Hidden in Plain Sight: Weapon Canes

8 min minute read

CC19-4 Canes IFC-1

Beginning in the Victorian era, a walking stick was a staple of any wealthy man’s wardrobe. As far as self-defense goes, a weapon cane offers the perfect element of surprise.

A Brief History

During the 18th and 19th centuries, carrying a sword became less socially acceptable. Of course, this did not dissuade those who preferred to be armed and those who were already trained in swordsmanship. Thus began the fad of hiding one’s weapon in plain sight — such as disguising it as part of one’s wardrobe. It was also not uncommon for a lady to conceal a weapon in her walking stick or parasol, as it was even less socially acceptable for a woman to be armed.

Franc-Macon French Sword Cane Franc-Macon French Sword Cane

Many walking sticks look harmless on their exterior, yet hold a harmful — or even lethal — weapon within them. With street crime rising in the mid-19th century, weapon canes grew in popularity as a way to protect oneself in the case of being threatened or accosted. The weapon cane acted as a self-defense tool camouflaged in your everyday dress, and an attacker would likely categorize a walking stick as a sign of weakness or disability. Surprise!

La Redoutable Defense Cane La Redoutable Defense Cane

The Unholy Trinity

An early form of weapon canes that became widely popular during the French Revolution were walking sticks referred to as “Les Diaboliques.” The canes featured inconspicuous-yet-sharp spokes down the sides of the shaft that may be revealed simply by the twist of a handle. Designed before Napoléon’s reign and Haussman’s renovations of Paris, the wide boulevards of the city did not exist yet. This allowed Revolutionists to start riots by swiftly jabbing the sides of horses being ridden by police or military. The canes were outlawed by the French government the first day the design was released. From Les Diaboliques evolved two more weapon canes — “Le Redoutable” and “Le Terrible.” The three designs became known as the “Unholy Trinity” and make for fabulous collector’s items!

One-Shot Pistol Cane One-Shot Pistol Cane

The Gun Cane

Weapon canes were a very prominent form of self-defense in the past, being produced by manufacturers in France and England. However, it was not until John F. Thomas of Remington Arms Company perfected the gun cane that this fad became popular in the United States. He received a patent for his rifle cane in 1858, which contained a fully functional percussion fired a single-shot rifle. The design was an overnight success. A characteristic that made the Remington rifle cane unique from previous designs was that its entire firing mechanism and striker were completely encased and hidden inside the upper shaft of the cane.

Read on to learn more about some of the rare weapon canes in the M.S. Rau Collection, or click here to view our complete collection.

Silver-Topped Flick Stick Dagger Cane Silver-Topped Flick Stick Dagger Cane

This weapon cane would have been ideal for quick, split-second defense. With just a flick of a button, a stiletto dagger reveals itself from the cane’s silver topper. What is interesting about dagger canes produced during this time period is that they were more often than not four-sided blades. Upon being impaled by such a spear, the resulting wound would be much more difficult to stitch up and heal compared to a single-pointed blade.

French Gun Cane, 7.5 Mm French Gun Cane, 7.5 MM

A firearm was also a popular self-defense device individuals camouflaged with the guise of a walking stick, such as this stately Malacca wood cane topped with an antler handle. With a concealed trigger and 7.55 MM breech-loading chamber hidden in the shaft, this weapon cane was sure to go unnoticed as a threat. The lethal aspect of the cane can be exposed simply by twisting the handle and pulling back.

The "Bad Boy" Razor Cane The "Bad Boy" Razor Cane

This weapon cane is ideal for a sneak attack. Perhaps the most discrete, a lethal straight razor is concealed within the shaft of this deceptively understated walking stick. One may reveal their weapon with one swift tug of the knotted handle. Known as a “Bad Boy” cane, razor canes such as this are among the rarest weapon canes.

Rocket Flare Cane Rocket Flare Cane

This unique walking stick may assist its owner in more than one way! It has the ability to launch a rocket flare with the flick of a button, improving vision or as a distress signal. And, of course, it may have fatal repercussions if fired at a close distance as a form of self-defense. It may also be used to blind one’s attacker momentarily so that the cane’s owner may escape a dangerous situation. The wooden shaft and the brass knob handle contain the firing mechanism and a percussion cap.

Interested in learning more about collecting antique walking sticks? Click here to read about this fascinating world of collecting.

Shop the story
From the same author
Set Sail! The Art of British Maritime Painting
Set Sail! The Art of British Maritime Painting
Read More
11 Things You'd Never Guess Came From Tiffany & Co.
11 Things You'd Never Guess Came From Tiffany & Co.
Read More
Follow Your Nose: A Collector’s Guide to Antique Perfume
Follow Your Nose: A Collector’s Guide to Antique Perfume
Read More

White Diamonds


Tiffany & Co. Asscher-Cut Diamond Ring, 20.10 Carats
Diamond Cross Pendant, 6.33 Carats
Round Brilliant-Cut Diamond Ring, 9.07 Carats
Pear-Cut Golconda Diamond Ring, 3.02 Carats
French Diamond Bracelet, 55.00 Carats
Radiant-Cut Diamond Ring, 10.03 Carats
Back to Top back to top