MythBusters Build Arrow Machine Gun

0211

In their latest episode, the Mythbusters replicate a mechanical autoloading crossbow built by the Ancient Greeks.

The Chinese also developed a repeating crossbow that were used in war as late as the First Sino-Japanese War (1894 – 1895).

Not quite as cool as a true full-auto crossbow, but cool nonetheless.




Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Jim Weiz

    Hate to be nitpicky, but the Chinese handheld repeating crossbow actually predates the Greek automatic ballista (which is technically different, as the latter is a siege weapon manned by a crew whereas the former is an individual weapon)

    Examples of the Chinese repeating crossbow were discovered from the 4th Century BC, whereas the Greek Polybolos was invented independently during the 3rd century BC.

    Due to ignorance of the value of gunpowder weapons by Chinese rulers, repeating crossbows were used until the 19th century, but they were still ancient weapons.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Jim, thanks for the info. I have updated the blog.

    • rawr

      @Jim, the gunpowder statement is incorrect. They had grenades, rockets, and handcannons by the 12th century.

      @abprosper, it was built incorrectly. The repeating crossbow was weaker than a regular crossbow, but stronger than what they created. It was historically created in the re-curve shape to give it more power, and the bolts dipped in poison. It was also mostly for sieges and not for open field combat.

  • abprosper

    The Cho-Ku-Nu Chinese repeating crossbow is a very weak weapon in terms of pull strength even compared to a hand spanned crossbow.

    If the reproduction used on that execrable Greatest Warriors show on TNT was at all accurate the bolts were little better than sharpened dowels and was horribly inaccurate.

    Its strengths were ease of manufacture , ease of use (it was a spray and pray weapon) rate of fire and the fact the arrows were often dipped in nasty things.

    • rawr

      @abprosper, it was built incorrectly. The repeating crossbow was weaker than a regular crossbow, but stronger than what they created. It was historically created in the re-curve shape to give it more power, and the bolts dipped in poison. It was also mostly for sieges and not for open field combat.

  • MrMaigo

    Best job ever

  • Jeremy

    really entertaining! especially the Blue guy… but why was Adam wearing roman gear for a Greek myth?

  • Zel

    I enjoy the idea of an early civilization that thinks a lot like I do… However, the way I see the the Chu No Ku… the concept is flawed in terms of long range combat. an un-feathered arrow is basically uncontrollable, and you are very lucky if you hit your target at fifteen yards much less 50-75. Also, I cannot imagine that a “spray and pray” weapon would be very popular when nearly every other weapon of the era (anywhere) was a weapon that would require a certain skill set to operate. Swordsmanship required years of training with a master, use of an English longbow (or any other bow) was an art that took practice and a wealth of upper body strength, and even use of a conventional crossbow meant hours spent practicing at a range trying to hit a target consistently. A trade off that leaves behind accuracy and range for rapid use just doesn’t make sense to me… It would only mean more materials being wasted in a shorter amount of time. Cost efficiency was key in warfare, as you will notice in “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, he devotes an entire chapter to the wise use of capital in warfare. This just doesn’t add up to me.