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Due to some copious amount of handwavium, projectile weapons are not as effective as their melee counterparts. They are still very useful, but not to the point of replacing close combat. Historically, the pike and shot period ended with the creation of the socket bayonet. Thus, if a bayonet transforms the firearm into a polearm of sorts, I need to transform the pike into a firearm of sorts.

I have thought of simply elongating a rifle barrel into pike territory and then putting a bayonet at the end, although this would make the weapon very heavy and said barrel may sag, making the "firearm" part useless. I don't know if different materials in the barrel or the propellant may solve these problems.

So, how can I make a pike-like gun? Or, on the other hand, how long can I make a handheld firearm? It does not need to be shoulder-fired, but it must be able to fire and reload while in pike square formation.

Edit: As some of you have pointed out, a muzzle-loading gun may be even more impractical, so if you think a breech-loading design is better suited for the job, go for it. Also, due to uhmm... biological reasons, the intended users for this weapon have notorious physical strength; the average soldier can lift something as heavy as a Gatling gun for extended periods of time.

Thanks for your help!

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  • $\begingroup$ e.vnexpress.net/news/travel/places/… This museaum has an arquebus measuring three meters long and weighting 14 kg, it may be a good place to start. $\endgroup$
    – Rhomaioi
    Sep 21, 2021 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see why you want pike-muskets. What is wrong with good old shot'n'pike? It will win against some crappy pike-musket combo any day of the week. $\endgroup$
    – fgysin
    Sep 22, 2021 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ You do realize that what you are describing was actually the original purpose of a bayonet? When rifle regiments became the dominant form of infantry, bayonets became commonplace because putting one on a musket gave you a serviceable spear, which was useful for both CQC between forces, and for fighting off cavalry using tactics similar to pike squares. I’m pretty sure that if you look deep enough, you’ll find actual pike bayonets for contemporaneous muskets that fit exactly what you want. $\endgroup$ Sep 22, 2021 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the kinda-mostly related minigun with bayonets from GrrlPowerComic: i.stack.imgur.com/Xagja.jpg Not terribly helpful, but at least worthy of a click. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2021 at 15:42

10 Answers 10

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sorry for Google Translate

What you are looking for is a "combination weapons". There are all kinds of variants: pistol axe enter image description here

pistol sword: enter image description here

and of course halberd/spear gun:

https://collections.royalarmouries.org/object/rac-object-911.html

https://armthearmour.tumblr.com/post/625557874710560768/a-triangular-spear-of-nicolas-de-lorraine-with

The pike, however, due to its length, is not suitable for recharging with black powder. Two solutions came to mind: The first is that the barrel of the gun is not as long as the pike. The iron barrel overlaps the wood for 5 feet, so just lift the pike straight up to have the barrel close to your chest and reload like a shotgun. The second solution could be the Ferguson rifle mechanism, which allows you to reload while remaining in formation, or with the pike pointed towards the enemy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_rifle

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi. Right now it is a bit hard to understand your answer. Can you try to elaborate a bit more? $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Sep 21, 2021 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ It is gratifying to know that the childlike obsession with 'gunswords' is not a new one, and indeed has been with us for quite some time. $\endgroup$
    – Ingolifs
    Sep 24, 2021 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ Ian Mccollum has published a nice video on a Milanese Saber-Revolver, just in case you want to see something like that close up: youtube.com/watch?v=uGjNdDObFU4. $\endgroup$
    – user412
    Sep 24, 2021 at 12:43
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Can't be done without handwaving

Well, you can make a pike-musket hybrid, and it will work - only it will be a lousy pike and a lousy musket.

If you attach a musket (or an arquebus) to a pike, you won't be able to fire it without a fork stand, maneuvering it would be big pain, and as a pike, it will be considerably more heavy.

Some had suggested a firearm with yards long barrel, and you can make them too - only there is little practical sense in such firearms.

Attaching firearm to the pointy end of a pike makes even less sense, because that will totally screw the balance of a pike.

