Gun Types

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries there were a wide variety of firearms in use. The types are distinguished by the 'lock' or action used to ignite the powder charge and propel the ball. ALL of these weapons are available and in common usage.

Matchlock weapons, though out of date in design, were still widely available especially in backwater colonial militias and in the more isolated areas as well as being found in the arsenals of many small nations and Princelings. Many matchlocks are found in the Spanish garrisons in the New World having been shipped there as the armies in Spain were upgraded. They are often issued to local militias and garrison troops. Matchlocks are the cheapest firearm available.

Close up of a Matchlock      A matchlock being fired

Wheellocks, the first guns that could be carried loaded and ready to fire, are expensive and require constant maintenance to prevent the mechanism from seizing up. (A major problem in a ship board environment.) Still manufactured (though rarely) into the early 18th century, as expensive and ornate custom weapons, with many older ones still in service. Wheellocks use pyrite instead of flint.

Close up of a Wheellock

Snaplocks, are one of several types of related locks. Essentially a precursor to the Flintlock in design the snaplocks and its cousins are still widely manufactured throughout Europe, especially in the south, and are used extensively in North Africa and the Middle East and is often found in the arsenals of the Barbary Corsairs.

The snaplock has a manually operated pan cover similar to that of the matchlock and lacks a half cock or safety.

Close up of a snap lock

Doglocks, Miquelet and Snaphance

Though there are technological differences these weapon types all perform in essentially the same way

The Snaphance (or Snaphaunce) first appeared in the late 1550s as a development of the earlier snaplock. The main improvement was that the pan-cover opened automatically (to keep the priming dry until the exact moment of firing), as in the wheel-lock. It lacks a half cock or safety. The Miquelet is a type of Snaphance is often termed the Mediterranean lock due to its diffusion to areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in the Ottoman sphere of influence. Regular Spanish troops generally employ the Spanish Miquelet.

Close up of a Miquelet          Close up of a Snaphaunce lock
A Miquelet lock                                             A Snaphaunce lock

The English Lock or Doglock is found on almost all English and Dutch manufactured guns until about 1715 and is the standard for British Army muskets until the Brown Bess was issued. (As the Brown Bess has come into service all Doglock muskets have been turned over to the Navy.) The English and the Dutch used this style of flintlock firearm the most, which uses an external catch or DOG as a half cock safety. The Doglock is one of the most common types of firearm in the American Colonies and Caribbean.

Close up of a Doglock                                                         

A Doglock

Flintlocks, originally called "French Locks" because that was the area where they first appeared, were the final development in firearms during this period. They are 'state of the art' and remained in use for almost a hundred and fifty years. The flintlock (and the English lock) were cheaper to make and less complex than the snaphance. The flintlock has an internal 'half cocked' position that facilitates loading and allows the weapon to be carried all but ready to fire. It also combines the pan cover and the Steel striking surface into one piece.

Close up of a Flintlock

A Flintlock

Musket Types

The smoothbore musket, whether it is flintlock, doglock, miquelet, wheellock or matchlock,is the standard small arm employed in all gunpowder using militaries.  Its accuracy at ranges much over forty yards is limited, a fact that combat tactics account for, but within its range it is highly effective.

Military Muskets vs Trade Muskets
Military muskets are produced to a standard size, length, caliber and weight.  They are designed to accept a socket bayonet (older models used plug bayonets) and the weapon has a simple, easily maintained finish.  Ram rods are of metal to prevant breakage.

Trade muskets are a basic, low end, musket primarily intended for sale to colonists and natives in the new world.  They vary somewhat in length and feature, the barrels are often longer then a military musket,  depending on the local market.  They are usually shipped overseas as unassembled metal parts, barrel, lock and hardware, to be fitted with a stock and wooden ramrod from local lumber supplies. The trade musket,was primarily of two types, those following the English pattern and style and those following the French pattern and style.   The main difference is in caliber, Rnglish muskets were larger .75 while the French was slightly smaller, .69  And in the method of fastening the barrel to the stock.  The French used bands that encircle the stock and barrel while the English use pins that pass through the stock and lugs on the bottom of the barrel.  There were also some differences in style and shape of the stock and lock.  English weapons tend to be bulkier while the French were slimmer.

Examples of available Muskets can be found on the pages describing the weapon's lock in detail.  

