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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Glass Pistol  
  A clear glass gun that fires poisoned splinters.  

And by the way, that crystal weapon of Tweel's was an interesting device; I took a look at it after the dream-beast episode. It fired a little glass splinter, poisoned, I suppose, and I guess it held at least a hundred of 'em to a load. The propellant was steam—just plain steam!"

"Shteam!" echoed Putz. "From vot come, shteam?"

"From water, of course! You could see the water through the transparent handle and about a gill of another liquid, thick and yellowish. When Tweel squeezed the handle—there was no trigger—a drop of water and a drop of the yellow stuff squirted into the firing chamber, and the water vaporized—pop!—like that. It's not so difficult; I think we could develop the same principle. Concentrated sulfuric acid will heat water almost to boiling, and so will quicklime, and there's potassium and sodium —

"Of course, his weapon hadn't the range of mine, but it wasn't so bad in this thin air, and it did hold as many shots as a cowboy's gun in a Western movie. It was effective, too, at least against Martian life; I tried it out, aiming at one of the crazy plants, and darned if the plant didn't wither up and fall apart! That's why I think the glass splinters were poisoned.

Technovelgy from A Martian Odyssey, by Stanley G. Weinbaum.
Published by Wonder Stories in 1934
Additional resources -

Thanks to @SFFAudio for suggesting this story.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Martian Odyssey
  More Ideas and Technology by Stanley G. Weinbaum
  Tech news articles related to A Martian Odyssey
  Tech news articles related to works by Stanley G. Weinbaum

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