There have been a number of nominations for firearms in the Deadlies, our poll to find the worst gadgets ever devised. Anyone who has ever heard gun buffs arguing the merits of different weapons will know what a fertile ground this is for prejudice, questionable anecdote and reams of competing statistics without any agreement ever being reached. So if you disagree with any of what follows, you're probably right.Some have nominated the Chauchat, long hated as the worst weapon ever issued to US forces. It was French WWI light machine-gun which was notorious for jamming. The US tried a version chambered for 30-06 which was produced with the wrong sized chamber due to a manufacturing error. Only short bursts could be fired before it over-heated, leading to claims that you could get a better rate of fire with a bolt-action rifle.Early models of the M-16 used in Vietnam have also been nominated on the basis of the weapon's tendency to jam at every opportunity. The bore and chamber were prone to corrode, and the low-quality ammunition worsened problems.But for weapons which were likely to be the death of their user, I would have to nominate the FP-45 Liberator pistol. This was mass produced in large numbers in WWII and intended to be dropped into occupied Europe for Resistance fighters. It fired a single .45 round from an unrifled barrel, giving very short effective range (10 feet or so). Reloading involved poking out the used cartridge with a stick.Any use of the Liberator would be near-suicidal: you leap out, shouting "Eat lead, Nazi scum!" and pull the trigger, and unless you manage to kill your target with a single shot, you are now unarmed and facing an armed enemy at close range. ((Maybe it was US revenge for the Chauchat?))The Liberator was not dropped in Europe as planned, but small numbers were apparently distibuted in China and the Phillipines.Got a nomination for the 'Deadlies? Send us your idea by E-mail or post it here.-- David Hambling
The "Deadlies": Fatal Firearms
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