Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   A fine Nuremberg matchlock Landsknecht harquebus, dated 1539 (

Matchlock 29th March 2009 05:06 PM

Hi Jim,

I cannot but thank you very very much for your kind lines.

Actually my passion feeds on such a brilliant counter part like Richard, whose demanding thoughts and questions really get me going.

I have been thinking abouth a thread on the 500 years in the development of screws in European fine mechanics and posted a few pictures some months ago. I need to take more and better pictures but it is not forgotten.

In discussing the bad recoil of wall guns one should bear in mind that the heavy weight of these pieces and the recoil hooks both acted as absorbers. On the other hand I can testify from my own experience that matchlock muskets kick quite hard too. I would compare their kick back to a 12 or 10 gauge shot gun.

With all my very best wishes,

Jim McDougall 29th March 2009 06:42 PM

Hi Michael,
I look forward to examining the detail on variations of screws used by armourers in those times. Its funny, it reminds me a lot of Sherlock Holmes describing his treatise on burned tobacco, which he seemed almost obsessed with. Watson then made his comment on minutiae!! which has been with me ever since :)
Good information on the recoil on these as well. I have not handled many firearms, so it is good to know that there was indeed recoil...ouch!
Thanks very much Michael.

All the best,

Matchlock 29th March 2009 11:21 PM

Ouch, Sherlock 'Jim' Watson ;) ,

Over here in Germany, we got very rare chances to ever be allowed and actually fire a gun as guests in a shooters' club so that's about all I can attribute to the reality of things.

You seem to be so much luckier over there in the U.S.

All the best,

Jim McDougall 30th March 2009 12:46 AM

Well, first one I fired was cuz the sergeant told me I had too :) the other time was out in the woods in Arkansas with an ex brother in law firing old flintlock muskets....pretty bizarre! But living in Texas....everybodys got a gun. Thats about it though.


cannonmn 25th December 2011 08:54 PM

Jim, I'm not trying to pose as an expert in any sense, but looking at your question regarding recoil, I'd say the relative compaction of the powder isn't a major parameter in the recoil calculation, but certainly contributes to it in the form of whatever muzzle velocity the projectile obtains. If we are to believe the tests which have been done in recent years by very knowlegeable museum staff and others, there wasn't much difference in the muzzle velocities achieved by 16th. C. handgonnes and say smoothbore muskets of the 18th C., something like 450-550 m/s if memory serves.

Recoil is the result of the mass of the projectile and the velocity it obtains in the gun (m x v = momentum,) and is equal to the momentum of the projectile because that action has an equal and opposite reaction. The gonne is propelled rearward initially by the same momentum as the moving projectile has at the muzzle, but reduced by the mass of the whole gonne, which in those days was considerable (many were easily 50 pounds.) This resulted, I'm guessing, in a modest recoil since the relatively very heavy gonne starts rearward at a very low velocity compared to that of the projectile. The common belief is that the hook on the front of an arquebus or hackbut is necessary to convey the severe recoil to a solid wall or tripod, but I've always wondered about that. Perhaps if a gonner had to shoot the piece all day long in a siege situation, even a modest recoil would beat him up too much, thus the hook requirement.

Some of the early hand-cannons that had relatively large bores, and short, light barrels, with only an iron tiller to hold it may have been very hard on the shooter. If we assume that muzzle velocity didn't vary too greatly, then the ratio of projectile weight to total gonne weight would give a good indication of relative recoil.

Matchlock 26th December 2011 03:48 PM

John, I think it could not be said any better - thank you!


Matchlock 24th March 2012 02:59 PM

2 Attachment(s)
A piece of period artwork, by Reinhard Solms, ca. 1540, from his Kriegsbüchlein (war booklet).

Note both the characteristic tubular back sight - which on most original guns of that period is missing nowadays - and the shape of the butt stock.


Matchlock 29th August 2014 08:51 AM

For more information, and for important and finely preserved arms in
The Michael Trömner Collection

please cf. my threads:

Michael Trömner

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