Let’s face it, from the very beginning that the cavemen sharpened stones and turned them into spears and arrows between 4,000 and 3,300 BC, we’ve come so far. When the Industrial Revolution from the mid-18th century entered, weapon designs and engineering were no longer just sticks and stones but rather more on advanced, sometimes-too-complicated, never-before-seen guns, swords, explosives— really, your imagination is the limit. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? We’d say both. With that, here are some badass-looking but not too useful weapons designed, some even dating back even before the revolution.

Ax Pistols

Ax-Pistol of Grand Duke Ferdinand I de’ Medici. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Is it an ax? Is it a pistol? It’s both!

The oldest record of the design was in the middle of the 16th century, combining wheel-lock pistol and conventional ax. The idea was popular among the wealthy noblemen who could afford elaborate mechanical curiosities. This German-manufactured ax-pistol was made of all steel with a hollow shaft of the ax serving as the pistol barrel, while the lock was placed to the outer side. Its shaft had a touchhole bore to it where the trigger was fitted. Its grip terminates a hollow pommel, formed by combining two hinged halves that more likely served as storage for pyrites, wadding, bullets, and the likes. The S-shaped ax blade was fitted in the forward end of the shaft. As The Met wrote:

The ax-pistol is first recorded in the Medici archives in 1589, when it was in Ferdinand’s private armory (armeria secreta) in his residence at the Palazzo Pitti, Florence. There it was clearly described, including the grip, which is now plain, as having been covered in black velvet with fringe of black silk and gold. The entire weapon was stored in a case of black leather furnished with black velvet cords and tassels of black silk and gold.

They were also used by the Polish and the Swedish cavalry in the 1700s. The main issue with this undeniable cool-looking weapon was that the ax head could hinder the shooter’s ability to aim and fire with accuracy. Also, because of the combination, ax-pistols were heavy. Add the fact that its stock shape was awkward to use for ax-wielding, given its sheltered pistol.

Villar Perosa

Villar-Perosa modello 1915, Italian submachine gun. (AtiradorCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Pistola Mitragliatrice Villar Perosa M1915 was an Itlaian submachine gun chambered in 9 mm Glisenti. It was originally designed for a second crew member tasked to observe military planes but was later issued to the ground troops after its chambering was deemed ineffective in stopping enemy planes. It was made with two barrels acting as machine guns with two thumb triggers in a butterfly grip equipped with only 25-round magazines with a high rate of fire of over 1,500 rounds per minute. Still, its power was not sufficient in terms of shooting down aircraft. They tried to utilize it by attaching a shield for the infantry, but due to its inefficiency and the Italian losses during WWI, they decided to dismiss and halt its production entirely.

Plug Bayonets

Plug Bayonet, British (Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s awesome to have a 2-in-1 weapon, for sure. But not when the second one hinders and plugs the first function of your weapon as in plug bayonets. As the name suggests, the idea was that soldiers would have a backup as they closed in the enemy lines. They could plug these bayonets in the muzzles of their slow-loading guns so the gun would be nothing but the handle of their pike with no way of shooting unless you removed it again. Thankfully, this was phased out and replaced with a socket-style bayonet that allowed for dual use as it was only fit around the muzzle of the gun.