even more bizarre. 

Sure, you’ve heard of blowback actions, but what about blow forward? The Stoerh Machine Pistol used a blow-forward design for operation. The pan magazine sits to the left of the gun, and an optimistic set of sights are built into the pipe-like design. The most normal aspect of it is the M16 pistol grip. It’s the king of weird guns. 

Stay Weird 

A lot of weird guns are one-offs and largely unsuccessful. As a people, we are not prone to radically adopt new technology, and we can often identify the weird that’s good and the weird that’s bad. Even so, I can’t help but appreciate the weird guns out there, and these are some of my favorites. 

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  • Rick March 5, 2024, 12:15 am

    I met the Designer of the Cobray pocket pal at a gun show in Huntsville Alabama. The man was a German honest to God Rocket Scientist that worked for NASA. He showed me the prototype in .22 and .32 auto. He also had a copy of a Colt Peacemaker in .22 magnum. It was a 21 shot revolver that had a single barrel with 3 .22 caliber holes drilled through it.The firing pin on the hammer ratcheted up and down to hit the staggered cartridges. His ideas were interesting but I was dubious of marketing them as we already has small semi auto’s that held more bullets.

  • Shawn McEwen February 29, 2024, 1:53 am

    You forgot the Ruger Hawkeye handgun, the world’s first single shot revolver! Wish i had one, they are worth a good-sized pile of cash. You want some more weird guns? How bout almost every gun designed in the 19th century.

  • Johnny February 26, 2024, 3:04 pm

    That was fun!!! I love weird and different firearms no matter what a flop they ended up being. There sure were a lot of different ideas floating around. Trial and error at it’s best! If different companies, gunsmiths or engineers didn’t come up with these “weird guns” I’d bet we wouldn’t have much of a selection today. We’d probably still be reading articles on the newest musket to hit the market.

  • DOUGLAS POPE February 26, 2024, 10:03 am

    Enjoyed the article.

  • Will Drider February 25, 2024, 5:22 pm

    MORE Please! I took a dive into these type of firerms, fascinating.

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