Utility Knife with a Bang!
by Kirk Lawson
Guns included as part of, or disguised as another item are nothing new to the firearms community. We immediately think of the classic "pen gun" which gained infamy as an assassins and spy tool in World War II. There have been any number of "disguised" guns, often called "gadget guns," beyond that, from cigarette lighters and belt buckles through a special clip-board by designer Paris Theodore intended for FBI hostage negotiators.
"Gadget guns" gained such a negative reputation among the general public that they were regulated under the Any Other Weapon section of the National Firearms Act of 1934.
But prior to that, a gadget was just, well, a gadget; a clever, simple, device which was intended to solve a problem or meet a need. In that role "gadget guns" did solve a problem. Today we seem to immediately jump to the conclusion of armed self defense, or perhaps, less charitably, hidden assassination, as the raison d'etre for a "gadget gun," but that simply exposes modern bias directed by generations of mass entertainment such as the popular James Bond spy themes. But that was not always the case. Available to the buying public in 1917, this "gadget gun" combined a sportsman's knife with a ".22 caliber long" rim-fire pistol.
The advertisement, from the November 1917 edition of Recreation magazine "For Outdoor Folks," claims that it is "ABSOLUTELY SAFE," which we are left to assume probably means that it will not accidentally discharge while being carried.
It is single shot with a drop down trigger, apparently actuated by holding the knife in the fist and squeezing. The $4, 1917 price tag is roughly the equivalent of $90 100 years later in 2017. Boasting a nickel plated surface, the pistol lacks any usable sights, which makes the marketing to trappers perfectly sensible. It would be ideal for quickly dispatching a small animal captured in a trap with the knife immediately available to gut and skin the animal.
A century later, this unique "gadget gun" is still interesting and might still be able to serve a purpose apart from hidden self defense even today.