That guns really flashed,
Rattles a ramrod hammer.
In the faceted trunk bullets leave,
And clicked the trigger for the first time.
(Eugene Onegin. A.S. Pushkin)
Rattles a ramrod hammer.
In the faceted trunk bullets leave,
And clicked the trigger for the first time.
(Eugene Onegin. A.S. Pushkin)
Not for the first time, thanks to the courtesy of my friend N, who collects firearms weapon of the past time (of course, rendered inoperable in accordance with the law of the Russian Federation), VO readers have the opportunity to get acquainted with those of his samples that I personally managed to hold in my hands. Today there seem to be a lot of any articles about weapons on the Internet, but ... some are clearly written by people who haven’t even seen their subject in their eyes. True, not all materials can be done in chronological order. What manages to get, about that and it turns out to write! Before that, there were mostly more or less modern designs, but the time has come for much more ancient, quite, one might say, rare firearms.
Here it is - Grinel's duel pistol. View from the castle.
And this, by the way, is an excellent occasion to refresh in memory history firearms in general. So first of all, what is it? In short, this weapon, in which the energy of the powder gases produced during ignition of the powder charge when fired, is used to accelerate the projectile in the barrel. This is an individual weapon, with the exception of a number of machine guns, intended for collective use. Other distinguishing features of this type of weapon are the possibility of convenient holding during firing, the presence of a firing mechanism with which the shot is fired, the rapid reloading of the weapon after the firing, and the presence of aiming devices that allow accurate firing. These signs are inherent in all models of small arms, but their implementation is different in each sample, since the designers of gunsmiths make improvements every time they develop a new weapon.
View from the opposite side. The heads of the two screws securing the lock inside the box are clearly visible.
The first explosive mixture, which began to be used in firearms, was gunpowder. Despite its military and historical significance, the origin of gunpowder still remains a mystery. It is known that the Chinese used gunpowder back in AD 1000. er The first mention of gunpowder in Western literature dates back to the mid-13th century. However, with regard to the firearm itself, in Europe it appeared much later. In the east, the ancient Chinese and Arabs for long time for military purposes for shooting at a distance used "Roman candles" (possibly made from bamboo tubes), filled with gunpowder and other flammable substances. However, their more precise design is unknown, as are references to the first use of this weapon for firing projectiles. It is believed that the Moors used this weapon in 1247 during the defense of Seville. Or, in 1301, a primitive cannon was created in the German city of Amberg. However, all this information, especially about the Moors, is hardly one hundred percent reliable. However, it is quite reliable and, in fact, the first documentary mention of the use of gunpowder is in the figure in the English manuscript, dated 1326 year. On it we see the barrel of a cannon in the form of a jug mounted on a four-foot carriage, moreover, a large feathered arrow is used as a projectile. There are other references to the fact that such guns were used in Ghent in the 1313 year, and in Metz in the 1324 year. Therefore, it can be assumed that in the first quarter of the XIV century the guns had already gained some distribution, and their supporters succeeded in overcoming the technological problems that arose when casting barrels and making gunpowder in the second half of the XIII century.
The so-called "Edward I cannon" is a miniature from a medieval manuscript.
What, however, cannot be denied is the fact that firearms at the time were used extremely limitedly. Then it was not of great interest because of the difficulties in the process of casting trunks. The tools were heavy, then there was no scientific way to calculate the strength of the material. To ease the weight, the trunks tried to do as thin as possible, but so that they could withstand a shot. It was possible to shoot only at short distances, since the caliber of the nucleus, often made of stone, did not coincide with the barrel. But in spite of everything, even such guns were effective, albeit mainly due to the psychological impact of the roar when fired and good results when firing at short distances. Gradually inspired by the success of the gunners began to work on improving the reliability of the guns, increasing the firing range and the speed of the nucleus.
And this is how it was reconstructed in the Royal Arsenal in the city of Leeds.
In the early muzzle-loading specimens of handguns, the so-called “gun lock” was used. The wick (glowing ember or red-hot iron) was brought to the pilot hole. The fire ignited gunpowder seed, which in turn ignited the charge of gunpowder that fell asleep in the breech behind the throwing projectile. Since the powder was a very finely ground powder, that is, it was of low quality and, moreover, with a low content of nitrate, at least a small air space was required so that it could ignite in the barrel. That is why, by the way, it was set on fire with a red-hot rod that was inserted into the barrel through a pilot hole. There is air there, no - from such a "fuse", he ignited necessarily. However, you just imagine the shooters who dragged on their brazier with hot coals and charcoal itself, as well as furs for its kindling.
So in the era of the Burgundian Wars and the first primitive cannons calibrated stone cores. Fig. Garry Embleton
The barrel was cast in bronze or brass, although forged steel was occasionally used. The core or arrow were made somehow. To this was added a bad wad blockage. And all this led to the fact that the powder burned slowly and unevenly, the pressure was created insufficient, so the muzzle velocity of the core was low, the firing range was small, and the accuracy, as a rule, left much to be desired. But maybe that was all for the best. After all, if gunpowder appeared at a higher rate of combustion and the obturation was improved (sealing the bore when fired, preventing the breakthrough of powder gases), all the technical research of the gunners of that time would have led to the explosion of the gun, their destruction and ... discrediting all these weapons.
