The Bond Arsenal
Pistol rings, shooting keys, cigarette cases, and belt buckles â€“ all these goofy gadgets are part of the traditional arsenal of secret agents and spy flicks. In fact, such weapons and gadgets appeared long before the first Bond movie came along in 1962.
SS belt buckle
The camouflaged devices were initially designed asÂ a â€œlast chanceâ€ means ofÂ protection againstÂ criminals. However, withÂ the efficiency ofÂ such gadgets leaving much toÂ be desired, wealthy citizens preferred more traditional Derringer pistols, canes withÂ a sword hidden insideÂ or just a whip.
A key gun
Keys were one ofÂ the first everyday objects toÂ be converted toÂ pistols asÂ their hollow shaft could serve asÂ a barrel. The oldest such weapon withÂ a flintlock dates back toÂ the 16th century.
Arms designers ofÂ old even managed toÂ install a 3mm pistol insideÂ an otherwise inconspicuous pocket watch. A 19th-century version switched the regular pinions and springs forÂ a primitive trigger and a tiny barrel.
Small caliber â€œdeath ringsâ€
The ring gun, a revolver mounted toÂ a piece ofÂ hand jewelry, was very much inÂ vogue inÂ Europe duringÂ 1860-1870s. One such tiny pistol â€“ a British-made seven shooter called â€œFemme Fataleâ€ used 3.5-4.4mm bullets. To load, unload, or reload the handgun, the user had toÂ take a small slotted jewelers screwdriver and remove the cylinder fromÂ the ring base.
SS belt buckle and Stalinâ€™s grenade launcher
The Second World War gave camouflaged firearms a new lease onÂ life. The SS belt buckle pistol (SS-Waffenakademie Koppelschlopistole) was arguably the best known such weapon. Designed byÂ engineer Luis Marquis inÂ 1942, it was an experimental firearm consisting ofÂ two or four 7.62mm or 5.6mm barrels and lockwork concealed withinÂ a Nazi belt buckle.
The barrels were 2â€³ long and the wearer needed toÂ be very close toÂ their target. After a lever was pressed, the spring-loaded buckle would pivot downwards, exposing the barrel.
The Naziâ€™s even developed portable grenade launcher designed expressly toÂ kill Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The â€œPanzerknackeâ€ was a 20mm steel tube strapped toÂ the shooterâ€™s right arm.
It fired rocket-propelled grenades capable ofÂ piercing a 30mm armor plate 30 meters away.
In 1944, Soviet NKVD agents confiscated one such Panzerknacke withÂ nine grenades fromÂ a team ofÂ Nazi assassins onÂ a mission toÂ kill Stalin.
US Stinger and a sling gun
During the early 1940s, the US Office ofÂ Strategic Services (the forerunner ofÂ the CIA) came upÂ with a flurry ofÂ strange looking shooting devices. One, called Little Joe, was a crossbow gun designed toÂ take outÂ sentinels and guard dogs withoutÂ making any noise.
OSS armorers also came upÂ with the Stinger single-shot shooting pen, which fired 5.6mm and 6.35mm Browning bullets and had an effective range ofÂ up toÂ three meters. According toÂ various estimates, some 40,000 Stingers were built duringÂ WWII.
Femme Fatale ring gun
Â© PHOTO: GREGG MARTIN AUCTIONS
Three-barreled silent cigarette case
The start ofÂ the Cold War forced arms designers onÂ both sides ofÂ the Atlantic toÂ devise grenade launching umbrellas, exploding radios, sleeve guns, etc. While many ofÂ these designs remained onÂ paper, some eventually reached the factory floor.
During the 1950s, the Soviet KGB enlisted a team ofÂ engineers toÂ design silent weapons toÂ kill enemy agents. In 1955, Igor Stechkin designed a three-barreled cigarette case firing that fired 9mm low-noise bullets upÂ to seven meters away.
The shooting cigarette case was eventually approved forÂ use byÂ Soviet secret agents, butÂ whether it was actually put toÂ use remains anyoneâ€™s guess.
Other weapons thanÂ guns have been used toÂ kill, including a cyanide gas gun used byÂ KGB officer Bogdan Stashinsky toÂ assassinate two Ukrainian dissidentsÂ â€” Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera.
A poison-tipped umbrella was used toÂ kill Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov inÂ London inÂ 1978.
Reprinted from Sputnik News.