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Wheel lock mechanism

Italian gunsmith

Brescia, late 16th century

Material: Iron

Size: 25 cm long

Review by Gherardo Turchi

Greatly preserved and perfectly working, the wheel lock mechanism we’re analysing was realized in the late sixteenth century by one of Brescia’s most skilled gunsmiths.

Created for Holy Roman Empire heavy cavalries – such as the German, Italian and Burgundian ones – in the earliest sixteenth century, wheel lock replaced matchlock mechanism as it was simpler and safer to use.

It’s composed of an iron plate equipped with a knurled iron wheel. It’s hinged on an axle joined to the catch and the dog springs. We must rotate it 270 degrees with a specific key – like the one belonging to our collection – to load the mechanism. 

We have then to spin the spring-loaded iron wheel against a piece of pyrite (iron disulphide). It’s clamped in the cock jaws the trigger is composed of.

This produces some sparks firing the primino powder we put into the pan. It is joined to the barrel we previously loaded with some black powder and bullets by a narrow touchhole. The sparks get then through it to fire the powder resulting in the gunshot.

The wheel lock we’re analysing is finely decorated, as the flower shaped inlays the trigger is adorned with can surely prove. We can then state it was certainly realised in Italy, since Italian gunsmiths were highly renowned for their amazing products.

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