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June 27, 2007 6:45 AM   Subscribe

The 10 Strangest Weapons Through History. Be amazed by the antics of the Goliath! Marvel at the small size (and poor firing ability) of the General Motors FP-45! Be shredded to tiny tiny bits by the Urumi! (And wonder why the Trebuchet made the list!)
posted by 40 Watt (68 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also this related AskMe thread.
posted by 40 Watt at 6:45 AM on June 27, 2007


The strangest weapon I have ever seen was during a fight that broke out in a Haagen Das. One brawler attempted to use a waffle cone as an improvised cudgel.

It did not work well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:57 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


...wonder why the Trebuchet made the list!
People just like to say trebuchet.
Trebuchet.
Trebuchet.
It's a great word. You can look down on all the riff raff who say, "Looky there at that great big ol' catamapult!"
posted by bitslayer at 6:57 AM on June 27, 2007


seems we have metafiltered it to death (btw I haven't read the article, but my favourite is the LeMat revolver)
posted by darkripper at 7:02 AM on June 27, 2007


Oh man, the LeMat! I wrote a glowing subsection on that thing in an eight-grade report on the the evolution of firearms up to and through the US Civil War.
posted by cortex at 7:17 AM on June 27, 2007


I don't get what is so strange about the FP-45 Liberator. It's small? And poorly made?
posted by hermitosis at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2007


#11: Server death by MetaFilter clickthrough.
posted by loquacious at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2007


Cortex: you really should do a song about them.
posted by darkripper at 7:23 AM on June 27, 2007


My dad sent me one of these for christmas. It may not be one of the strangest weapons through history, but it is certainly one of the ten stranges weapons in my house.
posted by hermitosis at 7:26 AM on June 27, 2007


In the tekkagami entry, the author notes that they were "made from aluminum, steel, iron or wood". Steel, iron and wood, I can buy, but in the case of aluminum, that's pretty much impossible. Up until the latter half of the 19th century, aluminum was a precious metal, in line with platinum for value.

I've got to say that despite a few mundane entries, the number one entry of the urumi definitely takes the cake. I've had the chance to practice with sectional staffs, whip chains and other flexible weapons, and the first lesson you learn with any of them is concentration and focus; that lesson comes by cracking yourself on the skull or hand or elbow repeatedly. Adding razor sharp blades to the mix seems nuts.

...

Trebuchet.
posted by boo_radley at 7:28 AM on June 27, 2007


I don't get what is so strange about the FP-45 Liberator. It's small? And poorly made?

The writeup in this article is sadly lacking all the interesting details, which are available here.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:31 AM on June 27, 2007


Oh, and they forgot the flying guillotine.
posted by darkripper at 7:32 AM on June 27, 2007


Man, I love the Kusari-gama, have since the 1st edition Oriental Adventures. Can't decide between a weighted chain and a sickle? Here, have both!
posted by khaibit at 7:34 AM on June 27, 2007


What? No gay-bomb!?
posted by chillmost at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2007


The apache revolver is not that effective but mighty strange.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2007


40Watt: the article itself notes http://ask.metafilter.com/60263/ as one of its references.

...man, now I want MOAS to do a Mythbust on 'useful weird weapons'. THAT would rock out so very hard.
posted by mephron at 7:45 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is an odd list. The first three. Defintely strange. You'd freak someone out just by pulling any one of those three.

But I too I don't get what is so strange about the FP-45 Liberator that merits its inclusion in the top ten "strangest." A big rail gun and a remote controlled mine that rolled at 6 MPH? Are you kidding me?
posted by three blind mice at 7:53 AM on June 27, 2007


How could they neglect bat bombs?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:00 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Cortex: you really should do a song about them.

"Nine Shots (Wait No Ten)"
"All That and a Round of Buckshot"
"Nothing Else LeMatters"
posted by cortex at 8:00 AM on June 27, 2007


The Tekko-Kagi is so bad-ass. I'd be terrified if I ever encountered someone wearing these.
posted by 2shay at 8:06 AM on June 27, 2007


I can't help but wince just thinking of the possible self-injuries with an urumi.

