Germany’s Nazi Party was responsible for countless atrocities during World War II, but it also worked behind the scenes to develop some truly heinous technologies. Many of which, luckily, never saw the light of day.

Some of the tools Nazis used to carry out their horrendous actions are still being studied, collected, and traded to this day. Take, for example, this deviously deranged creation, which is so crazy it could have come straight out of a movie. Even stranger? It was all contained right inside the Nazis’ belt buckles…

Talk to anyone who’s taken a history class and they’ll tell you the same thing: it would be an understatement to say the German Nazis of World War II were some of the worst violators of human rights ever. And the technology they developed backs that up.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia

Diving into the rabbit hole of Nazi engineering projects can be a terrifying journey. For years, rumors circulated that they’d developed anti-gravity devices, battleship-sized tanks, and orbital missiles. Some of these projects actually came to fruition, though, like this radio-controlled missile.

US Air Force via Business Insider

While the Nazis are infamous for any number of supremely villainous ideas, one of their lesser-known inventions was a belt buckle—but not just any belt buckle. In fact, while it may look fairly harmless, there’s something sinister beneath the surface.

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Apparently, between five and 12 of these belts were created for the Nazis, but none made it past the prototype stage; still, their purpose and function was fascinating. Had enough of these been produced, the tide of war could have very well changed. So, what was it?

German Federal Archives

To know what this device was, all you need to do is look at the name: it was called the SS-Waffenakademie Koppelschloßpistole, or the “belt castle gun”—and yes, it actually fired bullets.

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Maybe you’re thinking, “There’s no way that thing is real.” Maybe it looks too perfect for mid-20th-century technology. The belt buckle’s legitimacy has been a subject of debate over the past few years, and it has a muddy history.

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Some evidence suggested the gun was real; equal evidence suggested it wasn’t. The story goes that inventor Louis Marquis developed the idea for a belt gun while a prisoner of war, a theory supported by the fact that he won the patent for a belt buckle gun in the 1930s.

British Armed Forces

While the patent was for a slightly different design, there’s no doubting that Marquis designed the belt buckle gun. Evidently, the SS discovered the device patent, and, as they were looking for a “last ditch” weapon for officers, they commissioned Marquis to manufacture the belts en masse.

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Once the Nazis hired Marquis, he developed the belt-gun project until either the factory was bombed or the production plug was pulled, which was why so few were made. Meanwhile, doubters of the belt’s authenticity had a simpler story for the belt’s existence…

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Those who doubted the belt’s authenticity believed these were all manufactured post-war and sold to people who wanted rare Nazi artifacts—nothing more. This theory is bolstered by the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a paper trail beyond Marquis’s patent.

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To clarify, this belt gun does exist; whether it’s truly a device of Nazi manufacturing or a post-war hoax is up for debate. Regardless, one weapons expert discussed this belt buckle and how it works—and it’s fascinating.

Forgotten Weapons / YouTube

Despite a simple look—with the infamous swastika front and center—the belt buckle itself utilized complex engineering. Notice the textured switch you can see on the top right of the close buckle. If you pressed the tabs on both sides, the device opened.

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The gun mechanism popped out almost the instant the operator touched the tabs, making this buckle available on the quick draw. A brass cover along the back side of the front plate protected the buckle from scrapes, as the the belt buckle is forced open by a mechanism.

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Inside, you’d find four 5.4 millimeter barrels next to four firing pins, four striker springs, and four release triggers. If you wanted to fire, you’d press one of the triggers on the far right of the buckle’s interior to blast a bullet from the opposite barrel. But there was more…

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If you wanted to close the device, you’d use the small lever on the left side of the belt. Pulling the lever out allowed for pushing the barrels down into the compartment that holds the striker springs. The front cover would then fold back down.

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The buckle itself was heavy in hand, and it appeared to be sturdy—not cheap or poorly built. It weighed more than you’d expect. Maybe production stopped because it was pulling down pants?

East Riding Archives / Flickr

Each belt was marked with a serial number. In the case of this particular piece, the serial number 1/L is imprinted in multiple places on the buckle. But what’s the point of a belt buckle gun? What could this do that a hip-strapped pistol can’t?

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If you were about to be captured, this gun could be your last ditch effort to escape. In fact, some of the guns were rigged to fire when they opened, and others connected to a soldier’s hand via a string so that when he lifted his arms to “surrender…” bang!

Holocaust Online

Manufacturers created different models of the pistol, too: from the four-barreled version (designed to fire 5.6 millimeter rounds) to the double-barreled model (which called for 7.5 millimeter bullets). Regardless of appearance and caliber, the function and mechanics were the same.

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In the end, those who have worked with the belt-gun haven’t had a hard time believing why there were only 12 or so in existence: the pistols were difficult to fire and frequently jammed. Still, had the device reached its full potential, the effects could have been devastating.

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It’s fascinating to see all the moving parts of this historic invention. Check out the video of belt buckle gun below to see all its complex engineering in action!

It’s so wild to think that this was ever actually in the works. It looks like something James Bond would carry!