Invented in 1718 by British lawyer James Puckle, the Puckle gun was the world’s first patented multi-shot weapon. It fired at triple the rate of a soldier armed with a standard single-shot flintlock rifle or musket—yet with the same kind of accuracy and range.
It could even fire peculiar square bullets designed to cause maximum pain. The Puckle gun was massively ahead of its time. If it had been adopted and deployed by a major military, it would have changed the face of warfare, much like the Gatling gun did a century and a half later.
However, the Puckle gun was a victim of its own cleverness. It was unreliable and expensive to make. Its many complicated components made mass production impossible. Worst of all, it was impossible to fold into the military tactics of the time.
Even though it wasn’t a large weapon, it had to be stationary to fire. In addition, the time it took to break it down, move it to a new location, and set it up again proved simply too slow for the military leaders of the era. As a result, it was never adopted by a major world power