There's a couple of guys at my dojo who have trained with a kusarigama. While totally strange, the demonstrations never fail to impress. (YouTube has some good videos.)
posted by ntartifex at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2007


I made a bunch of small manriki gusari when I was a kid, and I started making a kusari gama. Good thing I didn't finish. I would have hurt myself pretty badly with it, I think.
posted by lodurr at 8:20 AM on June 27, 2007


These are strange, but I would have to say certain improvised weapons are even stranger.
posted by TedW at 8:23 AM on June 27, 2007


Excellent post title.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:24 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


The 10 Strangest Weapons Through History.
posted by 40 Watt


No phased plasma rifles?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:27 AM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


40Watt: the article itself notes http://ask.metafilter.com/60263/ as one of its references.

So it does. I didn't notice that on first glance... I hope I haven't inadvertently created some sort of feedback loop that will tear apart the very fabric of Teh Internetz!

Excellent post title.

Thanks. I wanted to throw something in about the Buck-And-A-Quarterstaff but couldn't figure out a better way to do it.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2007


Great post. I always considered this odd.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2007


How did any of these make the list, but the nuclear mortar that left the mortar crew in it's own blast radius or the French anti-tank scooter not make the list?

(OK, sure, your a cash strapped Charles De Gaulle and you've learned your lesson, or your predicessor's lesson, about fixed emplacements, but, well, IT'S A SCOOTER!)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2007


The Welrod and the DeLisle Carbine are both pretty groovy - just look around for other bizarre SOE/OSS inventions. There's also the KGB's Troika pistol which was a plastic gun with three barrels that used electrical ignition and silenced rounds (like the Russian S-4M) with cyanide in them. Allegedly used by Bulgarians working for the KGB in several assassinations (and annoyingly hard to find a picture of too).

Underwater weapons like H & K's P-11, or the Russian APS underwater rifle and TSNIITOCHMASH SPP-1 underwater pistol use drag-stabilised darts both above and below water. The Russians have over the past 20-25 years gone mental with new weapons designs - the Groza (Thunderstorm) and Drozd (Thrush) shotgun are another pair of novel designs. There's the UDAR, a wheelgun which fires a number of different rounds, from beanbags to CS fluid. Oh I could go on for hours but that's a) sad and b) really, really sad. Oh yeah, and c) when my work checks my intarweb history they'll freak out like the time I mentioned in passing that I know how to make an ANFO bomb.

For esoteric weapons of a bladed nature there are the Indian Chakram, the Chinese Monk's Spade (which you can find on youtube - can't link from work), the Spetsnaz Entrenching Tool (oh dear god that's a pointless thing) and the somewhat ridiculous Spetsnaz spring-knife and the Chinese knife that fires 7.62x25mm rounds. The CIA's S & T team made .22LR cigarettes (don't fire it whilst it's in your mouth), there's the Gyrojet pistols that at least one CCC Recon Team sergeant carried in Vietnam.

If I weren't at work I could go on and on but that's enough to be getting on with now.
posted by longbaugh at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Don't forget the assault weapon that shoots around corners. Or the sticky bomb. Or the ship made out of ice and sawdust (pykrete).
posted by 445supermag at 9:20 AM on June 27, 2007


or the DBIED - Donkey Borne Improvised Explosive Device
posted by YouRebelScum at 9:56 AM on June 27, 2007


S-Tank! S-Tank!
posted by furtive at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2007


My vote goes for the Gyrojet Rocket Pistol
posted by cptnrandy at 10:21 AM on June 27, 2007


Urumi demo. More kalari stuff
posted by pantsrobot at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2007


Bah, once you've seen Bullseye kill someone with a playing card, no fancy or bizarre weapon will impress you.

Man, I love the Kusari-gama, have since the 1st edition Oriental Adventures. Can't decide between a weighted chain and a sickle? Here, have both!

