An alternative to being able to shoot multiple shots from more than one barrel is to fire multiple projectiles from one barrel with one shot.
Rather than sending a single bullet to one target, the blunderbuss was designed to send multiple bullets over a given area. Its muzzle is wider than the rest of the barrel, intended to spread the shot over a given area. The early flintlock versions of the gun were very popular with guards on mail coaches and with householders for home defence.
Some of these weapons were issued to the army and the navy. It can be imagined that they would have been used by the navy in close combat, possibly to repel borders, or in boarding. It is probably for that reason, that the example above is fitted with a sprung over bayonet, as is the pair of pistols shown below.
Also note the ramrod held under the barrels for loading.Blunderbuss Pistols with Bayonets
The date of this pair of pistols is from around 1820, and signed by Sherwood of London.Ladies Muff Pistol
From the 18th century small concealable pistols for self protection, were manufactured in Europe in large numbers. The picture shows a flintlock example manufactured in 1820 from Birmingham England.
Measuring just over 4 inches (11.8cm) these lightweight guns were intended mainly for women. As they could easily be concealed in a Ladies hand warmer, they gained the name of Muff pistols.
Like many of this type of weapon it is fitted with a sliding safety catch to prevent accidental discharge. A Palm Pistol
A palm pistol is one of the latest weapons shown here.
Patented around 1883 the earliest was known as the Chicago Palm Pistol. This percussion weapon was able to be concealed in the palm of the hand and operated by holding the fingers over the lugs either side of the barrel and squeezing with the palm of the hand.
The photograph above is of a unique design called “The Protector” from 1891-1892 by the Minneapolis Firearms company.
According toFlaydermans Guide to Antique Guns,9th edition, these were actually built by James Duckworth of Springfield, MA. It features a 7-shot cylinder which is really more like a rotating turret.Ring Pistol
This weapon made in the late 19th century is a rare six shot pin firing revolver. It is a silver ring that fits the finger and features a hand rotated pepperbox barrels locked by a bar catch. The ring is engraved with the words “La Petit Protector”Duelling Pistols and “The Judas Pair”
Should a “gentleman” feel that his honour had been offended, he would call on the offender to take part in a duel to remedy the offence. Formerly fought with swords, with the advent of the gun, duels would now take place with pistols. The wealthy families would be able to commission fine sets of duelling pistols which would be passed on from father to son.
The duellists would meet discretely, usually just after dawn. With them they would each have their own “seconds.” (A term which is now carried on in the boxing world.)
The duties of the seconds were several fold. Firstly they were there to try to settle the dispute verbally before the parties resorted to the duel. They were also to attend to any injuries resulting from the duel.
Another duty was that they were supposed to check that neither of the weapons contained rifling. (Grooves manufactured into the inside of the barrel to make a bullet travel more accurately.) This was supposed to be “ungentlemanly”. It has been suggested that on some occasions one of the pair may have been rifled and the other not.
It is possibly this that led to the story by Jonathan Gash called the “Judas Pair”. A pair of duelling pistols that, where one fired honestly, the other pistol had a mechanism which released the shot backwards to kill the person using it. But that’s just a story…isn’t it?
Duelling was finally banned in England in 1810.