Such a cannon lock was used in both artillery guns and handguns. The latter, however, were essentially also small guns. The barrel was attached to a pole, the back of which, when fired, was under the right hand arrow, and the front part was held with the left hand. The right hand remained free to bring the wick to the fuse. The great similarity between artillery and hand weapons indicates that both weapons were both created and used in parallel.
A cannon-type lock was used for 50 years or a little more. And although the quality of gunpowder and the technology of casting barrels were improved during this period, so that the guns became of higher quality, the handgun remained unchanged.
And then at the end of the XIV - the beginning of the XV centuries in Germany there was an invention of a wick lock. Now the glowing wick — well, let's say, a piece of hemp rope, soaked in a mixture of saltpeter, so that it smolders slowly, but constantly, was fixed in the S-shaped trigger, which with its lower part was movably attached near the trunk. The shooter, pressing his fingers on the lower part of this lever, forced him to lower, and the wick, fastened in its upper part, touched the powder seed in the pilot hole. This meant that now the weapon could be held with two hands, the accuracy of shooting increased accordingly, and people began to think about equipping the weapon with a gun. Now began the creation of a weapon with a figured butt, so that when firing the weapon more firmly adjoined to the shoulder and increased the accuracy of shooting. Over the next half century, the wick lock completely changed the nature of handguns, as the effective trigger was further refined (the curved clip with the wick was controlled with a trigger, and the cover for the shelf with gunpowder prevented it from blowing off) and a characteristic curved wooden bed.
Japanese small-sized wick gun ("taju") of the Edo era.
Of course, the weapon remained rather heavy, very bulky and inconvenient to use, which limited its military use. However, it was thanks to the invention of the wick lock in the history of firearms that a completely new era in development began. So, in Japan, where the development of wick guns continued until the middle of the XIX century, even wick pistols were used, albeit limited, although you can imagine how many problems they delivered to their owners!
It should be noted here that the invention of weapons with a wick lock was the result of active research and experiments in various fields. In the period from the end of the 15th century, rifled barrels spread in Europe (spiral-shaped grooves on the inner surface of the barrel walls twisted the core, which increased its stabilization in flight and increased the accuracy of shooting), good aiming devices appeared, interchangeable barrels in order to mount barrels of various calibers on the same gun carriage, the trigger was invented. Appears and bureaucratic loading to increase the rate of fire, for this they begin to produce ready-made powder charges. Multi-charge guns were equipped with either cylindrical magazines, or were made multi-barreled. In many developments there were sound and technically sound decisions. However, most of these weapons were cast in conditions that did not allow for tightness between the barrel and the bolt when fired, which resulted in leakage of powder gases and a decrease in pressure in the barrel. This, in turn, led to a decrease in the firing range and penetration power of the core, not to mention the threat to the shooter’s life.
Turkish ornate flintlock gun. Walters Museum, USA.
The accumulation of experience, the development of design ideas and production skills have played a big role in the improvement of handguns in terms of reducing its size and weight. And as a consequence of this, the widespread use of pistols, the increased mobility of firearms, which negated the advantages of mounted knights in armor, which consisted precisely in security and mobility. It is not by chance that soon the infantrymen armed with firearms became one of the main types of troops on the battlefield, although the cavalry in lightweight armor (they still couldn’t protect against a bullet anyway, and continued to play a major role while reducing weight.
Swedish 1633 musket with wheel lock from the Skokloster Castle Museum.
Despite this success, the wick lock was not devoid of a number of drawbacks. The wick could burn to the end, fall out of the clamp or be poured with rain. As a result of a long search, a wheel lock appeared, which was probably invented in Germany or Austria in the first quarter of the 16th century. The design of this mechanism was also simple - instead of the wick and clamp, there was a rotating steel wheel with transverse notches in the lock. When the trigger was pressed, the spring set in advance by the key was released and the wheel rotated quickly and rubbed with notches on flint. This gave a sheaf of sparks falling on the powder seed. The wheel lock instantly spread throughout Europe, as it was clearly superior to the wick. True, it was used mainly in pistols and in cavalry, that is, the then elite, since such lock was too expensive for ordinary musketeers. It was created countless options. Well, an important consequence of the appearance of the wheel lock was the invention of such a mechanism as a fuse. Earlier, when a lot of effort was needed for a shot, such a mechanism was not required, but now a weapon has become necessary for the weapon to protect it from an accidental shot.
The castle of the snaphons and similar constructions were often found on oriental weapons. For example, here on this Caucasian rifle from the M.Yu. Lermontov in Pyatigorsk.
