Throughout the past several centuries, handguns have sprouted several evolutionary branches. Some of these branches are shorter than others. We look at five of the shortest:
1. Pepper-box pistols
If you were in the market for a self-defense handgun from about 1830-1860, odds were you looked at a pepper-box.
With a single grip, hammer and trigger system, the pistol mounted anywhere from 3-24 loaded barrels that were rotated into place and fired in turn. These guns were made by several manufacturers on both sides of the pond and were innovative for their day. Their main problems were that they were incapable of aimed fire due to being muzzle heavy and contained no front sights. The fact that they were susceptible to chain fire in which all the barrels shot off at once was also unnerving. Nevertheless, these handguns were the bridge from the only single shot pistols to modern revolvers and are quite collectable.
2. Modèle 1892 revolver
France has always gone their own way for better or worse and the Mle.1892 “Lebel” revolver is another example of this tendency. The fixed frame revolver, while beautiful, was slow to reload and mechanically complicated. But its fatal flaw was the round it fired.