Pierce and Cunningham darting-gun; a combined harpoon
and lance Used largely by Arctic whalemen. Fig. 2. Cunningham and
Cogan gun Length, 33 inches; weight, 27 pounds; used by Arctic whalers
with bomb lance Fig. 3. Brand muzzle-loading whaling-gun and bomb lance.
Various firearms were brought into play to try and
kill whales more efficiently and to avoid having to approach an injured
and dangerous whale too closely. These were used with varying degrees
of success, though none were as reliable as the old-fashioned method
of dispatching the whale using a heavy wooden handled lance wielded
by an experienced man.
It wasn't until 1864 when Swede Sven Foyn invented
the heavy explosive harpoon that could hit a whale 50yds that the hand
harpoon was finally replaced.
Image courtesy NOAA