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  • $\begingroup$ Spot on. The leverage of a polearm head on a pikeshaft would make aiming unsupported impossible. Even holding it at about the right elevation awaiting the command to fire a volley would be unreasonable effort. A short pike of around 3m is a little longer than a telescopic tree pruner or ground-level window-cleaning brush and holding one of those out straight is doable, but not steadily $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ The Chinese freelance was made using a wooden/bamboo barrel. Once the shot was expended, the remaining weight on the end of your polearm was pretty negligible (about 60-100 grams). The heads on polearms could range anywhere from about 400 grams for a simple spear tip to 2000 grams as seen on some halberds/beck-de-corbins; so, you have plenty enough variance to play with. Polearms are actually much more forgiving about extra weight than something like a 1-handed sword because of how differently they are used. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Sep 23, 2021 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki note that poleaxes (halberds, beck-de-corbins) are considerably shorter than most pikes and their length can actually be even shorter than that of a musket with bayonet. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander That is a worthwhile point, but even comparing pike heads specifically, you still see a weight variance of more than 100 grams from 1 design to the next. So the weight between a small pike head + bamboo gun, and a slightly larger pike head is the same. At most it means you need to shave a foot off of your pole length. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Sep 23, 2021 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki If I understand the proposed design correctly, it is a long "bamboo barrel" gun with an attached tip to the side of it (bayonet)? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 23, 2021 at 19:13
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Well I'll Go to Foot of Our Stairs

Looks like someone already did this!
The weapon in question is a (n approximately) 15th century pole cannon -- an ancient gonne on a stick. The gonne has three barrels all bound into one piece of iron that are about 75 cal, slightly conical and weighs about 20 pounds. Here it is in action.

Just weld or bolt a blade (or three!) between the barrels and you've just taken the bayonet to its logical conclusion!

Alternatively, if you like long guns with bayonets, you could always attach a bayonet to a punt gun.

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Rocket launcher

Since you said yourself that

projectile weapons are not as effective as their melee counterparts

Then there is no point in making a pike shoot regular bullets.

Even if that were the case, your soldiers could always carry a collapsible pike and a small rifle, to use each in different situations. Doesn't seem to be your goal.

Therefore soldiers have to resort to a kind of ammo that is much less precise and which requires longer reloads, but oh boy this is so much more fun!

And this is the reason why fights tend to end in melee skirmishes. Once the rockets are gone, the stick gets to sing.

As for how the weapons would look like, it would be like this:

A rack of firework rockets

Just make the poles longer. And when the rocket leaves the pike, the pike head is exposed and can be used for poking enemies.

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  • $\begingroup$ Rather than a firework style rocket, perhaps something more like a black-powder launched javelin? $\endgroup$
    – Dan W
    Sep 23, 2021 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DanW yes, that would be more effective. $\endgroup$ Sep 23, 2021 at 19:36
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Why does the business end of the fire-arm part have to be located at the end of the pike? Wouldn't it be more convenient and easier to reload if it were mounted on the handle of the pike near where the soldier holds it?

If your pikeman carried a standard pike with a rifle mounted on top of the non-lethal end of the pole but facing towards the sharpened tip, they could fire it at people approaching (or impaled on) their pike tip. And hopefully the natural bow and dance of the pike's wooden pole would keep it out of the bullet's way during the firing.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd like to order a hundred of those please, but with a cluster barrel, one shot is never enough, three barrels bound together with the pole, the pole bellow, one to each side & one to the top // remember to shave the top of the blade off flat & clear of hooks, don't want the top shot hitting the blade. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 21, 2021 at 19:15
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This is EXACTLY what the 1st firearms were

When you say first firearms, most people think of the Handgonne, but before these were a thing, the first firearm was actually the Chinese Fire Lance. The firelance was basically a single use shotgun on the end of a spear. Their range was terrible and their stopping power questionable, which perfectly fits with your "projectile weapons are not as effective as their melee counterparts" idea without needing to use a single ounce of handwaving.

Since pikes were invented in the 4th century BC, you do not need to wait until the age of muskets to make your pike guns a logical weapon choice. You could introduce these weapons into a 10th-13th century tech battle field just fine before more practical guns were an option.

