Would it be possible to make a harmonica gun in which the "magazine" is lightweight, easily made, and disposable? Preferably with the technology of the 1800s or earlier.

  • 1
    "Preferable with the technology of the time." No. It wasn't until the mid-20th century that magazines could be made cheaply enough to have more than one per gun. That's why rifles like the M1 Garand had a stripper clips (which are disposable). – RonJohn Nov 16 at 18:48
  • 1
    L.dutch, if you went to the link in the description, you would see all relevant detail. As such I do not believe that it is fair to say my question is unclear. – The Imperial Nov 16 at 19:29
  • 1
    Actually it would be fair to say that. If your question makes a specific reference "of the time" then it is pretty much required that "of the" refers to something within the same text, not to a time defined at some other text even if you linked that. Apart from grammar Naziism it is generally good practice to make questions self contained. The link is there for people who do not know what a Harmonica gun is, people who already know should be able to understand your question without following the link. – Ville Niemi Nov 16 at 19:38
  • 1
    In @L.Dutch's defense, questions are expected to have all pertinent information listed in their body. Links expire. Networks go down. Worse still, if you think it's unfair that you should actually take the time to write a clear question, it's very unfair to expect everyone else to hunt through links to make up for the deficiency. On the other hand, L.Dutch, your diamond closed this question very quickly, and while the question should be improved, it wasn't that unclear. – JBH Nov 16 at 20:20
  • 1
    How disposable, the only thing stopping you with the real harmonica gun is cost. – John Nov 17 at 5:52


The harmonica part is the chamber of the gun. It has to resist the pressure of the black powder. That requires a significant amount of steel or iron for the harmonica slide.


The performance of the gun will suffer if there is a gap between the harmonica slide and the barrel. This allows hot gas to escape, which means

  • the gas will not accelerate the bullet and
  • the gas may burn the hand or face of the shooter.

This is a problem with revolvers and the reason why there are few which will take a silencer. So you need precision engineering of a solid piece of steel.


This implies interchangeable parts. In the early 19th century, each gun would be individually fitted. Around the time of the harmonica gun, the first gadgets with interchangeable parts were produced, and they were still rather expensive. While there were advantages to this from a repair and logistics viewpoint, it would mean that every harmonica slide would have to fit every gun. One couldn't simply file away edges until the slide on the workbench fits the gun on the workbench.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.