The 8 worst guns in the history of warfare

In “The World’s Worst Weapons,” Martin Dougherty details the long history of over-ambitious, under-achieving weapons that failed to hit their mark.

From brass knuckle-knife-revolvers to rocket propelled ammunition, we’ve described the eight worst guns ever produced.

8. Sten gun MK II

8. Sten gun MK II

Half length portrait of a paratrooper carrying a Sten gun, having loaded it ready for immediate action. | Imperial War Museums via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately the Sten gun MK II tended to misfire frequently. Furthermore, there were reports of the gun’s bullets bouncing off of targets.

“At a time when Britain faced invasion and vast numbers of weapons were needed, the Sten was quick and easy to put together, and it was a lot better than nothing,” Dougherty wrote.

Country: United Kingdom

Entered service: 1940

Type: Submachine gun

Range: 230 feet

Capacity: 32 rounds

7. The Bazooka

7. The Bazooka

US Army Signal Corps

One glaring problem with the bazooka was the massive flare it created when fired, which both exposed the shooters position and shot dust, debris, and flames back at the soldier firing the weapon. Later versions of the bazooka included a back blast shield.

“The best thing about the bazooka was that it formed the basis for better weapons that came along later,” Dougherty wrote.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1942

Type: Unguided antitank weapon

Range: Under 500 feet

Capacity: Single shot rocket launcher/ 3.5 pound explosive

6. LeMat grapeshot revolver

6. LeMat grapeshot revolver

The LeMat grapeshot revolver. | Forgotten Weapons via YouTube

The LeMat grapeshot revolver is another great idea for the battlefield that suffered from poor execution. Designed as a cavalry weapon late in the US Civil War, the LeMat revolver stored 9 pistol rounds in a revolver set up, with an additional barrel and single shotgun shell in the middle.

The user would toggle the movable firing pin to select which round they wanted to fire. While it was a great idea in theory, in practice the guns proved to be poorly made.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1856

Type: Handgun

Range: 164 feet

Capacity:  9 rounds

5. Krummlauf

5. Krummlauf

A soldier holds an extreme 90 degree version of the Krummlauf. | Public Domain

The Krummlauf looks like a good idea, if only the physics from Elmer Fudd cartoons held true in real life.

This gun was meant to shoot around corners with its curved barrel, between 30 and 45 degrees, and a mounted periscope sight on a fairly standard assault rifle.

After much time and money spent tinkering with the design, it was deemed too expensive and unsuccessful to produce on a larger scale.

Country: Nazi Germany

Entered service: 1945

Type: Longarm

Range: 6,561 feet

Capacity: 30 rounds

4. Chauchat

4. Chauchat

Belgian machine gunner in 1918 guarding trench with the much-hated ChauChat. | Wikimedia Commons

In 1915 at the height of World War I, France’s Chauchat light machine gun exemplified everything a light machine gun should not be.

The weapon was both poorly manufactured to the point that it kicked like a mule. The firing mechanism frequently jammed, and even when it did work perfectly, the gun’s 20-round capacity was inadequate for combat.

Country: France

Entered service: 1915

Type: Support weapon

Range: 3,280 feet

Capacity: 20 rounds

3. Gyrojet

The Gyrojet pistol was one of the most creative ideas in modern history of firearms.

Gyrojet pistols used rocket propulsion to fire its ammunition. However, the guns were terribly inaccurate and were therefore discontinued.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1965

Type: Handgun

Range: 165 feet

Capacity: 6 rounds

2. Mars Pistol

2. Mars Pistol

Two Mars pistols, which despite being manufactured within 13 serial numbers of each other have small but significant differences. | Forgotten Weapons via Youtube

Two Mars pistols, which despite being manufactured within 13 serial numbers of each other have small but significant differences.

At the beginning of the 20th century, inventors tried to create a self-loading pistol. Eventually, the Colt M1911 would become the standard, but before that, many mistakes, like the Mars pistol were made.

The Mars was very complicated to operate and ejected used cartridges directly into the shooters face.

“About 80 were made, after which the Mars quite rightly faded from the scene,” Dougherty wrote.

Country: United Kingdom

Entered service: 1900

Type: Handgun

Range: 131 feet

Capacity: 6 rounds

1. Apache pistol

1. Apache pistol

Apache revolver – Curtius Museum, Liège. | Latente Flickr

Perhaps no other gun on this list over promises and underperforms like the Apache pistol. This pistol appears to combine the effective ingredients of a knife, brass knuckles, and a small caliber revolver into a neat, fold-out package.

In practice none of the three components of the weapon deliver.

The brass knuckle component works well enough, but the knife is thin and flimsy on its hinge. The revolver, with virtually no barrel to speak of, is terribly under-powered and inaccurate.

Additionally, because of the unguarded trigger, the user is likely to accidentally fire the weapon often.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1880

Type: Personal defense

Range: Close combat

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