34As a species, we have been at the forefront when it comes to tools, whether it be utilizing them, designing them, developing them, or building them, to make life easier. We became apex predators some five hundred thousand years ago when we started to use stone-tipped spears, bows and arrows. Fast forward to 9th Century CE, we developed a formula for gunpowder, which would eventually pave the way to the creation of firearms. 

That was a rather simplistic way of looking at it, but firearms have been around since the mid 1300s, and we have been consistently improving on them, with each version’s next iteration showing marked improvements that make it a more efficient tool for the main purpose it was designed for: to take a life, for better or for worse. 

And yet, even with all of the awe-inspiring models firearms manufacturing companies have been developing and churning out over the last century, there are a handful of gun designs that make it out of the engineers’ office and into the production lines, making you wonder who in the executive team green-lighted the production or why the decision to green-light was made in the first place.

Here’s our list of the Top 5 Worst Modern Production Firearms Ever Made.

1. The Type 94 Nambu Pistol

Produced from 1935-1945, the Type 94 Nambu Pistol was one of, if not the most terrible pistol design to have been adopted for military use. This was the pistol carried by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.  

Developed by a retired army veteran Kijirō Nambu and some of his associates, the Nambu Type 94 was a semi-automatic pistol chambered in eight by two millimeter Nambu rounds and was primarily designed as a small and lightweight sidearm for the Japanese Army. Unfortunately, the ballistics of its chambering were as underwhelming as the pistol itself was troublesome. It was awkward to use, difficult to disassemble, and was more dangerous to its operator as it was for its intended target.

Back in the days when it was developed, there was no country with enough experience and know-how to build a small sidearm that could be as reliable and as effective as any of the modern production sub-compact pistols we know of today. For the Type 94 Nambu Pistol, its initial design which dictated its compactness was already bad enough.

Because of its small frame, the pistol had a small grip, which made it appropriate for most Japanese soldiers as they mostly had relatively small hands. However, it was no Browning Hi-Power as the magazine could hold only six rounds of eight by two millimeter Nambu, an old cartridge introduced in Imperial Japan in 1904 with ballistics comparable to some of the warmer three-eighty ACP loads on the market today but exhibited poor terminal performance, a common characteristic shared by all all slow-moving small-diameter bullets with a full metal jacket.

Even with its relatively demure ballistics, the eight by two millimeter Nambu cartridge produced chamber pressures that proved a little too much for the bolt, which made it difficult to insert a fresh magazine in the pistol’s small grip. The soldier had to use a significant amount of force just to jam the magazine in. 

And as the magazine catch protruded from the frame, the soldier had to be careful when holstering the pistol to avoid accidentally hitting the magazine catch and prevent the magazine from being ejected out of the handgun. 

The Type 94 Nambu Pistol

And if these mechanical defects sound bad, they were made worse by the Japanese Ordnance Department interfering with the pistols’ production. Standards dwindled as Japan started losing the war,  further resulting in already poor workmanship getting even worse. As resources slowly started becoming more and more limited, later Type 94 Nambu Pistol models became even more problematic as many of its internal components were originally designed to be small and delicate. Subpar materials and non-existent quality control led to these components easily breaking apart.  

There was also the problem of accidental discharge. The problem stemmed from the sear bar which was designed to be mounted on the outside of the pistol. It could be easily actuated if the pistol was unintentionally dropped or handled without extreme care. Stories of the pistol firing when soldiers pretended to surrender while pushing the sear bar are prevalent, so much so that the Type 94 Nambu is jokingly referred to by some as the “Surrender Pistol”.

2. The Glisenti Model 1910

There are few guns in history that have the tendency to just fall apart without disassembly, one of which we’re including in our list is the Glisenti Model 1910. How bad is it? Picture this. Most firearms employ the use of a takedown lever for fast and easy disassembly, but for the Glisenti Model 1910, the trigger acts as a secondary takedown lever. Upon pulling it, the gun just disassembles itself fast.

Introduced in 1910, the Glisenti Model 1910 was one of the first semi-auto handguns accepted for military service and became somewhat prevalent in the first war, but not as much during the second world war even though it did see some use. Those days, most countries’ military were in the process of transitioning from some of their old, trusted revolvers chambered in big bore calibers to smaller, easier-to-carry but untested semi-automatic handguns with unproven effectiveness in the battlefield.

The Glisenti Model 1910 was chambered for a cartridge called the 9mm Glisenti which was identical to the renowned 9mm Parabellum in dimensions but was totally different from it in that it had a smaller powder charge, making it a much weaker cartridge as far as ballistics. This is because the handgun it was chambered for couldn’t handle the high pressures the 9mm parabellum was known for. 

The way it was designed made it so that it lacked the level of durability required to handle any cartridge more powerful than its anemic chambering. As such, loading the Glisenti Model 1910 with 9mm Parabellum rounds resulted in a catastrophic failure.

The Glisenti Model 1910

One other questionable feature it also had was its takedown screw which the engineer for some reason decided to put in front of the frame, exposing the left side of the gun and allowing for its disassembly. But again, because of the weak structural design it was known for, the led screw would loosen, often at the worst possible moments without the operator being aware. This would result in the frame and receiver assembly falling apart randomly. 

It was a good thing there were many other domestic firearms manufacturing companies Italy could fall back on, ones that had real working knowledge of firearms and the years of experience necessary to build them. Around 24 years after it was adopted, the Italian army decided to replace their Glisenti Model 1910 with the Beretta M1934, a handgun that was leagues ahead of it. 

