Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What's a wheellock and how does it work?

Most people are at least a little bit familiar with single-shot black powder pistols. And for most of us that familiarity comes from media. And most often the media depicts some flint lock type of firing mechanism. The sort of mechanism where the hammer is pulled back and locks in place to arm the weapon and the trigger is pulled to release the hammer, causing it to strike the flint it holds against a steel plate creating a spark that ignites the powder in the pan that flashed inside the barrel to ignite the charge to expand the gas to project the ball out of the barrel and (hopefully) hit the target.

That's all well and good but in the time period for my campaign, the flintlock is almost unheard of. The wheellock is the most prevalent firing mechanism for pistols. And pistols are the most frequently used firearm by the PCs. Thus my players really should be a little bit familiar with what a wheellock is and how it works. I find some of the videos especially helpful and often fun.

History of the Gun - Part 3: The Wheellock from the "History of the Gun" online video series produced by Ruger and hosted by Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo Garry James.

Late 16th century German Wheellock Pistol: This be the 4th video in a "How to Fight Like a Pirate" series by Madd Mike of Pirate Fashions. Here we be showing off arrrr German Wheel Lock Pistol. [Despite the pirate lingo, Mike has a monotone voice and he only sparks but doesn't fire the gun. However he does give a good demonstration of how to safely load, prime, and fire a wheellock.]

Wheellock Carbine: Here is a short clip about firing a wheelock carbine reproduction. It is fired in the 'shooters' way, not as they were loaded back in the old times. [This is virtually no dialog, though the shooter wears a snazzy brown period suit.]

Wheellock Firing Process: This is an animation of the firing process.

Wheellock pistol fired at 10,000 frames per second on Triggers. 

A video of the loading and firing of a late 16th century cavalry wheellock puffer pistol. These are fully functional replicas of an original piece dated 1587 minus decoration. They are used for late 16th century cavalry re-enactment and are fired from horseback. After firing the weapons can be reversed and used as clubs in close combat.

Matchlock and wheellock firing according to authentic French 17th century regulation. This video is especially nice. We see two matchlocks: a musket and a carbine loaded, fired, reloaded, and fired a  second time so that the entire sequence can be seen (and timed). Commands are given by an "officer" who is armed with a wheellock pistol. He also loads (much more quickly) and fires his pistol along with his men.

Wheellocks - Real or Fake? And What is "Fake", Really? Sadly no gun gets fired, but there are lot of nice detailed views of a real wheellock and a reproduction from the Victorian era.

Replica guns from the time of the 30 Years War in Europe: the video includes slow motion firing shots and some snazzy Eastern European march music. Unfortunately the text at the beginning is a bit difficult to read...unless you can read Czech. As an added bonus the end of the video features are some interesting period recreation costumes.

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