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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Gun Parts from DHR Collections



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Firing Mechanisms

44PG302/EU889-88, F-320  Matchlock 1546



Matchlock 

       
44PG307/614-42   Matchlock 2032

        
Deformed 
         matchlock with
         serpentine 



Matchlocks

The simplest and earliest gun-lock
plate used in the colonies was the matchlock.  Its main feature is a
split arm, sometimes shaped like a snake head and referred to as a serpentine,
that gripped a burning saltpeter-soaked match.  When the lever
(trigger) was pulled, the arm swung down into a pan full of powder.  The
pan cover had to be opened manually.

   44PG302/EU 2089, F-320 S-8   Matchlock 443


Matchlock   

          
44PG302/EU1041-28   Matchlock Powder Pan 1451

            Matchlock 
            Powder Pan 

   44CC178/16/2C   Snaphaunce 458


Snaphaunce   


44CC178/2/3E   Snaphaunce Battery 2076

Snaphaunce
Battery 

44CC178/37D-4   Snaphaunce Cock 455 

Snaphaunce
Cock 

Snaphaunce Locks

The snaphaunce can be considered the direct
ancestor of the 18th-century flintlock.  The term is now used to describe
a mechanism where a flint, held in a cock, was struck against a battery that
was separate from the powder pan cover.  Excavations of 17th-century
Virginia sites have recovered a surprising number of this type of lock
plate.  

44CC178/37E-2   Mainspring 751

Mainspring
 

44CC178/37D-3   Battery Spring 807

Battery Spring

44CC178/37/2C-6   Cockscrew 755

Cockscrew  

    44GL  English Lock 2039
 
 "English"
Lock 

"English" Lock

Another innovation was to combine the
flashpan cover and battery into one L-shaped unit, now referred to as a
frizzen.

Although these different types of  gun firing
mechanism plates may be looked at as a progression of improvements in the design, and
each development did occur at succeeding times —by the 17th
century
in Virginia all of these types may have been in use at the same place,
or in different places at the same time.

Updated May 30, 2017