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    Default Question about a gun from colonial times



    So here's my idea, assuming the gun pictured here actually works, would it have been feasible on a battlefield?

    Follow up, what if you made a gun with even more barrels? (Granted, the whole multiple barrel idea is made obsolete later by the fact that you can load multiple bullets in a gun later, but please ignore that for the sake of a fun question.)

    So anyway, suppose you're a mad gun engineer in colonial times, and you make a monstrosity with 500 barrels evenly spaced so that each barrel is approximately where a soldier weilding a gun would be in the classic brittish formation.



    You then hook each barrel up to one trigger and boom, you've now got one man with the ability to shoot like 500 men. Now granted, you could probably only get one shot off of this in a real battle, it would take forever to load 500 barrels. Plus this monstrosity would be quite heavy, definitely need to be horse drawn or disassembled and built on site. But all that aside, my question is, is it doable? Could you make a 500 barrel mega gun with colonial technology?
    Last edited by TheManicMonocle; 2017-09-12 at 04:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    The weapon you are referring to is a "duck's foot" pistol, designed for jail guards and others that might be swarmed at close range by people with makeshift or concealable weapons. This is an odd example, because the typical such weapon had significantly fewer barrels, but the concept was somewhat viable.

    Taking such a weapon into a field battle would win you the 18th century equivalent of a Darwin Award. Such a gun is useless beyond bayonet range not only because it is pistol caliber, but it is not designed to be aimed. You'd have more chance of getting skewered than you would of actually hurting somebody with the thing.

    Your hypothetical super-gun version? It would take you days to load the thing, it is very unlikely that you'd hit anybody, and it would be extremely expensive. Also, the recoil would kill anybody dumb enough to fire it.



    There were battlefield weapons with the same principle called volley guns. These were essentially artillery, and consisted of 8-16 musket barrels (mounted perfectly parallel, not splayed) on a wheeled carriage. Those worked quite well, and were only entirely obsoleted by the invention of the Gatling Gun.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    The weapon you are referring to is a "duck's foot" pistol, designed for jail guards and others that might be swarmed at close range by people with makeshift or concealable weapons. This is an odd example, because the typical such weapon had significantly fewer barrels, but the concept was somewhat viable.

    Taking such a weapon into a field battle would win you the 18th century equivalent of a Darwin Award. Such a gun is useless beyond bayonet range not only because it is pistol caliber, but it is not designed to be aimed. You'd have more chance of getting skewered than you would of actually hurting somebody with the thing.

    Your hypothetical super-gun version? It would take you days to load the thing, it is very unlikely that you'd hit anybody, and it would be extremely expensive. Also, the recoil would kill anybody dumb enough to fire it.



    There were battlefield weapons with the same principle called volley guns. These were essentially artillery, and consisted of 8-16 musket barrels (mounted perfectly parallel, not splayed) on a wheeled carriage. Those worked quite well, and were only entirely obsoleted by the invention of the Gatling Gun.
    That's a really good point, I didn't even think of the recoil
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by TheManicMonocle View Post
    That's a really good point, I didn't even think of the recoil
    There were these things, for a short while:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitrailleuse
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by TheManicMonocle View Post
    That's a really good point, I didn't even think of the recoil
    I'd consider the recoil a minor concern - there's no way one person is lifting that, and even moving it around in some sort of wheeled vehicle is going to take significantly more than one person. The best case scenario is some sort of fixed fortification, but even then it's highly impractical for a number of reasons.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Uh that gun in the picture looks like a single barrel with a bunch of decorative barrels attached. I see no way the gunpowder would provide any force to any but the main barrel.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    That thing makes a Pepperbox look safe.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Chen View Post
    Uh that gun in the picture looks like a single barrel with a bunch of decorative barrels attached. I see no way the gunpowder would provide any force to any but the main barrel.
    It's loaded from the muzzle, and then the trigger mechanism lights them all from the back. The central barrel is only unique in that it's the one attached to the handle.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Certainly, and carriage guns did exist which had a number of barrels.