When firelances were introduced, they had just enough range and umph to be used just a few paces before getting into spear range with the enemy. So, the logic behind them was very similar to how the Romans would throw darts or javelins just before a charge to disrupt enemy lines while the real killing was still done in melee.

enter image description here

Due to some copious amount of handwavium

Now let's say that you WANT copious amount of handwavium, the typical solution to this is some sort of dune shield. If we assume battlefield dune shields are common enough, then shooting at the enemy with muskets, riffles, or even laser blasters sounds like a waste of time. No personal fire arm will ever get through such a shield in a reasonable fashion forcing the fight into a melee. However, firelance tactics can create circumstances where shooting an impenetrable shield may still be a valuable tactical choice. If your dune shield flashes brightly when hit, then shooting the enemy right before you engage him could cause momentary blindness. When you are a hundred meters apart, that blindness is not really exploitable; but if you are just a couple of paces outside of melee range, then a volley of quail-shot could light up a much larger area of shield than a musket, blinding the enemy, and make stepping into range while he still can't see a very effective force multiplier.

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  • $\begingroup$ This sure makes sense for 10-12 century tech, but not so much for 18 century tech. Musketeers will decimate fire lancers because their fire power would be incomparable. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 23, 2021 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander "projectile weapons are not as effective as their melee counterparts" If the battle is to be won or lost in the melee anyway, then long arms are already useless. Historically, the best ranged weapons against an enemy that is too well armored to use other ranged weapons against are things with a short ranged volley able to disrupt enemy lines just before the charge such as Francesca, Plumbata, etc. Fire lances answer this need very well. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Sep 23, 2021 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Then the good question is how exactly useless, and if muskets are inefficient, would less sophisticated guns be just less efficient, or completely useless. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 23, 2021 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander Hard to say from the OP' description, but things like the Francesca, Plumbata, and Firelance were all effective weapons despite having little killing power. They would force their enemies to split focus in the moment right before the charge making killing them much easier. Battle line disruption weapons like this don't need to kill to be effective, but primary weapons like a musket do. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Sep 24, 2021 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ If we assume a dune shield scenario, which I think the OP is going for, then perhaps the shields flash brightly when hit momentarily blinding the defender. Peppering the defensive line right before you hit them would blind them making them easy pickings for your pikes to land their hits. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Sep 24, 2021 at 13:41
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Kentucky longrifle plus shooting stick

enter image description here

https://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/2014/07/sharps-shooters/

Your pikes have long gun barrels. They are Kentucky longrifles but longer. Your pike / rifle corps uses shooting sticks or bipods to hold up the front of the rifle and keep it steady. When using the rifle, the pikemen lie or sit on the ground which is a sensible place for a rifle corps anyway.

The long barrel makes for good accuracy. Additionally the long barrel compensates for the problem in this world that keeps guns relegated to second class: the deflagration produced by their powder is slow. It requires a long time to propel a ball up to speed and propulsion is only achieved while the ball is in the barrel. A long barrel = long propulsion time and a muzzle velocity comparable to black powder firearms in our world.

Pike rifles would have volley sights to allow use against distant enemies. Usually when in formation 2 pike riflemen would team up, one sitting back and firing and one reloading the gun from the front while the shooter fired the other gun.

If the oncoming enemy closes the gap, the pikes come into play.

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If you're wedded to the idea of a combination weapon, then it's fairly simple - just attach the firearm to the pike near to the user, with a barrel significantly shorter than the actual pike itself.

However, as other answers point out that will still be terrible for the user, because a pike is very long, giving any inertia at the end of the thing a huge mechanical advantage over the user - making it very difficult to aim. From a practical standpoint, there seems to be nothing to gain from attaching the two items together, compared to just having a pike and a firearm. The only exception might be in the days of muzzle-loading weapons where you might only get one shot - in which case you wait until the enemy are point-blank (and you'll be pointing your pike directly at them anyway) and fire your one shot seconds before the melee begins. That way, your pike is ready and there's no switching between the two.

So basically just nail a musket to a pike, at the handle end.

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A pike is flexible and long, too long to hold the weight of riffle like the arquebus suggested in the comment.

Also it wouldn't work because to counter pikes some europeans invented something called zweihander/montante/spadone.... a sword almost as long as a pike but heavier and less flexible.

it was used to cut the pikes or at least throw them around and open the enemy formation so other swordsmen could go in close ranged.

You could make a gun long enough and sturdy enough to not break, but then it would be too heavy, as heavy as a child... good luck carrying a child in battle and aiming with it... use a gattling gun at this point.

It's smarter to have a formation of swordsmen, pikemen and shooters like the spanish tercio which dominated history or the polish pike and shot formation which almost conquered all north europe.

Also, crossbows and greek slings can easily be as powerful as modern riffles in the right hands.