Although it is true that this one is pretty awesome. I mean, it's no gopher-chuks, but still nifty.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 10:41 AM on June 27, 2007


the nuclear mortar that left the mortar crew in it's own blast radius

Kid Charlemagne, I think you might be referring to the M-388 Davy Crockett.
posted by 40 Watt at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2007


No phased plasma rifles?

[At a gun store]
ROU_Xenophobe: The .45 Long Slide, with laser sighting.
Pawn Shop Clerk: These are brand new; we just got them in. That's a good gun. Just touch the trigger, the beam comes on and you put the red dot where you want the bullet to go. You can't miss. Anything else?
ROU_Xenophobe: Phased-plasma rifle in the forty watt range.
Pawn Shop Clerk: Hey, just what you see, pal.
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've had the chance to practice with sectional staffs, whip chains and other flexible weapons, and the first lesson you learn with any of them is concentration and focus; that lesson comes by cracking yourself on the skull or hand or elbow repeatedly. Adding razor sharp blades to the mix seems nuts.

Any guy who's ever taken a martial arts class that involves nunchucks weapons remembers that first time hitting himself in the nads. I still wince every time I think about it.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:05 AM on June 27, 2007


What? No (Great) Panjandrum?

Somebody Shute me.
posted by lumensimus at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2007


The krummlauf (basically an StG-44/45 with a curved barrel) was also mounted on German tanks to cover the "dead zones" that the hull-mounted machinegun couldn't cover. There were also krummlauf variants of the MG-42. A new Israeli venture (the Corner-Shot) is an updated version of this idea, with a handgun attached to a flexible mounting with a camera and LCD monitor. There are also 40mm grenade variants and a 5.56mm carbine that can be detached (much like the XM-8/G-36 derived OICW rifle). The OICW was a huge pile of old crap but pales in comparison to the whale which the French developed - the PAPOP.

The StG-44/45 was designed to replace the MP-38/40 which was the standard infantry SMG. The StG-44/45 could counter the PPSh-41 (or "burp gun") which the Russian infantry used on the Eastern Front due to it's extended range coupled with automatic fire capabilities. The Russians would dump their PPSh-41's any time they could get hold of the MP-38/40 and vice versa. Perhaps familiarity bred contempt... The Russians also made fully-automatic variants of semi-auto infantry rifles like the AVT-40, a modified SVT-40.

Other WW-II era weapons would be things like the PzB-38 which was an anti-tank rifle along the lines of the Boys .55 which for some pointless reason contained a tiny amount of CS gas. The PIAT spigot launcher with it's horrifically nasty spring which caused many problems for it's users.

Other interesting new-ish Russian weapons include the PP-90 - a folding SMG along the lines of the Ares FMG, then you've got the aforementioned S-4M - a pistol whose round actually contains the propellant after the round is fired. The "Davy Crockett" RR used the same W-54 warhead as the SADM - the original "backpack nuke".
posted by longbaugh at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2007


Then there's the .88 Magnum. "It shoots through schools."

The Tekko-kagi doesn't seem that strange to me. It's a natural adaptation of animals' claws, and they seem like they'd be pretty easy to use. And how can the trebuchet be strange when its "a much more powerful and accurate evolution of the medieval catapult"?

Dam busters were pretty strange. A "bomb in a barrel" dropped into a lake that skipped across the surface of the water until it reached a dam and blew up.

Project Aphrodite used old B-17s and B-24s packed with explosives as guided missiles. A 2-man crew took off and bailed out, and another plane would fly it via radio remote control. Joseph Kennedy, Jr. (President Kennedy's older brother) was killed in a test.

Submarine aircraft carriers are pretty strange.

The 37 mm spade/mortar.

Perkins steam gun.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:47 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


the FP-45 was an unreliable weapon and were often unusable after the first firing.

The article misses the point of the FP-45, it was meant as a close range pistol to kill someone and take their better rifle. If used properly, one shot was all it would ever need to fire.

The LeMat pistol is the primary sidearm of Jayne Cobb. As such, I want one.

The Apache definitely should have made the list as, should have the Chakram (Xena made it popular, but it was cool long before that show ever existed.)

