In thoroughly unnecessary, but potentially dire situations, a firearm is the key tool for anyone who feels that they are in extreme danger doing whatever it is they do. From walking the lonely streets at night to picking the kids up from school, the threat of a gunfight is never quelled. Then, when a person has been shot to bits and didn't even get a fair chance to use their pistol upon the enemy scum, their firearms seem all but useless.
This is where firearm attachments come in. Personal configuration of a possession a person may have, is a right imbued in people as strong as the right to bear arms. This configuration - so long as you do it yourself, thanks - extends wholeheartedly to the world of firearms, taking the relationship between man and gun to the next level. Only can you say you own a firearm if you spent days whittling the handle to fit your fingers snugly, or if you fired it a thousand times at a target and you're still definitely sure you'd shoot another person if it actually came to it. Or perhaps you could say you have a firearm if you could brandish it at home or someone else's complete with a variety of differing components attached to side of it, on the top of it, on the underside of it, on the handle, or indeed anywhere else. Whatever you attach externally will make up for everything internally.
The attaching of components to weaponry is a tactic long executed in the history of warfare. The Imperial Roman army consisted of auxiliaries equipped with a shield as well as a weapon, the shield was modified so a sword or a pike could be slid through a gap in the shield, pricking unsuspecting foes as part of desperate measures. When Hannibal of Carthage faced the Roman army, his only weapon attachment offering for his men were for the elephant herders: a stick with mice dangled on the end.
Fire was also used to a great extent as a weapon attachment, even in the pre-gunpowder world of warfare. Everything from arrows to pikeheads and walls to castles were set aflame, just in the act of converting a blunt weapon into a lethal tool in times of crisis. At the Battle of Crécy in 1346, the French King dismounted all his cavalry troops so he could set fire to the 10,000 horses and charge the inferno wall of neighing equestrians at the 5,000 English spearmen on the other side. The French still lost.
When the advent of gunpowder in Europe brought in cannons to the battlefield of cavalry charges, steel pike formations and archery ballistics, the countryside of each nation in Europe were forever threatened. This gathered infamy amongst the people in Europe who demanded that the countryside be protected from these infernal weapons - thus, the generals of the European armies responded by implementing the first attachment to weapons of gunpowder: engraving the barrel.
Engraving meant that illustrious and nostalgic images of towns and cities back home could awaken a feeling of pride and resurgence, and therefore uplift much-needed morale amongst homesick warriors. Even if the quaint old town of Vittoria back home in Sicily was reduced to a pile of ash as a result of the war, you still had the offending article itself (the cannon) reminding you what the town looked like in the engraving, before the cannon blew it up. Ah, war.In the 16th century, handguns became common and thus personal firearms began it's ascent over the power of sword and plate armour. But sticking sharp objects in the abdomen of the enemy wasn't a dead tactic yet. Since it took ten to twelve weeks to reload a musket gun, it became imminently obvious to generals that their men needed something to pass the time, while they took forever to clean out the barrel, tear the gunpowder satchel, pour in the powder, ram down the bullet, insert the cork to keep the bullet in place, ask the enemy politely to stand still, reverse the polarity of the neutron intake, clean the barrel again, etc, etc, etc, etc. Thus, the culture of sword and pikemen were rediscovered in the form of a bayonet.
The bayonet enjoyed usage from the 16th century right up to WWII. During WWI, the foundations that held the bayonet aloft in a world scarred by barrage artillery, maxim guns and strategic bombing became shaky. Well, they became shaky just after Field Marshall Haig told his troops to go out into no-man's land and tread softly before the German heavy machine guns. Suddenly, Private Tommy's bayonet had the effectiveness in war comparable to demolishing a cathedral with a whiskey glass. In spite of this, the bayonet was still used in WWII, almost primarily by the Japanese Imperial army. Japanese troops would effect their knowledge of the local islands in the pacific seas by camouflaging themselves in the bushes and the trees, offering themselves the element of surprise over the enemy, of which they would polish off shortly with their bayonets. The element was then immediately lost the second they decided to dispel an operatic screech just after pouncing from the savannah.
Despite the hindered past of weapon attachments in warfare, the idea still grows strong today.
The main reason for applying external components to firearms is to create a space of ease between a soldier and his foe (and by space of ease, I mean a small lake of his blood and bits of his skull too) in a variety of applying situations. When a trooper transplants himself from stalking the street after his enemy to searching a small house with closed-in walls, he decries the immediate change of atmosphere and feels that his rifle has little manoeuvrability in such a diminutive space. Either that, or he has a serious case of claustrophobia, and combining that with a situation where he could die at any moment doesn't quite create a wonderful fairy tale for his subconscious to deal with.
