Back in the early 19th century, simple, muzzle-loaded pistols were about the best you could hope for when it came to a sidearm. And that didn’t amount to much: They generally held only one round, were smoothbore (synonymous with the word ‘inaccurate’), and slow to reload. In this regard, edged-weapons such as swords or cutlasses still reigned superior for close-quarters combat. Ah, but if you could harness the range of the pistol while maintaining the dependability of the sword, you’d really be on to something. Enter the Elgin Cutlass Pistol.
Where you’ve seen it:
In the film Gangs Of New York, Leonardo DiCaprio hurls a knife at Bill “The Butcher,” misses, and draws one of these awesome contraptions just before catching a blade in the gut (right). Too slow, Leonardo. Too slow.