Inspired by the Rapid Fire Crossbow (Balestra Veloce) imagined and illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci in his Codex Atlanticus in the late 1480s, Youtuber How To Make Everything decided to build a working replica. To take things a step further, he decided to produce the weapon only using construction techniques and materials that would have been available during the 15th century. Wow, now that’s dedication.
The design consists of 16 crossbows mounted on a spinning wheel, fired as they pass an arm that releases each bow’s bolt. After some testing, they got the fire rate to about 540 rounds per minute. While certainly an impressive rate of fire, there are only 16 shots maximum, so that number is a bit skewed, considering it takes a team of three about 8 minutes to reload the thing. Still, those 16 shots do go quickly.
Do I want to build my own da Vinci rapid-fire crossbow now? Of course I do. But even using modern tools, there is little to no chance of me constructing anything remotely resembling a functional model. And I’ll be lucky if I don’t start another garage fire.