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Lock Systems / Firing Mechanisms a. Muzzle-loading vs. breech-loading i. A muzzleloader is any firearm into which the projectile and usually the propellant charge is loaded from the muzzle of the gun (i.e., from the forward, open end of the gun's barrel). This is distinct from the more popular modern (higher tech and harder to make) designs of breech-loading firearms. The term "muzzleloader" may also apply to the marksman who specializes in the shooting of muzzleloading firearms. The term of art includes rifled muzzleloaders and smoothbore muzzleloaders. The firing methods, paraphernalia and mechanism further divide both categories as do caliber (from cannons to small-caliber palm guns). ii. A breech-loading weapon is a firearm in which the cartridge or shell is inserted or loaded into a chamber integral to the rear portion of a barrel. Modern mass production firearms are breech-loading (though mortars are generally muzzle-loaded). Early firearms were almost entirely muzzle-loading. The main advantage of breech-loading is a reduction in reloading timeit is much quicker to load the projectile and charge into the breech than to force them down a long tube, especially when the tube has spiral ridges from rifling. In field artillery, breech loading allows the crew to reload the weapon without exposing themselves to enemy fire or repositioning the piece (as was required for muzzle-loaded weapons) and allows turrets and emplacements to be smaller (since breech loaded weapons do not need to be retracted for loading). Although breech-loading weapons were developed as far back as the late 14th century in Burgundy, breech-loading became more successful with improvements in precision engineering and machining in the 19th century. The main challenge for developers of breech-loading weapons was sealing the breech. This was eventually solved for smaller weapons by the development of the self-contained metallic cartridge. For weapons too large to use cartridges, the problem was solved by the development of the interrupted screw. iii. A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore firearm, fired from the shoulder. Muskets were designed for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket had the designation musketman or musketeer. b. Hand gonne (15th Century) i. The earliest 'hand gonne' was developed in the fifteenth century, but was not a great influence in battle. It was a small cannon with a touch-hole for ignition. It was unsteady, required that the user prop it on a stand, brace it with one hand against his chest and use his other hand to touch a lighted match to the touch-hole, and had an effective range of only about thirty to fourty yards. It surely must have taken iron nerves to use one of these against a charging knight, nearly within his lance's reach, when the powder might not even ignite.


Flash Pan i. Users of primitive cannons and 'hand gonnes' came to realize that a more reliable ignition system was needed. It was just too difficult to use one hand to touch a lit match to an open hole in the gun barrel in the heat of battle while trying to hold the gun steady with the other hand. Also, there was often not enough gunpowder exposed at the touch-hole to ignite reliably. So, the gun designers had to come up with a more reliable system to get the gunpowder lit in a hurry. Eventually, a clever invention was devised to solve the problem. The touch hole was moved to the side of the gun barrel, and a cup was placed at the opening with a lid on it. This cup would hold a small amount of gunpowder which could be easily ignited. When the powder began to burn, some of the fire would go through the touch hole and ignite the gunpowder inside the barrel, thereby firing the gun. This cup was called the "Flash Pan". The cover on the flash pan prevented the powder from blowing away in the wind or from getting wet in a fog. All the later ignition systems on guns with a flash pan were designed to automatically ignite the gunpowder in the flash pan at the press of a lever or trigger. This was accomplished by either putting the end of a burning wick into the flash pan or using a flint and steel combination to throw sparks into the flash pan. Matchlock (1543) i. History 1. Introduced to China by Portuguese; first documentation in Portuguese in 1543 2. The matchlock was the first mechanism, or "lock" invented to facilitate the firing of a handheld firearm. This design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon's flash pan and made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing, and, more importantly, to keep both eyes on the target. ii. Mechanism 1. Uses a piece similar to a hammer called a serpentine


2. 3.

Holds a slow-burning matchchord (slow match), when the wielder pulls the trigger, the burning wick would be lowered to strike the flash pan containing the powder The powder is ignited, and the powder in the barrel would implode firing the projectile


Advantages 1. Both eyes on target 2. Both hands grip the weapon iv. Disadvantages 1. Keep match constantly lit 2. Lighting the cord may also take an annoying amount of time making the use of matchlock impractical 3. Wet weather 4. Gives users position away (burning match at night / distinctive smell of match) 5. Uneconomical to keep for long periods of time Wheellock (1500) i. History 1. A wheellock, wheel-lock or wheel lock, is a friction-wheel mechanism to cause a spark for firing a firearm. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm. The mechanism is so-called because it uses a rotating steel wheel to provide ignition. Developed around AD 1500, it was used alongside the matchlock and was later superseded by the snaphance (1560s) and the flintlock (c. 1600). 2. Made the handgun possible ii. Mechanism



The wheellock uses a serrated, spring loaded, rotating metal wheel on its side and a moveable dog which contains a piece of iron pyrite clamped on its jaws. Using a spanner, the wheel would be wound about of a turn to engage the sear mechanism which will set the lock. The dog will be lowered to a firing position, directly onto the wheel or the sliding flash pan cover. 2. When trigger is pulled, the cover would automatically open allowing the pyrite to drop onto the wheel. After the trigger was pulled, the wheel will start turning creating sparks from the pyrite which will ignite the powder in the flashpan. This ignition will cause the main charge in the barrel to ignite and fires the projectile. iii. Advantages 1. Weather-resistant 2. Faster ignition iv. Disadvantages 1. Costly 2. Complex design Flintlock (17th Century) i. History 1. Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. The term may also apply to the mechanism itself. Introduced at the beginning of the 17th century, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as thedoglock, matchlock, and wheellock mechanisms. It continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced bypercussion cap and, later, cartridge-based systems in the early-to-mid 19th century. Although long superseded by modern firearms, flintlock weapons enjoy continuing popularity with black-powder shooting enthusiasts. ii. Mechanism 1. Consists of four main parts: hammer, flash pan, frizzen and barrel



