Pistol sword

A pistol sword is a sword with a pistol or revolver attached, usually alongside the blade. It differs from a rifle with a bayonet in that the weapon is designed primarily for use as a sword, and the firearm component is typically considered a secondary weapon designed to be an addition to the blade, rather than the sword being a secondary addition to the pistol. In addition, the two components of these weapons typically cannot be separated, unlike most bayonet-fixed rifles.


Historically, some flintlock pistols of the 17th and 18th centuries were constructed as gun-swords, with the barrel of the pistol attached to the side of the blade of a shortsword or dagger. A shell guard protected the firing mechanism when it was used as a sword. These were used by French and German hunters to kill wounded wild boar.[1] Examples of these weapons can be found in the armoury of Wawel Castle (Kraków, Poland). Similar weapons were made in India,[2] including the Katar (कटार), a thrusting dagger, modern variants of which may feature a single-shot pistol built into one side.

Military use

Elgin cutlass pistol
Elgin Cutlass Pistol at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia[3]

In 1838, the United States Navy developed the .54 caliber, single-shot smoothbore Elgin pistol, which was equipped with an 11.5-inch Bowie knife blade[4] and was intended for use by boarding parties; it was the first percussion cap gun in naval service,[5] but only 150 were made. The Navy specifically intended them for the Wilkes-South Seas expedition. Reportedly, in 1840 a naval landing party used the pistol to good effect when Fijian warriors attacked the sailors on the island of Malolo.[6] A few Elgin pistols were still in use during the US Civil War,[7] but proved unpopular. The Navy quickly replaced them with the M1860 Cutlass, which remained in service until the 1940s. Some found their way into civilian hands and some ended up in the Old West.

Pinfire cartridge gun-swords were produced in Belgium during the mid-19th century, although in limited quantity.[8][9] These custom-made weapons were sometimes used by European officers and featured a loading gate behind the basket hilt.[8] In 1866 T Rauh of Solingen filed a United States patent on the design of a 9mm caliber pistol sword with a 32in blade.[8]

During World War I, the British manufactured a limited number of Webley revolvers with folding blades, similar in design to the Pritchard pistol bayonet.[10] These were used by officers in the trenches for close quarters fighting as the confined space made it difficult to use a sword. However, few were produced due to the expense and scarcity of raw materials.[11]

A rare variant of the World War II Japanese Nambu automatic pistol was a pistol sword. It is possible that this non-regulation weapon was privately purchased by an officer as only one example is known to exist.[12]

Civilian use

Another notable example of a pistol sword was the Swedish 1865 Cutlass Pistol; 500 were ordered by the government and issued to prison guards.[13] It was a breech-loading 2 shot weapon with a 14in by 2in blade weighing 2.5 lb. A few ended up on the other side of the Atlantic and one became part of Buffalo Bill's gun collection.[14]

In the late Victorian era, some French swordsticks had built-in pinfire pepperbox revolvers to increase their lethality; these were carried by civilians for self-defence. However this idea was far from new; combination swordsticks and wheel lock pistols have been in use since the 16th century.[14]


Pistol swords were not widely used and became uncommon relatively quickly, due to their expense and because instead of getting two weapons in one, one got a heavy pistol and a heavy, off-balance sword, as shown by the poor performance of the Elgin pistol.[15]

Modern versions occasionally appear on the market, however, as novelties or collectors' items, including the Sierra Madre knife pistol.[16]

Similar weapons

Deleaxhe Apache pistol 7mm
Apache pepperbox knuckleduster popular among turn-of-the-century French street gangs.
  • Edged weapons with built-in pistols were common in Eastern Europe. The flintlock axe pistol was a trademark Polish cavalry weapon from the 16th until the 18th century. Similar guns were made in Hungary and a multi-barreled version was invented in Germany.[17] Axe pistols, invented in 1703 by Admiral Erich Sioblad, were also issued to the Swedish navy from the early 18th century until 1840.[18]
  • Some linstocks of the Renaissance and late medieval period had a matchlock pistol concealed in the blade.[17]
  • Henry VIII's bodyguards were equipped with iron round shields fitted with a pistol. The English also combined pistols with maces.[19] A notable example is Henry VIII's Walking Staff, a 3 barreled pistol and morning star.[20] The king would carry it while walking through the city at night to check up on the constables.[21] Henry's mace pistol is now on display in the Tower of London's Tudor Room.[22]
  • In the late 19th century, members of Parisian street gangs carried Apache revolvers, a combination of knife, revolver and knuckleduster.[23]
  • Knife pistols with folding blades were popular in England during the mid Victorian era. These were made by Unwin and Rodgers, used black powder and were available in various small calibers.[24] Like the modern Swiss Army knife they contained a variety of tools, from blades to corkscrews, and were often used by sailors. A modern version that fires .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, known as the Defender, is still in production.[25]
  • Belgian gunsmiths made revolvers with Bowie knife blades, some of which were used by French officers during the Crimean War and Franco-Prussian War.[24]
  • In modern times KA-BAR and LASERLYTE have teamed up to produce a Pistol Bayonet for today's tactical market.
  • French Tactical Security Instructor, Firearms and Martial Arts expert Jeff Thenier designed a pistol shaped tactical folding knife called the P001 by STI KNIVES designed to replace the handgun when it is not available. The P001 uses pistol bayonet techniques for a unique form of knife combat.


