Forgotten Weapons: Gyrojet Rocket Carbine At RIA

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

Sometimes, it seems like few gun designers are willing to throw caution to the wind and try something truly new, and that even fewer financiers are willing to help those few designers achieve their vision. The Gyrojet family of weapons is perhaps an excellent example of why. Innovative, clever, and truly unique, the Gyrojets were a total flop in the marketplace, not the least of which because their practicality as weapons was decidedly limited. Ian of Forgotten Weapons takes a look at one of the rarer Gyrojets, the Mark 1 Model B carbine in a video embedded below:

Both the Gyrojet pistol and carbine used an innovative mechanism with one moving part: A hammer. This piece, actuated by the trigger, slams to the rear on firing, hitting the nose of the rocket, which then pushes on the hammer, re-cocking it, and then leaving the muzzle. The next round is pushed into the firing position by simple spring pressure. No traditional chamber is needed because the rounds do not produce appreciable pressure inside the weapon.

The downside of this is that the projectiles leave the muzzle at very low velocity, which is where velocity is most critical for producing good wind resistance and trajectory. And, of course, the rounds were less effective the closer the shooter was to the target. Further, the ammunition was expensive, as it needed to be precisely manufactured to work and to stabilize.

All negativity about the concept aside, the weapons represent a rare look into a paradigm that is totally alien and unrecognizable. Writers of fantasy and science fiction should take a good, hard look at the Gyrojet as a model for how the fantastic can be realized, and how to give a far-out concept a downright traditional appearance (the Gyrojets were manufactured in the 1960s, but the Mark 1, Model B carbines in particular look like they belong to the 1890s at the latest).

Nathaniel F
Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at

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  • David Hardy David Hardy on Sep 01, 2015

    Brought back pleasant memories of working at Tower Gun Works, Teddington, Middlesex, England. Spent a couple of years with them in the late '60s. Had a job to make 'dummy' GyroJet rounds for a local film company. Had to make them to fit the pistol used & detailed down to the rear 'jet' cap. Forget the name of the movie but I still have one of prop rounds.

    • Mazryonh Mazryonh on Sep 14, 2015

      @David Hardy Do you have any images of that prop round you can link to?

  • Mazryonh Mazryonh on Sep 14, 2015

    I don't think anyone here's heard of the Deathwind Project, a modern attempt to revive this weapon type.

    I would think that the Gyrojet was ahead of its time. With Jungle Warfare in Vietnam focussed on the advantages of sudden close-range firepower, the minimum effective range of Gyrojets wasn't in their favour. With next-to-no recoil and very quiet firing noise, it would be a much better DMR or sniper weapon, or even for long-range cannon armament for airplanes/AAA mounts. Having no need to eject spent casings would have been in its favour too.