An antique knife from the 16th century doubles as a pistol and a calendar.

In the tapestry of weaponry innovation during the 16th century, gun manufacturers embarked on a fascinating quest to meld the powers of firearms with traditional melee weapons. The result? Ingenious combinations that paired pistols with swords, knives, axes, and even crossbows. While these hybrid creations often teetered on the edge of impracticality, they bore witness to an era where versatility in self-defense was paramount.

Among the myriad of combined weapons from this period, one exceptional creation stands out—an intricately crafted hunting knife fused with a wheeled pistol. The mastermind behind this unique piece was the German engraver Ambrosius Gemlich, who seamlessly merged two distinct components: a blade inscribed with a calendar for the years 1529–34, dated around 1528–1529, and a barrel dated either 1540 or 1546.

The brilliance of Gemlich’s creation lies in its dual functionality. On one hand, it serves as a formidable hunting knife, a tool essential for survival and skilled marksmanship. On the other, it harbors a concealed wheeled pistol, offering a secondary means of defense should the primary shot go awry.


While many combined weapons of this era proved to be cumbersome and unwieldy, Gemlich’s creation stands as a testament to his craftsmanship and innovative spirit. The melding of practical utility with the advancements in firearms technology showcases a visionary approach to personal defense during a time of shifting paradigms in warfare.

As we dissect the details of this hybrid marvel, we unearth not only the technical prowess of a skilled artisan but also a window into the strategic thinking of individuals seeking adaptable solutions for self-preservation. Gemlich’s creation is a tangible artifact that speaks volumes about the challenges and innovations of the 16th century, where the marriage of blades and barrels epitomized a quest for comprehensive self-defense in an ever-evolving landscape of weaponry.

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