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A Big Powerful Weird Pistol, The Mars Pistol

Created by H. W. Gabbett-Fairfax in 1899, the Mars pistol was one of the largest and most powerful semi-automatic pistols of its day.  It had a barrel that was 9.5 inches, the Colt 1911 by comparison has a barrel that is five inches.  Its most impressive feature was its power.  It used unique cartridges that had a bottleneck taper which increased muzzle velocity greatly, with some cartridges measuring 969-foot pounds of energy after achieving a muzzle velocity of some 1640-feet per second.  It came in a variety of calibers; 8.5mm Mars, 9mm Mars, .45 Mars Long, and .45 Mars Short. 

Another odd feature was its recoil rotating bolt action which ejected spent cartridges straight out the rear rather than out the top or side.  The bolt was massive, and one complaint among shooters was the the bolt would often painfully strike the users arm.  The Mars pistol was submitted to the British War Office as a replacement of the Webley Revolver.  It was flat out rejected because of its complex design, strange ammo, and most importantly its recoil.  The recoil of the pistol was very hard, and was accompanied by an incredible flash.  The officer in charge of testing it noted in his report, “No one who fired once with the pistol wished to shoot it again”.  Only 80 Mars pistols were ever produced.


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