    However, a much less complex way of doing the same basic thing, ie, a bunch of metal bits flying downrange at the same time, was by using small shot or what not in a cannon. In a pinch, nails or similar could be improvised. This still didn't have amazing range, but at close range, it was pretty messy, and could be reloaded a good deal faster than a ludicrous number of barrels. Also, far easier to make.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It's loaded from the muzzle, and then the trigger mechanism lights them all from the back. The central barrel is only unique in that it's the one attached to the handle.
    It is hard to see how it can light them all from the back. It looks like a flintlock, in which case there has to be some kind of hollow tube connecting all of the barrels to each other and the pan. I don't see anything like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidSh View Post
    It is hard to see how it can light them all from the back. It looks like a flintlock, in which case there has to be some kind of hollow tube connecting all of the barrels to each other and the pan. I don't see anything like that.
    Note that the frame piece holding the back ends of the barrels is actually two pieces. There is likely a groove in between the pieces, and holes in the barrels to connect the groove sections.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    It gets worse - according to this... http://www.academia.edu/19308159/Le_...e_del_Bargello
    Sono tutte predisposte per sparare due colpi con cariche sovrapposte; ognuna possiede due foconi nel-la parte superiore, uno alla culatta e uno ad un terzo circa della lun-ghezza, quelli di ciascuna serie comunicanti tra loro grazie a due ca-naletti richiudibili per il polverino, collegati allo scodellino.
    ...which Google translates as...
    They are all set to shoot two shots with overlapping charges; each one has two fire-tops in the top, one at the culvert and one in about one third of the length, each of the series interconnected by means of two closable caulking plugs connected to the bowl.
    It's an 18-shot duck's foot pistol

    Note that one of the connections between the barrels seems to have a cover that can be flipped up - pretty sure there's an ignition channel under that.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Chen View Post
    Uh that gun in the picture looks like a single barrel with a bunch of decorative barrels attached. I see no way the gunpowder would provide any force to any but the main barrel.
    The ducksfoot pistol was a real thing, it didn't usually have that many barrels, but despite Wikipedia putting it under "volley guns" it was certainly sold, though I'm not certain it was used.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volley_gun

    A few hand-held volley guns were also developed during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the most distinctive was the "duck's foot" volley gun, a pistol with four .45 caliber barrels arranged in a splayed pattern, so that the firer could spray a sizable area with a single shot. The principle behind this type of pistol is one of confrontation by one person against a group; hence, it was popular among bank guards, prison wardens and sea captains in the early 19th century.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    I was just wondering how you could even ignite those with a flintlock. All the other images of duckfoot pistols have the powder pan linked via tube to the barrels. There doesn't appear to be anything in that original picture that links the pan to the barrels (except the main one).

    Compare to :
    http://www.rockislandauction.com/blo...s/Duckfoot.jpg

    That one its fairly evident how the other barrels would fire.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    The ducksfoot pistol was a real thing, it didn't usually have that many barrels, but despite Wikipedia putting it under "volley guns" it was certainly sold, though I'm not certain it was used.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volley_gun
    It also looks like a bad reproduction of one (call it a "cargo cult" reproduction). Note the screws holding it together on the side: I really doubt that such screws would be a common fastener in the days of flintlocks (they are surprisingly high tech. Certainly possible to make, but why would you bother screwing things together with machine screws?). When I first looked at it, I assumed it would fire like you say, and then noticed the flintlock. Next guess was some sort of revolver system, where it moved from side to side, but the side barrels appeared to short.

    Such a weapon might be carried by an officer (or more likely an NCO) during a bayonet charge in his off-hand (while his main hand held a sword), but I can see that as a low possibility (of course, I'd hate to stand ready with a bayonet while someone fired one at me).

    I think the picture is a fake (who would be willing to fire one for testing, anyway?).