The trebuchet never should have made the list. Everyone and their mothers knows about them. If they were going for ancient siege weapons, the ballista would have been slightly more obscure. Greek fire would have been the best choice though.
posted by quin at 12:03 PM on June 27, 2007


Ooh I was gonna mention the PIAT. A spring-loaded AT charge? Freakish.
posted by furiousthought at 12:09 PM on June 27, 2007


Adding razor sharp blades to the mix seems seams nuts.

Fixed that for you.
posted by forrest at 12:13 PM on June 27, 2007


Huh - they used my ask.meta answer in their list down to the graphic. I knew I should have answered "dolphins."
posted by porpoise at 12:23 PM on June 27, 2007


My favorite part of the article, re: Japanese attack balloons sent across the Pacific to attack the mainland:

The press cooperated with the US government by not reporting on the balloon bombs in the hopes of not panicking the American people, as well as not letting the Japanese know that any of the balloons landed on US shores. With little to no proof of their effectiveness, Japan ceased launching the balloon bombs after just six months.

How quaint! It's kind of sad how odd and quaint seems the idea of not reporting every single threat, real or potential, to death all over the news and thereby whipping the populace into a frenzy and encouraging future terrorists
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:36 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kirth Gerson : How could they neglect bat bombs?

Oh hell yeah. I forgot all about these. I love how absolutely mad people were back then. (where 'mad' equals a sort of cynical genius).

They roost in the dark eves of buildings? Slap a bomb on them and drop them out of a plane. The ultimate poor-mans-smart-bomb.
posted by quin at 12:43 PM on June 27, 2007


You had me at HO.

Perfect title, excellent thread!
posted by misha at 1:00 PM on June 27, 2007


Anti-tank dogs. No, really.
posted by SPrintF at 1:03 PM on June 27, 2007


Damn you SPrintF - I was just about to add that one.
posted by longbaugh at 1:31 PM on June 27, 2007


I dunno longbaugh, I’ve found the Spets spring knife to be pretty fully ridiculous. I mean it looks like it’d be fun to horse around with. But no. We sat around trying to figure out how to make it fire better, faster, smoother, get more penetration, have some semblence of accuracy. Re-tooled the thing, tried lighter blades to rebalance it, put in different springs, oiled it, tried dry lubes, milled in a slot to mitigate the suction (pressure differential btwn the base and the knife spring housing slowed it down when it was fired) and we still couldn’t figure out what the hell practical use the damned thing was supposed to have. I think I still have one sitting in one of my footlockers somewhere (I’m sure whoever designed it had something in mind, but clearly once it was made it didn’t do much of anything well... at some point the armorer had have thought about just letting the concept go)

Although not truly weird, the old Stens are extremely spare and used to go off if you dropped them. Heard stories about the “dancing Sten” if it was set to automatic fire.

/always bugged me - why does a cyborg with an internal targeting system that includes digital zoom and reticle need a laser sight?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:36 PM on June 27, 2007


Somewhat = English understatement. Why on Earth you'd fire a knife at someone is beyond me. If you're down to knives then run away until you've got a gun. Of course that's when the sneaky spetsnaz bastards fires the knife into your back...

Stens weren't that bad - it was the magazines that caused the problems. Your more experienced soldiers would go through a stack and shoot the shitty ones so nobody else had to use them (then again they fused their own grenades too - just in case the canaries were ginned up). The Sterling (nee Patchett '44) L2A3 et al suffered from relatively few feed problems even though it had the same ridiculous side-feed. The Aussie Owen top feeder had a fantastic reputation for reliability. The SBS used the L34A1 suppressed variant for donkey's years which had a reputation as the quietest suppressed smg in the world (though I'd question this nowadays) until finally "upgrading" to the silenced MP-5SD series.

You'll probably already know about the Chauchat as well - ugly and fucking useless.

/why did he need to scroll through a list of options of what to say everytime? Seriously. Just go for "fuck you asshole" every time. What are they going to do? "JOWR CLOZE. GIB DEM TO ME..."
posted by longbaugh at 2:33 PM on June 27, 2007


Smedleyman : /always bugged me - why does a cyborg with an internal targeting system that includes digital zoom and reticle need a laser sight?