The only advantage of gunpowder weapons over other ballistic weapons is that even a mentally underdeveloped child can use a gun with enough accuracy to kill and injure someone. Whilist some ancient weapons require decades of training.

Slingers and Archers are raised, Shooters are replaceable fodder...pawns.

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    $\begingroup$ "a sword almost as long as a pike" A 10 to 25 foot long sword! dang! I want one of those :) a two handed sword was rarely as long as 6.5 feet (including the hilt, 4 foot 7 inches was more normal for the blade) that's not almost as long as a potentially 25 foot pike :) allowing for griping the pike it might be almost as long as the very shortest thing that could be called a pike, but the shortest ones aren't what people really think of when they think of a pike, not sure they were the most common variant either those stubby 10 foot ones. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 21, 2021 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ So Sephiroth is actually using a zweihander which is just disguised as a katana...? $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Sep 21, 2021 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ "to counter pikes" I never heard that b4, that they were considered as a particular or specific 'counter' to pikes, not immediately apparent to me how they would be being for the most part somewhat shorter, though they do have the weight to potentially parry a pike, would be interested in any links you have? $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 21, 2021 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Pelinore As I understand it, the idea was that after friendly and enemy pikemen met (the "push of pike") zweihanders or halberds would be used to attack the enemy's pikes directly and remove their heads. (The part where you attack the enemy's pikemen and remove their heads presumably follows.) Once the pike is enmeshed by allied pikes its length is not such an advantage. There seems to be some dispute whether this actually happened, though. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Sep 22, 2021 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Cadence "seems to be some dispute whether this actually happened, though" hmm, yes I can see how there might be (some dispute), not so sure in the middle of a tangled mesh of the pikes of both sides locked together something like a two-handed sword is the most appropriate weapon, particularly for the side on swing needed for a beheading, I can't imagine in that situation you're going to have the space needed to swing it uninterrupted by a pike shaft or four to successfully behead someone? would have thought short & stabby or overhead choppy best for that job? $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 22, 2021 at 1:36
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Best approximation for what you need would be a shotgun + spear combination. It seems that what you're creating makes long-range firearms pointless, so let's go short range. Shotgun can take an impressive range of ammunition, and it's so simple design it can be built into a all-metal spear or pike no problem. It can even be worked into detachable-magazine-fed firearm, with magazine being round, of course, to tightly wrap around spear shaft. Reloading mechanism can be triggered by turning the magazine, for example. Or even better: it can actually be a drum, like in Puckle Gun. Unless it will be too unwieldy, it can be a some kind of improvement over Jover and Belton flintlock Flintlock breech-loading musket (which has a tube magazine). This, of course, presupposes "modern" ammunition in the form of manufactured rounds, and not paper musket ammunition, as the latter will make the whole idea very unwieldy, indeed.

Look at this idea as described in Blood Rites, Harry Dresden Chronicles book:

Instead of a second shotgun, though, he drew a weapon made of plain, nonreflective steel from the van. It was modeled after a boar spear of the Middle Ages, a shaft about five feet long with a cross-brace thrusting out on two sides at the base of the spear tip—a foot and a half of deadly, matte-black blade as wide as my hand at the base, and tapering down to a fine point at the tip. There was enough mass to the spear to make me think that he could as easily chop and slash with the edges of the spearhead as thrust with the tip.

The butt end of the spear ended at some kind of bulbous-looking cap of metal, maybe just a counterweight. A similar double protrusion bulged out from the spear shaft at the base of the blade. (...)

“You should go with a shotgun,” Murphy told Kincaid.

Kincaid shook his head. “Can’t shove the shotgun into a charging vampire or hellhound and hold them off with the cross-brace,” he said. He settled the spear into his grip and did something to the handle. The beam of a flashlight clicked on from one side of the bulge at the base of the spearhead. He tapped the other one with a finger. “Besides, got incendiary rounds loaded zip-gun style in either end. If I need them, bang.”

“In the butt end too?” I asked.

He reversed his grip on the spear and showed me the metal casing.

“Pressure trigger on that one,” he said. Kincaid dropped the spear’s point down and held the haft close to his body, somehow managing to make the weapon look like a casual and appropriate accessory. “Shove it hard against the target and boom. Based it on the bang sticks those National Geographic guys made for diving with sharks.”

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