Since the 19th century, firearms have been disguised to hide inside innocent, everyday items like pens and lighters. These gadgets were especially popular during the time of the Cold War. Fraught with tension, murder and espionage, the world leaders turned to the best and brightest of their scientists and engineers to create the best – and well hidden- gizmos, gadgets and guns to help them best their enemies.
And for some of these, you’ll be surprised are even real inventions and not just a crazy prop out of a James Bond film. Take a look below to see the best and bizarre guns from history, and you can buy fantastic replica guns all with a historical background from Surplus Store. Why not take a look at the range we have online?
The 1920s saw the first pen guns, around the same size as a fountain pen, but capable of firing a single handgun round of a low calibre, pen guns were used by both sides in World War Two and the KGB and CIA during the Cold War. The pen gun became a staple of early spy work and is still around today. James Bond even had one in Never Say Never Again. One type, the Stinger pen gun is one of the best, because of its quirkier design. It has to be twisted into the shape of a pistol before it can be fired which takes a couple seconds, disassembled to load its single round and as it has no sights can only be fired at a point-blank range.
In 1978, Bulgarian Georgi Markov was poisoned in London. His assassination caused a lot of concern as he was killed in the centre of the city during the day. After he felt a jabbing pain in his leg and quickly fell ill, it was discovered he had been poisoned by a small pellet being fired into his leg. The metal pellet the size of a pinhead was found to contain just 0.2mg of ricin and covered with a substance which would melt at body temperature, triggering the release of the poison into the bloodstream. Suspicion about the weapon used to fire the pellet fell on a specially designed ‘umbrella gun’ and former KGB officers have claimed such a device was designed.
The lipstick gun was one of the more outlandish gadget guns used during the Cold War and brought about the stories of Russian spies seducing Americans to steal their secrets. The KGB referred to the lipstick gun as the ‘Kiss of Death’, which was loaded with a single 4.55 mm bullet. Looking like an ordinary tube of lipstick but in an emergency, the lipstick could be used to deliver a powerful shot, and in close quarters could kill a man. Kiss of Death is not wrong!
Another invention by the Russians is the Cigarette Case Dart Gun. In 1954 the spy Nikolai Khokhlov was sent to Frankfurt on an assassination mission but defected to the American’s and handed over the weapon he was to use. From the outside, it was a normal cigarette case but inside was a concealed electrically powered firearm that shot out darts dipped in cyanide from the fake cigarettes. Understandably, the American’s were very happy to discover this secret weaponry.
The glove gun was a real weapon used by the U.S. Military in World War Two, but they were seen as terribly impractical in combat and few were actually used during the war. The Sedgley .38 was designed for use in close quarters and consisted of a single shot revolver built into the palm, activated by a plunger in the fist. When you punched someone with it, the shot would go off. This glove pistol is one that has been used in films, namely Quentin Tarantino’s World War Two action film Inglorious Basterds where an American soldier disguised as a waiter kills a German guard.
Back in the 1970s, the CIA were prototyping the heart attack gun. The specialised pistol didn’t shoot slugs but was specialised to induce cardiac arrest. It operated by firing a tiny dart loaded with shellfish poison which can penetrate clothes that then triggers a heart attack, hence the name. The poison dart would then rapidly have degraded in the victim’s system and leave no trace. It is unclear whether the gun was ever used, but according to some conspiracy theorists, the CIA still uses the Heart Attack gun 40 years later.