He didn't, he wanted the .45 long slide and the only one in the shop had the laser. Or maybe the fake eye material over his cameras screwed up the accuracy of his internal reticle.

Or maybe he was fashion conscious and realized that the laser matched his eyes.

Trendy Terminators.
posted by quin at 3:04 PM on June 27, 2007


There have been many experiments that tried to make guns that fire a rotating torus or vortex of compressed air. Not many were practical.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2007


I have a 1915 book of reportage from WWI that includes photographs of a "New Deadly Weapon Used by French Aviators:" a "Steel Arrow, about the size of pencil. When dropped 3,000 feet, will penetrate a man from head to foot."

Apparently, the aim was to rain thousands of these grooved spikes upon the enemy trenches. I've no idea how much use the tactic saw.
posted by Iridic at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2007


Actually Kid Charlemagne, De Gaulle learned the lessons of armored warfare well before WWII (partly from observing the Polish-Soviet war), and made such a stink about opposing the static defense policies of the French army that it effectively crippled his advancement. He wasn't the only French visionary, but his ideas probably would have saved the French from Germany had they instituted them well before 1939.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2007


Another one that could have made the list: the Macuahuitl. The Aztec war club/ sword that used sharper-than-steel obsidian shards for cutting.

Terrifying, and not something you see everyday.
posted by quin at 5:17 PM on June 27, 2007


Chauchat! It's bettaire' den a club, eh?....mostly.

Yeah, those Macuahuitl are funky too. The Hawaiians and Polynesians had shark tooth versions of swords (plus axes, etc). But dig these shark-tooth knuckle dusters.

/great Ah-nold btw.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:38 PM on June 27, 2007


Bat bombs?
I thought you said Rat bombs.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:48 PM on June 27, 2007


the African wrist knife, worn as a permanent part of you, always there to open up your enemies.
posted by Iron Rat at 6:11 PM on June 27, 2007


Aw man, and how could we forget African throwing knives? Looks like a sculpture, chops off limbs from yards away.
posted by furiousthought at 6:21 PM on June 27, 2007


Ya gotta love the scrotum on that African throwing knife, on some of those puppies they get very anatomically correct.
posted by Iron Rat at 6:34 PM on June 27, 2007


If you liked the Ahnuld thing you should read my deconstruction of Predator which also gives me the chance to laugh at the concept of a person lugging around an XM-214 Six-Pak. Recoil? We don't need no steenking recoil. 'Cos we use blanks. How about the cute little Kitty Kat? The OTs-38 silent revolver? The old Russkies also made the Nagant M1895 revolver - one of the few silenced revolvers ever made - iirc GSG9 used a modified S & W Model 625 .45 revolver with a silencer. It might seem odd that an CT unit would use wheelguns in this day and age but GIGN still use the .357 Manhurin MR-73. There's the obscene Grizzly and the "Death Wish" .475 Wildey and the nucking futs NTW--20. On a larger note there's the VSSK 12.7mm silenced sniper rifle and the new USMC rifle the XM-3. Your tax dollars at work - a snip at $18,000 per rifle.

Need to find some knife related malarkey now. All these pop guns need a counterbalance...
posted by longbaugh at 7:21 PM on June 27, 2007


I'm a big fan of the various atomic weapon schemes that were thought up immediately after its invention. There's a whole bunch of videos available on the Department of Energy's test film library website.

My faves:posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:27 PM on June 27, 2007


The atomic cannon.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:04 PM on June 27, 2007


Ah the LAR Grizzly. Years ago, a buddy of mine had one of these. I absolutely hated it. The grip is insanely uncomfortable and it kicked like a mule.

Fun in concept. Sucks in reality.
posted by quin at 9:08 PM on June 27, 2007


Hello Kitty Guns
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:11 AM on June 28, 2007


How can you all forget the Webley-Fosbery Self-Cocking Revolver...
posted by runkelfinker at 4:05 PM on June 28, 2007


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