Hunting Knife combined with Wheellock Pistol (Munich, 1546) (from Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

German hunting knife and wheel lock pistol made in 1546.

German sword pistol, 1580s.


Polish axe pistol.

Wheel-lock daggers

German knife pistol, 1600s.

Cutlass pistol on display at Salem Pirate Museum, Massachusetts

Replica of an 18th-century pistol cutlass.


Georgian knife pistol with spring-loaded blade similar to the modern switchblade.

Gun Katara

Indian pistol katar.

Poivriere systeme mariette 1855

1850s Belgian pepperbox with stiletto blade.

Sword revolver2

Rauh's sword revolver, late 19th century.


  1. ^ Davis, J.M. (1996). "Swords & Knives". Archived from the original on 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  2. ^ Ellis, Robert (1851). Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue.
  3. ^ Patterson, C. Meade, "George Elgin's Pistols", The Gun Collector, No. 3, Nov. 1949.
  4. ^ Shideler, Dan (2008). 2008 Standard Catalog of Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Krause Publications. p. 1502. ISBN 978-0-89689-608-6.
  5. ^ Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-85109-470-7.
  6. ^ Bodinson, Holt (May 2006). "Shoot & slash? PKP knife pistol". American Handgunner. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  7. ^ "US Civil War Weapons". Real Armor of God. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.Elgin Pistol
  8. ^ a b c Ruble, Ron (2003). "Pinfire sword gun". Ron Ruble Enterprises. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  9. ^ Biever, Dale E. "Civil War News book review". Civil War News. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  10. ^ "Pritchard pistol bayonet". Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  11. ^ "Fake, fantasy and reproduction bayonets". Archived from the original on 2013-01-13. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  12. ^ "Japanese Sword Pistol". Neatorama. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  13. ^ Frost, Gordon, Blades and Barrels (1972) p.61
  14. ^ a b Arnow, Chad. "Spotlight: Combination Weapons". MyArmory.com. Archived from the original on 28 February 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2008. Sword cane with wheel-lock firearm from the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
    Dated to the end of the 16th century, this sword cane (already a combination weapon) also incorporates a wheel-lock firearm.
  15. ^ Kinard, Jeff (2003). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-85109-470-7.
  16. ^ Powell, J. "History: Sierra Madre Knife Pistols". San Juan Enterprises. Retrieved 29 October 2008. Modern knife pistol
  17. ^ a b Howard Ricketts, Firearms, (London,1962) p.29.
  18. ^ Boarding axes
  19. ^ Howard Ricketts, Firearms, (London,1962) p.11.
  20. ^ Ricketts
  21. ^ William Pinnock; W. Edwards; James Burkhart Gilbert (1833). The Guide to Knowledge. proprietor; and published. p. 589.
  22. ^ "The Tudor Room — Tower of London Virtual Tour (London Online) Accessed 18/12/2008". London Online. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  23. ^ Rummel, James R (11 November 2006). "Is That an Apache in Your Pocket? Archived 2008-07-19 at the Wayback Machine" Hell in a Handbasket blog. Retrieved on 23 December 2008.
  24. ^ a b Frost, Gordon (1972). Blades and Barrels: six centuries of combination weapons.
  25. ^ Defender pistol

External links


A billao (Somali: billaawe), also known as a belawa, is a horn-hilted Somali shortsword. It served most notably as a close-quarters weapon in the Dervish State, at the turn of the 20th century.


The cinquedea is a civilian short sword (or long dagger). It was developed in northern Italy and enjoyed a period of popularity during the Italian renaissance of the 15th and early 16th centuries.

The name cinquedea means "five fingers", and it describes the width of the blade next to the guard. The blade was heavy, about 45 cm (18 in) in length, and tapered to a somewhat rounded point. The grip was simple with a small pommel, and the guard was curved with the concave side toward the point. There were typically several fullers along the wider sides of the blade to lighten the weapon. The wide blade was useful for decorative etching. The wide blade was also used for attacking rather than the point of the blade.This weapon was varied in size, being anywhere in size from 10" to 28". It was often carried in place of a knife or larger sword. It is depicted in period art as sometimes being carried horizontally next to the buttocks so that it could be drawn laterally from the back. The cinqueda was able to deal cutting blows unlike most other daggers because of its size and shape.

Combination weapons

A combination weapon is a close-quarters weapon combining the features of both a firearm and an edged melee weapon. Examples of gun hybrids include knife/pistols and pistol/sword combinations.


