I’m sure that some of you will laugh at some of these firearms, but they are purpose-built. This means, some of these guns were made to solve a very specific problem, be it to clean kilns, to plink poodles, to shoot T-Rex, or to shoot around corners. Some of these inventions made perfect sense at the time, although the technology was not advanced enough, or things just did not work out the way they had wanted.

All of these guns were made to solve problems that conventional firearms could not. I believe in the phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, and you have to give credits to the people behind some of these firearms. They genuinely believed that it would work, and I would rather they tried and failed, rather than leaving the question unanswered.

So, without further ado, let us take a look at these strange firearms that were produced.

1. Krummlauf (STG-44) Assault Rifle

As the name suggests, this was a German invention. The name Krummlauf means “curved barrel”, and it is a barrel that you can attach to the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle. The barrel comes with a periscopic-sight and the barrel itself bends at 30 degrees. That way, you can shoot around corners without peeking out. It was made specifically for tank crews.

You see, during the second world war, panzers posed a major threat for any infantrymen on the wrong side of its massive guns. However, its power diminished when you get right up close and personal with it. It is soon realized that infantry can take out panzers rather easily if they can just get close enough. It makes sense when you think about it. Tanks are slow and cumbersome, after all. So, if you can somehow survive long enough until you get up close to the tank, you can take it out of action easily.

This is a problem that the Germans already knew. Their strategy was to let their infantrymen keep the brave (or reckless, depending on who you’re asking) soldiers away from their war machines. If this did not work well, they just hosed each other’s hulls down with machine guns. This would not do any harm to the panzer but turn any infantry attempting to clime on them into mincemeat.

Sometimes, this was not enough. So, the idea of the Krummlauf was born. The tank commander, if left without an option, can just open the hatch and shoot everyone nearby, and button up again, all from the comfort and safety of the tank.

But I’m sure many of you can also see the potential of this curved barrel attachment for combat in an urban environment. The problem with such a type of fight is that confrontations are often unpredictable. There is danger around every corner. What if you get into a fight in which you and your enemies are only separated by an empty corridor and the corners you and they are hiding behind? This is the kind of peek-a-boo game you do not want to get into.

So, having a curved barrel that allows you to shoot around the corner is very handy. Even if you cannot hit your targets reliably, you can at least provide some covering fire safety while the rest of the team goes in.

Unfortunately, the Krummlauf was not successful. As it turns out, bullets do not like having to travel around a curved barrel. They tend to shatter inside the barrel around the turning point. Even if the projectiles can leave the barrel intact, accuracy and velocity would be compromised. The friction around the curved area also generates a lot of heat, shortening the barrel life to only about 300 rounds. As expected, the Krummlauf did not see widespread use. Although it was not clear how many had been manufactured, I do know that there wasn’t a lot that saw daylight, given their poor performance.

Krummlauf (STG-44) Assault Rifle

2. The 3-Gauge Kiln Gun

This is yet another strange gun. Sitting at only 5 feet long and weighs about 50 pounds, this 3-Gauge Kiln Gun was too small to be a punt gun and also too big to be your usual game gun. So, what was this for? Well, as the name suggests, it was a kiln gun.

Steel mills got enormous vats encrusted with slag after pouring molten metals out of their kilns. When you get your iron ore, you want to melt it out. These ores are usually a combination of iron and stone. So, when you melt the iron and pour it out, what is left is the stone residue that clusters together into these slags.

Then, you have two options. You can send some people into the kilns with hammers to dig the slag out. Or, you can do it the American way and put together a shotgun large enough to blast it to oblivion. Some chose the latter and so the 3-Gauge Kiln Gun was created. It fired a monstrous charge of No. 12 shot through a slot in the kiln and deleted the slag in an instant. I looked into this and found that these kiln guns are still in production today. Of course, they look nothing like your usual firearms and they are 8 gauge instead of 3. The modern load fires a 3-ounce slug at 1,750 fps with 9,000 foot-pounds of energy. They weigh around 220 pounds and have a life expectancy of a quarter-million rounds. Given its destructive energy, you fire this gun parallel to the kiln walls to take out the slags without punching holes or making a dent in the kiln.

The 3-Gauge Kiln Gun

3. A-Square .577 T-Rex

The A-Square was conceived by Lt. Col. Art Alphin. While he was an instructor at West Point, he started constructing dangerous game rifles chambered for standard cartridges and his proprietary rounds. After he retired from the army in 1997, he went into the gun business full time. His rifles are characterized by their massive stocks, which he claimed to help with the massive recoil. We’ll get back to this later.