3. The 1917 Chauchat Light Machine Gun

Known to many as the Chauchat, the Fusil Mitrailleur Modele 1915 CSRG was a relatively good weapon before the decision was made to chamber it in the 8mm Lebel. It only received a bad reputation as soldiers who were tasked to use it hated it. To this day, the Chauchat is regarded as one of the first assault rifles, which would be correct if not for the fact that it was a light machine gun and should never be looked at as a rifle for any reason.

The abbreviation CSRG stood for Chauchat, Sutter, Ribeyrolles and Gladiator. Designed by Louis Chauchat and Charles Sutter and manufactured by the Gladiator company under the supervision of the company’s general manager Paul Ribeyrolles, the 1917 Chauchat proved to be an excellent light machine gun during its testing phases, meeting all of the designers’ expectations. But there were two main reasons as to why we decided to include it in our list: one was design-related, the other had something to do with its production.

Upon its release, the designers decided to chamber the Chauchat for what was then the French Army’s standard issue service cartridge, the 8mm Lebel, reason being it would ease ammo supplies and manufacturing. The problem stemmed from the fact that the 8mm cartridge had a rimmed base with a rather large diameter. Cartridges with such a rim design, when stacked on top of each other, forms a curved shape, as opposed to rimless cartridges that could be stacked straight.

Because of this, the designers came up with a semi-circular magazine which fed the Chauchat through the underside of the breech mechanism. This 20-round magazine had little cut-outs on each side which exposed the spring and cartridges. Nobody knew what the designers were thinking when they decided to add those cut-outs, but it’s safe to assume those were put there for the gunner to be able to check the remaining rounds in the magazine. Unfortunately, those slots caused blockages as mud, dirt, and filth got into the chamber of the firearm while being fired. 

The 1917 Chauchat Light Machine Gun

The production-related problem had to do with the Gladiator company, though it was no fault of their own. The company was a bicycle manufacturer but the French government commissioned them anyway to build the Chauchat as they assumed that both bicycles and guns were made from steel tubes, ergo their manufacturing processes weren’t going to be too different. The people at Gladiator had zero experience building firearms, which naturally led to the guns they built having reliability issues. 

After the United States decided to join the Allied Forces, France showed their appreciation to American soldiers by building Chauchat light machine guns chambered in thirty-ought-six Springfield, the U.S. military’s standard issue rifle cartridge. Since the Chauchats weren’t originally designed to handle such a powerful rifle round, the resulting firearms turned out to be much worse than its predecessor.

4. The Breda Modello 30 Light Machine Gun

Possibly the ugliest, most awkward light machine gun ever made, the 6.5mm Breda Modello 30 was a light machine gun used by Italian soldiers through World War II. Utilizing a form of delayed blowback operation, it was designed to fire from a closed bolt, with the barrel and bolt moving rearward for a short distance before the barrel separated from the bolt, which continued to move backward, feeding a new round as it ejected a spent casing.

Firing from a closed bolt meant zero air circulation of any sort, which resulted in heat buildup, one of the disadvantages of adopting such a firing system. In a light machine gun, all that heat buildup would cause the cartridges in the chamber to cook off, which would result in the gun going off even without the trigger being pulled, potentially injuring or killing the gunner or whoever happened to be in front of the gun barrel.

The Breda Modello 30 Light Machine Gun

Another disadvantage of the closed bolt firing system was that, to ensure proper casing extraction, there had to be an integral oil pump to lubricate each cartridge as it was chambered. The Breda Modello 30 used a fixed 20-round box magazine which fed it from the right side. It hinged forward so the gunner could reload it with a stripper clip with twenty 6.5mm cartridges. After reloading, it was closed and locked against the receiver. 

Similar to the Chauchat, there was a cutout on the top of the magazine that served to allow the gunner to check how many rounds remained. And as with the Chauchat, this hole in the magazine served as an entry for sand, dirt, and debris to enter the gun’s action. This, and the integral oil pump that lubricates the chambered cartridges, made cleaning the Breda Modello 30 a nightmare. Consequently, all the gunk and dirt that gathered in the action resulted in the jamming while being fired.

5. The Gyrojet

And finally, we have the Gyrojet, a weapon that used a rocket-propelled cartridge which slightly resembled a .45 ACP round. Unlike a typical bullet sitting on top of gunpowder in a brass casing with primer at the bottom, a Gyrojet projectile was a single cartridge assembly that contained a primer and a piece of flash paper or cotton that ran the length of the hollow fuel grain. 

While a conventional bullet is pushed out of the gun’s barrel by chamber pressure resulting from gunpowder exploding after being ignited by the primer, the Gyrojet uses burning rocket fuel to propel it. This meant that the platform from which the Gyrojet was launched could be built much simpler, as its barrel and chamber do not need to withstand the explosions resulting from gunpowder getting burned. 

The Gyrojet

Rockets, by their design, can never be as accurate as bullets, so the Gyrojet had to be stabilized by its nozzles which made it spin and helped it reach rotational speeds that were higher than most rifle rounds. At its best, the Gyrojet round had twice the kinetic energy of the standard .45 ACP factory loading. But how often it could hit a target with such force is a different thing altogether.

The main problem with the Gyrojet was with its consistency, or lack thereof. As it uses a radically different method of propelling itself, it suffered from almost non-existent accuracy and very limited to miniscule stopping power, thus offering no real advantage over traditional firearms. The company that manufactured it, MB Associates, eventually stopped working further on the project after realizing how bad of a failure it was.

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