I’m slow this morning but I PROMISE I wrote this yesterday and had it saved and scheduled. So I messed up somehow and I’m sorry. Me and computers…NOT an easy co-existance.
I remember a cable special, the History Channel I think, about The History of the Gun and it was so interesting, especially how ancient the gun really was and how each new patent, improving it, made the creator a fortune.
The one I remember best was the one BEFORE the Matchlock gun. The shooter had to light a little pile of gunpower with a striker or match, so they were one handed, plus the little POOF of fire scared away whatever animal they were hunting for.
Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese did not use gunpowder only for fireworks. In fact, the earliest surviving recipes for gunpowder can be found in the Chinese military treatise Wujing zongyao of 1044 AD, which contains three: two for use in incendiary bombs to be thrown by siege engines and one intended as fuel for smoke bombs.
14th century China: The matchlock firearms were first mentioned in . The matchlock appeared in Europe some time in the mid-1400s, although the idea of the serpentine appears some 40 years previously in an Austrian manuscript. The first dated illustration of a matchlock mechanism dates to 1475, and by the 1500s they were universally used.
The Matchlock secured a lighted wick in a moveable arm which, when the trigger was depressed, was brought down against the flash pan to ignite the powder. This allowed the musketeer to keep both hands on the gun, improving his aim drastically.
1630: Flintlock guns – the flintlock did two things mechanically, it opened the lid of the flash pan and provided an igniting spark. Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. Introduced about 1630, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the matchlock and wheellock mechanisms. It continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap
1825: Percussion-cap guns invented by Reverend John Forsyth – firing mechanism no longer uses flash pan, a tube lead straight into the gun barrel, the tupe had an exposive cap on it that exploded when struck The percussion cap, introduced around 1830, was the crucial invention that enabled muzzle-loading firearms to fire reliably in any weather.
The percussion cap system was made obsolete by:
1835: Colt revolver – first mass-produced, multi-shot, revolving firearms
Samuel Colt invented the first revolver, a gun named after its inventor “Colt”, and after its revolving cylinder “revolver”. In 1836, Samuel Colt was granted a U.S. patent for the Colt revolver, which was equipped with a revolving cylinder containing five or six bullets and an innovative cocking device.
Before the Colt revolver only one and two-barrel flintlock pistols had been invented for hand held use. Colt revolvers were all based on cap-and-ball technology until the Smith and Wesson license on the bored-through cylinder (bought from Rollin White) expired around 1869.
“Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”
One of the most successful, and certainly one of the most famous Winchester rifles was the Winchester Model 1873. The Winchester ‘73 was produced in such quantities that they became a common sight in the American West, leading to the rifle being nicknamed “The Gun that Won the West.”
In researching for a book I found out so much about the development of the gun that I gathered these milestone styles. The Winchester and Colt are a big part of many western novels and movies. There’s even a movie called Winchester ’73.
Chime in if you’ve got a comment about the settling of the west and the part guns played in it.