A number of knuckle-duster guns emerged in the late 1800s to both keep travellers safe and murder them. One of the most famous knuckle-duster guns was the Apache, which was used by the Parisian street gangs of the same name. It was a combination knuckle-duster, knife, and pepperbox revolver. Since the barrel was the bullet chamber itself, the weapon’s pistol aspect only had a limited range.
Other kinds of knuckle-duster pistols existed, like the Le Centenaire—which was also used by the Apaches—and an American model named “My Friend” that saw use in the days after the Civil War. On a national level, US law enforcement was extremely weak at the time and highway robbery was common. One Irish immigrant invented a small knuckle-duster handgun for travelers’ personal protection. It was manufactured in .22, .32, and .41 caliber models and was small enough to be easily concealed in a pocket or fist.
If the shooter expended all their bullets, they could then flip the weapon around and use it as a fist weapon. Or, if they wanted to try their luck at hand-to-hand combat first, a pin would keep a loaded weapon from discharging. Manufactured by the original inventor and his sons, with each engraving done by hand, each “My Friend” is unique and highly collectible today.