Despite its high efficiency, the problem of the wheel lock remained its high cost. After all, it had to be made of high-quality materials and with accuracy, hitherto unseen. This led to the invention of the snephons (schnaphan) lock, which was more perfect than the wick and cheaper than other samples. In this castle, the pyrite installed in the clamp on the trigger, at the moment of pressing the trigger, hit a steel fire located on the side of the powder seed, while a sufficient number of sparks were cut out to ignite the seed and charge. The flint and cap for powder in this lock were different parts. For the first time, locks of this type appeared around 1525 (they were even called Dutch locks with a hint of their Dutch origins), but it took over 100 years to turn them into a classic flint lock. Moreover, it was flint, and not flint, as for some reason some "experts of the weapon industry and its history" began to write. The fact is that silicon is an element of the periodic table. And flint is a stone, and treated, wrapped in leather and clamped with sponges of a shock trigger. He worked on the same principle as the snephons, but acted in such a way that when the trigger was lowered, the lid of the powder shelf opened at the same time, closed during the rest of the time, thereby preventing the deflation of the powder or its wetting. At the same time, the flint that hit the flint was the continuation of the powder shelf cover, and he not only opened it, but also cut out a sheaf of sparks falling on its curved surface onto the powder seed. Such a flintlock lock was universally recognized and soon became the main lock for the entire muzzle-loading handgun of the second half of the 17th century.
And this is a flint officer pistol from Tula production from the same museum.
Weapons developers and manufacturers, after creating such a successful model as a flintlock, sent major efforts to modernize it. Gunpowder became a better quality, improved production technology, and all this played a significant role in the fact that flint pistols and muskets rather quickly replaced the old arquebus. At the same time, the appearance of more advanced iron alloys made it possible to abandon bronze and brass in the manufacture of handguns. All these factors led to the fact that the weapon became much lighter, and at the same time stronger and firing provided greater accuracy of hitting. As in the case of the wick lock, the developers have created many variants of the silicon lock, with most of the new designs being designed to increase the rate of fire of the weapon. Similar experiments (although little was done on actual samples) or attempts to create breech-loading weapons were based on improving the obturation using the opening shutter for fast loading of weapons.
Duel flint pistol firm Grinel. The lid of the powder shelf is open.
Well visible brand manufacturer. However, similar pistols launched in England at that time by other firms were very similar to one another and differed only in trifles.
More complex attempts have been made to install a revolving type shop and a semi-automatic seed system for multiply charged samples. A lot of manpower and resources were spent for the implementation of such systems. However, at that time it was still impossible to achieve high precision in production, so that most of these samples were never put into service and remained in the form of experimental, museum samples.
The gun, of course, is old, and it is not surprising if it was released in the 1780 year, and its safety is not 100%, however, and not so bad. This photo clearly shows how it is held in the right hand.
At that time there were only two types of handguns: long-barreled shotguns, both for combat and for hunting, and short-barreled pistols, both for combat and civilians. The latter differed from the combat ones, however, not with the caliber or with some peculiarities of the mechanism, but mainly with a handle! The combatants had a metal frame and, often a massive metal top ("apple"). This was done to ensure that such a gun could be used in melee combat without fear of damaging your weapon.
But civilian pistols were very often used by travelers who traveled around Europe in carriages, to protect them from robbers. In general, it was not planned to fight with such weapons; more often, a shot from behind the carriage door was enough to scare them away, therefore their handles were solid wood and were one piece with the lodge.
In this photo, he is in his left hand and this is done specifically to show his mechanism in the position before the shot. In the lips of the trigger there is no flint, and it remains only to press the trigger and ... bang - a shot will sound!
And there were also dueling pistols, manufactured with great care. There were special companies that produced such pistols, in particular, they were made by the British firm Grinel. A special feature of the 1780 pistol of the year (namely, this gun we are considering today) was a descent with a schneller, facilitating the force when pressed and the trigger. Thanks to this device, the sight did not get off at the moment of the shot, or rather, it also got off, but less than that of ordinary pistols.
The barrel of this pistol is octahedral, 182 mm long and 17,5-mm caliber with a small front sight, since they were fired at relatively short distances. Duel pistol handles were made with special care so that they lay as comfortably as possible in your hand.
The following accessories were missing for pistols (usually they were let out in pairs in the form of a headset): in this case, a brush for cleaning the powder shelf, a screwdriver to remove the silicon lock from the box, an oiler, lubricate the mechanism, the powder flask, with a spout used as a measure for the powder, puleleyka, for self-production of bullets and leather pads (usually used suede) to secure flint in the jaws of the trigger.
The barrel inside is smooth, not rifled, and it looks just awful large caliber. The diameter is equal to the diameter of the index finger of an adult male 178 cm, not a bricklayer, it is clear, but nevertheless ... So if the lead ball released from it hit you in the stomach, then you would not have the slightest chance to digest it!
Personal impressions of the pistol: surprising, but the handle seemed small, as in the photos noticeably and not too comfortable. That is, you can hold on to it, but there is no question of a careful fit, as it is written in the books. Either the hands then the men were smaller! Schneller really makes it very easy to descend, but the pistol jerks anyway from the hammer strike. And then there should be a shot, so, reading about the duel in 15 steps, you can not be surprised, because on 25 you just can’t go anywhere, you shouldn’t even try!
In this photo you can clearly see the opening hole through which the fire from the powder shelf fell into the trunk.
P.S. The author expresses his gratitude to the company "Japanese Antiques" for providing a photo of a Japanese pistol.