Why didn't this devastating machine gun dominate the world? This fires faster than early musketeers.

  • 2
    It didn't dominate for the same reason that sub-machine guns like the MAC-10 don't dominate the modern battlefield. Short range, low penetration power and high ammo consumption don't make for an ideal all-round battlefield weapon. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 10:23
  • @KillingTime: if you made that an answer rather than a comment, I would upvote it.
    – user4139
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


The repeating crossbow, with its smaller and lighter ammunition, had neither the power nor the accuracy of an arbalest, however. Thus, it was not very useful against more heavily armoured troops unless poison was smeared on bolts, in which case even a small wound may prove fatal.1 Since the repeating crossbow was shot from the hip, accuracy was poor, but the aim could be adjusted very swiftly since the next shot was only a second or two away. wikipedia

  1. Not very useful against opponents wearing armor
  2. Ten shot magazine
  3. Not very accurate
  4. Short range.

Rate of fire is meaningless if all the bolts are repelled by armor.

  • 1
    So gun dominates war because it can penetrate armor.
    – user4951
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 13:34
  • And because it has a decent chance of hitting its target @JimThio.
    – yannis
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 18:35
  • Guns dominate because they kill more people faster, if you want to condense it into a sentence. The reason the repeating crossbow doesn't kill more people faster is covered in Mark's answer above - less accuracy, low penetration etc
    – Jon Story
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 3:24
  • Maybe add point 5. Armies would have to carry a lot of bolts or else their supplies would be quickly exhausted. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 0:24

"Devastating" is not the only characteristic which makes a weapon useful. Already ancient Romans experimented with repeating ballistae, but there is no evidence of their use in battles. A weapon must be convenient and handy to use, and transport, and there are many other characteristics which make a weapon useful.

There are many similar examples in history. Type "Dardanelles gun" on Goolge or Wikipedia to see a picture of a Turkish 15 century cannon. You can imagine how devastating it was. But this type of weapon was soon displaced by much smaller guns.

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