Advantages 1. Easy loading (cartridges) 2. Weather-resistant iv. Disadvantages 1. Accidental firing 2. The flint had to be well maintained Percussion Cap / Caplock (1805) i. History 1. The caplock was the final mechanism used for a musket. It became the primary weapon ignition system used in rifles during American Civil War. It was developed in 1805 and over the years, it was improved many to times to be more efficient in battle. 2. The Percussion Cap ignition system was developed in 1805 by the Reverend John Forsyth of Aberdeenshire. This firing mechanism is a great step in advancement from its predecessors because it does not use an exposed flashpan to begin the ignition process. Instead, it has a simple tube which leads straight into the gun barrel. 3. The key to this system is the explosive cap which is placed on top of the tube. The cap contains fulminate of mercury, a chemical compound which explodes when it is struck. This is the same stuff as is used in the paper or plastic caps in a child's cap gun. As illustrated above, when the cap is struck by the hammer, the flames from the exploding fulminate of mercury go down the tube, into the gun barrel, and ignite the powder inside the barrel to propel the bullet. 4. Revolvers ii. Mechanism 1. The caplock mechanism is very simple. The wielder loads a powder down the barrel with the projectile. He then loads a percussion cap in the small opening, or nipple, on the side and pulls the hammer back. It is now in firing state. 2. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer strikes the cap making it explode. The flames from the cap would be guided down the tube hole into the barrel igniting the powder and ejecting the projectile.



Advantages 1. Easy to load 2. Weather-Resistant 3. More reliable than flintlock 4. No flashpan iv. Disadvantages h. Rotating Bolt i. History ii. Mechanism i. Experimental Electronic Types i. Mechanism 19th Century EVENT Percussion Cap Ignition System Copper Percussion Cap Saw handle or pistol grip for flint and percussion pistol Flints converted to percussion cap Percussion cap in general use Samuel Colts revolver Samuel Colt developed the first mass-produced, multi-shot, revolving firearms. Various revolving designs had been around for centuries, but precision parts couldnt be made with available technologies. Colt was the first to apply Industrial Age machining tools to the idea. Mass production made the guns affordable. Reliability and accuracy made the Colt a favorite of soldiers and frontiersmen. Pin-fire cartridge Dreyse breech-loading needle gun: 1st gun with firing pin Dreyse produced a rifle with a simple turn-down bolt, terminating in a needle that penetrated the length of a linen cartridge to detonate a percussion cap in the base of the Mini bullet. The advent of the brass cartridge made the rifle obsolete, but the Prussians used it to defeat the French in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Double-barreled 25-inch barrel, .67-inch caliber arm issued for British Police use Mini Ball by French Army Mini Rifle Shot-gun or fowling piece in common use Spencer Rifle (Repeating Carbine) Introduced at the start of the Civil War, Spencer repeating guns were technically advanced, used cartridges (a recent development), and could fire 7 shots in 15 seconds. But the Army didnt want a repeating gun, fearing that soldiers would fire more often, constantly need fresh ammunition, and overtax the supply system. But in 1863, President Lincoln test-fired a Spencer. His approval led to the purchase of 107,372 Spencer repeating carbines and rifles, and the Spencer became the principal repeating gun of the Civil War. Doctor Richard Gatlings gatling gun design patent a six-barreled weapon capable of firing 200 rounds per minute Breech-loaded guns in common use The gatling gun was introduced Rotary hand-cranked weapon with 10 barrels arranged around a central axis and fired 280 rounds per minute The 1st cartridge repeater shot-gun Center-fire cartridge was introduced The 1st cartridge revolver was introduced National Rifle Association (NRA) was incorporated Lock system Lock system Grip Lock system Lock system Multi-shot


DATE 1805 1814-1816 1816-1825 1820 1825 1835

1840 1841

Cartridge Lock system

1845 1847 1849 1850 1860

Firearm Bullet Firearm Firearm Firearm

Patent Lock-system Firearm

1861 1862

1866 1869 1871

Firearm / Cartridge Cartridge Cartridge Association

1877 1879

1884 1892 1893 1896

provides firearms training and encourage interest in the shooting sports The 1st double-action revolver a system in firearms where the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer Lees box magazine design patent This allows pointed bullets to be used, which are generally more accurate and perform better at longer ranges. Box magazines may be built into the firearm (internal, integral, or fixed) or may be removable (detachable)] Smoke-less gun powder The 1st automatic pistol was created Borchardt pistol: the 1st automatic weapon with a separate magazine in the grip The first Olympic Games

Firearm Patent

Bullet Firearm Firearm Olympics

http://harveian.blogspot.com/2009/02/muzzle-loading-versus-breech-loading.html http://en.wikipedia.org/ http://www.helium.com/items/2032870-muzzle-loader-or-breech-loading-rifle http://www.silcom.com/~vikman/isles/scriptorium/firearm/firearm.html