He unveiled his masterpiece, the .577 Tyrannosaur, or T-Rex. This gun was developed in 1993 when he was approached by two Zimbabwe professional hunters who needed a rifle that can stop literally anything. The answer to that is the .577 T-Rex. It fires a 750-grain bullet at 2,450 fps with 10,180 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, more than the modern kiln guns we’ve just talked about. Although, whether this was enough to stop a T-Rex, we’ll never know.

The recoil is immense at 172 foot-pounds and the gun itself weighs at 13-pounds. For comparison, a .458 Lott produces about 73 foot-pounds in the gun with similar weight and that is already too much for many shooters, except for a few experienced ones.

Suffice to say, you are not going to be able to put in follow-up shots unless it’s an accidental discharge. You can look up videos on YouTube with people trying this gun out. Only a few people were not thrown around like ragdolls. Unfortunately, A-Square closed its doors in 2012 and we never get to see more of these monstrous creations.

A-Square .577 T-Rex

4. Coffee Mill Sharps

The Coffee Mill Sharps is a .52-caliber Sharps New Model 1863 with a coffee grinder in the buttstock. When I heard of this, I thought the gun could produce enough recoil to cycle the round and somehow have some energy spare to somehow work the coffee grinder. That way, you can brew your coffee after a long day of shooting. If you’re like me, you would be disappointed. But a bit of a history lesson first.

As Napoleon and Frederick the Great once famously said, “An army marches on its stomach”. The Union Army, however, also needed coffee to function. Each soldier was issued up to 36 pounds of coffee beans every year and they brewed it by the one-quart tin cupful. Then, they would sweeten it with sugar or molasses.

Coffee was issued in beans because war profiteers loved to mix dirt into ground coffee. Grinding was little more than crushing the beans between two rocks. Then, Lt. Col. Walter King, detached from the 4th Missouri Cavalry to the Springfield Army, had a brilliant idea. He wanted to give his men a way to conveniently grind their coffee but without the hassle of having to carry around one more belonging with them.

Then, he looked at the gun’s buttstock, saw the empty surface, and decided to make use of that free real estate. He decided to slap a coffee mill into the buttstock of the .52 Sharps carbine. He gave the order and about 100 of the guns were modified.

Unfortunately, given that it was during the Civil War, technology was not advanced enough to allow one to have a gun that produces enough recoil to cycle the coffee mill. It was nothing more than a coffee mill in the buttstock. To make matters worse, it did not work very well and the whole project was scrapped.

Nowadays, there are about a dozen authentic coffee-mill Sharps that will cost you a fortune to acquire, and a myriad of other fakes. With today’s technology, perhaps we can have a gun that cycles both the rounds and the coffee grinder at the same time. It’s a niche thing, but I, for one, love the smell of gunpowder and ground coffee.

Coffee Mill Sharps

5. Gyrojet Rocket Gun

As the name suggests, the Gyrojet was made in handgun and carbine configurations, but it fired rockets instead. The rocket gun was made by MBAssociates and the MBA Gyrojet chambers 12mm or 13mm  rockets called Microjets. These little things had angled ports in their bases that housed the propellant and a primer at the center.

So, when you pull the trigger, a flat striker ahead of the Microjet hit the rocket on the nose, pushing it back into a fixed firing pin and hit the primer. This would ignite the ports and the rocket would accelerate out at 1,250 fps. The angled ports allowed the rocket to spin while in the air, so they did not need fins. It might sound silly, but this invention has merits. For one, the Gyrojet gun did not have to withstand the stresses of a conventional firearm. Its frame was very light and cheap. There was no recoil and very slight report as well. The downside was the unreliable ignition, lack of accuracy, and very slow reload procedure. After a few years, the project folded although the gun made an appearance in a few movies before it faded

Gyrojet Rocket Gun

6. Velo Dog Revolver

Yes, this is a gun specifically designed for downing dogs. In the 19th century French, the bicycle or the velocipede, was the center of the craze. Dogs then realized that they could play a game of chase with the peddlers and nip at their legs, trousers, or whatever they could get their jaws on.

And so, Rene Galand thought that this problem can be solved with a gun, and so the Velo Dog revolver was invented. It was a small double-action revolver with a shrouded hammer. In later models, there was a long, guardless trigger as well.

The Velo Dog revolver was also known as the Revolver de Poche or the pocket revolver. It used a centerfire 5.75mm round, loaded with a conventional bullet or cayenne pepper or dust, or bullets made from wax, wood, or cork.

The gun saw widespread use back in the day when dog plinking was popular. There were varying configurations in Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain.

Velo Dog Revolver

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