Flyssa is a Berber traditional sword of the Kabyles tribe of Algeria during the 19th century and earlier. These types of swords come with blades of various sizes from 12 to 38 inches (30 to 97 cm). This type of sword was used to break open mail armour, which was still worn in that part of the world in the 19th century.

Gari (sword)

Gari is a sword that originates from Nias, an island off the west coast of North Sumatra, Indonesia. It is a term used for a type of sword found only in North Nias.


Gunblade may refer to:

A fictional weapon from the Final Fantasy video game series.

Pistol sword, a rare type of combination weapon in use from the 16th until the 19th centuries.

Hunting sword

A hunting sword is a type of single-handed short sword that dates to the 12th Century but was used during hunting parties among Europeans from the 17th to the 19th centuries. A hunting sword usually has a straight, single-edged, pointed blade typically no more than 25 inches long. This sword was used for finishing off game in lieu of using and wasting further shot. Adopted by many Europeans, and in past centuries sometimes worn by military officers as a badge of rank, hunting swords display great variety in design. Some hilts featured a thin knuckle-bow to protect the fingers. Others sported a serrated saw edge on the back of the blade. Still others had small matchlock pistols built into the hilt, with deep firing grooves cut into the fuller of the blade.


A Katzbalger is a short Renaissance arming sword, notable for its sturdy build and a distinctive s-shaped or figure-8 shaped guard. Measuring 70–80 cm long and weighing 0.8-1.5 kg, it was the signature blade of the Landsknecht.

Kayamkulam vaal

Kayamkulam vaal (meaning Kayamkulam sword) is a double-edged sword that was used by the rulers and soldiers of Nair aristocracy (mostly in Travancore), in the Kayamkulam princely state of India. An example is on display at the Krishnapuram Palace Museum in Kayamkulam.It is said to have been used by the Kayamkulam Rajas in the 18th century.

Some Nair families such as Velathandethu house (Pallarimangalam), Padanilathu house (olakettyambalam) are keeping kayamkulam vaal as their historical evidence of family.


The klewang or kelewang is a class of bladed weapon between the sword and machete originating in Indonesia but also found in Malaysia.

Langgai Tinggang

Langgai Tinggang (other names also include Langgai Tinggan, Langgi Tinggang, Mandau Langgi Tinggan) is a traditional sword of the Sea Dayak people, originating from Borneo. The name Langgai Tinggang means "the longest tail-feather of a hornbill".

Mandau (knife)

Mandau is the traditional weapon of the Dayak people of Borneo. Sometimes it is also known as Parang Ilang among the Bidayuh, Iban and Penan people, Malat by the Kayan people or Baieng by the Kenyah people or Bandau by Lun Bawang or Pelepet/Felepet by Lundayeh. Mandau is mostly ceremonial. However, a less elaborate version called Ambang is used as an everyday practical tool.

Associated with the Headhunting Ceremony, where people would gather to attack other tribes, and gather heads to be used in various festivities, Mandau is both a work of art in itself and a weapon.


Niabor (other names also include Beadah, Naibor, Nyabor, Nyabur, Parang Njabur Laki-Laki) is a curved sword from Borneo, a characteristic weapon of the Sea-Dayaks.


A Nimcha is a single-handed sword from northwestern Africa, especially Morocco and the western part of Algeria, a type of scimitar or saif.

These blades are usually from the late 18th century onwards and are notable for often using older blades. With this variety of possible blade designs nimcha are distinct with the hilts that sport forward pointing quillions, and wooden handles with squared off "hooked" pommels. The cross guard will often have a knuckle guard which starts beneath the quillions and runs to the bottom of the pommel; on the opposite side of the hilt this path is normally continued into a 3rd quillion. These swords bear strong resemblances to the neighboring Arab.

Parang (knife)

The parang (; Dusun: dangol) is a type of machete or cleaver used across the Malay archipelago.

Parang Nabur

Parang Nabur (other names also include Belabang or Beladah, while older variants are called Pacat Gantung or Pacat Bagantung) is a sword that originates from Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia. Most of this sword is made during the Banjarmasin Sultanate period in the 19th century.


A shamshir (Persian: شمشیر‬‎) is a type of Iranian sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from shamshīr, which means "sword" (in general). The curved sword family includes the shamshir, scimitar, talwar, kilij, pulwar and sabre.

A shamshir shekargar (Persian: شَمشیر شکارگَر‬‎ shamshir-e shekârgar; literally, "hunters' sword" or "hunting sword") is the same as a shamshir, except the blade is engraved and decorated, usually with hunting scenes.

Surik (sword)

The surik is a traditional sword of the island of Timor. The first coat of arms of East Timor depicts crossed suriks.


The wakizashi (Japanese: 脇差, "side inserted [sword]") is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihontō) worn by the samurai in feudal Japan.

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