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Strange Weapons from History: The Bicycle Gun

Americans picked up all kinds of hobbies during 2020s shutdowns — one of those being bicycle riding. Many bikes sold out in stores all across the country. It’s still difficult to find a simple bike at your local Walmart or other big box stores.

The traditional bicycle has been around for a very long time, but they gained popularity way back in 19th century Europe. There was a problem though that people don’t worry about much nowadays — really mean dogs.

Yes, it’s true, the problem with stray dogs was a big deal back then. They would come out of alleyways and chase down the people riding atop those big funny looking bicycles with the oversized wheels.

The natural response from the market was bicycle guns.  

Dogs Loved to Chase Bike Riders

Many times, those riders couldn’t out-pedal those dogs by bike alone and were attacked. That’s when a European company came up with the “velo-dog revolver,” a gun specifically made for bikers to fight back. 

A popular American company, Smith & Wesson, got in on this action by coming up with their own velo-dog revolver. It’s basically a pocket style pistol that has a shorter barrel and concealed hammer. The goal was to remove the pistol easily from your pocket without it snagging on your clothing. Think of it like the first concealed carry firearm. 

Smith & Wesson introduced their model in 1887, and bicycle enthusiasts went crazy for it. The small gun was so easy and concealable that wearing it while biking was a no brainer. They called it the “bicycle gun” because in America, the term “bicycle” was more popular than “velocipede” in Europe. 

The Cost of the Bicycle Gun 

Back in the old days, the bicycle gun from Smith & Wesson only cost around 25 bucks. There weren’t a ton of them made, but for collectors in this modern era, they are a very prized score if you can grab one at an auction or historical gun store. 

If you’re interested in purchasing one, be sure to get a letter of authenticity from the seller. Many people try to pawn off fakes that they have modified themselves. A couple models sold over the past few years have gone for prices ranging from $4,000 to $7,000. 

One of those was a sharp-looking “Blued S&W bicycle gun” with a 1.5-inch barrel. Smith & Wesson made more of this model, the Safety Hammerless 5th Model, with a 2-inch barrel, so the 1.5-inch barrel is rarer. They estimate that only 15 of these guns were made. That’s why, when it was sold at auction by the Rock Island Auction Company, the gun went for $6,900. 

If you want to conceal carry while you ride a bicycle, Smith & Wesson has a whole section on their website dedicated to models that would work well while pedaling around. They may not be quite as small as the traditional bicycle gun, but with advances in materials and technology, all of these models are going to be able to be carried with ease.


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One Response

  1. I read several times. I would have loved to have a caliber size or calibers the pistol was manufactured in.

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