How Much Do You Know about Gatling, Gardner and Bira Guns?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: StraightShootingTalk

About This Quiz

When men went to war in the early 1800s, they often blasted each other at close range using muzzleloaders that fired at a rate of just a couple of rounds per minute. Often, the combatants gave up on shooting altogether, resorting to stabbing each other with bayonets. By the end of the century, the nature of warfare would be dramatically altered thanks to guns bearing the names of Gatling, Bira and Gardner. Do you think you can handle this high-speed firearms quiz?

Do you know anything about the technological advances of the earliest machine guns? And do you know how much these guns altered the course of battle? In many cases, the guns were set aside, either due to politics and corruption, or because generals were stuck in an antiquated mentality of warfare.

Can you name the men who tinkered with the designs of guns like the Bira? These machine guns were complicated pieces of equipment … so just one malformed part could cause the entire contraption to stop working. When these guns did work correctly, though, watch out – they could decimate entire platoons in seconds. Do you know anything about the firing rates of these savage machines?

In our early machine gun quiz, we’ll explore three of the most famous guns of the late 1800s. Some of these weapons were mere bystanders, while others helped shape modern combat as we now know it. Stand up to the withering firepower of our machine gun quiz now!

Where was the Gardner gun invented?

The Gardner gun was invented by American William Gardner in the 1870s. It was an early -- but still menacing -- new style of gun ... the machine gun.


William Gardner was a veteran of which war?

Gardner was a captain who served with the Union Army during the Civil War. After seeing the carnage wrought by modern weapons he must've thought hey, I can kill even more people if I make my own kind of machine gun. So he did.


The Bira gun was a machine gun that originated in which country?

The Bira gun was a machine gun that came to life in Nepal. And then it began raining death on all who dared to step in front of it.


The Bira gun was based on which other famous gun?

The Bira gun was inspired by the American Gardener gun ... because the Nepalese didn’t want Americans to have all of the murderous fun to themselves.


True or false, did all Gardner gun designs have the same number of barrels?

The Gardner gun came in several different configurations. Some versions had one barrel, others had two … and still others were equipped with five.


The Gatling gun was first used during which armed conflict?

The Gatling gun was a device of terrible destruction used by the Union during the Civil War. It brought rapid-fire death to a war that was already exceedingly bloody.


Who invented the the Bira gun?

The Bira gun was invented in the late 1890s by General Sri Sri Sri Maharajah Gehendra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana. Say that 10 times fast.


After William Gardner designed his gun, he showed his prototype to which company?

Gardner showed his prototype gun to Pratt & Whitney, the company that would eventually gain fame in the aviation industry. Company officials were immediately intrigued by Gardner's high-speed weapon.


The Gatling gun was invented by a ______.

The Gatling gun was invented by a doctor, Richard Gatling, presumably because business was slow and he wanted to ensure he'd have enough clients to save up for retirement. Hippocratic Oath, blah, blah.


True or false, was the Bira gun ever used in combat?

The Bira gun was never deployed for combat purposes. Instead, they became just interesting pieces of military history.


The Gardner gun used what sort of magazine?

William Gardner built his first guns with a vertical hopper. As the gun spat bullets, gravity helped to feed fresh cartridges into the chamber.


How did the U.S. Army leaders first view the Gatling gun when it was demonstrated?

President Lincoln was sold on the concept and ordered his generals to put the guns to use. The problem? His conservative generals didn't like the guns and disobeyed their orders.


The original Gatling gun had how many barrels?

The first design of the Gatling gun had six barrels, which rotated in order to prevent overheating. Other versions had between six and 10 barrels.


What sort of magazine did the Bira gun use?

The Bira gun had a circular pan magazine mounted to the top. The pan magazine gave this weapon its distinctive appearance.


True or false, was the Bira gun a wheel-mounted weapon?

It's true, like many newfangled machine guns of the era, the Bira was far too heavy to be carried by hand. It was mounted to two large spoked wheels.


Where did the Gardner gun see its first real military action?

The British used the Gardner gun during the Mahdist War, which started in the 1880s in Sudan. The British ultimately won the war, folding Sudan into their empire.


How many barrels did the Bira gun use?

The Bira gun was a double-barreled monster. But in spite of their terrifying appearance, those barrels never got to blast anyone in battle.


Gatling guns saw their most overwhelming successes in which conflict?

As Americans settlers pushed westward, armed clashes with Indians intensified. But the Gatling guns subdued Native American warriors in short order.


How many rounds per minute could the .58 caliber version of the Gatling gun fire?

During the late 1800s, the Gatling gun's 350 rounds per minute firing rate was astronomical, often terrifying opposing troops into fleeing. The huge .58 slugs ripped men into pieces.


How was the Bira gun operated?

Hope you've been stretching those muscles, you're going to need them. The Bira gun was a hand-cranked weapon, one that spit hundreds of rounds per minute, making it worth the workout.


When fully loaded with 120 rounds of ammo, how much did the Bira's magazine weigh?

With 120 rounds -- its maximum capacity -- the Bira gun's magazine alone weighed 40 pounds. That's not an insignificant weight when you consider the stress and rigors of actual combat.


When did the U.S. Army adopt the Gatling gun?

The U.S. Army finally -- finally -- officially adopted the Gatling gun in 1866, after the Civil War ended. Later, the weapon saw much action in the Spanish-American War.


True or false, were all Bira guns made by hand?

Bira guns were all handmade, making them truly unique in the world of machine guns. Each gun was lovingly rendered by weapons artisans to cause maximum carnage and resulting heartache.


The Gardner gun was deployed during a war in Sudan. How did it perform in the dusty conditions there?

Blowing dust is the death of all things mechanical, and the Gardner guns were no exception. Many of them malfunctioned in Sudan's dusty conditions.


Why was the Bira gun cranked counter-clockwise instead of clockwise like most machine guns of the day?

The general who developed the Bira gun realized that a counter-clockwise mechanism was actually more reliable in some ways. Just don't forget which way to crank in the heat of battle!


What was another reason the Bira gun was designed to be cranked counter-clockwise?

The Nepalese designers believed that a pulling motion was more physically efficient than the pushing (clockwise) motion of other guns. So, the Bira was set up as a counter-clockwise mechanism.


True or false, was the Gatling gun used at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, when General Custer's men were slaughtered by Native Americans?

General Custer opted not to take his Gatling guns to the place where the Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred. Had he brought along the Gatlings, the battle might have ended very differently.


The Gatling gun fired which caliber of ammunition?

The Gatling fired .58 and .30 rounds. Regardless of the cartridge size, no man could withstand the gun's awesome firepower.


How easy was it to swap out parts from one Bira gun to another?

Due to the fact that each Bira was handmade, there wasn't much standardization between guns. If you wanted to swap parts between guns, you were very likely out of luck.


The 1886 version of the Gatling gun required how many operators?

Between cranking and reloading, firing the Gatling was an arduous process. In order to keep the 1886 version firing at an optimal rate, four operators were needed.


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