Whereas a rifle can reach out and touch someone, handguns have always been more up close and personal while knife fighting has been described as the most intimate combat scenario of them all. So what could be better for those who relish a good gutter fight than a knife attached to a handgun? Here’s five of our favorite knife handguns.
Why a knife on a pistol?
In Renaissance Europe, defense weapons began to increasingly fall into one of two categories: ranged weapons like guns and bows that hurled objects and projectiles, and edged weapons, like knives and swords, used to pierce, hack and slice.
Hunting knife and wheel lock pistol made in Munich Germany, 1546. The large blade has a calendar etched into it surface along with other personal markings and decorations.
An era of innovative ideas, it did not take weaponsmakers long to start attempting to combine the two. For example, the pike (basically a long spear and one of the most effective weapons in human history) was augmented first by the musket and then finally replaced by the bayonet – which turned amusket into a pike.
The ability to retain the advantage of distance (even if your gun is out of commission) makes the bayonet seem obvious, but why would one want to apply this same concept to a handgun? Truly ridiculous, you say? Well, these hybrid knife-pistols were the original pig stickers. Hunters in Europe in the 15th century added long bladed knives to the end of their flintlock pistols so they could have a means of defense in the event that the boar they chased wasn’t dropped by the weak and unreliable boom stick of the day. These combos remained popular until gun science got its act together.
1. The Elgin
Fast forward to the 19th century. In 1838, the US Navy was equipping an exploration cruise, the four-year long Wilkes South Seas expedition, to chart little known stretches of the Pacific. To arm ashore teams of sailors against possibly hostile natives, they ordered 150 Elgin pistols. These smoothbore .54-caliber percussion cap muzzleloaders were sistered to 11-inch long abbreviated cutlasses, and saw combat in at least four battles on far flung islands during the voyage. These were sold as surplus after the expedition and if you find a real one today, it’s a five-figure investment.
2. The Apache
In 1860 Mr. L. Dolne a workshop owner in the Belgian gun making Mecca of Liege, produced what a legend among personal defense weapons. Remembered as the Apache revolver due to its use by French criminals of the same name, the handgun was a 13-ounce five-shot revolver with a folding set of brass knuckles for a grip and a 1.15-inch bayonet as a hood ornament. It’s odd, and ugly, but for its time it was effective.