Or perhaps one is in a outnumbering situation where a firearm is as good as it is stripped out when there is all and sundry to deal with, such as in a bank robbery or a gargantuan invasion or a party at the in-laws. A pithy little pistol is useless where there are numerous targets, one of which will at least hear your gunfire and will take you down before you can shoot any more than, say, two or three of the helpless and poorly-supported-at-school scumbags. Purchasing attachments may feel like buying insurance for a car rented for holidaying purposes, but the benefits that occur to you in the heat of the moment are immeasurable. Suddenly, that attachment that makes your rifle look like a wounded cub helps when you are trapped by humongous grizzly bears in the forest.
Indeed, when you look at the nearest military armoury or your local corner shop, a lot of the attachments on offer may cater for niches so narrow they can't be seen on ordinance surveys. Being able to fire a gun underwater really only helps if: 1. You happen to actually, by law, own the treasure kept on the seabed 2. You don't already have a submarine to this sort of thing. In fact, such is the apparently narrow use for most attachments, that an attachment has been recently introduced to fit more attachments on the customary rifle. Your gun will start to look less like a simple and ruthless tool, meant only to take lives and change the TV channel, but more like the penultimate Swiss army knife with a flip out firearm. The pistol had long overtaken the knife anyway.
Attachments are not just meant for survival in the wild, but also for killing more. Caught in gun battle, but just ran out of bullets? No problem - attaching string to the butt of your rifle enables you to chuck it at an enemy's eye and then pull the rifle back to your feet without having to move an inch to pick it back up. Simple, but utterly ruthless and very, very useful. Especially during the exchange of bullets itself are these attachments useful. Putting a mincing machine on your rifle will allow you to shred grenades into explosive bullets and make your kills more death-related.
Attachments are near-necessity in this age.
edit Elastic band
Modern rifles are built with iron sights to enable better accuracy of the shot. These are commonly flipped up when needed for longer range firing, but simply get in the way otherwise. When the iron sights of a rifle will perhaps appear useless, especially when aiming at close range, the multiple solutions on offer for the metallic prongs may compensate. For example, an elastic band can be wrapped around the sights, and flicked in the face of the incoming enemy when needed.
This is very useful and cannot be underestimated. Just as you are focusing on another target from further away, you are liable to be ambushed from close range. However, with the elastic band, if you are busy killing someone to death from a range, but an enemy peers up five paces from your position and has the clutch shot, you will feel automatically obliged to let go of the closer end of the elastic band, which will hopefully spear the hapless victim's eye or nostril. If not, at least you died trying to do something about it.
Pistol whipping is a popular tactic to those who have spent a large sum of money acquiring a firearm complete with ammunition, but do little else with the firearm other than beating people to death with the opposite end of the gun.
Sometimes creeping up unseen behind a confused teenage terrorist, or a trapped criminal with intent to pistol whip them is a utterly faulty misadventure. You could be inches behind your target, pistol in hand, ready to strike and swipe the butt of the firearm into the back of their head, but then suddenly! They turn around swiftly and fill you with 500 different pieces of lead. This is why pistol whipping is ultimately a poor choice.
To counter this general problem of getting shot to death, the brick attachment was issued by both the US and French armies in the early 1990s. The idea was that given the size and weight of a brick compared to the mere handle of a pistol, the brick would make up for the lack of speed and efficiency of simply using the butt. The presence of a brick on the key end of a firearm meant that actually shooting the damn thing was a near-brain numbing discomfort - but the brick made up for this replacing issue anyway.
This may sound like a confusing idea at first, but attaching a kaleidoscope to your rifle will have numerous effects.
Battlefields today no longer have the palaver and palette of the fields pikemen and cavalry had the luxury of fighting over in the past. When you weren't hacking the enemy archers to death with a broadsword, you were admiring the excellent scenery in the countryside. In fact, you may even be convinced in mid-battle that there is more to life than war and give up to become a peaceful and grazing farmer. Or you'll be convinced by the fearless, resolute and religion-driven enemy anyway.
No, nowadays soldiers fight in grey and dull urban locales and in soulless and parched deserts. Morale is quickly drained when there is no colourful and heartening hamlet dressing the sides of a valley in the background. The kaleidoscope attachment will make up for this lack of artistic involvement in the desolate surroundings. Looking down the scope will imbue confidence and high spirits. God knows, you think war is a good idea so you'd probably lap up a kaleidoscope like a child would anyway.
When you are tense and nervous during battle, you are vulnerable to being trigger-happy by mistake. A civilian accidentally pops up on the horizon and you will be shakily prompted to look down the scope for a better shot. But before you can make the horrendous error of shooting dead an innocent and inciting controversy back home (and not to mention, ruin your life forever), you will be distracted by the assault of colours that greet the iris in the last minute, and you'll prevent yourself taking a wrong step.
