HGR 010 - Handgun Design Disasters

HGR 010 - Handgun Design Disasters

Ryan discusses the handgun designs that didn’t quite make the cut

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Week In Review:

  • This is Handgun Radio’s TENTH episode!!!! I just want to say a huge thank you to all the supportive listeners, and all of the people at the Firearms Radio Network.  It has truly been a wonderful experience to be able to host a radio show on a network with such fine & knowledgeable people, and I look forward to it continuing for a long time to come.
  • As mentioned in the last episode, please send in any of the questions you’ve had pertaining to the handgunning, reloading or shooting world and I will compile as many as I can into a Listener FAQ episode scheduled for sometime in October.
  • Also, thank you to the people who have emailed me listing their experiences with 1911 style pistols.  If you have any experience with the 1911 system, good or bad, please email me at ryan@handgunradio.com and let me know what you thought.  I will use many of these emails in an upcoming episode of Handgun Radio covering the 1911.
  • Next week, I will be in Florida celebrating my Honeymoon with my then-wife.  I do not anticipate any disruptions in the release of the show, and I plan to try and visit a few gunstores down there and record a “Special Report” episode from Florida.  I don’t make it out of Maine very much, so it will be interesting to see what the firearms lifestyle is down there.

Main Topic: Handgun Design Disasters

  • This week’s discussion will cover the handgun designs that weren’t quite ready for prime-time.  In the interests of fairness, I will not be covering guns that just LOOK bad, but guns that had some pretty significant design flaws that prevented their success.

1.) Nambu Type 94 Pistol:

  • Produced by Japan for WWII, production on the 8mm Nambu Type 94 started in 1934.  
  • The Type 94 was originally designed to replace the much larger and more difficult to produce Type 14 pistol that was then in use by the Japanese military.  
  • The Type 94 was widely issued to Japanese forces, and was mainly intended for
  • pilots, tank crews, and soldiers who could not have such a large pistol as the Type 14 in small confines.
  • One of the biggest design flaws of the Type 94 apart from its less-than-ergonomic design was the fact that one could press on an exposed trigger bar on the left side of the pistol and actually cause the gun to discharge without pulling the trigger.

2.) The Dardick Revolver:

  • The Dardick was an attempt to join the concepts of the revolver and semi-automatic pistol together.  
  • The Dardick had an odd external look, as it had a three-chamber cylinder with triangular shaped chambers and fed rounds from a spring loaded magazine in the grip.
  • The gun would pull rounds from the magazine and load them into the cylinder, which would then be fired and ejected out the left side.
  • Because of the design, the gun had to use special ammunition called “Trounds” which were bullets that had a plastic or aluminium case that was shaped like a triangle.
  • The Dardick Model 1100 had a ten-tround capacity magazine and fired .38 Dardick Trounds which were roughly 9mm caliber.

3.) The Schouboe Automatic Pistol:

  • The Schouboe was originally a .32 ACP pistol manufactured by the same company that produced the Madsen LMG. The original Schouboe design was a simple straight blowback, which worked well with .32 ACP.
  • The designer then went to work on the Schouboe 1907, and he wanted to do it in a .45 caliber.  The simple straight blowback design wouldn’t work with such a large cartridge, so he designed a lightweight, wooden bullet with a steel jacket and an aluminum base. The bullet weighed 55 grains.
  • The round was underpowered, and even traveling at 1625 fps it still had significant accuracy problems.

4.) The Jennings/Bryco/Jiminez Brand Pistols:

  • These pistols are pretty much functionally all the same, but just produced under different names after several legal and financial issues.
  • These companies produced guns known as “Ring of Fire” guns, as they were produced in a specific area of California.
  • These guns are made out of Zamak-3 and aluminum. The Hi-Point series of pistols also use Zamak-3 in their construction, but their quality control and casting processes are FAR superior to these firearms.
  • They are VERY inexpensive (the example I own, the Jennings J-22, I paid $60 for) but they are also prone to breakage with extended use.  I have heard of slides coming off of the gun during firing and hitting the shooter. These are also NOT drop-safe.
  • The example I have jams very often, and seldom can I make it through a full magazine without at least one jam.  These guns are just range toys and nothing more.

5.) The Gyrojet Handgun:

  • The Gyrojet was an attempt to use non-conventional “mini-rockets” to propel a projectile out of a firearm.
  • The Gyrojet pistol did not use a traditional barrel, as there was no pressure that needed to be contained because the rounds were driven by small rocket charges in their bases. There were several holes in the base of each round which spun the round and gyroscopically stabilized it.
  • The velocity of the round immediately coming out of the muzzle was very low, but increased once the round traveled some distance, to a typical velocity of 1,250 fps.
  • Because of the low velocity at the muzzle, the Gyrojet was ineffective at short range, and more effective at long range.  The issue was that there were pretty significant accuracy problems, which increased with range.
  • The cartridge the Gyrojet fired was around 13mm Caliber.

6.) The MARS Automatic Pistol:

  • This handgun is interesting, because it is a failed design BECAUSE of its caliber.  The Mars Automatic pistol was an early attempt at an autoloading pistol design firing a very powerful service cartridge.
  • Produced in 1899, it weighed nearly three pounds and had a 9.5” barrel.  It was chambered for the .450 Mars cartridge, which propelled a 220 grain FMJ bullet at 1,200 fps.
  • It also had a pretty violent feeding mechanism which required the rounds to have a significant crimp on the bullet to ensure everything stayed together during feeding.
  • When tested by the British War Office for potential adoption, the gun was rejected for its excessive weight, muzzle blast and high recoil. A quote from the lead tester read “No one who fired once with this pistol wished to fire it again.”


  • A few listener emails.
  • Thank you to all the people who have written in for the Listener FAQ’s episode and the 1911 episode.  If you haven’t done so and you wish to please email me at ryan@handgunradio.com
  • Also, share & like us on Facebook! We have recently reached 100 likes.  Thank you to everyone!
  • Listen to the show on Stitcher Radio & on iTunes! Leave the show a written iTunes review, as it helps us get noticed in the iTunes store.

Until next week, Thanks for listening and SAFE SHOOTING!!!!!!!!