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    The Royal navy was issued the seven barreled Nock gun for repelling boarding attempts but their tendency to injure the firer and the risk of setting fire to your ship made them unpopular.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nock_gun

    Ship-to-ship action eliminates some of the problems of using this type of gun on land. You don't have to lug the damn heavy thing around for miles and combat is pretty much always going to be close range. Even then they quickly fell out of use
    Last edited by comicshorse; 2017-09-14 at 11:56 AM.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    I think the picture is a fake (who would be willing to fire one for testing, anyway?).
    You should really check the link I posted.
    L’arma non figura nell’inventario mediceo del 1631, ma compare a partire da quello del 1639 (BOCCIA,THOMAS 1971, p. 73)...
    Sez teh Google:
    The weapon does not appear in the Medici inventory of 1631, but appears from the one in 1639 (BOCCIA, THOMAS 1971, p. 73),...

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    It also looks like a bad reproduction of one (call it a "cargo cult" reproduction). Note the screws holding it together on the side: I really doubt that such screws would be a common fastener in the days of flintlocks (they are surprisingly high tech. Certainly possible to make, but why would you bother screwing things together with machine screws?).
    Screwdrivers have existed at least since the 1500s. Modern screw making techniques allowed machine screws and bolts to be commodified around 1800, but they existed as short-run machinist products for hundreds of years before then. The invention of fulminate contact explosives was in the year 1800, so percussion caps weren't possible before then. Percussion caps didn't start widely replacing flintlocks until the late 1830s and early 1840s.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gomipile View Post
    Screwdrivers have existed at least since the 1500s. Modern screw making techniques allowed machine screws and bolts to be commodified around 1800, but they existed as short-run machinist products for hundreds of years before then. The invention of fulminate contact explosives was in the year 1800, so percussion caps weren't possible before then. Percussion caps didn't start widely replacing flintlocks until the late 1830s and early 1840s.
    It isn't so much that you couldn't use a machine screw, just that you wouldn't want to use one where it isn't needed (maybe you had to rescrew it together each time it exploded). Also while it might be possible to source a screw, would it be equally easy to source the taps needed?

    My point was the whole thing is deeply suspicious to start with (how does the spark get to the other barrels?), and I suddenly spot a standard connecting device being used far earlier that you would expect. I simply can't expect a 1820s gunsmith to simply grab some machine screws to hold things together, that mentality would take awhile. I'm pretty sure this device was made long after flintlocks fell out of use, and the maker didn't expect people to wonder why it couldn't fire the other barrels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    I'm pretty sure this device was made long after flintlocks fell out of use, and the maker didn't expect people to wonder why it couldn't fire the other barrels.
    If it was made long after flintlocks fell out of use, why did the Medici family note it in their inventory in 1639?
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheManicMonocle View Post
    That's a really good point, I didn't even think of the recoil
    I wouldn't worry about that. It's the loading time that would make it useless on a battlefield. A single volley from 500 muskets - could certainly do some damage, but to stop an enemy formation you would need to deliver two or three such volleys per minute. With your supergun, you'd be hard pressed to squeeze out two in a day.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Your hypothetical super-gun version? It would take you days to load the thing, it is very unlikely that you'd hit anybody, and it would be extremely expensive. Also, the recoil would kill anybody dumb enough to fire it.
    I'm not sure the recoil would be much of a problem - each barrel would presumably have a stock or equivilent to support it, and those would all have supporting struts holding them together, plus whatever it was mounted on. So you would probably have more mass than in an equivilent number of normal muskets, and so less recoil. It's not going to be jumping backwards so fast that it kills the operator (although there may be problem with different parts moving in different directions and tearing itself apart).

    It would certainly be doable though. (As others have said, similar but less extreme things were used as sort-of artillery). Just completely impractical, and would probably need so many people to move, assemble, load, and maintain, that you wouldn't really gain much by only needing one person to fire it. Plus, having lots of soldiers is useful. They don't just fire one shot (and so can be replaced by by a gun fireing lots of shots). They have other jobs to do like hitting/stabbing people, or carrying stuff, or digging holes, etc. Or reloading and firing four or five times a minute.

