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Beautiful Breechloading Wheellock from 1625



(This item was pulled from the auction)

Breechloading firearms did not become commonplace until the 1800s, but talented gunsmiths were experimenting with the concept and building custom breechloaders since virtually the very invention of firearms in the West. This is a magnificent example of an advanced German gun commissioned by a buyer of some wealth and taste in 1625.

It is a wheel lock hunting style musket with a trapdoor type breech. A spring loaded latch allows the breechblock to pivot out the side of the barrel, after which a handmade steel combustion chamber (cartridge case) can be inserted into the breech. This case would be preloaded with powder and ball, and has an indexing pin to align its flash hole with the hole in the barrel leading to the pan. After firing, the case is easily removed and replaced, allowing for quite rapid repeat firing.

The gun is also built with a double set trigger and both front and rear sights (not necessarily typical on guns of this time period). Clearly the original owner was someone who appreciated marksmanship!

Related: Real & Reproduction Wheellock Pistols:
Ornate Saxon Double-Barrel Wheellock:
Ferguson Breechloading Flintlock:
Collier Flintlock Revolvers: