Guycot 40-Shot Chain Pistol (Video)

The Guycot chain pistol was the development of two Frenchmen, Henri Guenot and Paulin Gay in 1879. It is chambered for a unique 6.5mm caseless rocket ball type cartridge in which the base of the projectile is hollowed out and contains the propellant powder and a primer. Upon firing, the entirely of the projectile exits, leaving nothing to be extracted or ejected from the chamber. Unfortunately for the Guycot’s military aspirations, this cartridge was far too small and underpowered to attract and serious interest and only a few hundred at most were made. These were divided between several models, including a 25-shot pistol, a 40-shot pistol like this one, and an 80-shot carbine.


  1. In Firearms Curiosa, Winant shows a 25-shot Guycot pistol (plate 234) and 100-shot rifle (plate 235). He claims never to have seen a 40-shot pistol, but refers to a 32-shot handgun version and the 80-shot carbine. Apparently there were several different models, although they may all have fired the same 6.5mm “rocket ball” cartridge.

    It occurs to me that a wind-up clockwork type system in the butt could easily make one of these pistols or long arms fully-automatic, after a fashion.

    That would seem to be in keeping with the inventor’s apparent intent. Instead of relying upon the power of each individual round fired, he just intended to hammer the target with rapid fire until something gave.

    It occurs to me that an 8mm or 9mm version wouldn’t be much bigger or bulkier, but might give the shooter a better chance than hitting the target with the (probable) equivalent of a .22 Short rimfire.



    • Sounds like the target would suffer a death of a thousand cuts (or death of a hundred bullets to the gut in this case).

    • “It occurs to me that an 8mm or 9mm version wouldn’t be much bigger or bulkier, but might give the shooter a better chance than hitting the target with the (probable) equivalent of a .22 Short rimfire.”
      Possible if said 8mm or 9mm cartridge will have same over-all length, otherwise I am not sure.

      • Well, when dealing with black-powder ballistics you have to remember that the usual modern method of increasing muzzle energy (increasing muzzle velocity) generally isn’t practical. In short barrels such as on pistols there’s not much chance of a muzzle velocity much above 700 F/S.

        (NB: the oft-quoted 850 F/S of the Colt M1873 .45 is for the Cavalry model with a 7.5in barrel. The more common 4.675in and 5.5in barreled versions top out at around 675 with the standard black-powder ammunition of the day.)

        As such, the only practical way to get more striking energy is to use a heavier bullet. Which works, but not as well as increasing velocity. (Energy goes up with the square of velocity; with increases in mass it’s linear.)

        BTW, this was at the heart of the whole “Hatcher/Cooper Stopping Power Theory” business. They were applying “black-powder reasoning” to smokeless-powder ballistics.

        But as long as your muzzle velocities are the same, the heavier bullet is indeed a better “stopper”. It has more kinetic energy than a lighter one at the same speed.



    • Ahh, Those French, they are so funny. Who else would have invented something so ‘Special’ for the comedy channel? ):):)

  2. Maybe a sort-of bullpup version would be neat – point the chambers inwards, and angle them a bit so the chain can pass next to the barrel…

    • Oh, and separate the “firing” and “chain movement” actions; probably similar to the setup on many Austrian repeating pistols, with the trigger doing only the firing, and everything else handled by a moveable “trigger guard” ring.

    • Hm. Imagine a large-bore (12-13mm) version for mounting on a ship like a Gatling, Hotchkiss, or Nordenfelt mechanical machine gun.

      Substitute a crank on the side for the trigger, attached directly to the rear “ratchet”. As long as you keep cranking it, the “chain” keeps moving and the firing pin keeps being hauled back and then snapping forward.

      Run the chain down through a pedestal mount to a magazine belowdecks. You might even be able to have a cranked “reloader” down there; a hopper like an Ager MG, with a cranked device to shove rounds into the “cups” as they go by under it.

      Like the Ager gun, you’d probably end up needing water cooling on the barrel, because I suspect with a couple of husky, determined sailors spelling each other on the crank, such a monster could generate enough rapid sustained fire to get the barrel pretty hot in a hurry.

      Gay and Guenot may have missed their opportunity. I’m sure that, given the choice, the French Navy would have opted for a “domestic” design of rapid fire anti-torpedo-boat gun over “foreign” inventions.

      This is one for the Steampunk crowd to contemplate, non’?



  3. Considering how few civilian gunfights would be drawn out to a length that required you to reload, it actually makes some good sense for people of the time.

  4. Evidently, far fetched oddity, but it expends horizon of knowledge. Not so much useable kind of knowledge in technical sense, but knowledge of what people are capable of in single-minded quest. Thanks for showing.

    • Considering the low power of the round, that may have been the intent at least partly. Although the folding trigger, very like that of a lot of European pocket revolvers of the time, certainly suggests it was intended as a serious self-defense arm for concealed carry in a typical overcoat pocket.

      Note that with no external hammer to foul, it could be fired right through the pocket without the formality of drawing it first.



  5. Somebody in a french gun mag made rocket ball cartriges by press fitting a shot gun shell primer into the back of a lead slug but without any additional powder

  6. I wonder why you call it “semi-auto double action pistol”, while it doesn’t have any semiautomatic action, no parts moving due to the recoil or gas pressure, so in its mechanical sense it’s no more “semi-auto” than any DAO revolver – which it somehow is, only with chain instead of a cylinder. Great video though, as always, and a very interesting gun, thanks a lot.

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