    I can that such a weapon would be situationally useful (e.g. for defending an under-manned fort), or possibly for starting an ambush (if you could get it in position), or as preparation for a counter-charge. But as a general battlefield weapon, it would probably be somewhere between "not worth the cost/effort" and "too impractical to be usable".
    Last edited by Wardog; 2017-09-23 at 05:43 AM.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    As I've said before, those straight up existed. They were known as Organ guns, and were the eventual evolution of volley guns.

    They got killed by automatic rotating guns, but hey, that eventually led to the minigun, so cool.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    There were these things, for a short while:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitrailleuse
    Probably more like this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribauldequin

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    If you want to enable a handful of persons to send a large number of small lead balls in the general direction of enemy infantry, it might be easier to just train them as artillery men and issue them a light cannon with canister shots. It wouldn't take as long to reload, would have a higher effective range and would likely still be cheaper and less prone to malfunctions.
    Last edited by Berenger; 2017-10-08 at 06:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    If I'm not talking totally out of an orifice, I suspect the gun in the original post would have a small tube running along the rear of the barrels from the main one, so the fire would stretch out and ignite the subsequent barrels.

    If you're looking for the equivalent of a massive shotgun, you might want the Napoleon Gun with Canister Shot.
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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Various navies of the early Age of Sail actually did experiment with something like this, mounting between 7 and 20 pistol-sized barrels in a rail on the ship and linking their triggering mechanisms so that they could all be fired at once. They were somewhat effective in repelling boarding actions but were a devil to reload and generally not well liked, so they gradually passed out of use.

    However, a ship has two main advantages over a similar weapon on land--first, ship's decks are much smaller, so they can be arranged in positions where kills will be frequent if not amazing, whereas on land it's much harder to guarantee such a kill zone existing; and second the fact that a ship moves as a function of being a ship, while to move such an array on land requires several pack animals and a specially designed cart, logistical resources that would be much better used to haul extra guns. The fact that such a weapon would likely require a specially trained engineer, be at best only slightly better than a cannon packed with grape/canister, and not offer the ranged capacity and flexibility of round shot, would be a deal-breaker.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    If it could have consistently replaced the guns of the period, it would have.

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    If it could have consistently replaced the guns of the period, it would have.
    And?

    This isn't a necessary condition for a design to be successful. There are a vast variety of successful products within each of many industries and applications.

    Looking at firearms of today, we have many styles of firearms which are individually successful but don't take over and replace other types. Some police departments like their alloy framed Sig pistols, some prefer polymer framed Glocks. Some departments and services still prefer revolvers. There are security details which issue single shot shotguns to their guards. Pump action and semi automatic shotguns are both popular, and there are multiple mechanisms of operation for each of those which are popular and in current production. Etc., etc.
    Last edited by gomipile; 2017-11-01 at 08:43 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

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    Default Re: Question about a gun from colonial times

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    If it could have consistently replaced the guns of the period, it would have.
    That is unlikely the point of such a pistol. It appears to be designed for firing into a line of musketeers (or anyone else using such tactics, like pikemen or US Civil War riflemen) during a charge but right before contact. Not only that, it is likely only for officers: you hold a blade in your primary hand and this thing in your off hand. The men are likely to carry muskets/rifles with bayonets. Not only that, but once the battle is joined, anyone wielding one of these will quickly replace it (toss or holster, depending on urgency) with a single barrel pistol (to avoid fragging his men). This certainly means that it wouldn't replaced single barrel pistols, no matter how well used in its primary use.

    You can claim that this "should" have replaced the scattergun, but the scattergun would presumably be wildly easier to manufacture once shotguns were mass produced (I suspect most were really sawed off shotguns).

    I can't imagine why you are suggesting that a pistol that isn't designed to be aimed would replace the standard pistol.

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