And even when you're shot and killed by the enemy, your opponent will pick up your high-power weapon only to find the scope is totally and utterly bizarre. Either they will be shot and killed too or they will be absolutely distracted by the un-warlike colours of the scope and give up fighting your nation altogether. And that equals to one kill, so you are effectively doing more killing as you lay dead and irretrievable to the world, RIP.
edit Phrase book
In modern warfare, armies are literally deported from their own nations to others to fight their wars. This is a double negative that they put upon themselves. They are forced out of their homeland to go several thousand miles away to another nation to solve their problems. This is the debt that the modern army are owed from the public, and payback is earned either way for a soldier - he exacts revenge by emblazoning the greedy and militant local's torso with holes, or he finds his reward in heaven.
All the while, the soldier has to suffer the annoyance of being in a foreign country. This creates multiple problems: The country he is in may not speak a lick of his own language. He may be confused whether the venomous chatter of the foreign tongue is full of vengeful words and military commands, or if they're just discussing football results from the back of the newspaper. The soldier will not be able to converse with a local who refuses to remove his cart (selling mud and manure) from the dusty road so his column of tanks can trundle gently by.
The phrase book attachment is the key solution to these problems. Held aloft the rail of an assault rifle, the phrase book can be both kept in place and the most relevant pages found within exposed to the user. When needed, phrases from the local language can be barked out in moments of danger or softly uttered in periods of cart-moving.
The use of a phrase book meant that the soldier - lost in a foreign land - could ease himself in his alien surroundings. This wouldn't just be limited to conversing with unhelpful civilians, but also during the heat of the moment; crying out commands in the other side's language can cause brief confusion amongst their own ranks, and as a result, they all get shot to bits by your triumphant squadron. All due to a phrase book.
edit Power drill
Not just an attachment intended for combat use, but also to extend the array of ways your rifle can be used as an all-purpose tool. This is useful in countless circumstances. For example, the summer time tends to bring the family out of the house and into the garden where there is work to be done in pruning the lawn, watering the trees and mowing the flowerbed arranged to form the national flag. When your family is outside, that also means that criminals are outside too and you and your family are at great risk of being strung up by gunmen, robbed out of house and home, and left to bleed to death on the deck, all while you're painting the gutter.
This is how the power drill attachment is subtly useful. While you're drilling a hole in the greenhouse to let cold air in, any passer-by that spies you and your family in your garden will take care to note that you are holding a fully-automatic assault rifle and you are not to be messed with. Under the guise of protecting your family from having their throats slit and wallets stolen, you can end up with a really nice garden.
It is also an interesting and more futuristic variant of a bayonet. If you are caught up in close-quarters meleé, you may spot that your enemy's own weapon sports an old-fashioned and rustic bayonet. You could easily arrest the situation by declaring quite loudly your condemnation of the ageing knife-attachment. When they counter your argument you can point out your own power-drill attachment and bore your enemies to death. Ha.
edit The complete works of Charles Dickens
When your weapon is out of ammo and useless - the elastic band is missing, the phrase book is in the wrong language, the power drill blunt, etc - then this is where having the complete works of Charles Dickens will come to your aid. Either you need something to while the time away while you cower and wait for help, or you need something to keep you from boredom when you go to heaven like the 'ickle crusader you are. These are the only brief moments in your life of war that you'll find the time to get through Bleak House.
Weaponry in the future implements new technology that is merely a pipe dream today and an oil pipe tomorrow, channelling the wealth of the earth's resources to the select few. The few will need to upgrade their choice of weaponry and invent attachments to differ them from their rivals. Death rays will require a pair of spectacles to enable precise aiming, mind control devices will need inbuilt MP3s to uplift morale, clones will require private lives to relieve them of the monotony, vacuum cleaners will need a smaller nib attachment to suck away grit from those hard-to-reach areas of the battlefield. The list of attachments conceived for the inconceivable goes on and on and on.
As the modern armies of the world march into the 2010s, more ingenious attachments designed to kill the crap out of people are proposed each week to governments worldwide. The battlefield itself is a changing venue, which affect the variety of weapons used, which therefore affects the range of attachments used. In the middle ages, humanity fought on the fields, and attachments were invented to ease the use of weapons in the countryside. In the present age, humanity fights on the streets of cities that replace the fields, and better attachments were born, to ease the use of weapons in urban areas. Tomorrow, who knows what venue will replace the cities of today? That would have to be decided first, before even the weapons themselves come in. Then it will be the turn of the weapon attachments.
Whatever the case, the weapons of tomorrow will certainly be vastly different from today, but even we are not certain what will be attached to them to make them more kill-able. But it has been theorised that the weapons that will be used the day after tomorrow can be flicked or thrown with only the human hands. Therefore, the future of firearm attachments is sadly limited.
- ↑ I.E. Entirely unneeded situations.
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_National
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crecy
- ↑ In September 2009, a press conference was held to reveal this such attachment. As well as that, a cartridge that changes path when it's about to friendly fire and plummets into the nearest animal instead.
- ↑ 
- ↑ The leverage of mine and thineself or the powers that be?
- ↑