German Gas Pistol
Weapons such as these were manufactured in Germany, and were common around the time of the the Second World War. They were never officially issued to military personnel, but were known to have been carried by some as a last means of defense.
The pistol was used to fire tear gas or another similar chemical, which would incapacitate an opponent temporarily, thus giving the user a chance to escape. It was designed to be used only with a very low powered cartridge incorporating a glass ampoule of chemical instead of a bullet. When fired, the glass would shatter and release the vapour, which carried for ten feet before expanding into a toxic gas cloud.
It was a short range weapon used for non-fatal defense only. If used with ammunition it would explode, which is possibly what happened with this example. The pistol in our collections is damaged, the wood cracked outwards as though from force.
This object is now on display in our WW2 case .