My Friend: The Knuckle Duster Gun

“My Friend” Knuckle Duster Gun, mfg. James Reid, 1868

This nifty little thing is a pepperbox—a gun that fires its load directly from the chamber and doesn’t have a separate barrel. It fires a .22 rimfire cartridge (either .22 short, .22 long, or .22 long rifle). The cylinder holds 7 shots.

In the FAR System, the “My Friend” knuckle duster gun lives in the same category as derringers, the smallest of all guns. It’s one of the least powerful guns and also among the least accurate; since it has no barrel, there’s almost nothing to guide the bullet toward its target. It’s meant to be used at bad-breath distance. Effective range is only a few yards.

So why would you want something so weak and inaccurate?

Concealability, that’s why. For characters who can’t be lugging around full-sized six-shooters or can’t be seen carrying weapons at all, this is a great little self-defense tool. Stash it in a pocket, in your boot, in a possibles pouch, etc., and bring it out when you need it. The .22 rimfire cartridge may be comparatively weak, but it can still be deadly.

To use it, put your middle finger through the finger hole and nestle the rounded backstrap into the hollow of your palm. Cocking the hammer with your thumb rotates the cylinder into firing position and makes the trigger protrude (in the photo, you can just barely see it in front of the finger hole). Pull the trigger, bang, then cock the hammer again as needed.

Bonus: If the bullets don’t do the job, you can just haul off and punch someone, with that metal ring (plus the weight of the gun) acting as a brass knuckle.

Here’s a short video of “My Friend” in action.

As you can see, it’s not easy to reload once you’ve fired all six shots.

(Why only six, if it actually holds seven? Because if you leave the hammer sitting on a live cartridge, it could fire unintentionally if you drop the gun or bump the hammer. You do not want a gun going off in your pocket. In FAR West, we note this as 6+1. If you’re familiar with firearms, you’ve probably seen this common usage before.)

This is clearly not something you’d use in a gunfight or a full-on battle. But if you’re playing the kind of character who might need a hidden means of close-quarters ballistic persuasion, My Friend is a good friend indeed.

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