In the mid- to late 19th century the bizarre “Apache pistol” was born. This odd invention was a civilian personal protection firearm that allegedly was developed in France as a self-defense tool against the Parisian street gangs of the time, nicknamed Apaches. So, while snake guns were made to protect civilians from snakes and dog guns were produced to protect people from feral dogs, the “Apache pistol” was invented to protect 19th-century gentlemen from the so-called Apache street hooligans.
The weapon was like a Swiss Army knife, containing a variety of tools, but it was much less reliable or useful than an actual pocketknife. The “Apache pistol” could be called a pistol because it included a very small pepperbox revolver, with little to no gun barrel, as well as an often dangerously unguarded trigger. Supporting the weak and unreliable weapon was a set of metal knuckledusters, which served as the grip of the gun. Finally, jutting out from underneath the pistol mechanism was a small folding knife, which, when extended, looked like a small bayonet. All in all, it was a weapon that gave the user the option to punch, stab or shoot an assailant, although the weapon was so awkward that the gun wielder may just as likely have cut or shot himself by accident during the brawl. Unsurprisingly, the “Apache pistol” quickly went out of style.
Written by C. Keith Hansley.
Picture Attribution: (Apache Pistol photographed by Flickr user Michele M. F., via Creative Commons license 2.0).
- Weapons: an international encyclopedia from 5000 BE to 2000 AD, edited by David Harding and Jefferson Cann, et. al. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980.