The rifled barrel has been around for some time.  It is widely used in hunting, but in military and combat applications it sees limited use.  Though more accurate then a musket the rifle is slow to load on account of the need for the ball to fit snugly to the rifling.  This requires a greased ball to be virtually pounded down the length of the barrel, a task that only gets harder with each shot fired.  The build up of fouling in the barrel from each shot makes the next shot that much harder to load.  (In contrast the smooth bore musket allows balls to be dropped into the barrel with the ram rod used to tamp down the ball and wadding so the shot and powder don't roll out the muzzle.)


Pistol Types

Queen Anne Pistols

The 'Queen Anne' style pistol is distinctive in that it does not have a ramrod. The barrel of the pistol unscrews and allows it to be loaded from the rear and near the touch hole. These pistols are made in either Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.   The Queen Anne pistols were very popular and were made in a variety of calibers, usually about 38 to 50 and were often highly gilded and decorated. Boot pistols, Holster pistols, pocket pistols and Sea Service pistols were all made in Queen Anne style. This type is known as a Queen Anne pistol because it was during her reign that it became popular (although it was actually introduced in the reign of King William III).

Dragoon Pistols (sometimes called Horse Pistols) were used by mounted troops and were kept in saddle holsters. They are large, heavy weapons that fire a very large calibre ball, 65 to 75. After being discharged the pistol is heavy enough and strong enough to be reversed and used as a club. These pistols are made in either Wheellock, Snap Lock, Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.

Holster Pistols (sometimes called Belt Pistols) were designed to be carried on a person in a leather belt holster or slipped through the belt. They are a medium sized weapon with calibres generally ranging from 45 to 65. These pistols are made in either Matchlock, Wheellock, Snap Lock, Dog Lock or Flintlock styles. A Holster Pistol is usually solid enough to be used in punching or other close fighting after it has been discharged.

Sea Service Pistols are Holster sized pistols that are distinguished by being largely made of brass and having a side clip on the body of the pistol that allows the weapon to be hooked to the owner's holster or belt. On land a dropped pistol is an inconvenience. At sea it can be a financial loss if the weapon goes overboard. These pistols are made in either Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.

Pocket pistols were the smallest handguns and could be kept in a coat pocket. Calibers generally ranged from 30 to 45. These pistols are made in either Snap Lock, Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.

Dueling Pistols. Always produced in matched sets, these commonly have rifled barrels to increase their accuracy. The same rifling makes loading a slower process then in a smooth bore pistol. The tight fit of the ball means that it must be hammered down the barrel with the ram rod. The Queen Anne style is common for duelers.

Multi Barrel Pistols. These usually have two barrels either side by side or over and under. (A few rare types have more then two barrels.) Most commonly the two barrels each have their one lock that discharges both barrels at once.  In some cases there are two seperate locks, one for each barrel, and a few have barrels that are manually rotated into firing position. The size of the multi barreled pistols is usually limited to Belt or Holster Pistols due to weight. These pistols are made in either Wheellock, Snap Lock, Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.

The Duck Foot Pistol, or Volley Pistol, usually has three or four barrels all of which fire at once. It is favored for close quarters against multiple opponents. Many ship captains have a brace of Duck Foot pistols to confront mutineers or pirates. To keep recoil manageable the Duck Foot fires a small calibre ball, 30 to 45. These pistols are made in either Snap Lock, Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.

Blunderbuss Pistols. Where as other pistols fire a ball and perhaps a few bits of shot, a Blunderbuss Pistol, like its larger cousin, can be loaded with multiple balls, shot, bits of scrap etc. When fired the load sprays outwards in a shotgun like effect. Very effective in close quarters, ranges are shorter then a regular pistol and accuracy, especially over any distance, is very poor. These pistols are made in either Snap Lock, Dog Lock or Flintlock styles.

Combination weapons.  It is not uncommon to find guns built into swords, daggers, axes ans similar weapons.  It is also common to find pistols and blunderbusses with spring loaded or manually deployed bayonets.

Good guns are expensive! Their owners take care of the weapons, cleaning them after use, oiling them against damp and guarding them from theft or loss.

Black powder or gun powder, has corrosive effects on steel and it essential to clean a weapon after use. The powder also leaves a residue, known as 'fouling' on the inside of the barrel. When multiple shots are fired the residue can build up and actually inhibit loading. This is especially an issue for rifled weapons.


Unusual Weapons. 
The weapons on this page are not the usual run of the mill cutlass and musket.  They represent odd, out dated, improvised and native or slave made weapons.

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