A Brief History
On July 20, 1304, the forces of King Edward I of England successfully took Stirling Castle during the First War of Scottish Independence. Although the Scots would ultimately maintain their independence, key to the English victory was the intimidating-sounding “Warwolf,” allegedly the largest trebuchet ever made. This mighty siege engine catapulted rocks or other projectiles up to 300 pounds and was capable of battering down the walls of any castle. We used this event to precipitate our article in 2015, “Weapons with Cool Names!” We discussed the “importance” of giving your weapons and weapon systems cool names to intimidate the enemy and to instill confidence in those you task with using them. Today we name some more of these appropriately named fighting devices.
1. Dragon’s Breath shotgun ammunition.
Dragon’s Breath shotgun shells are a pyrotechnic type of munition that provides a big blast of flame and sparks as far as 100 feet beyond the muzzle. Never to be used indoors, these novelty rounds are intended to provide an emergency signal or to scare away people or animals with evil intentions. Obviously, they pose a fire hazard so use in dry environments is not a good idea. Not designed to be deadly, you would also be well advised not to shoot one toward anybody or anything you would not want to kill or maim. Certainly the name is a big part of the marketing strategy.
2. Underwood Xtreme Defender pistol ammunition.
Calling any kind of weapon or ammunition “extreme” is pretty good but spelling extreme without the first “e” makes it sound even deadlier. Stoke up your favorite bullet launcher with this stuff, and people will know you intend to defend yourself to the “xtreme!” Or perhaps you should opt for the Underwood line of pistol ammunition they call “Xtreme Penetrator.” Heck, that last one almost sounds obscene!
3. Hornady Critical Defense Ammunition.
The ingenuity of the marketing sections of ammunition manufacturers knows no limits. In this case, the buyer is informed that this ammo is to be used in critical situations in defense of his or her life, or the lives of innocents. Not as scary sounding as “Death Ray” or “Beowulf” or “.22 LR Devastator” (a real product, but hey, it’s a .22!), but the name is calculated to imply the ammo means serious business, not plinking or target shooting.
4. Remington Golden Saber Black Belt ammunition.
What does calling handgun ammo “Golden Saber” have to do with the performance or purpose of the ammo? Nothing! But it sounds cool! Throw in the “Black Belt” and actually give each bullet a black band around it and you evoke images of karate experts as a bonus. Browse through websites selling ammunition, and you will find some that is so boringly named it is a miracle anybody buys the stuff. Other brands have such deadly sounding names you almost have to pick some up.
5. Sturmgewehr, original assault rifle.
When Hugo Schmeisser invented the StG 44 for the German Army in 1942, his idea of a full automatic/semi-automatic select fire rifle that chambered an intermediate power round became the first production assault rifle in the world, the granddaddy of the AK-47 and the M-16. Adolf Hitler himself is reputed to have named the gun “Sturmgewehr,” which is German for “assault rifle.” Even today, the term “assault rifle” generates fear and loathing whenever uttered on the television news. The StG 44 (which goes by various other designations as well) utilized a shortened 8mm Mauser cartridge called the 7.92mm Kurz (short) round, which launched bullets with a muzzle velocity of around 2250 feet per second, about what an AK-47 achieves.
6. NitroExpress chambered hunting rifles.
If you are going to invent a new caliber and loading for small arms ammunition, by all means give it a cool, intimidating name. Call it “Magnum,” or “Ultra Magnum” or in this case, NitroExpress! You can thank James Purdey (the younger) for coming up with this scary sounding name for a series of big game hunting rifle cartridges in 1856. The large bore guns were intended for the biggest of the big game, elephants, rhinos and the like. Hunters on safari in Africa would of course seek out the most effective ammunition chamberings for taking these monstrous animals, and Purdey came up with a sure fire name to attract those customers. The family of NitroExpress rifle calibers ranges from .240 caliber up to the giant .700 caliber. (Caliber as expressed in inches, that is, .700 caliber means the bore of the barrel is 7 tenths of an inch wide.) The “nitro” in the name refers to the use of nitroglycerine, the notoriously unstable high explosive as part of the propellant.
7. The Gay Bomb.
This crackpot idea was actually proposed during in house US Air Force discussions in 1994, and it is pretty much what it sounds like. The idea was to develop an intensely, overwhelmingly effective aphrodisiac that would compel the enemy to stop making war and start making love. Really, you cannot make this stuff up, but military “thinkers” can! These same guys proposed flatulence bombs and stink bombs as well bombs that could cause uncontrollable sweating. (The anti-antiperspirant bomb?) Just how scary the name of this proposed weapon is probably depends on your level of homophobia. Maybe this weapon could have been used on our Congress??? Kind of evokes the memory of Agent 86, Maxwell Smart and his Nude Bomb.
8. Metal Storm.
Metal Storm is from Australia and consists of an array of many barrels arranged in a grid with ammunition loaded stacked on top of each other. Fired electrically, the rate of fire is far higher than any other sort of rapid-fire gun ever made, in fact a rate of 1.6 million rounds per minute from a 1600 barrel array! Not only does the name imply a hail of fire that is intimidating, the actual hail of fire lives up to the name. The company has been taken over by DefendTex, which retains the Metal Storm name for the volley gun.
9. The Puke Flashlight.
Pulsating light with changing colors to disorient and cause nausea, we could equip our police with Puke Flashlights instead of pistols and Tasers. Then we would hear news clips of offenders pleading, “Don’t puke me, Bro!” Why is this weapon so scary? As a former police officer, I can confidently predict this device would be misused fairly often, sometimes on other cops! These scary sounding things actually exist. The real name of the device is the “Incapacitating Flashlight,” but how much better sounding and scarier is “Puke Flashlight?”
10. The Scream.
Developed in Israel for dispersing crowds, this sound projector is not particularly loud, but the sound waves produced are focused in a particular direction and either widely or narrowly enough to target only those people you want to disperse. The noise is not ear splitting but causes a disruption in your inner ear that makes you intensely uncomfortable, dizzy and nauseous, causing the affected people to leave the zone targeted by the authorities. Giving this weapon the name “Scream” certainly helps with the intimidation factor. Had it been named something more mundane, such as Audio Area Denial Projector, who would be scared? Tell a mob you are going to give them the “Scream” and watch them run! How about the “Skunk Cannon?” Israel came up with this one, too!
Question for students (and subscribers): What weapon would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Davison, N. ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Willis, Chuck. The Illustrated History of Weaponry: From Flint Axes to Automatic Weapons. Hylas Publishing, 2006.
Woodard, Todd. Shooter’s Bible Guide to Cartridges. Skyhorse, 2011.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by McP, Kumpel von McKarri of a scale model of Warwolf in front of Caerlaverock Castle, may be used by anyone for any purpose including unrestricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification.